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Books of 2017

Rachel Saylor

I fell on my face at the end of 2016, as sickness took over my body. After weeks of "waiting it out," I succumbed to that bottle of pills, labeled antibiotics. Something I hate taking, but on Christmas Eve I had a change of heart. I let everyone know as I waved the bottle in the air that, "These pills are my Christmas miracle!"

At the first sign of my body being stronger, I took off running...literally. I went running, ready to get started on my marathon plan. I climbed every day for four days in a row. I was pumped. I had my body and energy back! 

I pushed the limits, however, and stumbled my way into 2017 when the sickness overcame my body once again. We are a strong 9 days into the new year, and yet, I am still feeling lousy. 

The act of writing has almost been impossible. Thankfully, once the new year hit, I was able to read. Oh, how excited I was at this change in my health. I could read without feeling like my head was going to explode! Yay! 

I want to tell you how the first series I read this year really inspired me to kick start my own series. But first, let me tell you about how I met and befriended the author of this series before he was famous.  

I came to school in the frigid Blue Ridge Mountains begrudgingly, and because of this, I made it difficult for myself to make friends and connections at first. My sister, Abbi, a talented photographer --> thisisnowphotography <-- [Check her out!], had already been at school for two years. She worked at the bookstore on campus and introduced me to a couple of her coworkers. 

One coworker in particular was Hugh Howey. I walked through the bookstore almost daily, and Hugh was always super friendly to me when he was there. A week without running into Hugh was an anomaly. If I was in a rush, it was a quick, "Hey, Hugh! How's it going?" If time allowed, I'd stop to chat with Hugh before heading to my next class or study session in the library. 

During his time in Boone,  while he wasn't working around what he loves best, Hugh spent his time reading and writing his own stories. 

Abbi told me about how Hugh participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote a book, Wool, during that month. Hugh self published Wool and didn't promote his book, yet, people started reading and sharing it. Wool ended up becoming wildly popular. Because of its success, Hugh kept writing books in the series, giving the hungry readers what they wanted; more.

As I don't go to school anymore, and Hugh no longer lives in this small mountain town, (what successful person really sticks around here? ;) ), I no longer have the pleasure of our weekly talks amidst the books. I didn't even know back then that this would be my passion; writing that is. Shit, I was studying Psychology. Ha! 

As I have began my writing career, I think a lot about Hugh and how much courage and perseverance it took him to get to where he is now. I know Hugh even then was writing daily, being persistent and showing up to do what he loved most. His dedication has been a huge inspiration to me as I embark on this writing journey. 

Ok, so going back to the new year, being sick, but not too sick to read. A thought goes off in my head, "Why the hell have I not read Hugh's Wool Series yet?!" So, I laid around for the next few days devouring the five books. I couldn't stop reading them. I was an addict after the first book. With each new book, my eyes craved with more ferocity. These were the first books I read on a kindle, and when the kindle died and wouldn't turn back on, I almost had a melt down. Just ask my husband. 

"Why won't it work?" I said, furiously jamming the power button over and over. I'm grateful for a sensible husband who googled what to do with a nonresponsive Kindle. I learned how to reboot it with his aid and jittered in anticipation.

Oh, how it tasted so sweet when it turned back on, ready for me to digest the rest of the last book. I squealed and nuzzled back into my chair as I prepared myself for the end. When I finished, I put the Kindle down on the chair yelling, "Ugh! That was SO good!" 

I have felt as though writing a series myself seems like a huge undertaking, and I haven't been sure when I would ever get around to it. I've pushed my series idea to the side, waiting till "I'm more prepared for it." After reading Hugh's series, I realized I don't need to push this off. I can do this! I can plot out a series and it is going to be kick ass. So, this year, I plan to begin that process of planning, and I am stoked! 

I had a kick-ass start to a year of reading great books, thanks to Hugh Howey's incredible series. This year, I want to read at least 24 books. Here is the list so far: 

1. Wool (Wool, #1) by Hugh Howey
2. Proper Gauge (Wool, #2)
3. Casting Off (Wool, #3)
4. The Unraveling (Wool, #4)
5. The Stranded (Wool, #5) 
6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy --> I've read this once. It's so good; worth another read. Plus it's my bookclub's choice :) 
7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
12. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows --> I've never read all of these straight through, and it's about damn time. 
14. Cast in Flame (Chronicles of Elantra, #10) by Michelle Sagara --> This is such an incredible fantasy series. Michelle Sagara does such a good job of building a world and characters. She's still writing this series, and I cannot get enough. 
15. Cast in Honor (Chronicles of Elantra, #11) 
16. Cast in Flight (Chronicles of Elantra, #12) 
17. Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue --> Spiritual  
18. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan --> Science  
19. The China Study by Thomas Campbell & T. Colin Campbell --> Health
20. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf --> A classic is a must. 

I've left the last 4 blank. I'd love to hear what you plan to read or tell me what I need to be reading. I just might add it to the list :) Also, who knows who I'll meet or what I'll run into and realize that I must read the book ________, so why not leave a few blank for those moments, eh?

Check out my Books to Read in 2017  page for links to these books and a short synopsis of each. 

But seriously, email me at and tell me what you're reading this year. I love hearing from you.