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Archives 2016-2020 > Best and Worst Books You Read in 2017

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message 1: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 3778 comments Mod
Hi all - I know it might be hard to pick just one but here is a place to comment on the ONE best book that you read this year and the ONE worst book that you either read or could not finish.

I will start:

BEST - The Handmaid's Tale by one of my favourite Canadian authors, Margaret Atwood. This novel not only became a popular TV series but remains as current today as it was in 1985 when it was first written!

WORST - as much as I wanted to enjoy this Canada Reads choice, I could NOT finish The Right To Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. While I totally agree that it is important to support climate change, I was stuck on the minutia of Sheila Watt Cloutier’s life and all the names, acronyms and minute details of each organization and meeting that she attended. Sadly the important parts of the narrative were lost and this book needed way more editing.


message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna (iudita) | 62 comments I would love to comment but wondered first if we were limiting this to Canadian only content?


message 3: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 3778 comments Mod
Good question Anna - open to any of the books you read this year!


message 4: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1327 comments I can't limit it to one book, hahaha. My 10s for 2017 are the following:

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Simple Recipes by Madeleine Thien (Canadian short stories)
After Rain by William Trevor (Irish short stories)
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
L'Acquittement by Gaétan Soucy
Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta (Nigerian short stories)
Immaculée Conception by Gaétan Soucy
A Bit on the Side by William Trevor (Irish short stories)
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

And my duds 1, 2, or 3 out of 10:

Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (graphic novel and it was terrible but I had to read it for the prison book club, where everyone else hated it too)
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

And those that I wanted to like but could not (4 out of 10):

The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son
Son of a Trickster
A Child Called "It"
Lincoln in the Bardo
Pond
Everybody's Son


message 5: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1327 comments @ ❀ Susan. Totally agree with you one the Watt-Cloutier book. It's such a shame she didn't have a better editor.


message 6: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 3778 comments Mod
@Louise - too funny - i will add a top 10 list thread too but please try to nail it down to just 1 :)

i know it is hard!


message 7: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1327 comments Damn. Okay then I guess I have to go with Gaétan Soucy's L'Acquittement since I have read it 3 times and want to read it again.

Worst goes to Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth


message 8: by Allison (new)

Allison | 1954 comments Best for me (this is so hard!) is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Worst read for me this year was Company Town.

How sad that two of the CR books have made our collective "Worst Books" list! Wow!


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan | 809 comments Best: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I loved this book SO MUCH!!

Worst (this one is much harder to pick): The Family Fang. I had 5 dud reads this year but this was the "duddiest" because it was not what I had been expecting. This book struck me as mean spirited and nasty (and boring), but it had been billed as quirky and amusing. So, beyond not enjoying it, I was offended that I had been duped to read it in the first place!


message 10: by Anna (new)

Anna (iudita) | 62 comments I think my favourite might have been Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. And I have to give a shout out to The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats who I discovered this year and fell completely in love with. My least favourite was I Found You by Lisa Jewell which may surprise some people because it was pretty well received, but it was just way to formulaic for me.


message 11: by Anna (new)

Anna (iudita) | 62 comments Allison wrote: "Best for me (this is so hard!) is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Worst read for me this year was Company Town.

How sad that two of..."


I also thought Between the World and Me was a great read. Such a powerful book.


message 12: by Wanda (new)

Wanda | 572 comments Had a tough time narrowing this down! I am going to chose my favorite Canadian read as Be Still the Water and my worst- which I have yet to finish and is not Canadian-Autumn.


message 13: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) It's almost killing me to choose a top book! But if forced, I'll say The Essex Serpent.

Worst book is dead easy: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

@Susan, I loved The Family Fang but I know when black humour fails a reader, it fails badly.

@Louise, several of your books made my 'best of' lists for other years: HagSeed, Man Called Ove, 84 Charing Cross Road.


Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺ (allisonhikesthebookwoods) | 1836 comments I loved a lot of books this year, but The Thirteenth Tale really stood out.

Worst book is one I wanted to like, but ultimately hated just about every page: Bellevue Square.


message 15: by CynthiaA (new)

CynthiaA (bookthia) | 119 comments I read 37 books in total this year, which is more than last year by 4.

I think my favourite book this year was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society . It's funny, I'd had my copy of this for over 5 years and always meant to pick it up, but something else nudged it along. Then, my Mother-in-Law passed away in March and she was a huge reader. This book was one of the last books she read to herself before her Alzheimers impaired her enjoyment of reading. I read it, and it reminded me of her in so many ways. So, while it is an excellent little story, I think it just resonated with me in such a personal way that it shot to the top of my favourites list.

My least enjoyed book this year was a book called Michelangelo's Notebook by Paul Christopher. It sounded similar to a Dan Brown styled mystery/thriller, centred on stolen pages from Michelangelo's notebook. Except it really was awful. It made Dan Brown look like a gifted writer, which really is an accomplishment in my view. I had 3 novels by this author given to me and I read this one, then donated all three of them to a local LFL. Hopefully someone else will enjoy them.

My favourite Canadian book this year was Game Change: Steve Montador, Brain Injuries, and the Future of the Game by Ken Dryden. We are hockey fans in this house, and this book has changed the way we enjoy the game. It hasn't removed our love of it... but it has influenced the way we think about the game itself, and the rules of play.


message 16: by Diane (new)

Diane (Tvor) | 392 comments I read a lot of 4 and 5 star books this year but two of them were found while looking for books for the Cross Canada challenge and turned out to be real gems, Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi and The Town That Drowned by Riel Nason. For books that were real disappointments, Crimes Against My Brother by David Adams Richards was my only "did not finish". Swing Time by Zadie Smith and The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood in particular disappointed due to really liking most of the other works by both authors.


message 17: by Petra (new)

Petra | 739 comments I can't narrow down the best book of 2017 to under 4. I decided to "spin the wheel" so to speak and name the one Fate landed on.
My least favorite book was an easy choice.

My favorite read for 2017, for sheer entertainment value, was Wool by Hugh Howey.

My least favorite book was Early One Morning by Virginia Baily.


message 18: by Natasha (last edited Dec 27, 2017 06:27AM) (new)

Natasha Penney | 579 comments I read a lot of books that I loved in 2017. In no particular order, they include: I Am a Truck by Michelle Winters; book:Brother|36672820] by David Chariandy; Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt; The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood; Company Town by Madeline Ashby; The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill; Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson and of course, last but NEVER least, Richard Wagamese's Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations.

The books I struggled with were the labored and disappointing Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill and sadly, Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, which I just found depressing.


message 19: by ✿✿✿May (new)

✿✿✿May  | 800 comments 2017 was a good year with manyy good books, but my favourite is still All the Light We Cannot See.
The most dreadful was The Right To Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet, since I had to force myself to read it for Canada Reads. I probably would have never picked up this book, EVER!


message 20: by Rainey (last edited Dec 27, 2017 07:33AM) (new)

Rainey | 708 comments My 2 favourites were

1. a book only available on audiobook Cash City and

2. IQ

Worst was The Right To Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet which I only bought for Canada Reads.


message 21: by Shannon (new)

Shannon White | 260 comments I must be an optimist...when I consulted my ``year in books` I came up with a lengthy best list and only 2 for my worst list. Here goes.

Best
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Hum If You Don’t Know the Words
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Flight of Dreams
Sing, Unburied, Sing

Worst
The winner is....The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. I had to give up after 200 pages. I hate DNFìng a book. I have only done it about 5 times.
The most disappointing book goes to... Artemis. Total trash. I thought the Martian was hilarious...a great spoof....but in retrospect, maybe Weir was serious. Yikes!


message 22: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 3778 comments Mod
Sadly - that makes 3 of us who voted the worst as the Right to Be Cold... if only it had more editing since it is an important topic!


message 23: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 3778 comments Mod
@Diane @Natasha and @Shannon - i challenge you to narrow it down and pick one from your list as the best and worst ... Note that @Petra decided to "spin the wheel"


message 24: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Penney | 579 comments ❀ Susan wrote: "@Diane @Natasha and @Shannon - i challenge you to narrow it down and pick one from your list as the best and worst ... Note that @Petra decided to "spin the wheel""

No problem! Worst - ABSOLUTE worst - was Bellevue Square. I want those hours back.

The Best...tough...I want VERY badly to split the honour and choose two books. But since I can't, it has to go to I Am a Truck. Michelle Winters packed SO very much into this deceptively simplistic novel. It keeps visiting me - the characters are still speaking. I gifted copies to my mom and sister for Christmas. It was wonderful. A delightful, unexpected, beautiful surprise.


message 25: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1327 comments ❀ Susan wrote: "Sadly - that makes 3 of us who voted the worst as the Right to Be Cold... if only it had more editing since it is an important topic!"

While it didn't make my "worst" list, because I did read worse, it came pretty close.


message 26: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1327 comments And wow, Bellevue Square made the worst list 3 times. I wonder if it was because expectations were high? I thought it was a brilliant book.


message 27: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 3778 comments Mod
à chacun son goût!!

One of my few expressions en francais (to each his own taste) but it so fits with reading! Not only taste but I think sometimes it is totally timing!


message 28: by Shannon (new)

Shannon White | 260 comments Tough challenge!!!!

Have to go with The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women - so fascinating! (non-fiction)

Worst is easy.... The Ministry of Utmost Happiness... so very unenjoyable. :(


message 29: by Diane (new)

Diane (Tvor) | 392 comments Ok, then. I read quite a few 5 star books, many more than I listed above in my previous post and Prairie Ostrich always seems to be the first one I come to when asked about good books for the year. For the worst, since I didn't finish it, it would have to be Crimes Against My Brother.


message 30: by Heather(Gibby) (new)

Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 457 comments It was really tough to narrow down to my best, but in the end I choose Sweetland because although I had other 5 star reads, many of them can be considered "difficult" topics for many, but I would have no hesitation to recommend Sweetland to anyone.

My worst book I would say was Seriously... I'm Kidding which was a whole lot of drivel.


message 31: by Anna (new)

Anna (iudita) | 62 comments Heather(Gibby) wrote: "It was really tough to narrow down to my best, but in the end I choose Sweetland because although I had other 5 star reads, many of them can be considered "difficult" topics for man..."

Yay for Sweetland. I loved that book.


message 32: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 80 comments Best book I read this year easily goes to Katherena Vermette's The Break.
The worst book? That honour goes to my book club's January read, Anna Snoekstra's Only Daughter. Just awful!


message 33: by Jen (new)

Jen One book is so tough! But if I have to pick one favourite it will be The Break, which struck a deep chord and has stuck with me.

Disappointments might be more difficult, since there wasn't one standout but several 'meh' books. I'll go with The Poisonwood Bible because my expectations were high and I failed to connect to it whatsoever. Not really sure why, I know it's a favourite of many and an award winner, but that's personal reading preferences for you.


message 34: by Shannon (new)

Shannon White | 260 comments Joseph Boyden - Three Day Road

True Canadian excellence.


message 35: by Loretta (last edited Dec 28, 2017 12:42PM) (new)

Loretta | 29 comments I am going to cheat a wee bit on naming my best books, LOL, because I do hate leaving people out!

My best Canadian fiction book - The Break.
My best non-Canadian fiction book - The Hate U Give. I just finished it last night, and it is so good, so powerful. Someone else in this group recently recommended it, so even though I'm not a big YA reader, I decided to check it out, and am very happy I did.

My best non-fiction book - Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Issues in Canada. Really clear, well-written, informative, often funny, and with lots of footnotes and "further reading". Highly recommended.

I actually had a decent reading year so I only have two "2-star" books, so for worst read I'll just name one - Allegiant, the third book in the Divergent series. (the only other YA books I read this year, I think) - I really enjoyed the first book as original world building and a fast-paced plot, but holy cow did it ever all fall apart in the last book. Very disappointing.


message 36: by ❀ Susan (last edited Dec 28, 2017 10:28AM) (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 3778 comments Mod
Again - the intent for this thread is to talk about the best and worst reads of 2017 and not to debate views on CanLit. I have deleted any comments that don't relate to the intent of the post and would ask that we keep this thread related to best and worst. thanks


message 37: by Megan (new)

Megan  | 511 comments My best Canadian fiction book this year was: Bear. This book challenged me and the writing was brilliant.

My best Canadian non-fiction book was Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations

Worst book: Chocolate Cherry Chai


message 38: by Talie (new)

Talie | 81 comments Worst is easy Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris was just not well edited and the stories lacked punch to them.

Best was harder but I'll say The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was a surprise and a story that rekindled some sense of magic for me. The setting was beautiful. This was the author's only novel and I really hope she writes more.


message 39: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 3778 comments Mod
@Talie - I started Holidays on Ice last year and had to quit reading it!

I enjoyed the Night Circus - it sure was detailed and a book that I would like to reread sometime


message 40: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 456 comments This year I 5 stars to 25 books! I'd say that was a good year. Even if the number of books I read was possible because I was practically bedridden the first half of the year.

The worst book I read was company town.
I was prepared to love this book, and at the beginning I loved the tough heroine and the political analysis was credible, but I felt it went downhill fast and ended in a sticky harlequinesque mash. It was as is the author was working from a list of hot topics and to me, the graphic violence was gratuitous.


message 41: by Story (new)

Story (storyheart) @Susan, The Night Circus is especially good on audio if you're an audiobook fan.


message 42: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Penney | 579 comments Talie wrote: "Worst is easy Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris was just not well edited and the stories lacked punch to them.

Best was harder but I'll say The Night Circus when I read it! I gave it to my best friend, who loved it as well.



message 43: by Mj (last edited Jan 09, 2018 10:04AM) (new)

Mj Thanks for mentioning The Night Circus Talie and everyone who seconded it. I've been thinking of reading it for years but haven't done so yet. Great nudge!!

My favourite book for 2017 was Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese; however it was a re-read for me for a 2017 Bingo Square.

My favourite first read book for 2017 was Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai. It was also my first read for this author and I plan to read more.

I rated only 4% of my books 4 stars..oops should be 5 stars (including the 2 mentioned above.

Right now can't select a worst book. I rated 33% of my books as 3 stars and nothing below - didn't really have any duds. Will give it some more thought and edit this post if I come up with one sole flop per my reading taste.


message 44: by Talie (new)

Talie | 81 comments It was so hard to pick best - glad to hear others enjoyed it a lot too.. And Mj glad that pushed you over the edge to read it soon.


message 45: by CynthiaA (new)

CynthiaA (bookthia) | 119 comments Fascinating to read everyone's best and worst list!

I see a lot of people gave "worst" votes toThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness. I also read this book, and it was truly a difficult slog, I will admit. But once I finished it, and reflected a bit, I did really like it. I learned a lot and it inspired me to do some non-fiction research on aspects of Indian history. But I can totally see why someone would give up on it... I didn't "enjoy" it until I was finished, and sometimes that's off-putting.

I try not to let other people's book opinions have too much influence on my own reading choices, but when people consistently dislike something, I sure make note.


message 46: by Mj (last edited Jan 11, 2018 12:49PM) (new)

Mj @ Cynthia - good for you for trying not to let other people's book opinions have too much influence over your own reading choices. We're all so different.....so your efforts to begin unbiased make a lot of sense.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is the perfect example - opinions are all over the map from 1's to 5's. I still hope to read it myself and figure if it made the Man Booker Long List it must have some redeeming qualities. For sure, Arundhati Roy has great writing skills and previous successes.

This Canada Reads group is a perfect example of the diversity of readers opinions - Bellevue Square had very mixed opinions - mostly negative although some liked it and it ended up winning the Scotiabank Giller Prize - not that literary prize winners mean books are good (I've read duds as well as wonderful books) - it just illustrates how diverse readers' opinions are.

The same was true for The Illegal - many members really didn't enjoy it and felt it had little chance of winning and yet it won Canada Reads' that year - in large part due to its defender....but it was also a good book that has garnished lots of favourable ratings since that time. I also think that by Lawrence Hill took a bold step moving into more genre related fiction (mystery as well as fantasy) rather than pure literary fiction and has really influenced other writers' recent books. Can think of numerous literary fiction authors now venturing successfully outside their comfort zones.

I think the same holds true fo Fifteen Dogs. Readers seem to have a love or hate relationship with the book. It won Canada Reads' - again with the advantage of a great defender, but in the same year it also won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction. It's the perfect example of a book that appeals to some and not to others......and is a big reason for not letting other readers' or reveiwers or ratings unduly influence our own opinions. Variety after all is the spice of life.


message 47: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 456 comments CynthiaA wrote: "Fascinating to read everyone's best and worst list!

I see a lot of people gave "worst" votes toThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness. I also read this book, and it was truly a difficul..."


Yes this is an interesting thread. Although its mostly true that a persons opinion about a book reveals more about the person than the book. Diversity is good, and some people dont like to work too hard on a book, or think too much about unpleasant things. Certainly the Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Cynthia, I had a similar experience with it, grappled with the characters all the way through, but like you, it stayed with me and sort of blossomed.

RE The night Circus, here Im with Mj , finally convinced by Taille's assessment that its a must read.


message 48: by Navarra (last edited Jan 11, 2018 08:29AM) (new)

Navarra (tri_nav) | 4 comments Your post, Magdelanye, sparked an interesting thought that I will have to consider further. There are a number of books that I've felt I didn't like, but then found to my consternation that characters, scene, dialogue or plot point just won't leave my thoughts. As someone who, perhaps hubristically, feels she seeks out uncomfortable literature, I now question how diversity-seeking I actually am. Thanks for the post.


message 49: by Jayme (new)

Jayme Holmes | 14 comments My favourite book of the year (which had me reading much less than I would have liked), was Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. I am certainly no expert on writing, but his works just seem so extra "thought out". Words are there because they should be, and only as many as needed are included.

My least favourite book was The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. This was a Pulitzer prize winning book, which I had chosen as I work to "read the world". His writing seemed to be the total opposite of Richard Wagamese, in that he used as many words as he could possibly jam into a book.


message 50: by Mj (new)

Mj @ Jayme - Well said. Have read both and couldn't agree more. :-)


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