Favorite Books Of 2017

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Up until a year ago, given the choice between fiction and non-fiction, I would pick fiction in 10 out of 10 cases. Something changed on New Year’s eve 2017. What happened a year ago?

We officially started homeschooling our twice exceptional son.

Term twice exceptional (or 2e) often refers to intellectually gifted children who also have some form of disability or learning differences. So double the challenge, double the fun.

As a self-proclaimed research junkie, I NEEDED to have more information, so I turned to books, Amazon, library, friends, Facebook groups and trusted web sites. I read this article and down the rabbit hole I went.  Over the half of the books I’ve read this year are non-fiction.

Out of 75+ books I’ve read in 2017 these ten stood out the most:

  1. The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star by Tom Clynes  confirmed my suspicions that our 5-year-old is highly gifted and that turning to non-traditional parenting choices was the right thing to do for our family, despite all the sighs and well intended advice we received.
  2. The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Kristine Barnett I picked up this book after seeing Jacob Barnett’s Forget What You Know TED Talk. Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. But his story is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. Surrounded by experts at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. His parents knew that they had to make a change.
  3. Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson, Nathan Clarkson  Inspiring, heartbreaking and uplifting, this book made me feel like I’m not alone. We have an outside-of-box kid too, and I found myself tearfully relating to Sally’s story and making mental notes for the future. Nathan’s perspective was unique and eye-opening. I highly recommend this wonderful book!
  4.  The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do by Peg Tyre Thought provoking summary and analysis of the research showing that boys and men lag well behind girls and women in school achievement.
  5. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown  At the end of the day I often find myself exhausted, but looking back at the day I realize that nothing important was accomplished.  “What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance?” Greg McKeown inquires in his book. He offers a simple but profound idea: that we accomplish more when we are more selective about where we direct our efforts. This book was essential (hehe) for me in 2017, with all the changes and new projects.
  6. Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic  Implications of Piaget’s Theory by Constance Kamii,‎ Leslie Baker Housman   Preschoolers easily grasp ideas behind fractions,  number lines, geometry and algebra elements. I see 3, 4 and 5 year olds exploring difficult concepts and taking on the challenges. Silly kids, they weren’t told yet that they hate math!
    Kids love the challenge of games. Why not use this attribute and incorporate games into learning? Instead of using endless worksheets and tests, give them problems to solve.According to Piaget’s theory, “children acquire mathematical knowledge…by constructing them from the inside, in interaction with the environment,” in other words, given the chance to explore and experiment, they will use their knowledge to  invent new ways to find solutions, explore patterns and make connections.  Let’s make math fun!
  7.  The Martian and Artemis by Andy Weir
    Andy Weir’s unique writing style, humor, meticulous research come together in well thought out, interesting, well paced page-turners. Once I picked up his books, I couldn’t put them down. Sleep? Who needs sleep, sleep is for the weak!
  8.  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. Such a beautiful and gripping story. This is one of those books that will stay with you long after you’ve read it.
  9.  Maisie Dobbs  After reading the first novel, I was very excited to find out that Jacqueline Winspear published thirteen books in the series.  A quick, light mystery with an engaging main character set in England in 1929. I would love to see this as  a TV show!
  10. Wonder by R. J. Palacio  August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.
    Oh, what a wonderful book!!!! Well-written, touching, emotional and meaningful, this book become 2017 favorite instantly. We read it 4 (four!!!!) time. Our peculiar son fell in love with main character. I think he identifies with Auggie. You see, our eldest is 5 years old and since he was 18 months old we kept saying “His brain just works differently”. He absorbs every bit of information and remembers it FOR-E-VER, his vocabulary surprises and amazes us every day, he skipped 2 grades already, he adores everybody he meets. He is also very sensitive, VERY intense, VERY unpredictable. Parenting him is not easy, traditional parenting did not work with him and only deepened his anxiety. 80% of the time he can pass for a neurotypical kid, so when the atypical behavior kicks in, it is usually attributed to him being “spoiled” or “coddled.”
    **********SPOILER ALERT**********
    This book also helped us deal with a loss similar to that of August’s family. Loss of a beloved pet was (and still is) incredibly painful, and Daisy’s storyline helped our kids understand and cope with the devastating loss of a four-legged family member.

What books grabbed your heart and stayed with you in 2017? Share in the comments! 2018 is almost here and I NEED more, more, more reading material! Always.