Top Five Books of 2017
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Hmm, 2017's not over yet, and the book I'm reading now, The Wry Romance of the Literary Rectory, by Deborah Alun-Jones may well be among them, not to mention what might receive at Christmas!
But for the moment:
The Great Passage, by Shion Miura
The Girls, by Edna Ferber
La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman
La Lunga Vita di Marianna Ucría, by Dacia Maraini
House of Names, by Colm Tóibín
The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America, by Ethan Michaeli
Habitual offenders : a true tale of nuns, prostitutes, and murderers in seventeenth-century Italy, by Craig Monson
A surprised queenhood in the new Black sun : the life & legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks, by Angela Jackson
The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People who read them, by Elif Batuman
A Cup of Water Under my Bed, by Daisy Hernández
I hardly ever read anything contemporary, so my list is going to be arbitrary; the best titles I just happened to read in 2017.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (NF)
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (F)
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (F)
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (F)
Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (F)
>4 lilithcat: I know that feeling! Last year, I put my current read in my honorable mentions. :)
>5 mooingzelda: A+ choices. You'll note The Obelisk Gate on my list. And good to see some Chambers out there—my book club is reading The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet this spring.
>6 Cecrow: Arbitrary lists are great! I know I see a lot of "best books of 2017" type lists that are strictly limited to books published this year. We always make a point of opening ours up to anything you've read in the year.
What amuses me about our staff list this year is the way Tana French has popped up yet again. She's been on the list via one book or another since I started at LT, and we've all been working our way through her books.
I'm so behind on my recent readings, this is just going to be my top rated of the year:
NPCs by Drew Hayes
Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Midnight Marked by Chloe Neill
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher (Current read)
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
Waiting Game: The Chronicles of Covent by J L Ficks and J E Dugue
I have read 20 books that earned 5 stars this year, out of nearly 450 books read, it is a hard choice.
Here my top 5 & my top five of childrens/YA books:
Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexijevitsj
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman
Turtles all the way down by John Green
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Johnny, my friend by Peter Pohl
The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff
In no particular order:
The power and the glory by Grahame Greene
The bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
La honte by Annie Ernaux
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
The towers of Trebizond by Rose Macauley
Homo Faber by Max Frisch
All systems red by Martha Wells
Love that dog by Sharon Creech
The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini
The pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Riquet à la houppe by Amélie Nothomb
A Gentleman in Moscow-Amor Towles
Mr Splitfoot-Samantha Hunt
Under Major Domo Minor-Patrick Dewitt
The Girl in the Garden-Melanie Wallace
The Liberal Redneck Manifesto-Trae Crowder
Stoned: Jewelry. Obsession and How Desire Shaped the World-Aja Radden
Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs-Psyche A. Williams-Forson
Birds and People- Mark Cocker
Life Sentences: Literary Judgements and Accounts- William H. Gass
The Door by Magda Szabó
L'autre (L'altra in the original Catalan - there doesn't seem to be an English translation yet) by Marta Rojals
The House of Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazán
Le vent de la lune/El viento de la Luna by Antonio Muñoz Molina
Things We Left Unsaid by Zoya Pirzad
That might be my first year with no novels originally in English in my top 5. It's a strong year for Spanish authors with two novels written in Castilian, and one in Catalan. Szabó writes in Hungarian, Pirzad in Persian.
Honourable mentions: Vernon Subutex 1 and Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes, by Pingru and Meitang by Pingru Rao, Strange Defeat by Marc Bloch and How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng (the last two the only non-fiction books worth mentioning this year)
Dishonourable mentions: The Novel Cure and Escal-Vigor
The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia?, Edward Albee
Days Without End, Sebastian Barry
New Boy, Tracy Chevalier
Into the Gray Zone, Adrian Owen
Violin Dreams, Arnold Steinhardt
Graphic : 500 Designs That Matter
What Kind of Creatures Are We?, Noam Chomsky
The Book of Emma Reyes, Emma Reyes
Not worth the trouble:
A Legacy of Spies, John Le Carré
The Sacred Enneagram: finding your unique path th Spiritual Growth, by Christopher L. Heuertz.
Gods, Wasps, and Stranglers: the Secret History and Redemptive Future of Fig Trees, by Mike Shanahan.
How Dante Can Save Your Life: the life-changing wisdom of history's greatest poem, by Rod Dreher.
Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab.
Paper and Fire, by Rachel Caine.
all on my Nook
Last Hope Island: Occupied Europe and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War-Lynne Olson
Indifferent Stars Above-Daniel J Brown
Fire by Night-Teresa Messineo
Groovin': Horses, Hopes and Slippery Slopes-Rich Israel
City of the Lost-Kelly Armstrong
I read most genres but my favorite 5 this year that I read were non-fiction or biography.
Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larsen
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou
Max Perkins: Editor of Genius
by Scott A. Berg
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer
by Kate Summersdale
With ten days to go, my favorites read for the first time in 2017 were:
Arabia Felix by Thorkild Hansen n/f
Ill Will by Dan Chaon
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann n/f
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O'Neill
Augustus by John Williams
The Evenings by Gerard Reve
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Outline by Rachel Cusk
War and Turpentine by Stephan Hertmans
Here are my five...which were very hard to choose among many good reads this past year!
Every Man Dies Alone - Hans Fallada - Historical Fiction (based on a true story)
Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number - Jacobo Timerman - Nonfiction
1984 - George Orwell - Fiction
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley - Fiction
Shirobamba - Yasushi Inoue - Fiction
Top 5 Books of 2017
News of the World by Paulette Jiles (beautifully told novel of the old West)
Olio by Tyehimba Jess (poetry -what an amazing piece of work)(can't get the title touchstone to stick - look for his)
Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright (NF -pragmatic and convincing)
The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee (NF - remarkable, well-written, thought-provoking - where are we headed, with the powers we're developing?)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (terrific and even-handed YA novel featuring of-the-moment racial issues)
It was hard to whittle it down to just five, but before I change my mind mine would be:
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
La Belle Sauvage - Philip Pullman
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers
Swing Time - Zadie Smith
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry
The Slaves of Solitude - Patrick Hamilton
The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead
The Green Road - Anne Enright
Commonwealth - Ann Patchett
1984 - George Orwell
Autumn - Ali Smith
A Little Tea, A Little Chat - Christina Stead (you can see why she's no longer read!)
Bel Canto - Ann Patchett (I LOVED Commonwealth but hated this!)
Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy
If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Ashes to Fire by Emily B. Martin
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee
In the Green Dragon group, we have separate threads for Best Fiction, Best Nonfiction and Worst reads. It's funny, but combining the two, fiction and nonfiction to find my best reads, makes me leave books out which I listed there. I found that the three fiction reads I felt were best are all audio books. I wonder if I would have felt the same about them if I had read them in print? I am reading one of them True Grit in print right now, and although I do love it, is it because I keep reading in the narrator's voice? She really did a superlative job.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - I loved this as much for what it didn't say as for what it did. Lovely
True Grit by Charles Portis
Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck
The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
These are the top books of the year for me (not including those which I reread), which I would happily read again. Three of the authors were unknown to me, Pearl S. Buck is an author I love.
Though I'm still sorting my 2017 readings, I can summarize my favorites with a modicum of confidence.
But since I've got 5 non-fictions, I'm adding a few fictions in their own list.
Our Man in Charleston by Christopher Dickey
God's Secretaries by Adam Nicholson
The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede
Population: 485 by Michael Perry
Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier
In all of these, I was struck by the authors' control of the large amounts of material, creating great narrative and personal stories.
a couple of stand-outs in Fiction:
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination, which is an anthology that doesn't disappoint.
Top Five Fiction of the Year in order read during the year:
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Top Five Nonfiction of the Year in order read during the year:
Birds Art Life by Kyo Maclear
His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie
Top Five Consolidated, by preference:
Lincoln in the Bardo
A Gentleman in Moscow
His Excellency: George Washington
This was hard to whittle down!
Kafka on the Shore by Murakami
The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
This Thing of Darkness by Harry Bingham
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
Radium Girls by Katie Moore
Entwined: Sisters and Secrets in the Silent World of Artist Judith Scott Joyce Wallace Scott
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Dr. Mütter's Marvels by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis E. Taylor
***Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
***Top pick for the year
What a Carve Up by Jonathan Coe
The Manchurian Candidate by R Condon
Legacy of Spies by J LeCarre this led to a re-read of all the Smiley books which was very pleasureable
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Country Child by A Uttley
Jacob's Room is full of books by Susan Hill
Passenger to Frankfurt by A Christie what was she on when she wrote this?
My top 5 of the year are -- for once -- strikingly easy to pick out. In alphabetical order, they are:
American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard . . . an extraordinary take on why the USA works the way it works, and one of my all-time-top-10 history books.
Elvis's Army: Cold War GIs and the Atomic Battlefield by Brian McAllister Linn . . . a historical sociology of the US Army in the 1950s, which sounds like the dullest thing imaginable, and is anything but.
The Force by Don Winslow . . . an epic story of corruption, hubris, and honor among NYPD detectives -- grounded in a meticulous sense of place -- by the greatest crime writer you've never heard of.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis . . . a book about baseball that's really a book about about innovation, written by someone I'd never read before but would now read damn near anything by.
Zeppelins West by Joe R. Lansdale . . . gonzo-comic brilliance: slightly bent historical characters, steampunk technology, literary allusions, and dialogue that's both genuinely witty and exuberantly raunchy.
With honorable mentions to:
The Green Ripper by John D. MacDonald
The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream by Jim Collins
The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Golden Age of Basketball by John Taylor
I'm struck by the fact that 3 out of 8 are books about sports, despite the fact that sports isn't a subject I follow closely or read a great deal about . . . further proof, I suspect, that it's the subject of much of the best American non-fiction writing.
When I look at my top ratings this year, I guess I have to send a special thank you to lorannen as three of the very top ones are all Early Reviewer books: Letters of Note, Autopsy of a Father, and Strange Tide. To make it a Top 5 list, I'll add two books from two of my favorite authors: Rather Be the Devil and The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers. For various reasons, I didn't read as much this year as I usually do, but the quality was there, so I'm happy about that. Happy New Year, everybody!
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky was definitely the best book of the year, followed closely by
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian and
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness,
The Thirst by Jo Nesbo,
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and
The Lake House by Kate Morton were all very, very well-written and enjoyable books.
Dishonorable mentions to:
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly, which featured absolutely appalling writing and a paucity of plot,
White Noise by Don DeLillo, which I thought was pretensious crap, and
My Life Among the Serial Killers by Helen Morrison, who managed to take a lifetime of working with serial murderers and make it dull. That takes talent.
Clown Moon by Alex Jameson
Under The Overtree by James A. Moore
Good Girls by Glen Hirschberg
Nothing Lasting by Glen R Krisch
Haven by Tom Deady
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