I’m a sucker for a “Best of” list and this time of year there are plenty to go around. It was a good year for good books. Stories are my drug of choice and I lost myself in a few really great ones this year.
Before the holidays kick into full swing, here are a few of my favorite reads in 2017. Whether you need a good distraction from your family gatherings, or if you have readers on your gift list this year, I hope this helps make book-buying a little easier.
The Leavers – Finalist for many awards this year and it is well deserved. I know little about the immigrant experience, but The Leavers inches us all a little closer to how hard it is to move to this country.
Exit West – Is a subtle page-turner a thing? If so, this fits the bill. I was so invested in the lives of the main characters. A story about a refugee experience, but with magic portals.
Lincoln in the Bardo – This won’t be for everyone, in fact, it took me a couple of tries to finish it. Stylistically this book reads like a play and can be hard to follow. LOTS of characters and many, many plotlines. But this is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time. Truly, truly an original.
Magpie Murders – A dash of modern-day Sherlock Holmes mixed with the book industry. The end is a little extra, but I enjoyed it as a whole.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – I could not put this book down. I loved and hated Evelyn. A mix of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, her character is beautifully, beautifully written. There is a twist at the end I NEVER saw coming.
American Kingpin – I could NOT put this book down. Short chapters and absolutely riveting story. Spoiler alert (not really, you find this out in the first couple of pages), Ulbricht is in jail, but the way they caught him is worth the entire ready.
Braving the Wilderness – In a fractured and factional world, this is as needed as it is challenging. This is one of my favorite Brene Brown books.
When the Heart Waits – An older book by Sue Monk Kidd (written while she was living in Anderson, SC. Whoop!) and I’ve wept my way through it. If you or someone you know is in a season of waiting, I cannot recommend this book enough.
Born a Crime – Late to the party on this one, but it is wonderful.
Born to Run – Warning, this is a long book. I did not grow up a Springsteen fan, but this book is so well written, by the end I had half the book underlined. A genius with words.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body -It took me a few weeks before I could talk about this book. Roxanne Gay has been stirring up hearts and minds for a while. I saw so much of myself in her story and am so thankful for her honesty.
Genesis Trilogy – I’ve been a long-time fan of Madeline L’Engle and feel like we will discovering whole books she had stowed away in drawers and files for years. I was so surprised and delighted to find these gems. With her signature biting charm, these books mix accounts from Genesis with stories from her life. Written in the early 2000s but have been recently re-released.
All the YA – I fell down the YA hole in 2017. I read this and this and loved them both. I want to read this one too. And a YA book tops my best of the best of the year.
Best of the Best – If I could put these in the hands of everyone I know, I would.
The Hate U Give – I obviously have no idea what it is like to be an African American in this country, but Angie Green is so brilliant I felt like I KNEW Starr. I felt like I was in her neighborhood, living her life. One of the most important books of the year.
Sing, Unburied, Sing – Newly crowned National Book Award winner and the honor is more than deserved. I am in awe of this book. There are no traditional heroes in these characters. In fact, I spent most of the book feeling sorry for the entire family and wanted to help them, give them rest. But it is so worth the time. This book will stay with me for a long, long while.
Bonus: I’m reading this right now to walk me into the Christmas season. If you are a fan of Wicked, this is the new book by author Gregory Maguire.
I am more grateful than ever for authors with the courage to do the hard work of weaving beautiful stories.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!