Our Top Five Books of 2017: Victoria

Top 5 Books - Victoria's

My reading in 2017 was guided by three general goals. First, I set a New Year’s resolution to read every book anyone has ever recommended to me. (I should note that the number of books recommended to me has grown exponentially since I began working at New Haven Reads.) According to my current tally, there are twenty five books on that list, of which I read three this past year: Where’d You Go Bernadette (Semple); Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore (Sloan); and Inga Muscio’s feminist manifesto, the title of which is not appropriate for a family-friendly blog post.

Second, I started a local chapter of the Our Shared Shelf book club, which Emma Watson runs on Good Reads. Through these meetings I read The Vagina Monologues (Ensler); The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood); Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Gay); and The Power (Alderman). I also started The Beauty Myth (Wolf) and Women Who Run With the Wolves (Estes), and I will totally definitely finish those books. Some day.

Third, I started working through the syllabus of Yale’s open course on African-American History with two friends. This reading was mostly primary sources, but I read Pullman Porters and the Rise of Protest Politics in Black America 1925-1945 (Tompkins Bates), Soul on Ice (Cleaver), and my first Baldwin, The Fire Next Time.

With the exception of the Tompkins Bates (informative, but too academic for “fun” reading) and Cleaver (very, very heavy), all of these books were excellent. Nevertheless, my five favorite books of 2017 found their way to me in other ways. If you’re looking for something to curl up with this long weekend, you cannot go wrong with any of these.

milk and honey, by rupi kaur. This poetry collection was making the rounds on the feminist book scene, so when I found a copy at the Book Bank, I picked it up. It was the first poetry book (besides Shel Silverstein) that I’ve been able to read, and I found it so moving that I pre-ordered her second collection, the sun and her flowers.

Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, by Glennon Doyle. Although Glennon Doyle is a New York Times best-selling author, this book came into my life rather circuitously. First, I found a copy of Forward, Abby Wambach’s memoir and devoured that; then I stalked Abby on Instagram and found out she’d recently married Glennon; then I found Glennon’s book in Maine’s oldest bookstore while on vacation over the summer. Carry On, Warrior, is a collection of essays about Glennon’s life – her struggles with bulimia and addiction, parenting, wife-ing, Lyme disease, and everything in between. It is beautiful, moving, and oftentimes, literally laugh out loud funny. This book has joined the short list of books I call my “bibles.”

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, by Marjane Satrapi. This one was from Our Shared Shelf’s backlog. Written in graphic novel form, Persepolis details Satrapi’s childhood and adolescence growing up in Tehran during the fall of the last Shah, the Iranian Revolution, the formation of the Republic, and the war with Iraq. From a well-off, intellectual family, her parents’ sent her to Vienna as a teenager to try to protect her, but she did not do well and returned to Tehran, depressed and suicidal. She spent several years in Tehran where she healed, went to university, married and divorced, before finally leaving again for Europe. The graphic novel format made this a quick read, but I slowed myself down a few times to process all of the details. Though I already had some familiarity with this period in Iranian history, reading her personal account was disquieting.

The House of Names, by Colm Toibin. I listened to this one through an audiobook I checked out from the NHFPL. The narration was well done, and I felt added to the story, a retelling of the classic Greek myth of Clytemnestra, who killed her husband Agamemnon when he returned victorious from the Trojan War. The book is told from the perspective of Clytemnestra and her children, and it is so. so. so. good.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes. I also listened to this one through an audiobook, and I highly recommend listening to this book instead of reading it. Shonda, the mind behind shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, narrates the audiobook version, and her personality comes through really well in this format. The premise behind the book is that, for a whole year, she had to say YES to things that scared her – and there were many of those things. It’s a premise that stands up by itself, but I also appreciated reading about the perspective of a black woman who has found significant success in a space where there are very few women of color.

victoriaVictoria Sanchez is the Book Bank and Operations Director at New Haven Reads. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American Studies from Yale University. Prior to joining New Haven Reads in January 2016, she worked for a tech start-up in D.C. and a political campaign in Texas, her home state. Her favorite genres to read are memoirs and fantasy novels.






Categories Book Bank | Tags: | Posted on January 13, 2018

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