Here are my favorite reads from 2017 (in no particular order, and note that these are just books I read in 2017, not books released in that year). If you want to follow more of what I read, hit me up on Goodreads. On to the books!
I’m not a huge fan of Trevor Noah as the host of Daily Show (yes, he had big shoes to fill, but I feel the show has lost almost all relevance since he took over), so I wasn’t expecting much from this book. Boy, was I surprised — this really is an incredible story. I was caught totally unprepared for the remarkable journey Trevor has had—it’s truly impressive to see how this man has turned out given the difficult experiences he’s had to endure.
It’s also a great lens into the Apartheid South Africa, and how its legacy still lives on in many ways. I lived in Cape Town while teaching students for several months, and learned so much from his story. I actually got this as an audiobook (I tend to do that for autobiographies), and I’d recommend you do the same. His voice and accents really bring life and authenticity to the characters in the story.
This is a really short book, but a timeless one. You’ve probably heard of it before, and if you haven’t read it yet, take the time to do so. It is hard to explain exactly what this book is about, other than to say it is about everything. It’s a simple set of stories told in a poetic fashion, but underneath each line is an incredibly vast river of lessons on how to live with happiness and purpose.
The Prophet is one of those books I’ll need to read again and again to truly absorb — a truly beautiful classic that will never age.
I recently got into meditation, and have found that it’s more of a journey than a “thing” that you just do for a while to get better / less stressed / etc. There are many different motivations people have for meditating, and similarly many different outcomes. Dan tells the story of his own path through many different types of meditation, from a variety of different perspectives (mindfulness, spiritual, religious, and everything in between).
He had an anxiety attack on live television, which is what led him to begin his journey, but where he ended up is really fascinating. I think the best part about this book is that Dan was always a skeptic, so if you’ve always thought about meditation but considered it a bit too “hippie” for you, this may be a good read to help educate your decision a bit more. (Side note: if you’re looking for a good app to help you start your meditation practice, try Headspace or Oak).
This book is a fictional story based on the Wall Street scandals of Bernie Madoff. I haven’t read many books of this format, where there is absolutely no explicit link to the “real” person its based on, but I must say I really enjoyed it. It’s a thrilling ride, very well written and paced, and I found myself liking it more and more after I had read it.
I have always been a die-hard Pete Sampras fan, but when I read reviews about this book I knew it was one not to be missed. Andre led a fascinating, rebellious and eventful life. His story takes you on a journey through lots of failure, controversy, and tennis (but the book isn’t really about tennis). I enjoyed the writing a lot, and found myself glued to the book till the end. The book’s greatest strength is Andre’s unbridled honesty. It’s a solid read.
Okay, I lied about the ordering, I saved the best for last. Where do I even begin? This was one of the best books I have everread, let alone in 2017. I got the book out of mild initial curiosity: I had always wondered about how the great Mughal Empire (a Muslim dynasty that ruled the Indian subcontinent for centuries pre-colonization) was conquered by the British. They had all the wealth and intelligence in the world, how could a few Brits take them down? What I learned from this book was nothing short of a shock to my very core. It broke countless fundamental assumptions I had about the history of India. I started to write a few of them here, but it was gettin a bit wild, so I went and wrote a separate post about them.
A big part of the greatness in this book is the author, William Dalrymple. He has managed to make history as exciting as a great fiction novel, and his research game is no joke. He actually went into the original Indian archives to find Hindi/Urdu records rather than just relying on the English logs of the British Empire. It tells a totally different story — an authentic and beautiful one. I can’t wait to come back to this book some day!
Well, that’s the list! Hope you enjoyed it and find some great books in 2018. I have a bunch I’m looking forward to, you can find them on my Goodreads.
What were your favorite reads? Let me know!