Sunday, December 10, 2017

Books of 2017


And here's our annual popular post of books of the year as they feature in the press (excluding papers and articles with pay-walls, such as the London Times and most of the Financial Times) and on some blogs. This is a selective list of what we judge the highest-quality lists: if you want almost everything that moves, check out Largehearted Boy.

This list will be regularly updated in the lead-up to Christmas, and build up steadily.

Previous lists are here: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.



  • The Irish Times this year has a Books of the Year feature in The Ticket, mentioning Old Columban Elske Rahill whose first book of short stories, White Ink, came out recently. Declan Burke and Declan Hughes give us the 20 best crime books of the year, including the ever-excellent Michael Connelly's excellent start to a new series, The Late Show. Plenty of contributors and authors give their personal favourites here; our Finance Minister, Paschal Donohue seems to be a regular and thoughtful reader, and goes for Bernard MacLaverty's Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam.
  • The Irish Independent in Part One has lots of categorised suggestions, such as in the short story section Nuala O'Connor's Joyride and Jupiter, and in biography/memoir, Ruth Fitzmaurice's much-noticed I Found My Tribe.
  • The ever-excellent School Library Journal has a series of lists which are helpful to parents, teachers and indeed children themselves. They are grouped: picture books / chapter books / middle grade / young adult / non-fiction. In the latter, Eyes of the World, about the photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, looks attractive.
  • The Financial Times has a list of critics picking their best books, with the Editor Lionel Barber rightly praising East West Street by the lawyer Philippe Sands, " a beautifully written story about legal theory (crimes against humanity and genocide in the Nazi era), the city of Lviv in western Ukraine and an intimate family history."
  • The Guardian has its annual double serving from well-known authors: In Part One the great John Banville, author of the excellent Mrs Osmond, goes for Michael Longley's latest collection, Angel Hill (Longley has maintained very high standards for so long). Part Two sees Elizabeth Strout's new novel Anything is Possible repeatedly recommended, as is Irish novelist Sebastian Barry's latest, Days Without End.
  • In other Guardian lists in an enormous collection, there are best sport books; best biographies recommended by Tim Adams (including the fine literary biographer Claire Tomalin's own autobiography A Life of My Own); Robin McKie on science; many riches in history from Anthony Sattin; the poet Carol Rumens on poetry ("Leontia Flynn’s The Radio sparkles with 21st-century chutzpah, sometimes offset by maternal angst. “Every time my daughter cried, I came / barrelling out like some semi-deranged / trainee barista: friendly but perplexed, / and in the dark of night, Lo! I was there, / perplexed – and ratty –when she cried again.” (Yellow Lullaby)"; best children's books by Imogen Russell Williams; art books from the distinguished critic Peter Conrad; architecture from Rowan Moore (including lovely photos from Taschen's Entryways of Milan; graphic novels from Rachel Cooke; Mark Lawson on crime fiction (Jane Harper in The Dry "slowly but thrillingly reveals where the truth lies"
  • The Globe and Mail from Toronto has its 100 books of the year beautifully displayed with the covers displayed prominently. In the poetry section, Lynn Crosbie's collection about her father's dementia, The Corpses of the Future, looks interesting.
  • The Library Journal has its Top Ten Books of 2017, including the Man Booker-winning Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, and also its Notable Books of the year.
  • The LA Times non-fiction books of the year include the outstanding Ta-Nehisi Coates's collection We Were Eight Years in Power: an American tragedy. In fiction, they have Naomi Alderman's The Power, which we thought was so-so, and the much better Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. And there's a handy children's list, divided into Young Adult, Middle Grade and Picture Books.
  • Sleek has some gorgeous art books of the year, such as David Hockney.
  • The Washington Independent Review of Books favourites include some regular names (Jennifer Egan, Elizabeth Strout, Mohsin Hamid). Jessica Shattuck's The Women in the Castle could be good. 
  • The Evening Standard in London has 24 Best Books of 2017. Deaths of the Poets by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Harley looks like it's up our street.
  • The Millions Year in Reading is always worth following, with many contributors building up the list over the weeks.
  • Esquire magazine starts with Heather, the Totality by the creator of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner, and also has Celeste Ng's new novel Little Fires Everywhere (her earlier Everything I Never Told You was well-worth reading).
  • The Spectator's reviewers present a selection of the best and (always a welcome feature) most overrated books of 2017. Frances Wilson: "Molly Keane, Sally Phipps’s life of her mother, is as fresh and true and eccentric as any of Keane’s novels, and shows just how good biography can be in the hands of a natural writer. A further selection has Daniel Swift go for an option that immediately struck us: "Preti Taneja’s We That Are Young's is big, beautiful, and most of all bold: a rewriting of King Lear, transplanted to modern day Delhi, which is both a dazzlingly original reading of the play and a full novel in its own right. A masterpiece, and by a long way my book of the year." 
  • Library Journal has a huge number of lists, including their Top Ten, and you can get a PDF of some of their other lists, too.The New Statesman divides its recommendations into three; in part one, East West Street gets another deserved mention, and the tremendous Rebecca Solnit is recommended by Robert Macfarlane (see our illustration above) for her latest collection of essays, The Mother of all Questions; in part two Susan Hill goes for David Walliams's Bad Dad, "a blast. Kids will adore it. So did I." Finally, in part three Melvyn Bragg goes for Ian McEwan's Nutshell, set in Hamlet's mother's womb (should have been right up our street, but it was so-so).The bookseller Barnes and Noble has a categorised list of best books of 2017 here 
  • The San Francisco Chronicle's 2017 holiday books gift guide includes Kurt Vonnegut's Collected Stories, and a well-chosen selection from genres like art and architecture. 
  • iNews has Best Books, including the much-noticed first novel from Irish writer Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends
  • The excellent Five Books, which we highly recommend, has Arifa Akbar selecting the best novels of 2017, with Fiona Mozley's Emlet at the head of the list.
  • In the Chicago Tribune: Heidi Stevens on 10 books she loved, all written by women: Real American: a memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims looks interesting.
  • On Quartzy: tables of the best books when aggregating choices from 21 other lists: Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing beats George Saunders to the top fiction spot.

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