5 Favorite Reads of 2017 (So Far)

I'll openly admit I haven't read quite as much this year as I originally intended. This has been for a couple reasons, in part because I was flaring a lot at the beginning of the year and frequently found myself too exhausted to read (which is a thing, I learned), in part because I've been ridiculously busy and found myself with less reading time than usual, and in part because I also had an epic reading slump that really ate away at my reading motivation. 

But that said! I've still read some really amazing books this year so far and I'd like to share my favorites until now. In no particular order:

Photo credit: Goodreads

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
YA Contemporary

Goodreads summary:
"When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course. 
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart. 
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life."
Why I liked it: This book is a heartbreaker, and boy did it make me feel things from start to finish. I wrote a review talking about History in depth, but the short version is this story is raw, impactful, and just really beautifully written.

Photo credit: Goodreads

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
YA Historical Fiction

Goodreads summary:
"Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. 
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. 
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores."
Why I liked it: I'm actually still reading this one, but I'm about 90% done and I've been loving every step of the journey. It's hilarious, compelling, and I'll be honest, seeing a major chronically ill character on the page has meant a lot to me. As a bonus, the protagonist, Monty, is very clearly bi from the first page so the book is super queer and super awesome.

Photo credit: Goodreads

Adulthood is a Myth and Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen
Graphic Novel

Goodreads summary: 
"These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all. 
Adulthood Is a Myth presents many fan favorites plus dozens of all-new comics exclusive to this book. Like the work of fellow Millennial authors Allie Brosh, Grace Helbig, and Gemma Correll, Sarah's frankness on personal issues like body image, self-consciousness, introversion, relationships, and the frequency of bra-washing makes her comics highly relatable and deeply hilarious."
Why I liked it: I'm lumping these together because they're both very quick reads and related—but I loved these graphic novels so much. They're incredibly funny to begin with, and also super relatable, full of sketches about anxiety, stumbling through adulthood, and relationships. I definitely recommend them both for a quick read that'll make you laugh.

Photo credit: Goodreads

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
YA Contemporary

Goodreads summary:
"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. 
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. 
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life."
Why I liked it: I obviously couldn't do a first half of 2017 book post without including THUG. I already reviewed this book and talked about why I felt it's so excellent and poignant, but the short version is the voice and story are both incredibly compelling and I truly believe it deserves every ounce of buzz it's gotten so far.

Photo credit: Goodreads

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living by Majula Martin
Writing Reference

Goodreads summary:
"A collection of essays from today’s most acclaimed authors—from Cheryl Strayed to Roxane Gay to Jennifer Weiner, Alexander Chee, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Franzen—on the realities of making a living in the writing world. 
In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It’s an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money? 
As contributors including Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, Daniel Jose Older, Jennifer Weiner, and Yiyun Li candidly and emotionally discuss money, MFA programs, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, and what success really means to them, Scratch honestly addresses the tensions between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps readers and writers understand what it’s really like to make art in a world that runs on money—and why it matters. Essential reading for aspiring and experienced writers, and for anyone interested in the future of literature, Scratch is the perfect bookshelf companion to On Writing, Never Can Say Goodbye, and MFA vs. NYC."
Why I liked it: Unsurprisingly, I wrote a review for this one too, so if you want in-depth details you can check that out. But the brief version is I largely found this book eye-opening, honest, and encouraging (though some who read it found it depressing, so YMMV).

So those cover my top five favorite reads so far. What are yours?

Twitter-sized bite:
What are your top five favorite reads of the year so far? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet

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