The 20 Best Books We Read in 2017

Have you read any of our faves this year?

Best Books, Favorite Books We Read in 2017

2017 is drawing to an end and the New Year is just around the corner, which means plenty of holiday festivities with family and evenings spent at home cozying next to the fireplace (or someplace warm and not as dramatically cold, if you’re lucky).

For us readers and book bloggers, though, it’s the most exciting time to start rummaging through our bookshelves for our favorite reads of the year. It’s an amazing opportunity to chat about the best books we read this year.

And much like 2016, this year includes an incredible array of amazing reads, both new and old, that stuck with us all year long. So here they are, our favorite books we read in 2017!

lincoln in the bardo best books we read in 2017Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders

This year’s Man Booker Prize recipient was one of the most poignant and ambitious novels I’ve read in years. The cast of characters that surrounds young Willie Lincoln in the “bardo”—a limbo-esque place between life and death—is astonishing. Saunders writes with great emotional depth and humor about death, and pushes the boundaries of the novel’s form in the process. — Leah Rodriguez

(Read our review here.)

new people best books we read in 2017New People, Danzy Senna

I’d never heard of Senna before reading New People, but after picking up this book on a whim I found I could not put it down. Before this, I had only the faintest implication of what it meant to exist as a multiracial person, but Maria’s quest and her sudden downward spiral was haunting and heartbreaking and vulnerable. After New People, I would like nothing more than to unwind with Maria over a cup of coffee and reminiscence about our clouded obsessions.  — Paris Close

everything everything best books we read in 2017Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was my favorite read of the year, a beautiful book about a young girl named Maddy with a disease that prevents her from leaving her home. But one day, Olly, the new boy next door, moves into her neighborhood and things suddenly become more complicated for her. I loved the sweet love story between Maddy and Olly. What I enjoyed the most were the lengths Maddy was willing to go to live her life to the fullest, despite her life-threatening illness. I finished this book in one day because of how excellent it was, and I cannot recommend it more. — Jessica Duffield

(Read our review here.)

promise of fire best books we read in 2017A Promise of Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Despite reading almost 50 books this year, a fair number of which fell into the fantasy romance category, A Promise of Fire has easily maintained its status as the best fantasy romance book I’ve read in quite some time. Amanda Bouchet is an incredibly talented writer and Cat is one of the strongest female characters I have ever encountered in a series. Intelligent, quirky and incredibly powerful, Cat isn’t your typical female heroine. Full of complexity, foreshadowing and stunning mythological world-building, A Promise of Fire has everything that I look for in fantasy romance, and is the only novel in that I have read twice in a single year.  — Melissa Ratcliff

(Read our review here.)

the secret history best books we read in 2017The Secret History, Donna Tartt

An utterly absorbing account of a tight-knit group of Classics majors as they deal with the consequences of a shocking murder. This is a book that one can easily get lost in. The writing is—and I don’t say this lightly—basically perfection, and the characters, as terrible as they might seem, are done so well. Filled with friendship, betrayal, romance, and yes, even death, The Secret History is a novel that I wished would never end, only for the simple pleasure to spend more time with the characters and their twisted lives. — Alicia LeBoeuf

sleeping giants best books we read in 2017Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants stands out as the most unique book that I’ve read this year. From the captivating premise to the excellent execution, the first novel in Sylvain Neuvel’s Themis Files trilogy is a complicated mystery that is incredibly fresh when compared to other books in the science fiction genre. Sleeping Giants blew me away due to an incredible amount of depth and detail given not only to the characters themselves, but to the complex plot that develops through multiple perspectives. — MR

(Read our review here.)

the vegetarian best books we read in 2017The Vegetarian, Han Kang

Perhaps one of the most alarming books I read this year was Kang’s The Vegetarian, a gripping account of one Korean woman’s staggering permanence and self-imposed suffering which is translated wonderfully by the talented Deborah Smith. Yeong-hye’s brutal, quasi-feminist act of rebellion made for a terrifyingly cerebral page-turner that had me completely absorbed. Even as my entry text to the horror genre, I couldn’t help but race through this book; it eclipsed all my expectations and held my attention with every flick of the page. — PC

affinity best books we read in 2017Affinity, Sarah Waters

I actually was assigned to read this book for one of my English classes, and I ended up growing a deep appreciation for the incredible Gothic storytelling it contains. The characters have depth and are endlessly intriguing. The supernatural elements in this story are executed well, and feelings such as anxiety, tension, and desire are developed beautifully and realistically, which is no easy feat. This is one of those books that could be analyzed from multiple perspectives, which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading it so much. A truly great psychological and historical novel.  — AL

what we lose best books we read in 2017What We Lose, Zinzi Clemmons

Zinzi Clemmons is a marvelous writer, and anyone who’s read her debut novel will know that is simply an understatement. Streaming with heavy recollections of an honest wordsmith, What We Lose is a grievous retelling of one young girl’s unmooring in the wake of her mother’s departure. Through various semi-autobiographic snapshots catching our protagonist off-guard, we witness Thandi in all her innocence, awakening and finally her coming of age as a woman of herself. Clemmons’ courageous leap of faith was stimulating, and I’d be remiss to deny it a place on my list of favorites this year. — PC

(Read our review here.)

pachinko best books we read in 2017Pachinko, Min Jin Lee

Pachinko was one of the best novels I’ve read, ever. Min Jin Lee brought the historical fiction genre to new heights with this novel, which spans the decades of one family’s legacy as they face discrimination in Japan because of their Korean ancestry. The strengths of this novel are incredibly well-rounded, from the complex characters to the thoughtful writing itself. This emotional and enlightening novel is brimming with stunning triumphs, heartbreaking defeats, and serves as an important history lesson. This is an important book everyone should read.  — AL

(Read our review here.)

brideshead revisted best books we read in 2017Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Another assigned book for one of my classes, this well-known novel features lush, dazzlingly writing, a cast of complex and mostly tortured characters, and about a dozen or more aspects that are worth intense analysis and speculation. Evelyn Waugh‘s Brideshead Revisited deals with a wide variety of subjects, including friendship, family, love, status, and religion. This book contains multiple beautifully-written passages and while the characters are the greatest people exactly, they make for an interesting story. I also personally enjoyed the portrayal of Oxford, since I had read this book days before studying abroad in Oxford for three weeks.  — AL

sing unburied sing best books we read in 2017Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward

Nothing prepared me for Sing, Unburied, Sing. Ward’s writing is so rich and heavy-hearted, each word is carefully centered for maximum impact and her characters are impressive. I love that there are writers like Ward unearthing our untold stories, writers of color who are as fearless and confident in the way they write and the characters they manifest. I see this book as a tribute to our ancestors, our loved ones of the present day. Especially Leonie, who is as much a paralyzing character as she is the antiheroine the reader can’t help rooting for. She, much like the story as a whole, was impossible to forget.  — PC

(Read our review here.)

and the mountains echoed best books we read in 2017And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains Echoed is the third novel I’ve read by Khaled Hosseini, and he does it again. By that I mean he is able to craft a story that is truly heartbreaking, but still amazing in the way it allows truly vivid characters to tell their emotionally charged tale. This book consists of multiple shorter stories in a way, though the main story of the book does come full circle in the end, and I enjoyed reading about the lives of just not one or two characters, but of a handful of characters ready to shatter your heart in new ways. Though this is not an easy book to read due to the heavy emotional material, it is a pleasure to get to know the characters and savor the great writing.  — AL

(Read our review here.)

the hate u give best books we read in 2017The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas‘ debut YA novel was so jaw-droppingly good that it snagged not one, but two, Goodreads Choice Awards this year. It was longlisted this year for the National Book Award and, most tellingly, banned from a school district in Katy, Texas. All hallmarks of a powerful book. The story of a teenage girl whose best friend is killed by the police during a traffic stop will continue to resonate for years to come. After Ferguson, I always wondered what ambitious writer would capture the essence of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is Angie Thomas. — LR

(Read our review here.)

the raven boys best books we read in 2017The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater

In addition to discovering numerous books that were absolutely incredible this year, I managed to find a series that will forever hold a special place in my heart. The Raven Cycle has joined the ranks that make up my favorite series of all time, finding a place beside The Kingkiller Chronicles and Harry Potter, thanks to The Raven Boys. Full of lovable characters and a rich, atmospheric setting, Maggie Stiefvater managed to bring back some of the magic that was missing in my life by telling the bittersweet and incredibly wonderful tale of Blue and her Raven Boys. From subtle hints and complex clues, to ancient magic and ghost stories, The Raven Boys is (by far) one of the best young adult novels that I have ever read. — MR

(Read our review here.)

youre never weird on the internet best books we read in 2017You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), Felicia Day

In recounting her early childhood and rise to internet fame, Felicia Day wrote an astonishingly inspirational memoir. Told in her own voice, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a charming read that touches on gamer culture and mental illness. From Day’s whimsical language, witty jokes, and unique style, Never Weird proves that it’s okay to be a little bit different. Full of relatable scenarios and touching stories, Day’s memoir is one that will stay with you and serve as a form of motivation for years to come (even if you aren’t familiar with her work). — MR

(Read our review here.)

american salvage best books we read in 2017American Salvage, Bonnie Jo Campbell

I try not to make it a habit to shed tears while reading a book, but Bonnie Jo Campbell remains the only writer to subdue me in such a way.  I thought I’d experienced it all with Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, my first venture through Campbell’s canon; I was terribly mistaken. Each story within American Salvage possesses a rare and spontaneous warmth that I have yet to come across with any other writer of short fiction. By far, “The Inventor, 1972” is one of the greatest pieces of evidence of Campbell’s indomitable belletristic prowess.  — PC

we are okay best books we read in 2017We Are Okay, Nina LaCour

Of the books I read during the first half of the year, Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay was my favorite. The aesthetic of the novel—set in the dead of winter at a college that is empty for the holidays—possesses an ambience that few writers can command with the ease LaCour does. This slim novel moves seamlessly back and forth between the California sun and sea of the protagonist’s childhood, to the dead cold and freezing temperatures of her present. It is is a gorgeous novel. Completely unforgettable. — LR

(Read our review here.)

1q84 best books we read in 20171Q84, Haruki Murakami

Often regarded as a contemporary Japanese masterpiece, Haruki Murakami’s longest work of fiction, 1Q84, was one of the most complex and thought-provoking reads of the year. Written in Murakami’s trademark concise, yet lyrical style, 1Q84 is the embodiment of Japanese culture. Despite its extraordinary length, 1Q84 is well worth the read, and despite being a novel about everyday life, is surprisingly complex. — MR

(Read our review here.)

little fires everywhere best books we read in 2017Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

When I want suspense, I reach for Gillian Flynn; when I need great characters, Jesmyn Ward; if I require both, I call on Celeste Ng. Indisputably one of the most fabulous character writers I’ve ever faced, I knew Ng would be a fave after my first experience with her harrowing first novel Everything I Never Told YouLittle Fires Everywhere, the author’s literary iteration, is incredible on every front. This book was impeccably honest, gripping, tear-inducing. It contributed a much-needed razor-sharp purview on Chinese spirit and dignity that defies Eurocentric docility. It is a classic. — PC

These were our favorite books we read in 2017!
Which books did you read this year that you loved the most?
Share some of your personal recommendations with us in the comments below!

Happy New Year!

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