After hitting a personal record of 154 books read in 2016, I decided to scale things back this past year. Apparently being a full-time English teacher leaves me with a lot less free time than being a college student teaching on the side. Who knew. I still got to 101 books, but the vast majority of those books were read before August when reading time went out the window.
It was easier to choose my top 10 this year since I was sorting through a lot less books, so here are the top 10 books I read in 2017 (yes; my list is pretty eclectic–I have a lot of varied tastes). I included a brief snippet about the book below, and the titles are linked to my Goodread reviews for the few of you
foolish enough curious enough to want to read more of my thoughts on these books.
This is an odd book in many ways. One of the best works of Christian speculative fiction I’ve read–and it was also written by an atheist. It markets itself as a sci-fi first-encounter-with-aliens book–but it’s really about the trials of a long-distance marriage. It doesn’t fit into many neat categories. But it was also a breathtakingly beautiful and profoundly tragic work. Really fascinating stuff.
I had no idea Lewis published a book like this–a raw journal-like look at his personal struggles and thoughts following the death of his wife. Lewis is honest about his doubts, his anger, and his confusion. But while most of the book is depressing and somewhat-dark, the gleams of light present in the book are all-the-more powerful for that.
A cautionary tale about man’s hubris and the temptations of technology in a dystopian America. This book is unusual in its structure but was rather thought-provoking and beautifully-written.
This is one of the best books I’ve read on storytelling; it also happens to be one of the more technical and complicated works on storytelling I’ve read. Nonetheless, this is a really meaty book that’s given me a lot to think about and has helped to restructure some of the ways I think about fiction writing.
Despite the fact that I’m a fantasy writer and read a fair bit of the genre, this is the only fantasy novel that ended up making it to my top ten list, strangely enough. I read a lot of so-so fantasy, or fantasy that was good but not quite excellent. Whatever the case, Sanderson’s third book in the Stormlight Archive raises a lot of really interesting moral questions and has some truly excellent character arcs framed by good storytelling.
Practical applications for Christian living and rigorous systematic theology aren’t regularly found together, but they should be. This book is a beautiful example of how to do so in meaningful & impactful ways.
The best novel I read this year. Endo raises profound questions about Christianity that force readers to grapple with their faith and think through what it means to live in a fundamentally broken world where God’s influence isn’t always readily-apparent. I needed to reflect a long time after reading this story.
Really practical and helpful book on why people with similar foundational beliefs can have very different moral opinions and how we should work with those who differ with us. The short answer is humility and sacrifice. The longer answer is outlined in this book.
Few works of classic literature have moved me to tears. This one did this year.
…and also this one. Technically I’ve read both Iliad and Divine Comedy before, but I don’t think I ever really “got” either of them until this year, which is why they earned the #1 and #2 slots on my list. In the midst of a pretty challenging final semester at college, reading through the rest of the Divine Comedy (I read Inferno last year) was rather spiritually transformative for me and surprisingly practical. Sometime in the future when I get enough time, I mean to make it a habit to read through Divine Comedy each year. There’s so much more I can learn from this epic.
Like stories with interesting themes and surprising character choices?
My short story collection explores the nature of heroism when super-powered individuals need to choose between using their powers for themselves or others in a fantasy world.
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