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10 Favourite Books in the First Half of 2017

7th July, 2017

Book Lists : Top ten books of 2017

It is that time of the year to publish your verdict on the favourite books so far. And what a difficult task that is! I loved these books for very different reasons. The Snow Child stood out to me because of the reading experience and lyrical prose while The Muse became a favourite because it was a nice relaxing story. Here is a list of my favourite reads from January to June, 2017.

Also, I am giving away one copy of one of my favourite books in the list. Don’t forget to enter. The links are given at the end.

A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor

1. A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor (1951)

A Game of Hide and Seek is the story of the silliness of young love, the characteristic insensitivity of men  whom we first fall in love with, the nostalgia of the past and an echo of loneliness that only love can silence. I found myself falling into the regrets in the minds of Vesey and Harriet and their pointless questions of ‘what if?’ and ‘could we re-live the past?’. Taylor’s character sketches are remarkable which makes the novel an emotionally evocative read. I urge you to pick it up.

Check A Game of Hide and Seek – Read This and Break your Heart| Goodreads

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

2. Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (2017)

Swimming Lessons was an absolute delight to read with a suspenseful plot, occasional symbolisms and a novel structure that alternates between the past and the present. This was a new favourite this year and I loved it to bits. the novel dissects the guilt and truth in a marriage and also made it to my list of Twelve Books that talk about Marriage. Highly recommended release of this year.

Read Review| Goodreads

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

3. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (2012)

The Snow Child is a must-read for those who love atmospheric stories. Set in the bleak, lifeless winter of Alaska, the novel follows the story of a  couple who are trying to cope with their grief of being childless. A child, who has a fox for a companion, comes into their lives much like the ‘Snow maiden’  of old stories. Dealing with themes of death and renewal of life through the dreary landscape and turmoil in the minds of characters, the book reads like a fairytale and is an absolutely enchanting pick for a cold night.

Read Review | Goodreads

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

4. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (2017)

When I reviewed this book, I called it a ‘fairytale that leaves you breathless.’ This is an amazing novel filled with magic, Slavic myths and stories, set in the northern woods of Rus’. It was the cover that drew me to the book. The cover design by Gorgan and Aitch is stunning and the book was included in the list of 14 Delicious covers of 2017.

Check out my thoughts on the book here – Review | Goodreads

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877)

Earlier this year I made a Classics Club oath and pledged to read some classics over the next few years (Sneak Peek into my Reading List for the Next Five Years). Anna Karenina was one of the books I was eager to get into but one that I have put off for a long time because of its size. I wrote about Why I would not Pick up Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina if it was a New Release but I also immensely enjoyed the book for the character sketches and the world of the Russian elite class.

Check Goodreads

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant

6. The Dark Circle by Linda Grant (2017)

The Dark Circle is another 2017 release that stole my heart. This book made me realize how fortunate we are to live in a period with so many medical advancements. It was scary even reading about TB patients, both the young and the old, confined to a sanatorium with an uncertain future. The book was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction 2017 (link to complete list).

Read my thoughts on the book here – The Dark Circle – An Emotionally Fulfilling Read| Goodreads

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

7. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1854)

I loved this book to bits. We have a classical heroine with strong opinions and a love story set in the backdrop of the clash of the industrial classes. The prose is swoon worthy and the book became an all-time favourite of mine. I also wrote about Why North and South should have been the First Classic You Read.

North and South was my first book by Gaskell and I later picked up Ruth by the same author. I have pledged to read all novels by Gaskell. She is definitely a fearless author to watch out for.

Add to Goodreads

They were like Family to me by Helen Maryles Shankman

8. They were like Family to Me by Helen Maryles Shankman (2016)

This is a collection of interlinked short stories set in Wlodawa, Poland in 1942 when Jews were being driven out of towns. I loved the aspect of magical realism that Shankman introduced to the stories. Terribly tragic stories are told with a hint of magic and focus on the humanity left in some of the townsmen. I think this is an underrated book especially since the stories are based on real people and passed on by Shankman’s maternal family. An incredible collection.

Read my thoughts on the individual stories here – They were like Family to Me – Stories of war, Humans and Magic | Goodreads

Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie

9. Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie (1942)

I love Agatha Christie novels and they are my perfect picks to get out of a slump. My favourite Christie novel remains And then there were none. But Five Little Pigs was a pleasant surprise. I could not guess the culprit and it is definitely a good mystery to read.

Check Goodreads

The Muse by Jessie Burton

10. The Muse by Jessie Burton (2016)

The Muse attracted me because of its lovely cover. The plot line is also symmetrical just like the cover design it was a delight to map one to the other. Jessie Burton was an author on my radar after I read her debut The Miniaturist, which was a atmospheric read but left me unsatisfied in the end. I am glad I picked up The Muse, which was very different from her debut. The story is predictable but overall it is a nice story to relax with.

Check  Review | Goodreads

And one more!

A Clutch of Indian masterpieces edited by David Davidar

11. A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces edited by David Davidar (2014)

I read this amazing book over December, 2016 and the beginning of 2017 and it would be a crime not to include the book in the list of 2017 favourites. The book does complete justice to the title and is an incredible collection of stories. There are stories written in English as well as translated from the different languages of India. I loved the fact that it includes a variety of stories nicely distributed among the different states and languages.

Check my thoughts on the individual stories – Review| Goodreads


A post shared by Resh Susan (@thebooksatchel) on

I am holding a giveaway of The Dark Circle by Linda Grant; thanks to the lovely folks at Virago who sent me two copies of the book. The giveaway ends on 9th July, 2017. So hurry up and good luck!

You can enter the giveaway through the following links:

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

If you liked this list, check my Ten Best Reads in the First Half of 2016  and Ten Favourite Books in the Second Half of 2016 for more recommendations. If you are looking specifically for new Indian books, check my list of Indian Books Published in 2016 to add to your TBR.

Let's discuss

Have you read any of these or are they on your TBR? What were your favourite reads of this year?


This Post Has 75 Comments
  1. I enjoyed Anna Karenina even if it was a slog. I don’t think I ever have a need to re-read it though. I really need to get around to North and South, it’s been on my CC list since the beginning and everyone keeps writing about it and I really like the premise, I just haven’t picked it up yet.

    1. I really enjoyed North and South. It was so realistic and Gaskell does not take sides. She lets her characters on either side of the industrial classes do the talking. The romance does end abruptly but on the whole North and South is a very enjoyable novel. I hope you will get to it soon.

  2. This is such a great, eclectic list! I adored The Snow Child. Have you read her second book, To the Bright Edge of the World?

    1. I adored Snow Child. No I haven’t read the second book because I heard it doesn’t have the same lyrical charm of the first one. So I wasn’t sure of picking it up. Did you read it?

  3. That’s a great list – I have read and enjoyed some of those books too. I love Agatha Christie but haven’t read Five Little Pigs yet. It sounds like a good one!

  4. I loved snow child and the dark circle. I’ve put swimming lessons on my TBR
    loved reading your favourites

    1. I love Christie novels because we can read them in one sitting. I think you will enjoy Swimming Lessons. It has a bit of everything that readers who love different genres will enjoy.

  5. This is such a wonderful list. I loved Swimming Lessons, The Bear and the Nightingale, and The Snow Child. That also reminds me that I have Eowyn Ivey’s latest book on my Kindle and still need to read it. I haven’t read that Agatha Christie novel yet, but I usually love her books so will have to pick that one up as well. Hope you have a lovely weekend!

  6. My favourite Christie novel is And Then There Were None too! And yes, Five Little Pigs is certainly a good read. The Indian connection of short stories looks good!

    1. I think you should definitely get a collection of that. The stories are distributed among different languages, not the usual ‘only-north ignore-south’ idea. It is a huge book so if you have space in your luggage this would be an excellent addition to your shelves. I love Agatha C novels too. I want to read them all some day.

  7. Great picks! Dark Circle and Snow Child are on my TBR list (although I still haven’t read Grant’s first book) and Swimming Lessons made my list for best of 2017 so far. And Elizabeth Taylor is the reading equivalent of comfort food for me – always satisfying.

  8. There are so many beautiful covers among the books in your list! I have yet to read all the classics you’ve listed. But I do need to read Anna Karenina and North and South (especially North and South – I LOVE that BBC series!). I have a copy of the Bear and the Nightingale, and you bet I’ll be picking it up before this year ends. 😀 Wonderful list!

  9. Oh so many books on my TBR from here. I’ve only got The Snow Child though. Pfft. Have to grab The Muse and Swimming Lessons asap. Have to grab all of them asap.

  10. I really like your list! The Bear and the Nightingale and The Snow Child are two I own and would also like to read because I’ve heard the writing in both is beautiful.

  11. i finally got The Dark Circle in the mail so I shall be reading that soon(ish) and I also wanna pick up North and South. I haven’t read a classic in awhile and I’m kinda feeling in the mood for them

  12. Ooh I need to read The Bear and the Nightingale IMMEDIATELY!! *flails* And also is it terrible that I added the Muse purely on cover love?! I want it so bad! I’m glad you’ve had some lovely reads this year!! Here’s to hoping the second half of 2017 is just as awesome!

  13. The Muse is a beautiful book – outside and in. I’m so glad you liked it. I’m so excited to give “North and South” a try – I’m ashamed I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet…

  14. This is a great list, Resh Susan! I have really enjoyed reading all your posts for these books as you’ve read them, too. It’s nice to see that your passions for these books have not waned! I often find when I put together lists like this some books I adored in the moment didn’t make it in the long run. But, that’s a casualty of mood-reading, I guess. Did you find any books you highly rated earlier this year didn’t make the cut? I haven’t read any of these books yet, but I did recently pick up a copy of The Bear and the Nightingale. I love Christie’s works but I haven’t read Five Little Pigs. I think my favorite of her’s is Ten Little Indians.

    1. Thank you. Yes there are many books that I have rated 4 and 4.5 stars but not included in the list (Tea girl of Hummingbird Lane, Stay with me and many more). I only included the best that I loved among the ones I enjoyed.

  15. The ones I’ve read fro your list are The Snow Child, North and South and A Game of Hide and Seek and I agree with you totally! I have Anna Karenina and The Dark Circle buried in the TBR, I must dig them out…

  16. A lovely and interesting set of books – I have seen mention of many of them but not read any! Out of all of them, I’d be most attracted to the Indian short stories, I think. Happy second-half-of-the-year reading!

  17. The Snow Child has been sitting on my shelves for a while. I’m glad it’s on your list, so now I know it’s a good one to pick up. I should be reading it soon (or at least I want to).

    I also enjoyed The Muse and Anna Karenina is a book that I’ve been wanting to read, but have just been intimidated by it’s size! The movie is great!

    1. I have been intimidated by Anna Karenina too. But it isn’t so bad. Read a few chapters at a time and take a small break. I feel Anna K is best enjoyed like a TV show. I loved The Snow child. Hope you love it too.

  18. I am going on a bookstore hopping this weekend and have bookmarked your page. I loved the medley of your book choices. Each so unique and heterogenous in its subject and the covers are so very beautiful. Some of these books are already in my TBR and your blog adds two more to the list- Snow Child and North & South. Thank you 🙂

  19. I haven’t read very many of these books so thank you for introducing them to me! Swimming Lessons seems really interesting, and I’m definitely checking that one out further! I hope the rest of 2017 is full of amazing books for you.

    I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    1. Swimming Lessons was my first favourite of the year so I hope you will love it too. Thanks alot for stopping by. I will be hopping over in a few days. I don’t have any advices as much – just be honest. write about what you love, interact with fellow bloggers and be consistent. You will get the hang of it soon. Good luck with your blog.

  20. Swimming Lessons AND The Dark Circle are now on hold for me at the Library. I read Anna K last winter and loved it too.

    For books that came out in 2017, The Lucky Ones is probably my favorite.

    1. I must check out The Lucky ones. I hope you will love the novels when you pick them up. Swimming Lessons has a great structure to create a suspneseful plot while The Dark Circle makes us realise how fortunate we are to live in a period with so many medical advancements

  21. I’m still absolutely desperate to read The Bear and the Nightingale, the premise reminds me so much of the middle grade Mafi has been writing, that blend of charm and magic. I’ll be hunting down a paperback copy this weekend, that cover is too lovely to be buying on eBook <3

    1. I was planning on buying an e-book myself but the husband has a weakness for pretty cover designs and ended up surprising me. You would not regret the paperback copy. It is pretty both on the inside and outside

  22. I have to admit that the one that seems to call my attention the most is the Claire Fuller. I think that she and I follow each other on Twitter and even on Instagram, but I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read any of her works yet. Seeing that she made it to your Best of 2017 (First Half) list, I’m seriously considering giving it a try.

  23. My dear Resh, your list flies soooo over my head, I feel a bit ashamed.
    (I will get therapy. Promise)
    I did smile when you confessed to liking Dame Agatha Christie… 🙂
    So do I, and I just (re)read) And then there were none in July. Love the construction.
    Be good.

      1. You really have. Tell me: how do you find them? Are there (still) good bookstores in Bombay? (Aka Mumbai, but old habits die hard) (That is where you live right?)

          1. Thank you. Good to know. I haven’t made the “jump” yet to on-line buying. Sort of dragging my feet I guess. Aren’t the delivery costs enormous in proportion to the book’s value?

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