Tuesday, January 30, 2018


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Glory Road, Robert A Heinlein, G P Putnam's Sons, 1963, 288 pp
I am afraid you who follow my blog are going to be reading about a larger number of old books this year. I have committed myself to a firmer push to get through the lists of My Big Fat Reading Project, to reading 4 a month from those lists rather than 2 a month as I did last year. Seriously, if you want to get the flavor of a year from your past, there is no better way than to read the literature. Of course, if you are not as ancient as I am, 1963 might have been a past life for you!
This is the 14th book I have read by Heinlein. I decided to follow him in my project because he was one of the science fiction greats but also because he became a controversial figure as his politics evolved. Being controversial seems to go hand in hand with the speculative fiction writer territory.
The guy wrote in a variety of voices and from a variety of viewpoints. In Glory Road he uses his fast-talking, strutting his stuff voice for the main character Scar and his adventure yarn style.

Scar Gordon is a disillusioned army veteran in the Cold War years. Of course, being a Heinlein hero, he has almost superhuman abilities as a soldier. Now he is faced with either making a life in some soulless suburb or looking for adventure.

While chilling in some unnamed beach town, waiting for developments, he meets "the most stare-able woman" he has ever seen and ends up becoming her professional "hero" for hire. Off they go on what she calls "the glory road." Traveling through space, on a quest against strange foes, they adventure on strange planets and through time warps. Scar's personal quest is to win this woman for his wife.

He does and it turns out to be a mixed blessing. Thus in addition to being a rip-roaring yarn, the novel also becomes a meditation on love and marriage when a man has met more than his match.

Ha! I loved it.

(Glory Road is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Saturday, January 27, 2018


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The Wreath, Sigrid Undset, Penguin Classic, 2005 (originally published in 1920, translated from the Norwegian by Tina Nunnally, 1997) 291 pp
The Wreath, written by 1928 Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset, was published in Norway in 1920. It is the first of a trilogy called Kristin Lavransdatter, set in 14th century Norway. I read it for my Tiny Book Club. First translated into English by Charles Archer in 1923, a new translation by Tina Nunnally published in 1997 is now considered a much improved rendering of the book into English.
I liked The Wreath but I did not love it. Kristin herself is one of literature's great bad women. She had been betrothed by her father to a man who would bring land, wealth and stability into the family, as was the custom in the 14th century. Before the marriage can take place, Kristin falls passionately in love with a fallen knight, Erlend Nikulausson. They consummate their passion when a young Kristin is spending a year in a convent, supposedly to calm her down before her marriage. By the time she manages to convince her family to release her from the betrothal and allow her to marry Erlend, she is secretly pregnant.

The Wreath introduces the wild and beautiful world of Norway at that time. When the story opens Kristin is seven and goes on her first journey outside the valley where she was born. She adores her father and he her. Lavrans Bjorgulfson and his wife Ragnfrid had lost child after child, leaving Ragnfrid permanently depressed. When Kristin came along and managed to live, Lavrans became besotted with his daughter but Ragnfrid could never dare to give her love to another child she might lose.

Hard as it is to imagine being a daughter in such an almost primitive culture, the author makes sure you experience all of it. I kept thinking of Heidi while I read. Also Hild by Nicola Griffith. Religion plays a huge role with Christianity and ancient pagan beliefs competing daily in the lives of these people.

Despite all of it entrancing elements, I was not wholly won over. Even after discussing the book with my book club members. The Middle Ages comprise 1000 years of not one thing good for women. Compared to then we have indeed come a long way. The only thing easier for a woman then was to become a fallen one and the repercussions were dire in the extreme.

Sigrid Undset certainly brings to life all the subjection but she also has a rather too obvious mission that included ideas such as passion trumps all and women are people too. Kristin suffers unbelievably in this tale though she does finally marry her true love. I was not completely convinced by this character. It is so clear that marriage to Erlend is only going to bring her more suffering that I do not feel at all compelled to read the second book in the trilogy, The Wife.
If I had read The Wreath back in the 1980s when I first read The Mists of Avalon, I think I would have loved it and gone on to finish the trilogy. Sometimes, timing is everything. I have to credit Sigrid Undset for taking on a subject that before 1920 had mostly always been written about by men in Western Europe.
(The Nunnally translation of The Wreath is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Mr Stone and the Knights Companion, V S Naipaul, Penguin, 1963, 160 pp
V S Naipaul is one of the authors I am following in My Big Fat Reading Project. His fifth novel marks a change in his life but maintains the themes of his first four novels which were set in Trinidad, where he was born as a descendant of people brought there by the British from India and indentured to fill certain positions. This novel is set in London.
What I have liked about Naipaul so far is his incisive, mostly uncomplimentary approach to characters, society, and politics. I will see as I continue to read him, but I suspect it is that quality which garnered him the Nobel Prize. It certainly applies to his 1963 novel.
Mr Stone is so very British, so much so that he is almost a caricature. I felt that Naipaul created him out of a foreigner's viewpoint which indeed he was when he came to Oxford for his university education in the early 1950s. I also felt that he was probably trying to imitate some of the more renowned British writers of those times.

A long-time bachelor in a lowly job, nearing retirement, Mr Stone suddenly marries a widow, the former Mrs Springer, whom he met at a party. A year of adjustment follows in which she takes over his household. One night in his study, he is pondering his approaching retirement and another sudden change comes over him. He creates the idea of the Knights Companion, a sort of fraternal organization of which the members will go about visiting and giving aid to retired men.

After a fevered few nights writing up his idea, he presents it to the head of his company as a program to bring goodwill to the business. He is promoted, becomes a department head with his own staff, and the plan is a huge success. Of course there are still bumps in the road; certain upsets and dishonest actions he must smooth out and a public relations man who tries to and in the end does steal his thunder.

I say that Naipaul's themes remain because once again he has created a hapless male, alternately puffed up and failing, insensitive to and troubled by women, who tries to buck an entrenched system. He is still incisive and tragicomic.

Naipaul in later years has suffered from the ravages of public opinion, labeled as racist and misogynist. I don't doubt the charges. I read him because I am female and he is male. He shows me a male viewpoint of a certain stripe and I find it fascinating no matter how off-putting it may be.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


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The Revolution of Marina M., Janet Fitch, Little Brown and Company, 2017, 800 pp
Do you love Russian literature? Do you think an American can measure up in writing a book of historical fiction set in Russia? I am here to tell you, she can!!
So many things made this one of the best books I read in 2017. It is a story of the Russian Revolution told through the eyes and heart and mind of a budding teenage poetess. I don't think that has been done very often, if ever. It is Janet Fitch's homage to Tolstoy, Pushkin and Russian poets.

Marina M! What a character. She explodes and emotes throughout the novel. It is as though Astrid from White Oleander and Josie from Paint It Black were merely writing exercises to prepare for the creation of Marina. You will either love her to distraction or find her annoying beyond belief. She is Bella from Twilight, Katniss from The Hunger Games, torn between two men but with the intellectual and political soul of the Russian greats. She is a poet, dangerously sensuous, daring, plucky, and ultimately as brave and resourceful as any male hero. She is only 16 at the beginning of the story and 19 at the end.

There is much more to this novel though than romance and heroics. It is a study in revolution with all its counterparts: idealism, too rapid change, violence, suffering, political infighting. The age old conundrum of how to upset a fixed order, how to create a just society, what it actually takes to run a country and a society, freedom, oppression, and all those gray areas where crime takes advantage of disorder to profit. All told from the viewpoint of one of "the people," not the leaders.

Although I suppose I knew better, I realized that all my life I have thought of revolution as an event that takes place over a few days. I realized that, like getting the news from sound bites and twitter posts, revolutions are taught by means of the "definitive event." The Boston Tea Party, The Storming of the Bastille, The Abdication of Czar Nicolas II, etc, etc.

In fact, a revolution takes years. As does a revolution in one's personal life. There is the day you walk out, of a family, a job, a marriage, but the new life you are trying to build takes years to come about and your former life trails you like a ghost or a nightmare.

There were countless women who participated in the changes from the Czarist autocracy of Russia to the Communist regime of the Soviet Union. There were as many female poets in 1917 as there were male. The story we have always gotten though is primarily male, from the leaders to the poets to the writers. Of course! Janet Fitch has elevated herself, in my opinion, to the ranks of those women who tell their own stories and the stories of their female predecessors. Like Svetlana Alexievich (Voices From Chernobyl), Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex), and so many more. With this novel she shows the truth about the personal being the political.

I don't predict that many men will read The Revolution of Marina M, or that those who do will totally get it. I sincerely hope that many women will read it. Even if they find stuff to criticize (and being women they will-:) we all know this is a story for us, that gets to the heart and mind of the second sex, that shows the consequences of freedom for us but also for all of humanity.

I know. It is 800 pages and is only part one of a two volume tale. That's fine. Do yourself a favor. Take a week off and read it. This is an extremely subversive work.

(The Revolution of Marina M is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Saturday, January 20, 2018


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Reckless Daughter, A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, David Yaffe, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2017, 376 pp
Joni Mitchell's first album was released in March, 1968. I was an off and on student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, dropping out and then enrolling again. I was also singing in various spots around campus, covering songs recorded by Judy Collins, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan, already playing Judy Collins' version of "Both Sides Now." So of course, I bought the album the minute it came out and listened to it daily. Eventually a couple friends of mine helped me figure out her open tunings and how to finger the chords.

I finally saw her perform live in the very coffeehouse where I met my first husband and where we would get married in April, 1969. She played "Little Green." Nervous and tongue-tied, I went down to the dressing room and asked her if "Little Green" would be on her upcoming album.

I cannot describe how much all of this influenced my life. Reading this account of her life, which has its problems but is the best biography about Joni so far, was such a personal experience for me that I find it hard to fully express all that it meant to me. I finished it a few weeks ago and am still processing all the memories and feelings stirred up.

If I ever get to that part of my own memoir, having read this year by year, album by album account will help immensely. Thank you David Yaffe.

So I will only say that if you were a woman of heart and mind from the late 60s onward and at any point fell in love with Joni, you will want to read this book. Especially if you lived a life of conflict between your dreams for yourself and the demands made on you as a woman, you will find much to ponder. It is all here.

(Reckless Daughter is available in hardcover by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Thursday, January 18, 2018


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The Rise and Fall of DODO, Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland, William Morrow, 2017, 742 pp
First thing first: DODO is an acronym for the Department of Diachronic Operations, a fictional US government department of the CIA. It uses witches and time travel to discover how magic disappeared from the world and how to bring it back. Its purpose is to influence world affairs and help keep pace with the country's enemies.
Second things second: Who is Nicole Galland and why did Neal co-write a novel with her? She is a historical novelist and had worked with Neal and a horde of others on his series, The Mongoliad (I have not read that). When Neal asked her if she would like to write DODO with him she said yes. In an interview with the two authors she said, "I think I said yes while he was still asking the question."

It turned out to be a match made in speculative/historical fiction heaven. Not that Neal has any trouble writing rip-roaring stories, but Nicole came up with some of the best female characters in the book and, in my opinion, added a certain zing to every aspect of the story.

The plot is so intricate, the book is so delightfully long, that I am not going to attempt a summary. None of the ones I have looked at have begun to capture it. All I will say is that if you love Neal Stephenson, witches, magic, humor, adventure and satire, the time it takes to read The Rise and Fall of DODO will be time well spent.

It reads like a fast paced thriller, is only mildly confusing (on purpose, I think), and all is made clear eventually. I read it in five days during my days of reading whatever I wanted in December. Neal will make you feel smart, as he always does, and Nicole will make you fall in love with all the characters, even the bad ones!

(The Rise and Fall of DODO is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


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Green Girl, Kate Zambreno, Emergency Press, 2011, 250 pp
I read this novel in the last month of 2017 for two reasons. One is that it had sat, all that year, in a pile of unread books I own; a pile named in my mind Books I Want To Read Soon. The other reason is that in my memoir I am working through my teen years. Oh, what a murky area that is in my mind. Reading novels about teenage girls in the current century helps me recapture those times of confusion, urgency and uncertainty in my own life.
Ruth is a girl on the cusp of womanhood, right about where I was in my college years. She is an American who escaped the downward swirl of her first romantic heartbreak by moving to London. She works as a shop girl in "Horrids," as she calls that famous department store. Her job is to offer samples of a perfume called Desire, a marketing device for an American teenage pop star. She has not resurfaced from the downward swirl but she is trying.

Ruth is beautiful, slender, with long blonde hair. She roams the city feeling the eyes upon her, wondering who she really is. She parties, acts out, makes consecutive bad choices. If you were her mother you would be horrified, anxious, protective, maybe controlling. I am not her mother. I was her in Ann Arbor, MI, pretending to be a college student, partying, trying out different versions of myself, making consecutive bad decisions, some of which I still suffer from today.

The writing is evocative and disjointed. The tone is existential. The images are photographic, like stills from a movie. I felt many emotions, all at war with each other, as I read. 

I recalled writers I have read like Clarice Lispector, Sylvia Plath, Lidia Yuknavitch, and many more. Women who explore and express the tangled, grasping, hesitant poetics of desire while creating a self no one in the modern world can give them because she has not existed before.

I am glad I read it.

(Green Girl is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Monday, January 15, 2018


I don't usually write much about music here, though it is music that has run through my life in so many ways and saved me in so many ways.
Last night I learned that an old friend of mine whom I have not seen in years has died.
Today I learned that Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer and songwriter for The Cranberries, has died at 46. Too young.
On this day, 89 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr was born. Today we observe the only American holiday that honors an African American. A holiday that took over 15 years to be approved by our government. I find it fitting that it is celebrated on or near the day of his birth rather than his death. What is important is that he was born, he lived, he fought for justice and freedom.
 On Twitter last night I found a tweet from Margaret Atwood saying she was taking a time out from Twitter due to all the attacks against her for a piece she wrote in The Guardian. You can look it up.
The world is so harsh with people who fight for freedom, justice and rights for all human beings.

As I was writing in my journal this morning I felt stunned, sad, beaten down, and words were hard to find. I found the lyrics of a song running through my mind. So I give you those lyrics, written by Stephen Stills when he was in Buffalo Springfield:

For What It Is Worth
There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's s time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Songwriters: Stephen Stills
For What It Is Worth lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
 (How appropriate that our much vaunted technology had to garble my copying and pasting. At least the copyright is there.)

Saturday, January 13, 2018


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Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Milkweed Editions, 2013, 386 pp
I read this for my Tiny Book Club. The subtitle is Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. It was a revelation.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a descendant of the Potawatomi Nation, raised on the stories of her tribe. She went to college and trained as a botanist because, as she told her advisor in her freshman intake interview, in answer to his question, "So, why do you want to major in botany?": "I told him that I chose botany because I wanted to learn about why asters and goldenrod looked so beautiful together."

At that moment came the collision in her life between modern science and indigenous wisdom!

Sweetgrass, called wingaashk in the Potawatomi Nation, is an honored and much used plant. The word means the sweet-smelling hair of Mother Earth. Kimmerer uses it as the metaphor for her book, braiding the stories of her people, the development of herself, and the depredations of the white European settlers whose descendants now rule this land, into a heartfelt plea for more understanding.

I sat down and began to read the book. Within a few pages my mind wandered, I felt bored, I had the urge to turn to social media or play Solitaire. I made it through ten pages. Reading group meeting was only a week away!

This went on for several days. Eventually Ms Kimmerer and I came to an understanding. I would read one chapter a day, she would be granted my attention for that long. It became for me something like the way some people read a devotional piece or Bible excerpt or psalm daily. Amazing changes came over my mind, my perceptions, my world view.

I have seen reviews of this book where readers complain that it is too poetic or even incomprehensible. I get it! This is a voice from another culture attempting to translate a sensibility about the true reciprocative relationship with the natural world that 21st century people will have to adopt if we want to remain living on our very own earth.

Have you ever spent time thinking about life without fossil fuels? I have. How could this world ever give that up? We are addicted to the very practices which are destroying our health and our home.

To read this book, I had to slow down, leave the time stream of my daily life. Eventually I became aware that my perception was changing, that I was observing life differently. I admit I haven't stopped driving my car, but I became aware that due to her way of presenting ideas this is a very subversive book. Exxon, etc, if they knew about it would have it banned. Our current administration would try to have it banned.

Indigenous wisdom is something modern life has lost and buried, but science is not evil. Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent her adult life in efforts to connect the two. Of course, one could not command or force a climate change denier to read it. I think a teacher of biology or botany or social studies could get her class to read it though. A college or university could make it required reading for graduation. 

This morning I saw a video clip on Twitter of a bison crossing a road in a National Park. We could still save ourselves a lot of suffering and this book could well be a how-to manual. Because of reading it I now am aware of and honor the many groups of our indigenous peoples who are doing their utmost to bring back the lost wisdom of the land and plants, who only wish us a long, prosperous, and happy life on Planet Earth.

I recommend, no I urge you, to check out what this book has to offer for the future.

(Braiding Sweetgrass is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


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Ill Wind, Nevada Barr, G P Putnam's Sons, 1995, 309 pp
This was the third mystery by Nevada Barr, all set in United States National Parks. Ranger Anna Pigeon is now posted in Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park located amid the preserved cliff dwellings of the ancient Anasazi native civilization. Those ancestors of the Pueblo Indian vanished in the 12th century BC and left enough mysteries to occupy historians to this day. Barr weaves this into her own mystery.
It is summer and week after week park visitors are succumbing to respiratory attacks and having to be rescued by the rangers. One of them dies in the hospital. When Anna's fellow ranger is found dead in one of the cliff dwellings, the FBI arrives in the person of Agent Stanton.

Anna had been forced to work with Stanton in the last book, A Superior Death, where to say that they did not hit it off would be putting it mildly. Now Anna is more haunted than ever by her personal demons and Stanton becomes a good friend to her as they work together to find the killer.

Another of the park personnel is a woman who holds strong beliefs in New Age theories about the Anasazi. A strange phenomenon of mist and winds has been appearing on a weekly basis all summer. This woman is convinced it is being caused by spirits who deplore mankind's depredations around the park, as construction is being done to upgrade some of the park's crumbling infrastructure.

Once again the author combines the internal problems of the National Park's administration as well as the quirks of the Mesa Verde crew and visitors with Anna's prickly personality to create a complex mystery. I have been to the New Mexico section of the cliff dwelling ruins and could picture the locations, the weather and the skies in and under which Anna finds herself.

The book gets off to a jagged start as we meet the characters, not one of which is admirable. We also learn why Anna is there and how her situation has become less stable than ever. The cast of characters seemed larger than in the two earlier books. All of that made for quite a few confusing chapters. I was worried Ill Wind would be one of the duds that mystery series writers sometimes have.
Once the murder has been committed though, the story takes off and comes to a stunning conclusion. All the clues were there and I had to admire how she did it. All I will say is that ill wind was man made and justice was done. 

(Ill Wind is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Monday, January 08, 2018


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The Colors of Space, Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1963, 190 pp
This is one of MZB's early books (she began publishing in 1958.) It is a stand alone, not part of any series. Sometimes considered to be a young adult novel, it features a young man just graduated from college.
Bart Steele, the recent graduate of the Space Academy on Earth, learns that his father has been murdered but has sent him a message: "Bart, I send money and instructions by my friend. Do as he says. Don't go home, Dad."

The time is far future, space travel is common, but the secret of travel faster than the speed of light is jealously guarded by a non-human race, the Lhari. The pace is relentless and Bart becomes the young man who must wrest the secret from the Lhari by going undercover as one of them.

Though the writing is a bit lame, the story is a fun read with interesting twists. Bart learns that the Lhari are non-violent and peace loving but color blind. His mission is to avert war while learning the big secret without being discovered. What he discovers is the "eighth color." 

If college graduates these days had chances to grow up as fast as Bart had to, who knows what our future would be.

(The Colors of Space is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Saturday, January 06, 2018


I did not post a reading group update in December because mostly my reading groups just partied, voted on our favorite reading group book for the year, and did a book exchange. It was fun!

But now it is a New Year and we are all hunkering down to read and discuss. It is a good variety. The Wreath is by an Nobel Prize Winner. Believe it or not, I have never read Dune and I am excited! Miss Burma was on my list of books I wanted to read last year. The Fifth Season was one of my Top 25 Books of 2017 and I convinced The Bookie Babes to try it, though not many of them have ever read fantasy. I hope they don't hate it.

Tiny Book Club:
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Molly's Group:
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One Book At A Time:
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Bookie Babes:
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What are your groups reading in January?
Tomorrow I will return to reviews of books I read in December.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018


Here in the Los Angeles area it is not as cold and shivery as the image above looks nor was it in December, but it seems appropriate for some of the areas where family and friends live. It has been in the mid-70s and sunny lately and I can't remember the last time we had any precipitation.

I had fun with my reading last month, allowing myself plenty of reading time and an almost complete freedom of choice. In the books I traveled in time, across the country and around the world. I enjoyed every book!

Stats: 11 books read. 8 fiction. 7 written by women. 5 written by authors new to me. 3 historical fiction. 3 speculative fiction. 1 mystery. 1 non-fiction. 1 biography. 3 for My Big Fat Reading Project.

Favorites: Manhattan Beach, The Bedlam Stacks, The Rise and Fall of DODO, and The Revolution of Marina M.

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I sincerely hope you ended your reading year as happily. With so many wonderful books in the world I am sure 2018 will be a fabulous reading year for all who read books.

Monday, January 01, 2018


The image above, "borrowed" from Google images and huge thanks to its creator, spoke to me because it is called The Sleepless Reader. I have become someone who can nap any time of the afternoon but cannot always sleep at night. This year I finally faced it and just got up and read on the futon bed in my office until my eyes began to droop.

I had one of the worst years of my life, physically and emotionally, but it was reading that saved me, brought me back to some semblance of wisdom and best of all, informed and educated me. I tried, I really tried, to keep up with the news but that left me feeling powerless and often manipulated. Reading about the past, the present, and the future in books was how I found some kind of ground I could stand on. 

I read 119 books. Three less than last year but almost 2000 more pages because 11 of the books I read were well over 500 pages.

Books read: 119. Pages read: 41080. Average pages per day: 113. Average books per week: 2.3.
Fiction: 103
Nonfiction: 16
Written by women: 68
Mystery/thriller: 13
Historical fiction: 19
Fantasy: 5
Speculative/sci-fi: 9
Translated: 5
Biography/memoir: 9
Essays: 3
My Big Fat Reading Project: 43
My top 25 are my favorite books and as usual I had trouble narrowing the list down to 25, but isn't that just the nature of things? I think I gave less than 3 stars to only a handful of what I read this year. The books were published over a wide range of years, not just in 2017. All of the books on the list have been or will soon be reviewed here on the blog.
The List (in the order I read them): 
The Nix, Nathan Hill
Version Control, Dexter Palmer
All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
The Time of the Doves, Merce Rodoreda
The Gods of Tango, Carolina De Robertis
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien
To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey
A Book of American Martyrs, Joyce Carol Oates
White Tears, Hari Kunzru
Grace, Natashia Deon
Little Nothing, Marisa Silver
The Shadow Land, Elizabeth Kostova
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
The Noise of Time, Julian Barnes
Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
Sister Golden Hair, Darcey Steinke
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy
The Plague Diaries, Ronlyn Domingue
The Fifth Season, N K Jemison
Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn West
Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan
Occasion For Loving, Nadine Gordimer
The Bedlam Stacks, Natasha Pulley
The Rise and Fall of DODO, Neal Stephenson
The Revolution of Marina M, Janet Fitch
If I follow your blog, I have read your lists for the year's most loved books. If I don't follow you or you don't have a blog, feel free to let me know of great reads I may have missed in the comments. Thanks to everyone who visits here!  
Happy New Year! Let's read our way to a better year.