Our Best and Worst Reads of 2017

2017 was a great year of reading, and our very first year of Lit Lens! Thank you for following along on our reading journey and for telling us about your own. Hopefully in 2018 we can connect with more readers and continue having great conversations about the lit life.

Indiana’s Best of 2017 (order does not signify level of “bestness”)

1. Nutshell by Ian McEwan

This one was just surprised me with just how weird a book premise could be. I thought McEwan took a premise that’s tough to wrap your head around and created a unique story around it.

2. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

I’d put off reading this one for years simply because it sounded like it would be too “stale” and out of touch. But I thought it really held up and a lot of books on the bestseller lists today seem to have more than a few things in common with this book.

3. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

I don’t know if this one really needs an explanation. It’s over 1,000 pages and it’s a fantastic epic fantasy. Enough said?

4. M Train by Patti Smith

Want to spend a day or two with the legendary Patti Smith? To feel like you’ve actually seen through her eyes? Pick up this book.

5. Artful by Ali Smith

This is another one with a supremely odd premise, but I thought Smith really pulled it off. As she does with nearly all of her books.

Indiana’s Worst of 2017

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I know this one was on the bestseller list for forever and that it’s probably listed still. But I couldn’t get into the story.

2. Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Unfortunately, I was really not a fan of this one. I loved all of Backman’s others. But this one was devoid of his usual humor and his ability to describe characters with such precision.

3. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

The book could have been shaved down by so much that I got impatient and began skimming. You never want to do that.

4. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker



Although I was really looking forward to this one, I found that there wasn’t really much of a plot and the magic wasn’t ever explained.

5. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

Another one with an odd premise, but one that I didn’t think was pulled off quite as well as others,

Pete’s Best Reads of 2017

2017, according to my average rating (6.88) was the best year of reading for me in a long time. I also read 50 books, slightly higher than last years record, but still not where I’d like to be. Hopefully I can get back to the days of 60 books a year in 2018!

1. The Keep by Jennifer Egan

I didn’t think this one could live up to A Visit From The Goon Squad, but somehow it did. This one was a blast, and there was just so much story packed into such a short book.

2. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

It was a long wait for the third Stormlight Archive book, but it absolutely met expectations. With the first Stormlight arc more than halfway done, I can’t wait to see where Sanderson takes the series next.

3. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I’m usually not a fan of the “converging perspectives” framework, but Egan really pulled it off with this one. This is my favorite Pulitzer Prize winner.

4. Black Light Express by Philip Reeve

Reeve managed to create something magical once again with his new series. Fans of his Hungry City Chronicles series should not miss out on this wonderful sci-fi adventure.

5. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

It was great to read a classic fantasy and immediately understand why it holds the place that it does in the genre. This is a book I know I’ll return to again and again.

Pete’s Worst Reads of 2017

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Bland, predictable, and totally soulless. This may be one of my least favorite books of all time. It was like an alien was trying (and failing) to understand human emotions.

2. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Family drama where you already know all of the major events before they happen, combined with an industrially repetitive writing style? Not for me.

3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This one came off as pretentious high-brow sci-fi imitation… it never explored its own concepts fully, and there were no compelling characters or storylines to keep it afloat.

4) Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Despite all of the hardship Darrow endures in this book, I was still unable to connect with him. And Brown never convinced me that Darrow was as glorious and charismatic as he repeatedly told me he was. It’s rare that I feel that a character is a Mary Sue, but this was one of the worst offenders I’ve encountered.

5) Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Egan manages to end up on both the “best of” and “worst of” lists somehow. I had high hopes for this one, but it was so cautious and delicate that nothing interesting or noteworthy seemed to happen.

We are looking forward to another year of reading and book blogging with you all!

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