Saturday, December 30, 2017

What I Read: The Best of 2017

I read A LOT in 2017.  Good Reads says 139 books, and I think there were some I forgot to record.

I also read more nonfiction than usual-- remember when I was into all of those painful campaign memoirs?  I have a couple of nonfiction titles (4!  That's more than a couple!) staring at me from my bookshelf right now, in fact, so 2018 is going to be fact-y, too.

None of the nonfiction made my best-of list, though, and I put an embarrassing amount of thought into this one because not only did I read a ton of books, but I also read really good ones!

11. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich: I read this early in 2017, and it stayed with me-- haunted me, you could say, all year.  It was weird and sad and beautifully written.

10. Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein: How do you write a book about a young mother dying of ovarian cancer that's written from the mother to her little boy and NOT create a maudlin mess?  I don't know, but Grodstein pulls it off.

9.  This Is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel:  This book about a family with lots of kids and transgender kindergartener (who grows up throughout the book) really resonated with me.  The parents had a work-life balance like ours; the early part of the book was set in Madison and skewered this place savagely and perfectly.  This is a vibrant, funny, smart book.

8. American War by Omar El Akkad:  See?  Sometimes I read books by dudes. For some reason, 2017 was a year that saw me reading dystopia by the ream.  WHY would I want to do that when the actual world is a dumpster fire?  Dunno, but this book is smashing, and, to give you a plot set-up, starts after the second Civil War which sounds super real.  Also the main character is fantastic even though I prefer women written by women.

7.  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng:  Such sad things to say about motherhood!  This is a great book to lose yourself in for pure enjoyment  And while you will love the characters and be intrigued by the plot, you will pause every hundred or so pages because you are struck by a line or two and realize how perfectly written this book is.  I loved it.

6.  The Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich:  YIKES you guys!  Another dystopian book, another sad day for me.  This is spellbinding, and the main character is great-- the collapse of the world through the eyes of a totally spoiled millennial who isn't even a little bit self-aware.

6. The Power by Naomi Alderman:  READ THIS speculative fiction about gender-- you will not be able to get it out of your head. TOTAL TIE, which is cheating, I know.  I mean, I should be able to knock this down to 10 books, and smart people can discriminate better than this, but I actually have 12 books on my top 11 because I am stupid, ok?  But seriously, The Power is good.

5.  Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan:  Like the Ng book, you can just lose yourself in this one, and every page is a delight, even the ones that make you cry a little.

4.  The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak:  Another book by a dude.  And you know what?  I think the 2 books on this list were the only 2 books by dudes I read all year, and I promoted them straight to the top like they're nurses or something.  Shit.  But, you should read this wonderful, sweet, contained story.

3.  Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward:  Everything you have heard about this book?  TRUE and MORE.  Go read it.  Probably right now.

2.  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman:  Read this one!  You will laugh and cry and sometimes do both at the same time.

1.  The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker:  Oh, I loved this book so much.  It's about a creative friendship and addiction and exceeding your own expectations.  So lovely and sad and full of energy.

Did you read any of these?  What did you think? Or, do you have any great reads that didn't make the list?


  1. I need to give Idaho another chance. ..... Great list, I am adding quite a few to my library list right now. You always have the best recommendations.

  2. Eleanor Oliphant was a top for me this year, too. My number one was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.