At the end of 2016, I made a post about my 5 favorite reads of the year that was a hit. Since I’m on track to read more books this year than last, I’ve decided to round up a list of my five favorite books that I read during the first half of 2017 (January through June). The books aren’t ranked in any sort of way, but they were all fantastic to me in different ways. I’ve given my favorite reads mini reviews here, along with linking to their fuller reviews too. Let me know the title of your favorite book you’ve read this year in the comments! I’m already nearly done with some new reads that I feel like will make this list in December (like Mandy Len Catron’s How to Fall in Love with Anyone and the widely adored The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas)!!
This collection of tales and thoughts from the mind of Lemony Snicket is composed of “bitter truths you cannot avoid in this world” (p. 9). I decided to pick it up (from my local library since it’s currently out of print…) during my recent A Series of Unfortunate Events binge. It begins with a 10-page story about one character and I had assumed the rest of the book would be a series of similar vignettes, but they were actually short statements about life (at most spanning 1.5 pages). I ended up copying down so many quotes from the book that I finally started a quotes journal that will consist of all of my favorite book related quotes that I find.
While reading the collection, I noticed that one of my favorite quotes was directly lifted from The Wide Window, which I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t just finished re-reading it! As I continued, I noticed that other things were repeated quotes from A Series of Unfortunate Events. All was revealed when I finally read the inside book flap of the book, which described the collection as “a bouquet of alarming but inescapable truths from the work of Lemony Snicket, along with selections from his unpublished papers,” hence some quotes would clearly be repeats, but some would be entirely new to me. That said, I still loved rereading them and they felt revelatory, even out of context. I wish the book was still in print so that I could flip it open whenever I wanted! I’ve included some of my favorite quotes are below.
“Sometimes words are not enough.” (p. 78)
“One cannot spend forever sitting and solving the mysteries of one’s history.” (p. 141)
“Grief, a type of sadness that most often occurs when you have lost someone you love, is a sneaky thing, because it can disappear for a long time, and then pop back up when you least expect it.” (p. 112)
“Everyone disappoints everyone eventually.” (p. 26)
“Wishing, like sipping a glass of punch, or pulling aside a bearskin rug in order to access a hidden trapdoor in the floor, is merely a quiet way to spend one’s time before the candles are extinguished on one’s birthday cake.” (p. 62)
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how many people are chasing you, what you don’t read is often as important as what you do read.” (p. 71)
“She wondered if life was more than traveling from one place to another, suffering from poor emotional health and pondering the people one loves.” (p. 4)
And this quote which I plan to use with my undergraduate students before discussing a book that will encourage diverging interpretations of the text, “Entertaining a notion, like entertaining a baby cousin or entertaining a pack of hyenas, is a dangerous thing to refuse to do. if you refuse to entertain a baby cousin, the baby cousin may get bored and entertain itself by wandering off and falling down a well. if you refuse to entertain a pack of hyenas, they may become restless and entertain themselves by devouring you. but if you refuse to entertain a notion — which is just a fancy way of saying you refuse to think about a certain idea — you have to be much braver than someone who is merely facing some blood-thirsty animals, or some parents who are upset to find their little darling at the bottom of a well, because nobody knows what an idea will do when it goes off to entertain itself.” (p. 63)
The Wide Window falters in comparison to its predecessors. While I laughed out loud a few times with The Reptile Room, I never even chuckled with The Wide Window. While I obviously still love the series, this is one of the weaker showings because of a few bits: 1) as an adult, I find the grammar quirks of Aunt Josephine are awfully annoying, but I’m sure the youthful grammar snob that I was loved it as a kid, 2) the big plot twist with Aunt Josephine happens much earlier in the book than I would’ve thought which makes the narrative flow strange, and 3) the ending was resolved a bit too quickly and smoothly as if it were hastily strewn together.
All that said, there were some quotes that really stuck with me even if this story won’t. Most of my favorite quotes were coincidentally from Chapter 5.
“Tears are curious things, for like earthquakes or puppet shows they can occur at any time, without any warning and without any good reason.” (p. 79)
“Oftentimes, when people are miserable, they will want to make other people miserable, too. But it never helps.” (p. 74)
“To have each other in the midst of their unfortunate lives felt like having a sailboat in the middle of a hurricane, and to the Baudelaire orphans this felt very fortunate indeed.” (p. 214)
“Aunt Josephine had been so careful to avoid anything that she thought might harm her, but harm had still come her way.” (p. 79)
“She was so afraid of everything that she made it impossible to really enjoy anything at all.” (p. 193)
I’m very slowly making my way through an A Series of Unfortunate Events reread — a series I loved as a child since I was a tinge morbid and macabre. I’m slowly purchasing these books individually and sequentially through thrift store finds. Despite purchasing this in April 2015, I didn’t start the second book until Netflix released their adaptation of the series. I want to complete re-reading the first four in the series before beginning the Netflix series as the first season covers Books 1 – 4. Luckily, I’ve already snagged books 3 and 4 so I can easily snap them up whenever I’m feeling exhausted from graduate school reading.
These are so quick and fun to reread as an adult because you can catch references to prolific writers/artists/creatives that likely went over your little kid brain. I only gave the second in the series 4 stars as it’s not one of the books that I found most memorable upon reflection. That said, it was still a quite enjoyable read though!
My book blog has been active for about a month which means I’m officially able to post my very first monthly roundup! Despite the fact that this is first month that the blog has really been active, I’ve got a ton of backlogged reviews of books (11 to be exact) read earlier this year that will be uploaded as I acquire more time to finally write the reviews (you can see sneak peeks of the reviews by checking out my GoodReads account). My goal is to read 52 books in 52 weeks and to eventually have a full 52 reviews posted by December 31, 2015. Thank you for joining me as I document my journey!
April’s Book Reviews
Check out my reviews for the above books by clicking the book covers or by clicking the book titles here: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri, and the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to post reviews for all of the books I finished in April. In addition to the above books, I finished We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and those reviews will be coming in May!
April’s Book Haul
These are the books that I received during the month of April and may or may not be books that I was able to actively read during April. Books that are from the library have an increased likelihood of being read sooner due to the limited time that I have access to them.
- Local Girls by Caroline Zancan; Advance Reader Copy ebook from Penguin First to Read
- The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker; paperback from my friend Katherine when she came to visit me from Chicago in April
- Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam; hardcover from my work
- The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket; hardcover from my partner when I saw him at a wedding in Dallas last weekend
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides; audiobook from Brooklyn Public Library; currently reading
- Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan; audiobook from Brooklyn Public Library
- Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie; audiobook from Brooklyn Public Library
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; audiobook from Brooklyn Public Library
As I move forward with posting my book reviews, I’m hoping to balance adding a backlogged book review for every new book review that’s posted. I’m aiming to post the following January + February reads during the month of May.
- The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
& that’s it for my very first reading round up! Thank you for reading! If you have any tips for making my round ups more interesting to you, please share in the comments! If you feel inclined, check out my very new Instagram account and follow me on Twitter.