Best Books of 2017

This year turned out to be a great reading year. I ventured out into new territories and found myself gravitating towards new book genres and storylines. I thought I'd let you know a little bit about my top 10 reads this year.

Difficult Women 
Roxane Gay

This book is hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. To sum it up, it’s a collection of short stories surrounding women dealing with trauma. There are stories about losing children, about a woman made of glass, about a wealthy white man who fetishes black women and goes after a white-passing stripper with black features, about a woman who attracts resin and moisture, stories about losing children, sexual abuse and domestic violence. These are very dark stories that explore the effects of trauma and sexual abuse, and pain in a raw, and insightful way. Even though I read this books months ago I still find myself thinking about these stories every day.

Lonely City 
Olivia Laing

This is a non-fiction book in which Olivia Laing explores the idea of loneliness and the indelible ways it informs the work of several artists. Olivia Laing moves to New York and is struck by this incredible feeling of loneliness, and through this, she becomes fascinated the by the concept of loneliness in New York. She explores the concept itself through personal anecdotes and the lives of iconic artists like Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper. She juxtaposes these themes and their lives and work with her own in a truly beautiful piece of writing.

I really took my time with this book because it was just a joy to read. Learned about the childhoods and lives of these artists and see some of the pain behind their work was interesting to say the least. It let me know how beauty can come from such dark places and about how these artists that always seem so larger than life are just as scared and just as tortured if not more so, than the rest of us.

Yaa Gyasi

This book takes us through the descendants of two sisters, Esi and Effia, two half sisters born in 16th century Ghana. One marries an Englishman and the other gets sold into slavery.

 I couldn't put this book down. Seeing how the generations progressed over time and how different each generation's story was was fascinating. It tells us a lot about how the influence of European power and politics left its mark on individual stories in Ghana.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle
Haruki Murakami

The story is a bit of a mystery.
The story is about a man called Toru Okada who has recently quit his job and has started spending his time searching for his wife’s missing cat. Eventually, his wife goes missing too and as a result, Toru is taken through this surreal spiritual journey to find his way back to her again. Along the way, things keep getting stranger and stranger and on his quest, he encounters all these weird and wonderful people. In the end, he must go head to head with this certain kind of darkness to find his way back to his wife.

This book is amazing. I now understand why it is in so many 'books to read before you die' lists. There is so much packed into it and so many things happen that seem completely left field but somehow, in the end, it all manages to fit together and make sense. The way Murakami weaves this dreamlike netherworld into reality is beautiful.

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage 
Haruki Murakami

I’ve come to love Murakami’s writing. I find it whimsical, hauntingly familiar and otherworldly. It seems so real and yet at the same time so distant to the world I know. The book follows Tsukru Tazaki who had a close bond with his group of friends from high school. When he leaves to go to a university in another city his friends stop speaking to him and don't tell him why. He is thrown into a great depression until eventually, someone encourages him to go out and find out why exactly his friends cut him off even though it causes him deep pain. This book was a beautiful read and I enjoyed going on the journey with Tsukuru.

Things Fall Apart 
Chinua Achebe

Follows the story of Okonkwo and a fictional Igbo village in Nigeria. The book is split into two parts. The first trails through Okonkwo's rise from wrestling champion to leader and his fall. The second concerns the destruction of Okonkwo's world through the arrival of aggressive European missionaries and what it means for their village.

Achebe doesn't judge Okowko or the European missionaries. Instead, he leaves it up to the reader to decide who is wrong or right, if anyone is at all. This taught me a lot about the traditions and customs of certain Igbo tribes. I loved seeing how life was organised and what went on in the villages. We rarely see portraits of Africa before black people were under the boot of the white man so I really enjoyed this.

The Power
Naomi Alderman

This novel had me shook. It's about how the power imbalance between men and women is permanently altered by the growing ability of young women to inflict pain through their fingers. For the first time, women are more powerful than men. The book explores events through the eyes of several different characters to show how these events impacted different women and men.

I usually stay away from books like this but after I'd heard everyone talking about it and then after it went and won the women's prize for fiction, I thought "Why not give it a go?" I'm glad I did. This book was a real page-turner. I think it showed how power can corrupt even the most well-intentioned people and how sometimes people hurt others just because they can.

Half of A Yellow Sun 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimanada has quickly become one of my most cherished authors. This book is about how Ugwu, an unassuming village boy, Richard, a shy, white Englishman and Orlana, the rebellious daughter of a big man's lives are warped and irrevocably shaped after Nigeria is struck by a bloody and messy civil war.

Chimamanda has such a beautiful way with words. I cannot and don't think I will ever get over the way she describes her characters. They feel so real to me as if we've sat in my bed and stayed up until 3am talking about anything and everything. Her characters and the politically charged backdrops she sets her stories to, never fail to leave me in awe.


Roxane Gay

This account of Roxane's life gives us a true insight into what it's like to live in a world that will stop at no end to tell you that the way you are is not good enough, in a world that does not accommodate you. It also shows us just how much sexual trauma can impact a person's life. Roxane's incredibly difficult and debilitating assault ultimately leaves its mark on her relationship with food, herself and other people.

This book changed the way I viewed people's relationship's with food and the reasons behind them. It also made me consider what the world is like for people who are overweight and how small things like a chair being too small to sit in, or trying to keep up with friends on a walk really do have a huge bearing on life. It made me realise it's not as simple as eating more or eating less, there are so many different factors that come into play. I think this is an important book and a book everyone needs to read.

Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race
Reni Eddo-Lodge

This book was not at all what I expected. It talks about the historical context behind the race relations between black and white people in Britain. It airs a few of the grievances black people have when talking to white people about race. It's informative, consoling and there are several yaaaaas moments.

Reading this book was quite a special experience for me because it gave context to a lot of the things I'd experienced growing up. I don't think this book aims to 'call anyone out', but to let everyone know why things are the way the are. I think Britain has been crying out for a book like this for a very long time.

The Consolations of Philosophy
Allain de Botton

This book does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides some consolation to our many fears and anxieties using the words and teaching of Philosophers like Socrates, Seneca and Nietzsche. This book ignited a strong interest in philosophy inside myself and allowed me to consider the way I viewed life differently. It made me make some real changes in my behaviour and my lifestyle.

No comments

Post a Comment

What do you think?