Favourite Books of 2017

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Silence by Erling Kagge

Silence is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen, inside and out. Written by an explorer; the first person to reach all ‘three poles’ (North, South, and the summit of Everest.) A writer and a publisher and a man who cherishes silence.

Silence is a meditative, wise book about the importance of silence, the luxury of silence, and the meaning of silence. The book is a compilation of Kagge’s 33 attempts at defining silence, at what it means to himself, across different cultures, and what an absence of silence is doing to the world. He speaks about silence in wonder, how obvious words can distract from a beautiful sight; in music, how the rests and pauses, how the silence makes the music; in Antartica alone on the ice, with no one to talk to for 50 days. The absence of noise, of thought, of people. Silence is the wisdom of a lifetime compressed, and I’m so glad I found it.

(145 pg, Penguin Viking, found in the bookstore)

 

The Road to Character by David Brooks

This is a book I’ve wanted to make an individual video for since I read it. I hope I’ll still get to in the new year, once I fully ordered my thoughts around it. (It’s been 6 months so far.)

The crux of the book revolves around two ‘Adams’, two different representations of human nature – one career orientated, ambitious, wanting to win victories and glorify self. The other, Adam II, “wants to have a serene inner character, a quiet but solid sense of right and wrong—not only to do good, but to be good.” Brooks doesn’t vilifying and exalt the other, far from it. He understands the necessity for Adam I’s traits, how they drive our creativity, goals, societal development and future, but he does suggest that our society in these times could deal with a dose more humility – the kind that hasn’t been seen broadly since

It’s a collection of 30-odd page biographies, from a range of people in history. Not all people of virtue, but certainly people of character – the idea that the two should by synonymous is never even whispered. At first I thought the biographies were a little too particular to the USA, but eventually it evened out. There was a woman scorned in love and committed to her faith despite her consistent, un-abating desires; a man whose humility and dedication to his country caused him to be less remembered than he ought to be; and an author, scorned because of her looks, but loved, and dedicated to her craft which led her to be one of the most renowned, remembered authors of our day. (George Eliot, yo.)

Unfortunately, due to how history was recorded with a white-centric focus, I felt as though that was reflected though the range of stories, though the author did a great job of diversifying, in my opinion.

The point of this novel, in my opinion, is to create greater introspection in humanity, to prove to our task-orientated minds that the way we live may not be the way to deep satisfaction. Satisfaction doesn’t come from completing tasks, from driving forward, for we will always feel the desire to continue forward. However, if we focus on less ‘resumé’ attributes, and more ‘eulogy’ attributes, we are sure to feel more satisfied. It’s not clear where one Adam begins and the other ends, but any move towards humility, honouring others, and character, must surely be a step in the right direction.

(320 pg, Penguin, found in the bookstore)

 

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

This one I did make a video about. A thoroughly entertaining swashbuckling story! It’s everything I wanted but never realised was in front of me. Knowing several adaptations of his work, and loving The Count of Monte Cristo movie, Dumas was sure to be enjoyable at the least. I can say with a full heart – he is much more than simply ‘enjoyable’! Far more episodic than a movie ever made it out to be, and nothing like any series.

This book pines with reality and Musketeer boredom that sends them into quite a few troubles. A slightly more modern ‘knights errant’ story (my favourite!) with a surprising amount of heart and believability, given the odd scenarios and conversations at times. The three musketeers – Athos, Porthos, and Aramis all warmed my heart, I adored their characterisation, connection and playfulness. D’artagnan isn’t to be forgotten either, as the story told through his eyes is a joy! He takes in the world in a naïve and wondrous way, with his excitement and disappointment coming in waves – though I must say, it is always entertaining.

If you’re interested in trying a new author in 2018, or a new classic, I can heartily recommend the jolly and sumptuous writing of Dumas – treat yourself!

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TjybEV_X94

(607 pg, The Modern Library edition, bought at the bookstore)

 

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

This one got a video too! Adored it.

So many diverse characters over a lifetime. I found it easy to follow along and empathise with at least some aspect of every character. Steinbeck is masterful at this. He puts himself, his wisdom and life into ever character, yet they’re all unique and distinguishable.

The plot is engaging, which surprised me, as it’s a 700 page fiction biography. The scenery was breath-taking, even though it was only portrayed in words. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be over this book, and I can’t wait to re-read it in the future (though I may give it another year or two).

John Steinbeck is a new favourite author, I’ve so far read Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, and The Pearl. I’ve since bought The Grapes of Wrath, and I’m looking forward to reading Travels With Charley in the new year.

Video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqYriWcfLg4&t=71s

(714 pg, Penguin books – ‘Great’ edition, Bought at the bookstore)

 

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest

This is a book I found from someone on Instagram. It’s a simple, raw, honest, one woman’s thoughts on her anxious, task orientated life, and two years worth of writing through her change (to me, it was journal-like, but not epistolary at all). Her goal to fill her life with meaning, not perfection. Her book is a call to stop trying to prove your worth and instead live in it as you are.

This is a book for the burning out. For the burnt out. Exhausted and isolated and sick of being sick, the stressed and anxious, and all who long for

It’s a book that I found more relevant to other’s lives than my own (I bought quite a few copies and heard it from their owners – not assuming others are worse!) but it made me feel connected, respected, and allowed to rest. Strange how I would need permission to let myself be at rest, but it’s true. And I would recommend this to anyone feeling the same way.

(240 pg, Zondervan, Found online)

 

Thanks for reading! Hope you had a great Christmas and that you’ll have an even better new year – later, nerd! 🙂


One thought on “Favourite Books of 2017

  1. Great List Molly!!! East of Eden and the Three Musketeers are two amazing books. I’ve been meaning to read silence, but I hesitate, because sometimes I feel like I LIVE my life in silence and almost can’t stand any noise. I always fill the silence gaps with audiobooks, or any kind of background noise. Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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