My Favorite Reads of 2017 Plus My Favorite Reads of the Last Decade

2017 was a wonderful year in reading for me. Not only was it my most productive reading year ever, but it was also my first year participating in reading challenges. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

This is also the tenth year in a row that I’ll be posting my favorite reads of the year. To mark the occasion I’m going to end this post with my favorite reads of the last decade. But first, a few statistics about my reading in 2017, courtesy of Goodreads:

  • I read 17,748 pages this year, by far the most I’ve read since I started using Goodreads ten years ago. I attribute that to the reading challenges I participated in this year and to the way I organized my entire reading year ahead of time. I worried that being so organized would stifle spontaneous reading, but I was still able to fit in a few books I hadn’t planned on.
  • I read 56 books this year, another first for me. I started keeping track of my books read in 2003, and my previous record for number of books read in a year was 44.
  • I read several very long books this year, the longest of which was Kristin Lavransdatter at 1,168 pages. Other long books included Lonesome Dove (964 pages) and The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox (652 pages).
  • There were a few short ones mixed in, too, like Hunted Down by Charles Dickens (29 pages) and The Yellow Wallpaper (33 pages) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
  • According to Goodreads, the most popular book I read in 2017 was Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell, which was also read by 2,329,734 other Goodreads users. I read it because my daughter was reading it in her senior high English class, but I suspect so many others read it because of last year’s political climate.
  • The least popular book I read was The Violent Land, a western by Wayne D. Overholser. Only 9 other Goodreads users read that book this year, which is a shame, since this is a terrific story.

As I mentioned at the outset, this was my first year participating in reading challenges. I worried I had signed up for too many this first year, but I completed all thirteen challenges, which really jumpstarted my reading habit in 2017. You can see the full details at my 2017 Reading Challenges page, but here are the challenges I completed:

  1. Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge
  2. Back to the Classics Challenge
  3. British Books Challenge
  4. Color Coded Reading Challenge
  5. Deal Me In Short Story Challenge
  6. eBook Reading Challenge
  7. European Reading Challenge
  8. Flights of Fancy Reading Challenge
  9. Follow the Clues Mystery Challenge
  10. Goodreads Reading Challenge
  11. Mount TBR Challenge
  12. What’s In a Name Reading Challenge
  13. Wild Good Chase Reading Challenge

And now to my favorite reads of the year. The following ten books were my favorites of the year, excluding The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which have been favorites of mine for many years.

Titles link to my reviews, so I won’t comment on them except to say that Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was my favorite by a long shot this year.Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

  1. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
  2. The Violent Land by Wayne D. Overholser
  3. Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell
  4. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
  5. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
  6. A Spring Within Us by Richard Rohr
  7. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
  8. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
  9. The Novel of the Century by David Bellos
  10. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Runners up include Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James, The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie, and Killing Floor by Lee Child.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is the tenth year in a row that I’ve listed my favorite books of the year. I’ve gone over all those previous lists and selected my favorite books of the last decade. It was impossible to limit my list to only ten books, so I’ve decided to choose twenty. The following twenty titles are the best of the 377 books I’ve read in the last ten years, in rank order–at least, that’s how I feel today. Ask me tomorrow and my list will probably be different. (Titles link to my reviews of the books, where available)

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read in 2011 and 2017)
  2. The Aubrey Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian (re-read during 2011-2015)
  3. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (re-read in 2013)
  4. Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewicz (re-read in 2013)
  5. The Fionovar Tapestry (The Summer Tree/The Wandering Fire/The Darkest Road) by Guy Gavriel Kay (re-read in 2014)
  6. Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade (read in 2008)
  7. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (read in 2017)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth by Bradley Birzer (read in 2013)
  9. The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos (read in 2017)
  10. Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality by Richard Rohr (read in 2009)
  11. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (read in 2017)
  12. Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity by Ronald Rolheiser (read in 2014)
  13. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon (read in 2014)
  14. The Prestige by Christopher Priest (read in 2016)
  15. Sober Intoxication of the Spirit: Filled with the Fullness of God by Raniero Cantalamessa (read in 2015)
  16. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (read in 2014)
  17. Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson (read in 2016)
  18. The Count of Monte Cristo (abridged) by Alexandre Dumas (read in 2013)
  19. To the Field of the Stars: A Pilgrim’s Journey to Santiago de Compostela  by Kevin Codd (read in 2011)
  20. Healing the Culture by Robert Spitzer (read in 2008)

And there you have it, my year (and decade) in reading. I look to expand my reading even more in 2018 by participating in more challenges and even hosting my own, the Wild Wild West Reading Challenge. 2018 will also be the year I host the Les Misérables Chapter-a-Day Read-along. It’s not too late to sign up for either, so please consider participating.

Happy New Reading Year! I pray that 2018 will be filled with grace and peace for you and your family.

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, a Roman Catholic deacon and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

4 Responses

  1. Jay says:

    Impressive year! I re-read Rebecca this year for a book club and was reminded of what a great book it is. Here’s to a great read year in 2018!

  2. Louise says:

    You had a great year, and I was really interested to see your 10 year list as well. Good job on completing all those challenges, I know I wouldn’t be able to do that. I’m super excited about starting Les Mis today- indeed midnight is long gone in Australia, and I read Chapter 1 soon after- so I’m all up to date!

  3. I totally understand your top 3 for 2017. wow, I don’t think I could do the best of 10 years, but may I should give it a try, thanks for the challenging idea!

    • Deacon Nick says:

      Yes, I’d love to see your favorites from the past decade. It was interesting to me to see which books over that time held up in my mind as favorites and which ones faded after the initial euphoria wore off.

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