The Meserve Reserve Favorite Books Of 2017

Nicole and I both love to read. Happily, in the eight months we've been travelling thus far, we've had plenty of time tackle numerous great books. Inasmuch as I love browsing book recommendations from others, we thought it would be fun to put together the following list of our favorite books we've read during our travels. 

For those who have signed up for the weekly Meserve Reserve Sunday Shoutout email, where we provide links to our weekly blog posts and other items, many of these book recommendations will be familiar although there are some new ones included. 

The links throughout this post are Amazon affiliate links. So if you click the link and then make a purchase on Amazon, Nicole and I receive a small percentage even though it costs you nothing extra.

The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro (Book | Kindle)

First published in 1982, this incredibly researched biography is the first of a five part series on the life and times of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Three more books have since been published and the author is currently working on the fifth and final installment. One of my favorite book recommenders, Ryan Holiday, has strongly recommended this series so I figured I would give it a go and I am so happy I did. The author's investigation and insights into L.B.J.'s life, along with U.S. events such as the Great Depression, World War II, and Civil Rights Movement are fantastic. Since reading the initial book, I've also tackled Means of Ascent (Book II) and Master of the Senate (Book III). With respect to What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer (covering the 1988 presidential election) and All The King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (fiction), these are the absolute best books on politics I've ever read and my favorite books I've read during our travels. 


The Shadow of What Was Last by James Islington (Book | Kindle)

Nicole and I both really enjoyed this epic fantasy series that traces a world in demise and under attack by unknown forces and the adventures of a diverse cast of young, gifted characters who fight to save the day. The author self-published this first book in the trilogy before it was picked up by a major publisher. We found the second book, An Echo of Things to Come, equally as good. The third and final book is expected to be released during 2018. 


American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Book | Kindle)

This book had been on my list for a long time. The story of forgotten gods roaming through the American heartland. One of the strangest, yet best, novels that I've read in a while. So unique.


The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield (Book | Kindle)

Inspiring. I loved this short book which I read over the course of two nights. For anyone hoping to create something -- whether a book, painting, business, or family -- this is an excellent read. Pressfield is the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and other books so many of his examples of overcoming resistance (referred to in the book as capital "R", Resistance) focus on writing, yet I would recommend the book to almost anyone. Prepare to be challenged and encouraged.


Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (Book | Kindle)

A classic of free market thinking, Nicole says this is one of her Top 5 favorite books and she wonders why it took her so long to finally read it. Since I had read the book years ago, we now both know who John Galt is. :)


The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley (Book | Kindle)

Such a good epic fantasy trilogy. Nicole and I both loved these books. One of my favorites in the fantasy realm and even books that I would recommend for someone wanting to dip their tow into the genre.


How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with the Mind by Pema Chöndron (Book | Kindle)

Nicole and I both meditate regularly and would highly recommend the practice to anyone. It's made a positive impact on my own life. This is Nicole's favorite book on the topic which she recommends to anyone from beginners to more experienced practitioners.


The Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonald (Book | Kindle)

The first novel in the 21 part "Travis McGee" series published between 1964 and 1984. I absolutely devoured each of these fast paced thrillers and would recommend them to anyone who enjoys books by John Grisham, Lee Child, and the like. McGee is a blue collar, James Bond type who lives on a houseboat he won in a poker game and solves mysteries to recover stolen goods. I recommend starting with the first and reading the books in order of publication. Prepare to be entertained.


Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler (Book | Kindle)

I knew almost nothing about Walt Disney the person before reading this book and now view him as a Steve Jobs of his day. Maniacally driven, his results were pretty even if the process wasn't always. A good read although it drags in parts. 


Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas (Book | Kindle)

One of Nicole's picks that I have not read. This is the first book in a fantasy series which follows the adventures of a young assassin as she makes her way through a corrupted kingdom. Nicole has read all six of the currently released books in the series (along with several other offshoot books from the same author) and is eagerly anticipating the seventh book which is scheduled to be released late in 2018.  


Origin by Dan Brown (Book | Kindle)

Let me preface this by saying I loved Dan Brown's earlier books and this was no different. Once again, Professor Robert Langdon teams with an attractive female he meets at the scene of a crime to solve a mystery involving codes, cyphers, and religious extremism. In my opinion, this is the best Robert Langdon book to date.  

I once sat through a lecture by Salman Rushdie where he used half of his time at the podium to bash Dan Brown and those who read his books. To me, it seemed akin to some obscure, indie rock band jealously criticizing Taylor Swift's music. In my humble opinion, there is a good reason Brown sells so many books and it has nothing to do with having an unsophisticated audience. I find his books to be well conceived, researched, and written. Let the hater's hate! :)    


The Story Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang (Book | Kindle)

A collection of science fiction short stories, the most well-known of which was the basis for the recent movie, Arrival, starring Amy Adams. I am not usually a big fan of short story collections, preferring long form novels instead, but I really enjoyed this one. Beyond the Arrival story, I particularly enjoyed the last story, Like What You See: A Documentary, which imagines the implications of a technology that, when enabled, does not allow the user to recognize physical beauty in others. Interesting stuff.


Duck Season: Eating, Drinking and Other Misadventures in Gascony, France's Last Best Place by David McAninch (Book | Kindle)

A selection for Francophiles. Nicole and I both loved this series of entertaining essays describing the nine months the author and his family spent living in the southwest French region of Gascon. Unlike other expat accounts I've read that make everything seem overly idyllic and perfect, here the author doesn't hide his mishaps and other hilarious adventures like screwing up a bird hunt, herding goats, and overnight hiking to nearby villages. Fun and entertaining, especially for those interested in French culture.


The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis--and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse (Book | Kindle)

Sasse is a 45 year old Republican Senator from Nebraska, and his book received a lot of press over the summer for what it wasn't -- another boring "political" book aimed at bolstering the politician's public image. Instead, this book focuses on how Americans should be raising children. A strange read for me since I don't have children myself, but I enjoyed it nonetheless for Sasse's thought provoking advocacy for a return to teaching focused on the "character" that made America great in the first place.


Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Book | Kindle)

You may be realizing that Nicole and I are both big fantasy fans. This first book in an epic fantasy trilogy is set in a gray, ashy world where gifted people can gain magical powers by swallowing precious metals. Nicole and I both loved these books. Definitely recommended for fantasy lovers. 

Hopefully this list provides some inspiration for your next good read. Nicole and I both love hunting for our next book. So if there is something we should be considering next, please don't hesitate to let us know. Happy reading!

Like this post? Want to read more about Travis and Nicole's travel adventures? Check out The Meserve Reserve Holiday Gift Guide For Travelers.

Then sign up for the Sunday Shoutout, our weekly email newsletter providing a link to that week's blog posts and a few other odds and ends we are interested in.