I know I’m not alone in finding 2017 a bewildering and stressful year. I’ve never followed the news so closely or been so troubled by it. I’ve also never been as politically active, giving both time and money. And what I’ve done was minuscule in comparison to what I saw so many others doing.
Through all this, books were my refuge. I jealously guarded my reading time, to the point that I ended this year having read 104 books, more than the last several years, when the total has been in the 80s and 90s. At the beginning of the year, I decided to just read by whim, which meant reading a lot more new books. Both the Tournament of Books and the Booker longlist brought some great books to my attention, and the conversation on Twitter, blogs, and among Book Riot contributors put many more new books on my radar.
Coming up with a list of top books for the year was a challenge, because so many of the books I finished were very good, excellent even. But I’ve settled on a baker’s dozen that were wonderful choices for me, either because they’ve haunted me ever since I finished them or because the experience of reading them was especially significant. (For example, reading Ali Smith’s Autumn during the weekend of violence in Charlottesville gave that book a resonance it might not have had at any other time.)
So here are my books of 2017. Click the links for my reviews:
- Autumn by Ali Smith
- Evicted by Matthew Desmond
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
- The Mothers by Brit Bennett
- Passage by Connie Willis
- Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
- The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson
- Version Control by Dexter Palmer
- White Rage by Carol Anderson (My book of the year!)
As for 2018, I do want to get back to reading more from my own shelves, which I neglected almost entirely this year. But I’m not going to force myself to read anything that isn’t appealing. So I won’t necessarily be reading by whim, but I will be reading for my pleasure in the moment. I’m just hoping to find most of that pleasure from the books in my house right now.
Happy new year to you all, and here’s hoping for a 2018 of peace, joy, and pleasure.