Best Books of 2017… So Far

I’m sorry for the long gap in posts. I wanted to post while I was traveling, but exploring and summer school got in my way. I also didn’t do much reading, which was sad.. but now I’m back and I hope to get back into the normal swing of things!

I thought I hadn’t read that many books that I’d loved/given five stars, but as I looked back through my Goodreads records, I realized I’d forgotten a lot of the great books I’d read in the beginning of the new year! I’m glad I looked back and remembered these gems, and I hope I can pick up this mid-year reading slump this fall, and read some more great novels. I’ll be listing these in no particular order (though I do have two books by the same author, so I’ll split those up), but below are my top 5 books of the year so far!

9781101906729Human Acts by Han Kang

I read this book in February of 2017. It was the first book of Han’s that I had read, and I’m glad I started with this book. The story maintains a grasp in realism while adding some subtle magical elements and introduces the reader to Han’s superb writing style. In The Vegetarian, the absurd plot may quickly put readers off to her writing, while Human Acts offers a smoother introduction to her work. I am eager for more of her work to be translated into English, though hopefully my Korean abilities will improve enough that I could read and appreciate her works in their original form one day!

Read more of my thoughts here.

29430012A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I also read this book in the beginning of the year, in January. I received it as a gift from a friend, and while I was reading it, it seemed everyone else also wanted to read it, as it was sold out from my local independent bookstore. All the praise this novel has received is justified. The story, the writing, the characterization, the setting–all are done so well as to keep the novel moving and make the reader more and more engaged as the novel goes on. While some may consider this novel more on the slow side, Towles writing easily makes up for that and makes this a valuable read.

Find my full review here.

9781455563937Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

While this book is on the lengthy side–470 pages–I sped through it. This novel tells the story of a Korean family through the beginning of Japanese occupation through the twentieth century, as they move from Korean to Japan and face hardship after hardship. This is a devastating novel that tells a relatively accurate, yet fictionalized, story of what many Koreans went through under Japanese occupation from 1910-1945, especially Koreans who lived in Japan during this time. Lee’s writing is beautiful, and as we move from family member to family member, she manages to create a deep connection between the reader and each character through strong characterization. I hope to read more of her work, and see her publish more in the future!

Find my full review here.

25489025The Vegetarian by Han Kang

I read this novel for class, though it had been on my list for awhile beforehand. As I mentioned previously, I think this novel can be a dividing topic for readers–some people love it, and some people hate it, often due to the subject matter rather than the writing style. I was one of those who loved it. I found it very thought-provoking, and shocking in a good way. The discussions we had in class were definitely eye-opening, and I’m glad to have heard other people’s perspectives on the novel and the subjects it tackles. If you haven’t read this novel yet, I’d definitely recommend that you do!

Read more of my thoughts here.

the-queen-of-the-night-cover

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Lastly, we have The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. While this novel left me with less to think about, it was the plot of my dreams–historical fiction, a strong female lead who was clever and made her way through many different ‘roles’ throughout the novel, a bit of romance, and a decadent and richly described setting. This novel was so enjoyable, and I read it as quickly as I dared. I hope to read more from Chee, and see what else he has up his sleeve!

Find my full review here.

If you couldn’t guess, I highly recommend all of these novels! Looking back, you can definitely see a sort of trend amongst a lot of these novels–historical fiction, or related to South Korea in some way. We’ll see if I can diversify my picks for the rest of the rest of the year. What have been the books that you’ve loved so far this year? Let me know what I should pick up this fall and winter that I might love!

 

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