It’s that time of year again! Time to choose my absolute favorite books of 2017. It’s always a difficult task, and so many amazing books came out this past year that it was hard to narrow down. There were so many stand out books–and so many more I know I haven’t been able to get to yet–so picking just five was a real challenge. But, there are always a few that stand out above the rest. My five favorites this year all feature beautiful prose, excellent storytelling, and characters that will grab you by the heart and stay with you.
So here are my top 5 books of 2017. I hope you’ll love them just as much as I did.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Sing, Unburied, Sing is a moving portrait of a family in the rural south and the generational impact of trauma and injustice. It’s a story very much grounded in reality and the issues of both our past and present. And the magical realism elements only serve to intensify the tension in the story, acting as physical (and often dangerous) manifestations of the past and the pains these characters are still carrying and inflicting on each other. Its beautiful prose and heartfelt characterizations of a family wracked by tremendous pain (but still trying their best) will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page. I really cannot recommend it enough. Read it, read it, read it!
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Nobody does worldbuilding like Laini Taylor. I fell in love with her writing in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, and Strange the Dreamer promises to be an equally enchanting series. It’s got magic and mythology, dangerous dreams and incredibly powerful gifts. Also love and adventure and tragedy. The mythology she builds is so rich and enchanting it really does feel like it could be an ancient tale from some lost civilization. If you love fantasy with intriguing characters, great storytelling, and beautifully intricate world building, then this is the book for you.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
This is a book that I 100% judged by the cover. I saw that stunning artwork and knew I had to have it on my bookshelf. We Are Okay isn’t just pretty on the outside though; the story is so beautiful and heartfelt, a book about grief and healing. I think I’ve included it on every end of the year list I could get my hands on (or at least vote on), and there’s a reason for that. It’s just so lovely and touching. I’ve described it a number of times as “soft” or “gentle,” both of which might seem like strange descriptors, but despite the tragedy and grief throughout the book, there really is something slow and gentle about the story and prose. It’s a hopeful story, despite all it’s darker topics, and ultimately the feeling of healing the main characters find by the end extends beyond the page to reach the reader, as well.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
If you haven’t heard about this book yet, then I can only assume you’ve been living under a rock for most of 2017 (perfectly understandable, of course, there were many times I was tempted to find a good rock this year). Honestly, though, this book has gotten a huge amount of acclaim and it it all entirely earned. Angie Thomas’s debut novel is about a young black girl living in the gang-ruled community of Garden Heights and going to an expensive private school (with mostly white kids). Her life is turned upside down when her childhood best friend is shot by a police officer right in front of her.
Thomas’s prose and voice are fresh and relatable, and the story is not only timely but important. Starr’s story is one we need to hear right now. It’s a difficult read–and it should be!–but so, so incredibly worth it. Read it, read it, read it. There’s a reason it’s been on the NYT Bestseller list for 43 weeks (to date) so far.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
The feminist retelling of Snow White I didn’t even know I needed. This book follows the stories of Lynet, the daughter of the King, and Mina, the Queen and Lynet’s stepmother. Both women have been touched by magic and long to find their place in the world. I love how Bashardoust reimagines and subverts the original fairy tale, focusing more on mother-daughter relationships and nuanced relationships between women, as well as issues of beauty expectations and sexism. It’s just so unbelievably lovely, and–yes–I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings, but especially ones that really reinvent or subvert the original tale and this one does such a remarkable job of that.
And because I’m weak and can never really feature just five…
Warcross by Marie Lu
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera