The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.
– Mary McLeod Bethune
I’ve found the Goodreads Reading Challenge a really useful means of monitoring and quantifying what I read, and having a target is always an excellent motivator, but I think I set the bar a little too high last year! I was hoping to read 52 books, or one per week, in 2017, as I’ve done in other years, but unfortunately the demands of a busy job and a hectic volunteering role in the GAA meant that I only got to 45! Another factor that slowed me down was that I read more non-fiction titles this year than I have in the past, and I always find those a little slower to read.
So what were my reading highlights of 2017? The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis, was recommended to me by a friend and I think it was the most fascinating non-fiction title I’ve ever read! We are so accustomed to trusting our intuition, and yet it can be completely wrong. This is a must-read for anyone involved in decision-making. I enjoyed it so much that it led me on to Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, which was equally fascinating but much heavier, and definitely one of the titles that slowed me down!
I also really enjoyed Option B, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s study of resilience, and on the education front, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers: The Michaela Way really struck a chord. This collection of essays by teachers in the Michaela School in London was compelling, mainly because it challenged everything I’ve been taught about teaching and learning. The Underground Girls of Kabul was a truly fascinating, illuminating read and I would recommend it highly.
In terms of fiction, I think I enjoyed almost every single book I read. Irish women writers continue to lead the charge, and it’s really difficult to pick out a highlight! I loved A Line Made by Walking and The Blood Miracles, and while I found Conversations with Friends a little challenging, I was completely hooked by the end of it. Oh my God. What a Complete Aisling was utterly charming, and I also loved The Essex Serpent and look forward to Sarah Perry’s next offering, due out this year. Everyone should read The Power by Naomi Alderman (and hopefully they will too, now that Barack Obama has listed it as one of his best books of 2017!), while Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad was also a highlight. I must also given an honourable mention to The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump, which kept the whole family amused on Christmas Day!
Of everything I read in 2017, the only two books I didn’t really enjoy were All Grown Up and What Becomes of Us, and in both cases I just struggled to find anything with which I could identify.
Here are my top 10, in no particular order, and selected with great difficulty!
- The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
- The Power by Naomi Alderman
- The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney
- Mrs. Osmond by John Banville
- The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
- What Happened by Hillary Clinton
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
- The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg
- The Truth about Love by Josephine Hart
To view the full list of everything I read as part of the 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge, click here.
In view of the workload I anticipate for 2018, I’ve reduced my target to 40! My first book of 2018 will be Dan Brown’s Origin.