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Top Five Books of 2017

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Dec 20, 2017, 3:30am Top

Continuing one of my favorite LT traditions, I asked the staff to list their favorite books they read in the past year, and the results are in! Check them out over on the blog.

What were your top five reads for 2017? Tell us all about it here, or add yours to the list!

Edited: Dec 20, 2017, 4:31am Top

Hard question! But after having thought about it, my list is:

Marlon James: A brief history of seven killings
Mary Beard: SPQR : a history of ancient Rome
Karin Tidbeck: Jagannath
Siri Pettersen: Evna
Sarah Waters: Tipping The Velvet

Dec 20, 2017, 7:00am Top

Mine were:

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Ill Will by Dan Chaon
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Dec 20, 2017, 9:38am Top

I always love this thread - it's so good for recommendations! My top 5 this year were:

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin
Kindred by Octavia E Butler
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
On Writing by Stephen King

Dec 20, 2017, 10:14am Top

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)

Edited: Dec 20, 2017, 10:46am Top

>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.

Dec 20, 2017, 11:01am Top

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

Honorable Mention
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher (Current read)

Dishonorable Mentions
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

Dec 20, 2017, 11:35am Top

Only five?
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

Dec 20, 2017, 1:11pm Top

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

Honourable mentions:
Homo Faber by Max Frisch
All systems red by Martha Wells
Love that dog by Sharon Creech

Dishonorable mentions:
The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini
The pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Riquet à la houppe by Amélie Nothomb

Dec 20, 2017, 1:20pm Top

Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett
Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan

Edited: Dec 21, 2017, 2:14pm Top

Christodora-Tim Murphy
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

Dec 20, 2017, 3:02pm Top

So hard to narrow it down, but here goes:

The Changeling by Victor LaValle
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris
I Was Told to Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet
Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Dec 20, 2017, 3:58pm Top

Mine were:

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

Dec 21, 2017, 1:09am Top

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

Dec 21, 2017, 11:52am Top

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

Edited: Dec 21, 2017, 8:57pm Top

Dec 21, 2017, 9:46pm Top

Edited: Dec 21, 2017, 10:46pm Top

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

Edited: Dec 22, 2017, 9:16am Top

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)

Dec 27, 2017, 6:38am Top

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

Honourable mentions:

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!)

Dec 27, 2017, 9:21am Top

Top Five:
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

Honorable Mention:
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Ashes to Fire by Emily B. Martin

Dishonorable Mention:
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee

Dec 28, 2017, 9:24am Top

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.

Dec 28, 2017, 11:57am Top

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.

Dec 29, 2017, 12:23am Top

Five Fave Fictions: (in order read)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

Edited: Dec 29, 2017, 7:51am Top

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
Shoeless Joe

Dec 29, 2017, 8:14am Top

A very self-parodic blog.

The Art of the Deal (Donald Trump)
Discours de la Méthode (René Descartes)
Le Coup de Grâce (Marguerite Yourcenar)
Soumission (Michel Houellebecq)
Au Bonheur des Dames (Emile Zola)

Not a very good year but I already bought good stuff for 2018.

Dec 29, 2017, 9:42am Top

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

Dec 29, 2017, 1:46pm Top

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

Dishonourable mention:
Passenger to Frankfurt by A Christie what was she on when she wrote this?

Dec 31, 2017, 12:40am Top

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.

Dec 31, 2017, 3:34pm Top

Mixed fiction and non-fiction selection:

Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien
Augustown - Kei Miller
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg - Kate Evans
On Anarchism - Noam Chomsky

Dec 31, 2017, 5:23pm Top

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!

Edited: Jan 12, 2018, 2:52am Top

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.

Jan 23, 2018, 11:00am Top

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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