top 20-ish books of 2017

This may seem like an odd post for April, seeing as how most everyone else advertised their 2017 favorites in December and January. But I've been putting a lot of time and energy into my editing business over the past few months and let this dear blog fall by the wayside. And since I haven't posted any book reviews in a while, I decided to smoosh all of my favorites from last year into one tidy list. In no particular order, here are my top books of 2017:


Little Flower by Ted Oswald
Admittedly, though I gave it a 5/5 rating, all I wrote in my reading journal about this novel was, "Amazing, as usual." Ted Oswald is a gifted writer with a talent for making the reader feel truly present in his stories. This newest novel, set in India, is a gripping story about an elderly nun, a young prostitute, and a murdered man. How is that for attention-grabbing?

There Is a Land by Ted Oswald
Another book by Oswald, this second novel in the Libete Limye Mystery series is told from Libete's point of view but from two different points in time. Both suspenseful and poetic, it brings Haiti and the people who live there to life. (Start with Because We Are.)

Raj by Gita Mehta
Beautiful descriptive wording in this novel makes the story of India's independence interesting and accessible, in addition to the fact that it is told through the perspective of a single protagonist. I loved following Jaya's story, even though it wasn't always happy.

Breed of Giants by Joyce Stranger
This clean, romance-free horse story for adults is a beautiful tribute to Shire horses and the people who keep this draft breed alive even in modern times. (Full review here.)

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
Even if you don't typically read graphic novels, I highly recommend this fun, unique fantasy with nods to classic fairy tales. There are two large volumes, but make sure you read the updated edition of the second volume, as the original ends rather abruptly. (Full review here.)

Bronze by B.B. Shepherd
Bronze is an engaging YA horse story with well-written descriptions and mental health themes. Though a bit cliché, I also thought it was very realistic and overall found it to be an addicting, light read. (Full review here.)

Exiles by Jaye L. Knight
This list would be woefully incomplete without Jaye L. Knight's latest book! I love the relationships in Exiles, as well as the introduction of new places and cultures (and really big trees). After a comfortably slow start, this novel is filled with lots of action and some really tense moments. If you haven't read any of the Ilyon Chronicles yet, you definitely should--it's one of my absolute favorites. (Click for reviews of books 1, 1.5, 2, and 3.)

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
One of Kingsolver's many excellent novels, this book contains themes of relationships, conservation, nature, science, rural communities, and church. Nothing has an easy answer, and no one is perfect--life is complex and messy. Everyone has a story. Everything is connected.

The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
These first two books about the young witch Tiffany Aching are so, so funny! The second novel is a little creepy, and both are surprisingly, subtly wise.

The Dragon Quartet by Marjorie B. Kellogg
This fantasy/sci-fi crossover is both entertaining and relevant. It has compelling characters, interesting cultures and landscapes, a brilliant weaving together of times and places, and settings eerily parallel to our own. And dragons, of course!

The Girl from Everywhere duology by Heidi Heilig
I love all of the characters and relationships in this wonderful mixture of cultures, myths, and history. These books contain plenty of twists and turns and poor decisions and witty conversations, and I highly recommend them.

The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson
Something of a cross between the movie Leap Year and a Barbara Kingsolver novel, this book contains beautiful Irish landscapes, refreshingly believable characters, and a poetic story. It is a narrative of both people and place, and I love it.

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb
This is a great conclusion to the wonderful Rain Wilds Chronicles, a fantasy quartet that I highly recommend to all dragon lovers. (Full review here. If you haven't read the first three books, start here. And then read book two. And so on.)


The Freelancer's Bible by Sara Horowitz
With tips on everything from setting up your desk to paying taxes, this truly is The Freelancer's Bible. I read a library copy cover-to-cover, and now I wish I had my own copy. If you are new to freelancing, this book is definitely worth a read.

A Journey with Mark by Marek P. Zabriskie
This is an excellent book for personal study of the Gospel of Mark. Although it is meant to be read at any time of the year, I found that it works very well as a Lenten devotional.

Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown
With a subtitle of "Eat Well on $4 a Day," this cookbook includes everything from shopping tips to suggestions for oatmeal mix-ins to a crustless quiche recipe. I first discovered the free downloadable PDF version and loved it so much that I later purchased the updated paperback. The recipes are simple, practical, and customizable.

Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau
I cannot even begin to tell how much I love this book. It is soul food, brain food, a brutal critique of humanity and beautiful portrait of simplicity with stunning descriptions that lend themselves well to being read aloud.

The Subversive Copyeditor by Carol Fisher Saller
A great resource for beginning copy editors, this little book is informative yet doused with wit. Although mostly about professional relationships, it also contains some tips on technique as well as a helpful section in the back that points to additional useful resources.

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
This book provides a fascinating, inspiring, remarkably relateable look into C.S. Lewis's youth, from his childhood in Belfast, Ireland, to his studies at Oxford. It's a book to savor. If you're a fan of Lewis, this is definitely a must-read.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
This is a wonderful overview of Pakistan's recent history as well as a compelling story of Malala Yousafzai's incredible experience.


In all, 2017 was an excellent reading year. I could have added a few more books to this list, and I did combine two books into one entry several times. So really, my top books of last year make up about half of what I read, since my grand total was 51 books. Hopefully 2018 will be just as good . . . I'm off to a decent start!

Have you read many good books yet this year? Share your favorites below!


  1. It’s never too late to share favorites. I’m glad you had a good reading year. I hope 2018 is just as good.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thanks, AJ! I hope you're reading some good books this year too.