A Traveler’s Top Reading Recommendations from 2017

I feel in love with exploring the world through reading long before my love for travel began. From a young age, I lost myself in imaginary worlds, historical places, or countries far from y own. This continued in school where I’d hide a book of fiction in the pages of my textbooks during class. I’d read through just about anything except for the reading recommendations I got from my teachers. As I got older I started adding non-fiction to the mix.

At the same time, it’s not always easy to work reading into your life. But I’ve learned I am happier and feel more fulfilled when I make it a priority. This year, I set out to read 30 books. In the end, I finished 37 (and have two weeks left in the year as I write this). This is a record for me.

I’ve read at lunch breaks, while waiting for appointments, while traveling (all the flying makes for great reading time), with audiobooks in the car, and frequent evening and even days where all I did was read.

I read six books I gave five stars and fifteen more I gave four. There’s also a handful I didn’t finish since “Life is too short to read bad books”.

Looking back, my top two reading recommendations are The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco.

And they reflected the two types of books I enjoyed the most, Historical Fiction and Memoirs/ Biographies. But it turns out I read more Suspense/Thrillers than anything else.

Each of these books inspired me in some way or another, whether it was the characters, the settings, the journey or the things I learned. Not all of these books came out in 2017 but that is when I read them. And don’t worry, I’ll include all the covers since we know that’s really how books catch our eyes.

I hope you’ll pick up one or two of my reading recommendations and that they will inspire you too.

Coming of Age Fiction

All Grown Up – Jami Atenberg

A beautiful story of the complications of life and our family.  Andrea does not have her life together and when complications happen in her family she has to figure out how she fits into it.
Book cover of All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg.Girls in the Moon – Janet McNally

A beautiful story of mother and daughters and the choices they make. From the music scene to the descriptions of Brooklyn, and what it felt to be figuring out what life has planned for you.Book cover of the Girls In The Moon by Janet McNally.

Historical Fiction

The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

My mother and grandmother recommend this to me and I was the third generation to love it. It’s a beautiful story of choosing to live life. Even when you aren’t dealt the cards you want. You’ll find each of the characters relatable and inspiring.Book cover of The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Think an Elizabeth Taylor like star finally sharing what her life was truly like. A beautiful love story with a few twists along the way.  All of this makes it one of my top fiction reading recommendations.
Book cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hug by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Alex & Eliza – Melissa de la Cruz

If you’re obsessed with Hamilton like many of us are this year this was a fun read. It was a fictional story of how Alexander Hamilton & Eliza Schuyler met, courted, and began a life together.Book cover of Alex and Elza by Melissa De La Cruz

Dreaming Cuban – Cristina Garcia

I wanted to read a book about Cuba when I was there, and this was beautiful. It was amazing to walk the places that the story took place. It’s a story of many generations and the conflict that many Cubans feel from loving their county tor struggling with its flaws.
Book cover of Dreaming In Cuban by Cristina Garcia.

Chick Lit

The Beach House – Jane Greene

So, it turns out it isn’t the first time I’ve read this book. I did, at least a decade ago, but with a new cover, I didn’t realize till I was a few chapters in. I didn’t remember all the details but knew I loved the characters and fell in love with them and the story all over again.Book cover of The Beach House by Jane Green.

Rich People Problems & China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan

While I didn’t enjoy these as much as the original Crazy Rich Asians I did find them enjoyable. They make for great audiobooks while on a long drive. The characters are fun, the situations outlandish, but overall they make for great stories (and likely a great movie).
Book cover of Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan.

Sci-Fi

Artemis – Andy Weir

To say I had high expectations for this book after The Martian is an understatement. This story of a young woman caught up in something over her head on the first colony on the moon was a fascinating and fun read. You won’t want to put it down until the end, making it perfect for a long flight.Book cover of Artemis by Andy Weir.

The Love Interest – Cale Dietrich

What if there was an organization that predicted who would be the most influential in the world and created the perfect love interest for them. That’s the premises of this book, making a fun twist on teenage love.Book cover of The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich.

The Gunslinger – Stephen King

I knew I had to read this before the movie came out (which I enjoyed despite the reviews). Stephen King creates an intricate world filled with details that reflect our past and our future. It’s a bit of an Iliad like journey but the characters and their stories will keep you enthralled.

Suspense/Thriller

Bonfire – Krysten Ritter

Yes, it’s that Krysten Ritter. I loved her in Jessica Jones and just had to see what she’d create. The story takes a young attorney back to a hometown she’s avoided for a decade as she digs into the potentially corrupt corporation that makes it a company town and the former friend that disappeared many years ago.
Book cover of Bonfire by Krysten Ritter.

Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough

Trippy is how I’d describe this one. With many twists and turns, you (nor the main character) know who’s telling the truth when she gets caught up in a love triangle.Book cover of Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.

Find Her – Lisa Gardner

I found this book when my friends left me alone in Costco (of course, I went to the book section). It turned out that I was fascinated by the idea of “victim” turning the tables on the predators in her city.
Book cover of Find Her by LIsa Gardner.

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

So far I’ve loved everything I’ve read of Liane Moriarty and this was no exception. If you were intrigued by Big Little Lies this one will catch you in even more twists and turns of what really happened in this small Australian town.Book cover of The Husband Secret by Liane Moriarty.

Memoir/Biography

Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love – Lia Huber

At first, I wasn’t sure that they threw the “faith” part in (being very non-descript about that myself) but Lia Huber does a beautiful job on how food, travel, and her relationship with God led her through life. I spent half the book almost in tears moved by the different moments in life and the other half with my mouth watering over the delicious dishes she describes.
Book cover of Nourished by Lia Huber.

After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Search

An intense true crime novel where a daughter goes back to find out what really happened after her mother was murdered in their home when she was just twelve years old. How she describes everything is beautiful, deep, and, at times, disturbing. If you like true crime, this is a must-read.
Book cover of After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry.

Alexander Hamilton – Ron Chernow

I just had to read the biography that inspired the musical Hamilton and I am so glad I did. It is long and intense but worth every page. You learn about this founding father we had all but forgotten. And you’ll be able to hear the moments that inspired some of your favorite lyrics.Book cover of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the While House – Alyssa Mastromonaco

This book starts with a life very similar to my own, with public service and seeing politics as a way to do good. Then it became a “what if” story for me. “What if” I’d pursued that career path. At the same time, it’s an amazing story of what it’s actually like to work in that high level of our government and stories of who these elected officials really are. If you enjoy politics or have ever thought of working in it (or used to like me) this is an inspiring and fun read. All of this made it one of my top reading recommendations. Book cover of Who Thought This Was A Good Idea by Alyssa Mastromonaco.

Non-Fiction

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land – Monica Hesse

A small town in rural New Jersey all of a sudden had fires sparking up in abandoned buildings, often multiple in one night. What Monica Hesse does is no just tell the story of the arsonist or the town but the impact our changing world has had on small-town America.
Book cover for American Fire by Monica Hesse.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy – Sheryl Sanberg

How can we create change when we’re facing constant struggles and loss in life? Whether that is suddenly losing your husband or growing up in an environment that seems to offer you no chance at success. Sanberg does a beautiful job at making you consider how your approach to our struggles and loss are how we can truly create good from them.
Cover of Option B by Sheryl Sanberg

What did you read in 2017? What are your reading recommendations?

I’m working on my reading list for 2018, I think I’ll be aiming for 36 books next year. With that, I need reading recommendations on where to start. This time I’m aiming to read most of my books from recommendations so leave me a note in the comments of one of your favorite books (or two or three) that you’ve read in the last year.

For even more reading recommendations check out my top books for your next flight.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.