I have loved to read my whole life. I started very young and never stopped. I collected books, never giving them up, until I realized it wasn’t conducive to moving or my desire for a clutter-free New York (read: tiny) apartment. I’ve culled my book collection over the years in favor of keeping my favorites and donating or sharing ones I’ve finished, and moved some to a Kindle, which is much easier to transport while commuting.

Despite my love of reading, I realized a few years ago that I wasn’t reading (for fun, anyway) nearly as much as I’d like. Thanks to the Goodreads Reading Challenge I decided to re-commit myself to this earliest of love affairs.

Some of my favorite 2017 non-fiction on my bookshelf.

I had trouble the first couple years hitting my target of 24 per year, but last year, 2017, I smashed it! I read a total of 32 books, helped along in part by a couple of short essays by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the fact that I bookended the year by re-reading two of my favorite series: Harry Potter and the Milliennium (or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) series.

I couldn’t even begin to rank them by favorite, so I’ve listed all 32 below in chronological order by finish date. What I can say is that every American should read This Changes Everything and The Work of Nations, which was written in the late 90’s but is still incredibly relevant. Blitzed is horrifically enlightening, Shrill is a must for women everywhere, and if you are a fan of biographies and memoirs but tend to read ones written by white westerners, I highly recommend picking up House of Stone for a different perspective.

The Handmaid’s Tale is of course haunting and essential, but you can follow it up with Lamb, which is sure to make you LOL more than a few times.

And if you want to know how the world really works (and see some damn good journalism), dig into Enemies Within and The Way of the Knife.

Essential essays

You’ll notice some books are finished very close to one another in time. I’m not a demon speed reader but I do tend to be in the middle of multiple books at one time. I’m also at the mercy of my accuracy at marking books finished in Goodreads. 

And without further ado:

  1. Jan. 2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, by J.K. Rowling
  2. Jan. 7 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling
  3. Jan. 15 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling
  4. Jan. 8 Insane Clown President, by Matt Taibbi
  5. Feb. 16 This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein
  6. Feb. 28 The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  7. March 8 Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America, by Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman
  8. April 5 Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany, by Norman Ohler
  9. April 6 Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton
  10. April 8 The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, by Matt Mazzetti
  11. April 18 Give and Take, by Adam Grant
  12. May 3 The Cartel, by Don Winslow
  13. May 8 We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  14. May 8 Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bordain
  15. May 9 Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  16. May 16 Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  17. May 24 Do Not Ask What Good We Do, by Robert Draper
  18. June 14 Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present, by Jeff Madrick
  19. June 28 The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism, by Robert Reich
  20. July 14 Hope in the Dark: The Untold History of People Power (Essays), by Rebecca Solnit
  21. Aug. 9 Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West
  22. Aug. 10 Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance
  23. Aug. 18 Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, by Jon Krakauer
  24. Aug. 19 House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family and a Lost Middle East, by Anthony Shadid
  25. Aug. 30 American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
  26. Oct. 13 Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, by H.D. Bissinger
  27. Oct. 24 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1), by Stieg Larsson
  28. Nov. 2 The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium #2), by Stieg Larsson
  29. Nov. 12 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium #3), by Stieg Larsson
  30. Nov. 20 The Girl in the Spider Web (Millennium #4), by David Lagercrantz
  31. Dec. 1 The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (Millennium #5), by David Lagercrantz
  32. Dec. 14 Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore

What were your favorite books of 2017? Or what are you excited to read in 2018!?


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