These are my top ten books that I read in 2017. They were not necessarily all published in 2017 but I did read them in 2017. They are in no particular order as it would be almost impossible for me to pick an overall favourite in such a great year for books.
1.Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere is the story of a community in America called Shaker Heights and the people that live there. The story focuses on two families, one a very wealthy couple and their four children and the other a single mother and her teenage daughter who move to the town at the beginning of the book. The plot moves along with the interactions between these two families and the case of a Chinese baby that a couple in the community is trying to adopt. This is not a book filled with non-stop action but it is a quiet and skilful novel exploring family relationships and how events around you can affect and divide people. Celeste Ng is a beautiful writer and I loved the way she told this story. She is fantastic at developing her characters and piquing the readers interest in the culmination of the plots events.
2. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
I have never watched Trevor Noah perform his comedy and I hadn’t even really heard of him when I read this book. I saw so many great reviews of this memoir and read it because of the almost universal praise for it. It is the story of Noah’s experience of growing up in South Africa during and after apartheid. Noah has an incredible talent for injecting humour and truth into even the most harrowing of situations. His stories are so fascinating and informative about South Africa without ever feeling like its trying to teach you something. He is so full of warmth and honesty and it makes reading about his life so enjoyable. It is possibly one of the very best memoirs I have ever read.
3. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
I don’t read a lot of Young Adult books. I’m not sure why this is but for some reason I tend to gravitate away from them. However I read One Of Us Is Lying because the premise sounded interesting and in all honesty I liked the cover! The story follows four high school students who witness the death of another student during detention. It feels like a sort of modern homage to The Breakfast Club and explores high school stereotypes and cliches. I read it very quickly and even though I guessed some of the plot twists it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel at all. It was a fun read with interesting and likeable characters and a pleasant surprise for me.
4. All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker
This thriller is fantastic. I honestly loved it. It is the story of a missing girl named Summer in a small town in Alabama. It follows the town and her twin sisters attempt to find her. I believe Chris Whitaker is a supremely talented writer, this book was so incredible atmospheric and beautiful. I can’t remember many books where I have liked and cared so much about the characters. The novel has a lot of dark themes but never feels gratuitous and it encapsulates perfectly how a small town community operates and splinters when under pressure. I really cannot recommend it enough.
5. The Choice by Edith Eger
The Choice is a memoir about the life of Dr Edith Eger, who survived the concentration camps during World War Two. She became a psychologist and used her own experiences to help her patients. This is not an easy book to read and there are some truly horrific moments but it is an important book. Eger is such a brave and insightful woman and her ability to forgive is humbling. Although a sad book in parts, The Choice is an ultimately uplifting and hopeful novel.
6. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
I am a big fan of Mindy Kaling and I finally read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? this year. She is such a funny and charming woman whose writing is personable and like chatting with a close friend. This is a light and enjoyable read filled with funny moments and interesting stories. It also gives an insight into what working in television is like for a woman who does not necessarily meet the stereotypes of what an actress or celebrity should look like which feels like such a timely issue.
7. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life is one of the most emotionally devastating pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. It follows a group of four friends living in New York after college. The main character, Jude, suffers from many issues due to traumatic events in his past and the story explores how his relationships and his life have been shaped by his childhood trauma. It is a brutal read and honestly downright depressing at times but it completely sucks you in and won’t let go until the end. You will grow to care so much about these characters and their lives.
8. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad is the story of a slave named Cora who escapes from the plantation she lives and works on via an underground railroad. The plot follows her and the friend she escapes with through many states as she runs from the slave catcher hunting her. Cora is such a powerful and brave character and her story is fascinating. I had heard so many glowing reviews of this book and for the most part it really lived up to its praise. The subject matter is, of course, difficult to read at times due to the many, many horrors of slavery but it is an important and involving novel that deserves to be read. The language and writing style does take some getting used to and the story jumps around a fair bit but this adds to the intensity of the book beautifully.
9. Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri
Kill the Father is a well written and unusual thriller by Italian author Sandrone Dazieri. It follows two unusual people, Deputy Captain Columba Caselli and Dante Torre, with difficult pasts who come together to solve a crime. This is the first in a planned series and I cannot wait for the next instalment. Kill the Father is full of nuanced and believable characters with a fast paced plot full of unexpected moments. Sandrone Dazieri is a fantastic writer and this is such a clever, unpredictable and brutal novel.
10. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
This year I have developed a bit of an obsession with Karin Slaughter’s books! She has two series and a few stand-alone novels. The Good Daughter is one on these stand-alones. The story follows two sisters, Charlie and Samantha Quinn, whose lives were destroyed by an attack on their family during their childhood. Years later they are brought back together by another act of violence in their small town. I think it is important to say that all of Karin Slaughter’s books are brutal and deal with a lot of violence and dark subjects and The Good Daughter is no exception. However her books are always so gripping and full of action. She is an incredibly talented thriller writer and her characters are always interesting and different. The Good Daughter is a fantastic thrilling book full of twists and turns.