Favorite Books of 2017

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As we near the end of 2017, I thought I’d take this Wednesday to look back over a few of the books that I especially loved this year. Just like last year, I’ll be choosing one work from each of the four main genres.

Favorite Fiction

This year’s big fiction project was Anna Karenina, and though I’ve enjoyed it immensely, since I’m picking favorite books and not best books, I’m going to go with Ivan Turgenev’s First Love . Turgenev lacks Tolstoy’s wordiness and supplies a kind of imaginative lyricism that you don’t get as much of in Anna. You can read my full review of it here.

Favorite Play

I only read one play this year, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, and although it’s one of the saddest books I’ve ever read, I have no problem calling it my favorite play of 2017.

Favorite Nonfiction

Honorable mention must go to Dennis O’Driscoll’s collection of interviews with Seamus Heaney (review here): it’s essential for anyone interested in Heaney’s poetry. In the end, though, my favorite nonfiction book of the year was Andrzej Franaszek’s biography of Czesław Miłosz (review). I love a well-written biography, especially when it’s about one of my favorite writers. As it turns out, Miłosz’s life is pretty fascinating even if you haven’t read his poetry, seeing as he was so unfortunate as to be involved in most of the worst crises of the twentieth century.

Favorite Poetry

This is a tough one: Kaveh Akbar published his first full-length collection Calling a Wolf a Wolf this year, and although I haven’t reviewed it yet, I did read it and it was terrific. I also read a lot of older poetry this year and, in terms of enjoyment and surprise, I think I’m going to have to call Ilya Kaminsky’s Dancing in Odessa my favorite poetry book that I read this year (review). Though he doesn’t shy away from darker themes and material, Kaminsky has this sense of wonder about him, child-like in a way, that (with notable exceptions) you don’t always find in modern poetry.

That’s all for now. Let me know in the comments what your favorite books of 2017 were.

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3 thoughts on “Favorite Books of 2017

  1. Hi! I just saw you have been following my blog for about a month now (I didn’t blog much for the past 2 months but am getting back into it now) so I checked out your blog. I’m so glad you read some Russian literature! I have yet to read Anna Karenina myself, which is embarrassing since I’m so into Russian stuff. 😉 I’m glad to hear you liked Turgenev—he’s a fantastic writer!

    Liked by 1 person

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