Top Ten of 2017
2017 was another excellent year in publishing. Unfortunately, I missed large swathes of this year’s best; Celeste Ng’s Little Fire’s Everywhere, Roxanne Gay’s Hunger, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and Nightingale are all glaring omissions from my list as I was too busy catching up on previous year’s best. However, here are the ten best that I read in 2017. Ordered by earliest read.
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Correy
As an idealist XO finds himself and his crew at the center of political tensions between Earth, Mars, and the Belt threatening to devolve into war, his path crosses with a jaded detective in search for a missing woman. Leviathan Wakes kicks of the epic space opera series The Expanse – seven of an anticipated nine novels have been published – that gets better with each book.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates writes in the form of a letter to his son about the construct of race in America. Powerfully written, this will inevitably trigger an emotional reaction to the reader.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman provides with this slim volume a simple yet elegant retelling of a selection of Norse myths that form a vague narrative arc.
The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated by Helaine Olen & Harold Pollack
Personal finance is very often a confusing and stressful topic. Olen and Pollack attempt to circumvent complexity and anxiety by outlining 10 simple rules that can fit on a single index card.
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Herrera is like no one else I have read. Cons is a parable crossed with noir, where extravagance is juxtaposed to humble. Separate worlds are made permeable by corruption, ambition, and desire.
Bitch Planet, Vol 2 by Kelly Sue DeConnick
DeConnick credits the creation of B Planet partly as a reaction to fan criticism of a perceived feminist agenda she imparted during her tenure writing for Marvel Comic’s Captain Marvel. In this over-the-top graphic novel any woman deemed “noncompliant” is shipped to an off-world women’s prison referred to as B Planet. Suggested for mature audiences.
The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by Mark Forsyth
This accessible dive into rhetorical devices is easily the most fun I had with a book this year. Why are some phrases memorable and others forgettable? Rhetoric. How does that make for a truly enjoyable read? No clue.
Snarky librarian Spence shares letters she wrote to books that she had “relationships” with. Dear Fahrenheit is the literary equivalent of having a conversation with a librarian over a few drinks – very entertaining and will undoubtedly add books to your to-read list.
Monstress Vol 2 by author Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda
Takeda’s gorgeous illustrations bring to life a steampunk inspired world where a young woman seeks answers about her mother and while staving off the dangerous and otherworldly power within her. Begin with Volume 1.
In the Woods by Tana French
A masterful psychological thriller masquerading as an Irish police procedural this is the best of both worlds. You might recognize Tana French as her eighth novel in her Dublin Murder Squad series, The Trespasser graced multiple best of 2016 lists. Start anywhere in the series, but find time to return to In the Woods.
Honorable Mention: The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed our Minds by Michael Lewis; Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel; Kristan Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset; several books in Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series.