Let's Talk Books

The Best Of

What I find amusing about book lists are those 100 Books You Should Read in Your Lifetime kind … you know, the list of books (a) you’ve never heard of, and (b) will never read even if you lived a million years, or (c) only read at school because you were forced too. Leaving you wondering how so many of them ended up on a Best Of list to begin with.

I mean, no one has ever asked me for my nominations. And just because ten people say that they like a book, doesn’t mean there are not 25,000 others who hated it but were never asked their opinion.

Personally, while I’ve read well over several hundred books, I would still be hard pressed to find 100 to list as being the ‘best-of’ or ‘must-reads’. Our reading experiences are so subjective, I bet many of us would be in the same position. Ask yourself, out of all the books you’ve read, how many did you really, truly, deep down, like, and how many did you think were so-so, dislike, hate, or were apathetic towards. And, of course, how many ended up DNF?

If we’re truthful with ourselves, there are a lot more books that fall into the that was okay range. And despite what you read on Amazon and Goodreads, there really are not that many 5-star reads out there. And you, dear reader, what do you think, and what were your favourite reads of 2017?

Mine were:

• The Dry — Jane Harper
• A Great Reckoning — Louise Penny
• The Stockholm Octavo — Karen Engelmann
• The Ashes of London — Andrew Taylor
• The Thicket — Joe R. Lansdale
• Critical Mass — Sara Paretsky
• Deep Down Dead — Steph Broadribb
• The Dime — Kathleen Kent
• The Silenced — Anders de la Motte
• Evil Games — Angela Marsons


  1. I agree completely, Alex, about the subjectivity of those ‘Best of’ lists. We all have different tastes, experiences, expectations, and a lot more. So of course we’d have different ‘best of,’ ‘worst of,’ and ‘OK’ lists. That’s why, when I’m deciding whether to read something, I do pay attention to what people I trust say. But I also go by my own feel about a book, award/’best of’ or not.

    • La Blonde says

      I would like to think most of us are not swayed by lists, but still listen to the voice of reason and, of course, trusted confidents. Though I have to say, some of what my fiends read leaves me wondering how we’re all friends. But then again, maybe it’s the diversity that, in and of itself, makes us friends?

      And, yes, we all have our likes and dislikes. So these lists are, in my mind, very generic—like homogenized milk, boiled down to something kind of bland and tasteless but palatable by the masses.

  2. Kenny Harrison says

    I don’t recall having read any novels in 2017, but did fatten myself up on science, technical, and history books. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” was a stellar read about current cosmic research. “Warped Passages” by Lisa Randall challenged my brain with atomic and nth dimensional physics, while Susan Wise Bauer’s series on world history taught me that history does repeat itself. All of the aforementioned books are good reads, if you’re into cosmic theory and the history of the world.

    • La Blonde says

      That’s a great haul of books there, Kenny, to feed your mind and, I suspect, expand it beyond our own horizons.

      I love Susan Wise Bauer’s series, and have a couple already I use for reference. Neil I should add to my list, as I should the Lisa Randall, whose name seems familiar. Did she write about how the Universe changed it’s spots? Hmm …

      Warped passages or not, have you read any Mary Roach, as in Stiff? Fascinating. 😀

  3. Kenny Harrison says

    Haven’t run across Mary Roach in my literary wanderings, but will keep an eye out for her when I compile a list (he, he, he) of fiction to read. Lisa is also the author of “Knocking on Heavens Door,” which highlights the new physics that is helping to shape our understanding of the Universe(s). I have a copy for fall reading.

    • Alex says

      Kenny, Mary Roach doesn’t write fiction, but approaches her subject, as in Stiff, about dying, and corpses, as if writing fiction, laced with a great deal of droll, wry humour. I think you’d like her work.

        • Alex says

          Ha! Ha! You’re welcome, Kenny. Only to happy to feed your addiction.

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