2017 Recap: Holly’s “Best Of” in Books & Film

Unfortunately, the stress and distraction of the first half of 2017 eclipsed recreational activities for me. Less leisure time resulted in fewer books read and an unintentional lapse in self-care.

As a result, I made some changes during the second half of the year: I decluttered, learned to say “no” when necessary (for my own peace of mind), and restructured my priorities.

I don’t want to be busy or harried 24/7, always worried about the next item on a to-do list. Instead, I want to be less “preoccupied” with minutia and more mindful regarding my own personal goals and the people who matter most in my life.

That said, I started reading for me again in the latter half of this year—mindlessly browsing Kindle deals, stumbling upon new authors, experiencing new-to-me genres and topics.

My favorites from what I read this year are listed below (with #1 being my top favorite)*:

1. Desert Flowers by Paul Pen (literary fiction/psychological thriller)

2. The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison (psychological thriller)

3. Hell House by Richard Matheson (haunted house horror)

4. Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin (dark & graphic psychological thriller)

5. Disclaimer by Renee Knight (suspenseful psychological thriller)


I also watched a number of excellent films this year, as I consider well-made movies to be “literature”—a reflection of culture and humankind—in their own right. Listed below are my favorites, titles which earned the distinction because they’re though-provoking, surprising, and memorable:

1. The Ninth Configuration (literary/philosophical)

2. Hell House LLC (slow-burn horror)

3. The Invitation (slow-burn psychological thriller)

4. Intruders (psychological thriller)

5. Sleep Tight, English subtitled (psychological thriller)

Runners up (in film):

  • Eden Lake (literary/psychological thriller)


NOTE: Although I bought (rather than rented) this film digitally, I haven’t watched it a second time. Eden Lake is brilliantly-made, its heavy message conveyed through superb acting, sustained tension, and plot twists. Both cringe-worthy and anxiety-inducing, one viewing was all it took for me. And some scenes are still branded on my brain.

Random find, pleasant surprise. And who doesn’t love Brian Austin Green?!

Strays from cliché slasher territory to the credit of a strong heroine and an unexpected twist.

Impressive cast!



      *Classifications in parentheses are my opinion, not necessarily how the works are categorized by their creators or online retailers. Also, I’m not suggesting that any of these titles were published or released in 2017, merely that I experienced them this year for the first time.