For the past several years now, I’ve been setting reading goals for myself. These goals started small (finish one book each month) and steadily grew with each year and each goal met.

After a stellar year of reading in 2016, I decided to set myself a more ambitious goal for 2017: to read a book set in each of the 26 countries I’d visited. I thought this would add a new, fun element to my travels and help me better visualize the book’s setting. Plus, it would help me branch out, reading more books set outside the US and UK.

At first, I enjoyed researching and reading books that would help me tick particular countries off the list. But slowly, it became increasingly difficult to find books that were of interest to me or were available from the library. I found that I was reading books simply because they fit the bill not because I was in any way interested in their premise. This lead to several months of checking books out of the library and ignoring them in favour of scrolling Wikipedia before dozing off.

Mid-year, after weeks of feeling shame for ignoring the evergrowing stack of books on my bedside table, I decided to abandon my goal. Instead of forcing myself to read books based on setting and locations, I went back to my tried and true ways and picked books that piqued my interest.

While I initially felt guilty abandoning my goal, in the end, it was totally worth it. Within weeks of giving myself free reign, I had reignited my love of reading.

This year, I was able to read 24 books (and one stellar short story), which isn’t too shabby. I was able to check off 10 countries from my list of 26, reading stories set through Europe, Africa, Oceania and beyond.

Although I didn’t exactly meet my goal, I did read a lot of intriguing stories and meet a lot of interesting characters.

Let’s take a look back at all the books I read this year:

Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery

Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery follows Steph Jagger as she skis her way through nine countries across five continents, falls in love, and learns to raise the restraining bar, to jump in with both feet and to move in the direction of the life she’s meant to lead.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐

This book is great for anyone who likes to ski and travel. Be warned, you will have serious wanderlust after finishing this book.

Get your copy today at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Notes from a Small Island

After 20 years of living in England, Bill Bryson has decided to move his family back to his native-USA. But first, he decides to go on an epic journey, exploring one last time all the little towns and villages that make up this island that he’s called home for so long. Notes from a Small Island is, in a way, Bryson’s farewell letter to Great Britain (although, it wasn’t a goodbye forever as he and his family eventually moved back).

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is great for anyone who likes to read funny, quirky stories about small towns.

Get your copy today at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country

Helen Russell was a successful magazine editor living in London when her husband announced that he’d been offered his dream job and he wanted to move to rural Jutland in Denmark. Ready for a change and a break from being “busy”, Russell jumped at the opportunity and spent the next twelve months uncovering what it is that makes Danes the happiest people in the world.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is great for anyone fascinated by Denmark and Scandinavia, or anyone who’s ever dreamed of living abroad.

Get your copy today at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

What I Read 2017: Unbound: A Story of Snow [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Notes From A Small Island [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: The Year Of Living Danishly [petiteadventures.org]

Turbo Twenty-Three: A Stephanie Plum Novel

The latest in the Stephanie Plum series (well, at least it was the latest when I read it earlier this year), Turbo Twenty-Three follows bounty hunter Stephanie Plum as she chases a murderer through the streets of New Jersey, while also trying to choose between the two men in her life.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐

This book (and the entire series) are great for anyone who wants to be entertained with an easy read.

Get a copy today at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Bye, Bye Blackbird: A Blackbird Sisters Novella

Bye, Bye Blackbird is the final chapter in the Blackbird Sisters mystery series. It provides a satisfying end for readers who’ve followed the Blackbird sisters’ trials and tribulations over the past decade or so years.

I give it: ⭐⭐

This book is good for anyone who’s read the series and invested time into the lives of Nora, Libby, Emma and Mick. It’s a great final chapter, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone pick it up without at least reading another few books in the series. The series, however, is great for anyone who loves their chic-lit with a side of mystery.

Get a copy today at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

In Born a Crime, comedian and host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, shares stories from his childhood growing up a multi-racial child in South Africa during apartheid.

As per Amazon: “Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.”

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐

This book is great for anyone who’s a fan of Noahs and his comedic stylings.

Get a copy today at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

What I Read 2017: Turbo Twenty-Three [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Bye Bye Blackbird [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Born A Crime [petiteadventures.org]

The Dogs of Riga (Kurt Wallander Series #2)

The Dogs of Riga takes place in Sweden in the winter of 1991. One night, Inspector Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip that a life raft containing two dead bodies has washed up on a beach, seemingly the victims of a gangland hit. Initially, it appears to be an open-and-shut case, but it soon takes a more sinister turn and sees Wallander travelling to Riga Latvia, where he is plunged into a frozen world of police surveillance, veiled threats, and lies (Goodreads).

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐

This book (and the series) are great for anyone who likes a good mystery/cop thriller with insights into Sweden in the early 1990s.

Get your copy today from Amazon or Chapters.

Blackout

Blackout is a short story written by my friend, Lydia Kardum and it is a page-turner! It tells the story of Ben and Emma a recently broken up couple. To cope with recent events, Emma jumps on a plane to Iceland, while Ben stays behind thinking about what went wrong. As they are just starting to get used to living their lives apart, the world experiences a very unusual event – an event so unnerving that Emma just isn’t quite herself when she returns.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐

This story is great for anyone who likes a good chilling mystery.

You can download a free copy of this ebook, which I highly recommend, by visiting Literary Lollipop.

A Year in Provence

A Year in Provence follows author Peter Mayle, his wife and their two dogs’ journey of settling into and renovating a 200-year-old farmhouse in the south of France, and adapting to the small community’s much slower, more relaxed way of life.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is great for anyone who’s ever dreamed of buying and restoring an old house in a new land.

Get your copy today from Amazon or Chapters.

What I Read 2017: The Dogs of Riga [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Blackout [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: A Year In Provence [petiteadventures.org]

The White Lioness (Kurt Wallander Series #3)

As per Goodreads, because I couldn’t find a better way to say it without giving too much away: “The execution-style murder of a Swedish housewife looks like a simple case even though there is no obvious suspect. But then Wallander learns of a determined stalker, and soon enough, the cops catch up with him. But when his alibi turns out to be airtight, they realize that what seemed a simple crime of passion is actually far more complex—and dangerous.

Combining compelling insights into the sinister side of modern life with a riveting tale of international intrigue, The White Lioness keeps you on the knife-edge of suspense.” (Goodreads)

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is great for anyone who’s into thrilling mysteries and is looking for a good series to sink their teeth into.

Get your copy today from Amazon or Chapters.

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story

The Zookeeper’s Wife is the true story of the owners of the Warsaw Zoo, a husband and wife who managed to save more than 300 people from the Nazis during World War II.

I give it: ⭐⭐

This book is good for anyone who’s interested in WWII.

Pick up a copy of The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story from Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

My Not So Perfect Life

Katie Brenner’s life looks pretty perfect, at least the life she portrays on Instagram. In reality, her life is far from perfect and becomes even less perfect when she loses her job and is forced to move home. Just as she’s starting to find success helping run her family’s new glamping business (yes, glamping), the boss who sacked her books a holiday and Katie is forced to spend a week learning that maybe everyone’s life just isn’t what it seems.

I give it: ⭐

This book is okay for anyone looking for an easy, entertaining read, but doesn’t mind being a bit frustrated by the main character.

If you’re still intrigued, or are just looking for an easy holiday read, pick up a copy of My Not So Perfect Life at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

What I Read 2017: The White Lioness [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: The Zookeepers Wife [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: My Not So Perfect Life [petiteadventures.org]

I See You

One day, while taking the tube home from work, Zoe Walker sees her own photo in the classified section of a London newspaper and she is determined to find out why. Is it a mistake, a coincidence, or, is someone tracking her every move?

I give it: ⭐

This book is good for anyone looking for a little mystery. Be warned, you will need to gloss over a few details, but if you’re okay with that, you could be very well entertained.

Looking for a chilling thriller? Pick up a copy of I See You at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

The Thing About Prague

On somewhat of a whim (after her doctor calls her middle-aged), Rachael Weiss decides to move from Sydney to Prague. There, she plans on living the bohemian life, writing the next great novel and settling permanently in Prague. But, as usual, things don’t always go as smoothly as planned. For three years she navigated expat life, dealing with the eccentricities of the city, jumping the hurdles of bureaucracy and doing everything she could to make her dreams a reality.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is great for anyone who’s ever dreamed of dropping everything and moving abroad.

Pick up a copy of The Thing About Prague at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

An Italian Holiday

Four women, each at their own crossroads in life, find themselves staying at a villa in Southern Italy. Over the course of the book, these four strangers become close friends and help each other transform in myriad ways.

I give this book: 0.5⭐

I didn’t like this book, but that doesn’t mean someone else won’t. This book is good for someone looking for an easy beach read while visiting Italy.

Pick up a copy at Amazon.

What I Read 2017: I See You [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: The Thing About Prague [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: An Italian Holiday [petiteadventures.org]

The Expats

Kate Miller is an American who says goodbye to the US and hello to Luxembourg when her husband is presented with a job offer he just can’t refuse. When she is befriended by another American couple, she becomes suspicious: Are they really who they claim they are?! Kate begins to dig into the world around her, uncovering offices, shell corporations, weapons and wild sums of money. The further she digs the more she discovers that her seemingly normal life just might not be what it seems.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐

This book is for anyone who likes a spy novel with a little travel thrown in.

Pick up a copy of The Expats at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

What Alice Forgot

One Friday afternoon, Alice wakes up on the floor of her usual spinning class with no recollection of how she got there, or the last ten years of her life. The book follows Alice as she tries to figure out what has happened to have made her life change so drastically from what she last remembered.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book is great for anyone who liked Big Little Lies (the book) or anyone who likes a little intrigue mixed with a little romance.

Pick up a copy of What Alice Forgot at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Today Will Be Different

Today Will Be Different follows a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, an artist-turned-stay-at-home mom who just wants to make it through the day in one piece. When she starts to believe that her husband is cheating, she sets out on a wild chase to uncover the truth.

I give it: ⭐

This book is for anyone who can sympathize with that feeling of just wanting to make it through the day in one piece. But, if you’re looking for a follow-up to Where’d You Go, Bernadette, it might be best to look elsewhere.

Pick up a copy of Today Will Be Different at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

What I Read 2017: The Expats [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: What Alice Forgot [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Today Will Be Different [petiteadventures.org]

Maybe in Another Life

A young woman’s fate hinges on a small decision she makes at the end of a night: to stay our or go home. The book plays out in concurrent storylines, where protagonist Hannah lives out the aftermath of each choice raising questions about fate, true love and destiny.

I give it: ⭐

This book is for anyone looking for an easy chic-lit that takes a different spin on love, life and fate.

Pick up a copy of Maybe in Another Life at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Scrappy Little Nobody

Scrappy Little Nobody is a collection of essays written by Academy Award-nominated actress Anna Kendrick, you may know her from Up in the Air and the Pitch Perfect series. The book follows her rise to fame – from Broadway child star to struggling actress to Academy Award nominee.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐

This book is for anyone looking for an interesting read that pulls back the veil on celebrity life – it’s not all champagne, glamour and Louboutins!

Pick up a copy of Scrappy Little Nobody at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Talking As Fast As I Can

Talking As Fast As I Can is another collection of essays from an actress (this didn’t happen on purpose, they just happened to both be available at the same time, I swear), this time TV veteran Lauren Graham. Best known for her roles on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, Graham shares stories from her childhood, her days as a struggling actress, right through to when she was filming last fall’s reboot of the Gilmore Girls.

I give this book: ⭐⭐⭐

This book is for fans of the Gilmore Girls and/or Lauren Graham

Pick up a copy of Talking As Fast As I Can at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

What I Read 2017: Maybe In Another Life [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Scrappy Little Nobody [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Talking As Fast As I Can [petiteadventures.org]

The Man Who Smiled (Kurt Wallander Series #4)

Detective Kurt Wallander is back and he’s (once again) investigating a mysterious murder in Sweden’s Skåne region. This time, his prime suspect is a powerful, multinational but incredible secretive business tycoon.

I give it: ⭐⭐⭐

This book is for anyone interested in a good murder mystery.

Pick up a copy of The Man Who Smiled at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

At the Water’s Edge

Three spoiled socialites travel to Scotland towards the end of World War II in search of the Loch Ness monster. “The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.” (Goodreads)

I give it: 0.5⭐

This book is not for fans of Water for Elephants (the book), it pales in comparison. This book is for anyone looking for a historical fiction romance with a dash of mysticism.

Pick up a copy of At The Water’s Edge at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World

Author Nell Steves isolates herself in the Falkland Islands to write her novel. “With deft humour, this memoir traces Nell’s island days and slowly reveals details of the life and people she has left behind in pursuit of her art. They pop up in her novel, as well, as memoir and novel start to reflect one another. It seems that there is nowhere Nell can run–neither a remote island nor the pages of her notebook–to escape herself.” (Goodreads)

I enjoyed the parts of this book that took place on Bleaker Island, I could have done without the rest.

I give it: ⭐

This book is a good read for anyone who enjoys writing or reading about people who write.

Pick up a copy of Bleaker House at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Sidetracked (Kurt Wallander Series #5)

Detective Kurt Wallander is back again solving yet another mystery in southern Sweden… This is the fourth Wallander book I’m reviewing this year, so if you’ve read any of the above, you kind of get the gist of the series…

I give it: (review to come as I’m currently still reading it).

Pick up a copy of Sidetracked at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

What I Read 2017: The Man Who Smiled [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: At The Water's Edge [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Bleaker House [petiteadventures.org] What I Read 2017: Sidetracked [petiteadventures.org]

My Reading Goal for 2018

After experimenting with a rather specific goal in 2017, I’ve decided to cut myself some slack this coming year. Instead of forcing myself to read books that fall into a certain category, I’m simply going to read books that intrigue, interest and excite me.

Ideally, I’d like to read 24 books throughout the year (two per month seems like a reasonable challenge). But really, the number is far less important than ending the year feeling like I enjoyed the books I read and the time spent reading them.

What are your reading goals and must-reads for 2018?

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What I Read 2017 [petiteadventures.org]

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3 thoughts on “What I Read: 2017

  1. I love this idea! I think I’m going to steal it for this year and try to read a book set in my favorite cities and countries around the world! And might start with some of the ones on this list!

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