Books I Read: first quarter 2017

favorite books of 2016

I promise you (and myself) that I plan to write monthly book recaps in the future. Because I read over 20 books this quarter, and that’s too many for one post. Fortunately for all of us, several were re-reads and I’m leaving them out for now. The rest I separated by fiction and non-fiction, and roughly ranked each section according to my preference.

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The Sparrow and Children of God, Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow is one of my favorite books of all time, and it had attained that status before I was halfway through. You should read it ASAP. Children of God, while excellent, couldn’t live up to its prequel for me. But apparently some people think it’s even better.

Embassytown, China Mieville

When I read this book, I thought it would hands down be my favorite of the quarter. Don’t be put off by the sci-fi weird summary – it’s about the nature of language and how words affect perception and more.

Hannah Coulter, Wendell Berry

The description of this book sounds mundane compared to the previous ones, but it’s like having a conversation with your grandma (or, depending on who you are, possibly your great-grandma). If that sounds boring to you I don’t know what to tell you.

The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K. LeGuin

LeGuin is one of my favorite authors, so the position of this book gives you an idea of how much I liked the previous four. That said, this book is good but not my favorite. I wouldn’t start with it if you haven’t read anything by LeGuin – I recommend the Wizard of Earthsea series for that.

Flex(‘Mancer), Ferrett Steinmetz

A lot of the hype for this book focused on its unique system of magic, which is certainly fascinating. But…I think you have to be a fan of urban fantasy. The plot kept me reading, but I just can’t stomach the genre in large doses (like, say, a trilogy, which this book is part of).

Three Moments of an Explosion, China Mieville

As I often find to be the case for short story collections, some of the stories are good, others not so much. One thing nearly all of these stories have, though, is an open-ended ending. The lack of closure started to grate after a while.

The Enchantress of Florence, Salman Rushdie

I suspect I would have liked this book better if it had been titled accurately. From the description: “The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a mysterious woman, a great beauty believed to possess the powers of enchantment and sorcery, attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world.” Just. No. The story is actually about several men to whom “the enchantress” is relevant in one way or another. She herself appears in probably less than 1/3 of the book, and a vanishingly small amount of that is actually from her perspective. The plot was interesting, but you know what would have made it a lot better? Actually being about a foreign enchantress in medieval Florence.


So….I got tired of reviewing, and I think the Amazon descriptions can tell you most of what you might want to know about the non-fiction reads. In brief: the first four books I think might or should be good reads for almost anyone. For the remaining three, if the description doesn’t grab your interest you probably won’t get much out of it.

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, Ed Yong
An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris
Galileo’s Middle Finger: heretics, activists, and one scholar’s search for justice, Alice Dreger
Lab Girl, Hope Jahren



What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? Ever?

13 Comment

  1. How did you like the Indigenous history? My husband is into that subject and nonfiction books in general.

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Hmm, if he reads a lot on the topic I think he would find it too basic – it’s meant to be an intro-level overview. It could be a good resource to find other books on specific topics though – there are tons of references!

  2. Sounds like you read some great books this year so far – that’s awesome. I haven’t read any of these yet. 🙂

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    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Yep, good book luck so far 🙂

  3. I have not heard of any of these books which just means that I need to read more books
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    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I always advocate reading more books 😉

  4. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets tired of book reviews 😛 I’m always like “It was good… read it” or “it was really bad, don’t read it”. I’m not going to give you a long winded review because then I might totally kill the book for you! 😛
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    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Yes, I’d rather give my opinion than a full plot summary!

  5. Pam says: Reply

    I have been told to read some David Sedaris…maybe I’ll start with Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. Pam 🙂

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I think it’s his most recent book…don’t quote me on that though 🙂

  6. Farrah says: Reply

    I haven’t heard of a lot of these, but..I really need to read more, haha. I need more free time! :[
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    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I am always thinking I need to read more too…it’s a matter of perspective I guess!

  7. […] Russell wrote one of my all-time favorite books, of course I’ve been picking up more of her writing. These don’t approach all-time […]

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