9 Books I Loved in 2017

This year I read 46 books, and started but didn’t finish 12 more. I’m quite pleased with myself and of that number there were 9 that I really loved. A few of these books I have already written posts on so I will link to them if you want to know a little more of my opinion. But here is a brief overview of the top 9 books I read in 2017.

9 - We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled by Wendy Pearlman
Published: 2017
Length: 352pp. | 6hrs (Audiobook)

This is a collection of accounts from Syrians of life from the start of the Arab Spring to the present day.  Some of the accounts are chilling, but I think this is such a necessary read. You see what life was like during the Arab Spring protests, stories of people escaping from Syria, their perspective on the reactions from the rest of the world and stories of refugees crossing the Mediterranean. I listened to this as an audiobook and think it worked particularly well as the narrators really capture the emotion in a way that might not translate as well on paper.

Published: 2011
Length: 672pp.

I've talked about this before, and how I didn't expect to enjoy a graphic novel. This is the story of a young girl who adopts a little boy as her son/brother, it's a little hard to explain their relationship because is a bit odd tbh, especially as it gets romantic in parts. But it's so gripping. I started reading this in my lunch breaks in Waterstones, before I knew it I had gotten half way through the book and couldn't really justify reading it in my lunch anymore so I had to purchase it. 

Published: 2008
Length: 324pp.

This is the sad story of the exodus of the Jews of Iraq, told through the lens of the author's family who are Iraqi Jews. This is an excellent piece of narrative non-fiction. It's thought provoking, heartfelt, so informative and objective despite it being the authors personal family history. She shows you how integral the Jewish community was to life in Iraq and how rapidly their status declined and ultimately, the tragic sequence of circumstances that lead to their departure.

6 - I am so Many Things by Thea Muir
Published: 2017
Length: 232pp.

This book is a collection of all the statements from the Bible that describe who you are in the eyes of God coupled with an illustration by the author Thea Muir. She wrote it originally for herself, she used to declare all these statements over her own life, and her husband encouraged her to share her work with others. This book is really beautiful and empowering. I don't know if that description does a good job of explaining what this book is, so i'll add some example pages below.

5 - Martin Eden by Jack London
Published: 1909
Length: 480pp. | 14hrs 45mins (Audiobook)

Martin Eden is an aspiring writer who struggles to get published. As such he struggles to make any money, this makes it hard for him to have a relationship with the woman he loves, Ruth. He eventually catches a break and finds fame and fortune, but it doesn't lead to happiness or a successful relationship with Ruth. A friend made me read this book so i'd be inspired to persevere with the things I love just like Martin does in this book, but I ended up being really taken by the love story between Martin and Ruth.

4 - Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

Published: 1933
Length: 213pp. | 6hr 57mins (Audiobook)

This is a memoir of Orwell's life over a few years in the 1920s living at the bottom rungs of society in Paris and London. He works in restaurants in Paris and befriends other European migrants, one particular character of note a Russian named Boris. He then goes in and out of workhouses in London, which I was surprised to find out still existed in the 20th Century. There's something really charming about his insight. It's the first book he ever published and so far my favourite book of his.

Published: 2014
Length: 720pp. | 23h 3mins (Audiobook)
Another book I reviewed earlier in the year, and it was the first book I read this year to become one of my favourites. It's full of so many twists and turns. It's the story of 3 generations of Palestinian Christian women getting into a lot of scandalous exploits. I was so hooked on this book. So much happens, there's so many plots and subplots, and for such a long book it's really well written and captures your attent ion throughout.

Published: 1876
Length: 12pp.

I've raved about this book before. Dostoyevsky is amazing, he perfectly captures what it is to be human, the nature of God, and the relationship between God and man and this short story is such a powerful example of this. I think this was the only book that made me cry this year, and I would recommend reading my original post on this book here.

Published: 2010 (Original in French) 2015 (in English)
Length: 188pp.

For me books number 1, 2 and 3 on this list are equally loved, they were my 3 favourite books of this year and it was hard for me to rank them. Whilst maybe Three Daughters and The Heavenly Christmas Tree are in equal position for second best book of the year I think I have to slightly give the edge to The World, The Lizard and Me. This book had some wonderful insights into love and justice, two of my favourite themes in literature. It's about a human rights lawyer travelling in Africa trying to complete a case on an evil warlord. However this storyline wasn't what I loved so much, it was the character himself, and the way he saw the world. The things he dealt with, his fragmented relationships with women, as well as his own journey to exact justice, and learn what that looks like. I definitely want to read this again in the new year.

Courtemanche is also the author behind A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, which is the book that the film Hotel Rwanda is based on. I had never heard of him before reading this book and i'm keen to read everything else he's written.