My Top 5 Favorite Books Read In 2017

For this past month, I’ve been joining hosts Girlxoxo, Traveling with T and Estella’s Revenge for their 4th annual #AMonthofFaves blog event. – “a fun way to recap the year that was” – during the month of December. Today’s topic is “The Top 10 Books That Blew Your Mind This Year,” which I’ve adapted to my own top 5 favorite books read in 2017.

On Friday, I gav you My Top 15 Albums of 2017; yesterday, my wife Kim and I gave you Our Top 10 Favorite TV Shows/Movies of 2017; and today, I give you…

My Top 5 Favorite Books Read In 2017

5. The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist, letterer), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colourist)
4. The Lost Book of The Grail by Charlie Lovett
3. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
2. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
1. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, the only book for which I wrote a review this year.

I won’t be writing much today about them, because Friday, my aunt, who has been living with my parents and who has been in ill health for a number of years, passed away so my mind understandably isn’t all here. A memorial service will be held Wednesday for her at my parents’ church and Kim and I are going (it is one of Kim’s regular days off from work and I’m taking a vacation day). However, I will say that Suzi from the blog Whimpulsive recommended The Fade Out, a graphic novel, to me; Tasha from the blog Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books recommended The Lost Grail; and Andi from the blog Estella’s Revenge recommended Searching for Sunday.  Surprisingly, three of the five were nonfiction, since I don’t read much nonfiction. I think altogether I read five nonfiction books this year.

Books Read In 2017

In reverse order, here is what I read:

  1. Lazarus: Vol. 1 by by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark (artist), Santiago Arcas (illustrator)
  2. The Fade Out: Act One by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist, letterer), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colourist)
  3. The Fade Out: Act Two by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist, letterer), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colourist)
  4. The Fade Out: Act Three by Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist, letterer), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colourist)
  5. Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly
  6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  7. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
  8. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  9. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
  10. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  11. Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
  12. Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout
  13. The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett
  14. The Western Star by Craig Johnson
  15. Gallows View by Peter Robinson
  16. The Red Box by Rex Stout
  17. The Rubber Band by Rex Stout
  18. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV
  19. Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick
  20. Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett
  21. Dark Water by Parker Bilal
  22. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
  23. Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbø
  24. Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø
  25. Double Whammy by Carl Hiaasen
  26. Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction by Eric Foner
  27. Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
  28. Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout
  29. Leaves of Grass: The Deathbed Edition by Walt Whitman
  30. The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett
  31. Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
  32. Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane
  33. Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane
  34. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
  35. Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins
  36. The Rain in Portugal: New Poems by Billy Collins
  37. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
  38. Sacred by Dennis Lehane
  39. Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane
  40. Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, edited by Marjorie Maddox
  41. The Widow by Fiona Barton
  42. Dearest Creature by Amy Gerstler
  43. The Dry by Jane Harper
  44. Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay
  45. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

How was your year in reading for 2017? What were your favorite books? Let me and my readers know a few of them in the comments, if you like.

My Library Checkout – April 2017

librarycheckout2 Have you been using your library over the past month? What did you read? What didn’t you read? What are you waiting on? The linky goes up the last Monday of every month, and will stay open through the 15th, so click the button at left to go to Charleen’s post for this month to add your Library Checkout post to the Linky there.


  1. Fer-de-lance, the first Nero Wolfe, by Rex Stout
  2. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams
  3. Knots and Crosses, the first Inspector Rebus, by Ian Rankin
  4. Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction by Eric Foner

The best of the quartet was The Book of Joy, which was highlighted in my new feature Book of the Month yesterday. I also have started two other new features: Album of the Month and Movie of the Month, with the first Movie of the Month being Lion, and the first Album of the Month still to be decided and written about.

Currently Out/On Hold

I only have one book out: The League of Frightened Men, the second Nero Wolfe, by Rex Stout, and only two on hold: Hide and Seek, the second Inspector Rebus, by Ian Rankin, and Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones. I am rereading the Nero Wolfe mysteries, most of which I have read previously, and always wanted to red the Inspector Rebus series, but for one reason or another, I never got around to them. Now I am.

What did you check out from the library this past month, put on hold? Click on the button above to go to Charleen’s post to add your own post, or comment there — and here, if you’d like.

Starting this Wednesday, May 3, and running every Wednesday in May, my wife Kim and I will be doing a series on our favorite Netflix and Amazon Prime TV shows Wednesday, alternating among mine, hers, and ours. Tune in this Wednesday.

Book of the Month for April 2017: The Book of Joy

29496453Title: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
Authors: His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams.
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 368

One of my goals for Lent was to read one nonfiction book dealing with self-improvement. I chose this one after a patron requested our library purchase it and then it was a deal of the day. I couldn’t pass it up. I’m glad I didn’t as it is my…

Book of the Month for April 2017

This is a new feature where on the last Sunday of each month, I will review the best book I read for that month. Likewise, I am doing two similar features at the end of each month: Movie of the Month and Album of the Month, with reviews of the best movie we watched that month and the best album I listened to that month. Earlier this week, I wrote about our Movie of the Month for this past month, and my intent was to write about my Album of the Month on Friday. However, since I didn’t do that, I will announce my Album of the Month sometime later this week.

Before reading this book, I had read one other book by the Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, which was in answer to a series of questions from Howard C. Cutler, an American psychiatrist. Like that one, this book is in answer to a series of questions to the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu from Douglas Abrams, another American writer – over a week’s meeting. However, unlike The Art of Happiness, I didn’t find Abrams to be quite as intrusive into the conversation as Cutler was. Abrams did inject himself into the conversation, but I think it seemed more natural than when Cutler did it in the previous book.

Photo from Christopher Michel, Flickr

I think also what helped was the inclusion of scientific research on joy and comments from the Dalai Lama’s translator Jinpa, or Thupta Jinpa Langri, the Dalai Lama’s principal translator since 1985. The only issue I have with Abrams’ inclusion of Jinpa is that Abrams doesn’t identify who Jinpa is, only introducing him from time to time with “Jinpa explained” or “Jinpa said,” which was a bit frustrating for those of us not familiar with his relationship with the Dalai Lama.

After setting up the impetus of the pair’s meeting, which was the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, the trio, or really quartet, of writers get to the heart of the book: the nature of true joy, obstacles to that, and then the eight pillars of joy. Those eight are: perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity. The main section of the book ends with a birthday party for the Dalai Lama at the Tibetan Children’s Village with more than a thousand children, several hundred teachers, staff, and guests from the Tibetan Community and a brief final session before  Tutu leaves. The Tibetan Children’s Village is in Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama and his followers fled in 1959 from their native Tibet.

However, that truly isn’t the end of the book as the trio collect a series of “Joy Practices” or meditation exercises. The bulk of the exercises can be found in two categories: “Overcoming the Obstacles to Joy” and “Cultivating the Eight Pillars of Joy.” They are bookended with practices that Tibetan monks do at the beginning and end of each day.  For me, this appendix is what puts this book “over the top” for me as it just doesn’t tell you about joy, but also how to practice joy in your own life.

So what book that you read this past month would you choose as your Book of the Month?

Return here tomorrow for Library Checkout, a meme created by Shannon from the blog River City Reading and now continued by Charleen from It’s a Portable Magic every month.

Nero Wolfe, the Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu

29496453It sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s just what I’ve been reading. As I mentioned last week, I am trying a new course with my reading, that is, reading a fiction and a nonfiction book instead of having several books out of the library at one time and potentially not reading any of them. My first books were, and are, Fer-de-lance, the first mystery featuring detective Nero Wolfe, by Rex Stout and The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams.

I should clarify that I plan on alternating between fiction and nonfiction books, so to that end, I started with Fer-de-lance and will be reading The Book of Joy, beginning it later today. I read many of the Nero Wolfe novels years ago and I’m glad I’m delving back into them as I enjoyed this first one.

MV5BMTUwNTM4NzIzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjQ5MTkzMQ@@._V1_UY268_CR2,0,182,268_AL_Earlier this week on the blog:

  1. What we’re watching: The Royle Family 
  2. What I’m listening to: Pure Comedy and Arca

This coming week, I’ll be adding in a new category, What I’m doing otherwise, as I’ll be looking back at how I did on the goals for my Lenten journey.

So far, I don’t have a lot of views on the posts with the categories of what we’re watching and what we’re listening to, but that’s OK. I still want to keep a diary for myself on those topics and maybe someday others will stop in and read those posts. Of course, you’re welcome to stop by today too (and leave a comment if you do).

How was your week? Read anything good? Watch anything interesting? Listen to anything that you couldn’t hear enough of?