The Reading Challenge 2017 + Book Reviews

Oh, boy! 2017 went by as well… and what a year it was in matters of books and reading!

Last year… well, actually two years ago, in 2016, I came across the Good Reads’ Reading Challenge. I decided to join and set the goal of reading 12 books in a year. I failed because I ended up reading only 11 books. Anyway, I was really proud of myself because I never tracked my readings so vigorously and honestly, I wasn’t reading too many books either. All my pride went down the hill when some of you told me you’ve read over 50 (!) books in a year – that’s one book read per week, on average!

 Related: The Reading Challenge 2016 + Book Reviews

So for the reading challenge 2017, I decided to stick to the old goal of 12 books, hoping I might actually stick to it. And… surprise, surprise, I managed to read… you ready?! 18 books! While it might sound lame for some of you, I’m quite proud that I managed to surpass my goal this time. Also, I find Good Reads’ challenge very useful; it really motivated me.

Another thing I’d like to mention before we dive into the reviews, is that last year’s reads were very diverse: from professional-related books (marketing, d’oh) to fiction, blogging and personal development. This is one thing I want to keep coming.

I will group them in fiction, blog-related, personal development and work-related.


I’ll start with fiction because fiction books are very close to my heart. They were among the first books I’ve ever read and I also consider that you should read both fiction and non-fiction (they complete each other perfectly).

1. When Nietzche Wept by Irvin D. Yalom

I began 2017 reading this book. It was not actually mine, I borrowed it because I’ve heard so many good things about it.

It does have some philosophy in it, so if you really can’t stand this topic, you’ll probably not enjoy this book. Even if it’s pure fiction (Nietzche and Breuer never actually met) the plot is intriguing and it shows how tormented a brilliant mind can be.

The last part of the book actually made me love it. It shows how easily our mind can control us and that the simplest solutions, that are right under our noses can be easily be ignored.

2. The Sicilian by Mario Puzo

I’m a huge fan of Puzo’s Mafia books and this year I managed to read other two books of his.

The Sicilian is very little linked to [easyazon_link identifier=”0099528126″ locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”janded0a-21″ localize=”y”]The Godfather[/easyazon_link] (Michael Corleone is somewhere around), but the book tells the story of raw sicilian culture.

There’s a lot of mystery around the Sicilian culture and Puzo shows how simple these people live.

The book tells the real story of the famous Sicilian bandit Turi Giuliano. An innocent, brave young man, Turi becomes an outlaw overnight, by accident. He became a Sicilian Robin Hood and was involved in a war against the Mafia.

3. Omerta by Mario Puzo

Told you I’m into Mafia books…

Omerta was on my reading list for ages, but for some reason, I’ve never bought it. Until last year.

While The Sicilian is more into bandits and Robin Hood-style adventures, I think you will find Omerta closer to The Godfather. 

Omerta shows how elegant, discrete and honourable the Mafia can be. I know it sounds weird, but to me is fascinating how important honour and integrity is to these people. And Omerta pictures it perfectly.

4. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

… perfect timing with the movie!

I’ve heard a lot about Agatha Christie books, but never read one – I’m more or a Sherlock gal. I ended up enjoying them, so I read 2 of her books.

I’m quite sure the all crime novel lovers know Agatha Christie’s books by heart.

Murder on the Orient Express tells the story of the famous Hercule Poirot, solving a mysterious murder that took place in the famous Orient Express.  All I can say is that I’m happy that I guessed the solving of the mystery.

5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Reading this book was different for me. I’ve seen some bits and pieces of the movie so I knew the ending already. But still enjoyed reading it.

The book brings together 10 random people on a private island. None of them seems to have anything in common, except knowing the host and hiding some very dark secrets. One by one, they get killed in suspicious circumstances that seem to follow an old children’s song.

Intriguing and mysterious, the best part of the book to me was the end, when they find the explanation for all murders.

6. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

I was quite young when this book was originally released, but I remember how much panic and chaos it brought. Lots of people found it outrageous and other thought it was fascinating. So I had to give it try.

The book brings some very, very different views regarding Jesus Christ’s life. I’m not a deeply religious person so I find it difficult to believe everything that written in the Bible. This is a different topic, but from my point of view, the Bible it trying to send a clear message: be good and kind to one another, but lots of people take everything ad litteram.

While I do find some of the facts very appealing and interesting, some are pure fiction and over exaggerated in my view (the Disney movies connections to religion, for example).

If you’re into conspiracy theories, you’ll definitely love this book. Also, if you’re a deeply religious person, I strongly recommend you skip this book.

7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

I know… I know… it sounds lame. As a matter of fact, I hated Harry Potter books when they first came out.

I grew up reading the books and watching the movies. So yes, I am one of those weirdos that love Harry Potter. It made my childhood amazing and it made me love books.

I’ve originally read the first book when I was around 7 years old. I got the original books series as a Christmas gift and I said it’s time to bring back my good childhood memories.

For those of you who never heard of the Harry Potter books (ahem, shame on you!), it’s a seven books series telling the story of a boy who finds out he’s a wizard. The books picture his adventures discovering the magic world of witches and wizards.

Personal Development

8. Attitude is Everything by Jeff Keller

I found this book quite similar to The Secret. It sums up quite the same ideas.

I liked it because it’s short and simple. The concept that you’re influencing your life based on your attitude and how you choose to see things around you is something I very much believe in. So even though all the books I’ve read about this topic say pretty much the same (that is only up to you the way things turn out) I hope that one day I’ll actually manage to switch my mindset.

9. Yes or No by Spencer Johnson

A very compact guide on how to take better decissions.

Even though I can’t say I found something revolutionary in this book, that fact that it’s compact makes it accessible. Whenever you’re facing a big decision, you can spend the afternoon reading this book and by the end of the day, you’ll have your answer.

Also, it was really nice that Johnson made the whole book a tale – it’s way easier to absorb the information.

10. Mars and Venus Together Forever by John Gray

When I was a child, I found it very difficult to understand why we are supposed to marry the opposite sex. It made perfect sense to me that boys should marry boys and girls should marry girls. We have separate bathrooms for girls and boys, specific clothing items and toys so why mix things up?

So you could say I’m still trying to understand how this mix up works. 🙂

I find this book very, very similar to Women are From Venus and Men are From Mars so if you’ve just read it, you’ll find this book annoying because it technically says the same things. I read it just as a reminder, honestly.

11. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

Probably the cosiest book I’ve read in 2017.

Hygge is the Scandinavian term for everything peaceful and cosy. I have to admit I still can’t give a proper definition of the term since it’s quite general and there doesn’t seem to be only one word in English to define it.

 Related: Why Instagrammers are Losing it To The Little Book of Hygge

Anyway, Wiking stuffed his little book with Instagram-perfect pictures that make the book so addictive. Besides the cosy images, he also adds some recipes, interior design tips and some statistics about happiness. Overall the book is a quick and easy read on a Sunday afternoon that will give you some insights on being a little happier.

I mentioned at the beginning that besides personal development and fiction books I also read some related to my career. I’m not sure I ever mentioned this, but I graduated from marketing and I work in the digital marketing field. I love what I do so I’m keen to learn as much as possible.

Most of these books can be easily related to blogging as well. Some are blogging-focused, so I decided to include all here.

12. This Book Will Teach You to Write Better by Neville Medhora

For those of you who are writing for a living, this book might be boring. But it’s funny, short and useful.

I think it is a great reminder or boost when you feel you’re writing is getting rusty. It will not bore you with a lot of stories, it will tell you some very basic and logic aspects of copywriting.

13. Scientific Advertising: 21 Advertising, Headline and Copywriting Techniques by Claude C. Hopkins

I would call this a classic.

Although the book is very outdated – it talks about advertising in the newspapers and through the mail, you can still find strong marketing principles that still apply today. So, if you are a passionate marketer, I suggest you give this book a go since it’s thin and easy to read.

14. Everybody Writes by Anne Handley

This is the only book I haven’t finished reading.

While I think it very useful for those who are just starting to write as a profession, I personally found the book quite tiring. The book is broke down into too many chapters and also some tips were boring and too obvious to me. But, again, I find it perfect for someone who’s just starting.

I’ve stopped reading the book when Mrs Handley started to argue weather American English or British English grammar was the “correct one”. I think there’s no point or arguing which people firstly spoke English. Also, as a “student”, I expect for my “teacher” to present me both facts (this is common for AmE and this is more common in BrE, both ways are accepted), not to brainwash me that there is only one right way. But I’m just picky, I guess.

15. The Branding Handbook by Wally Ollins

Another classic, that I think each marketer should read.

Just as the title indicates, the books is a concentrated branding manual. It covers quite a lot of information in a few pages. It presents different aspects of branding, from theory to example and good keys practices.

If you are working in marketing or planning to start a business, you should read this book.

16. SEO for Blogging by George Pain

A complete guide to SEO for blogging. If you are a blogger, you will find this book quite useful.

This book will give you pretty much all the information you need to properly optimize your blog and your blog post. I can’t say I found too many new things in this book but given the fact that I work in digital marketing and that I’m also into SEO, I guess it’s fine.

17. SEO & Beyond by Andy Williams

I have to say, this was one of my favourite books I read last year. It’s a more in-depth SEO book and I think it’s perfect for SEO professionals.

It starts with quite basic info and ends up with more tech details and strategies. If you’re into SEO as much as I am, you will love this book.

18. Uplifting Service by Ron Kaufman

I have to admit that I started reading this book a couple of years ago, but for some reason I abandoned it.

It’s very interesting how Kaufman teaches you how to bring service to the next level. He provides lots of personal examples and also businesses which uplifted their services.

I think this book is perfect for those who own a business and for managers. Although I found it so very useful on a personal level as well. It taught me to be more helpful and kind, although I had the most horrible day ever. The results are amazing.

Sorry for the long article, but I wanted each book to have a quick review, in case you need it.

The biggest change last year brought in terms of reading it that I finally put my pride aside and I got a [easyazon_link identifier=”B0186FESVC” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”janded0a-21″ localize=”y”]Kindle[/easyazon_link]. I already have quite a few books on my wishlist over there and that says something. Would you be interested in a review of a bookworm about Kindle? Please let me know below!

How was 2017 for you in terms of reading? Any good book you could recommend? Leave them below!

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