Friday, January 5, 2018

End of Year Wrap-Up (2017)

So, I'm back for my yearly list of the best books I read in 2017 (not including my own debut novel, THE BEAR WHO BROKE THE WORLD - *shameless plug*). All of these were read during the past year, but were not necessarily published this year.

Out of 42 books read in '17, here are my top 10:

1) THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice Walker -- one of my favorite books of not only last year, but, frankly, of any year. I can't remember the last time I read a novel with this much depth, emotion, affirmation of life, and unabashed declarations of love. Unforgettable characters, and stunning, truthful writing.
2) HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi -- a masterful novel, every page filled with beautiful language, spanning multiple generations, from the African continent to modern-day America. A difficult read at times, but not to be missed.

3) LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders -- a mesmerizing, original fable about Abraham Lincoln, his dead son Willie, and the afterworld that welcomes them both. A book that stayed with me long after I finished the last page.

4) THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH by Lindsey Lee Johnson -- a terrific debut novel by a fellow MPWer. Read my review here

5) WATCH ME DISAPPEAR by Janelle Brown -- a mystery that takes place in my hometown of Berkeley, which kept me guessing till the end. If you liked THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you'll really enjoy this one, too.

6) ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus -- the best YA novel I've read in some time. Multiple first-person narrators, a dead body, and a whole lot of high school drama.

7) MY STRUGGLE by Karl Ove Knausgaard -- not the easiest book to get through, but a memoir unlike any other I've read.

8) THE FOURTH PALADIN by Maria Mercurio -- fantasy, romance, Biblical figures, and a whole lot of demon butt-kicking.

9) THE WELL'S END by Seth Fishman -- another exciting YA mystery with compelling characters and creepy goings-on in a Colorado town.

10) THE NATURAL by Bernard Malamud -- the classic baseball novel about Roy Hobbs and his bat "Wonderboy." A strange but compelling read.

And a few more terrific reads that came out last year -- ALL IN by Lisa Klink & Joel Goodman is a caper-filled ride into high-stakes gambling and other vices; THE BIG REDHEAD BOOK: INSIDE THE SECRET SOCIETY OF RED HAIR by Erin La Rosa shares all the facts and fables about the fascinating 2% of the world's population; and UNFINISHED CITY by Nan Cohen is a poetry collection full of wonder and lovely language.

For 2018, a few of the books I plan to read:

From the author of the sensational short-story collection THE PALACE THIEF, Ethan Canin's latest novel, A DOUBTER'S ALMANAC.

Jesmyn Ward's National Book Award Winner SALVAGE THE BONES. And, if I have time, her second National Book Award Winner, SING, UNBURIED, SING.


V. by Thomas Pynchon

Michael Ondaatje's THE CAT'S TABLE

Janet Fitch's Russian saga THE REVOLUTION OF MARINA M.

Man Booker winner THE SELLOUT by Paul Beatty

J.P. Donleavy's THE GINGER MAN

MANHATTAN BEACH by Jennifer Egan

Donna Tartt's Pulitzer-Prize winning THE GOLDFINCH

And hopefully, many, many more!


Have a great 2018, full of great books, big & small.

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