Favorite Books of 2017


I’ve averaged reading about a book a week this year, mostly novels and a small selection of memoirs and other nonfiction.  Here are my favorites in no particular order.  What were your favorite reads this year?  I’d love to hear from you!


Most Inventive Novel:  The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead for treating the railroad as a physical entity in this story of an escaped slave.

Best Thriller:  Before the Fall by Noah Hawley for keeping me on the edge of my chair after the fictional plane crashes.

Female Slants on WWI & WWII

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck for great writing about several widows of Hitler’s resisters whose views range from black and white to shades of gray.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn for gripping linked stories of female spies in both wars.


Best Novels on Social Issues

Small Great Things by Jodie Picoult for exposing her own shortcomings on how we deal with race.

Behold the Dreamers by Mbue Imbolo for giving us an in-depth look at the immigrant experience in Queens circa 2008.


Best Historical Novel:  News of the World by Paulette Jiles for its writing and the poignant journey of a Native American girl and an old newsman.

Best Mystery in a Series:  Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie for the continuing adventures of British detectives Gemma Jones and Duncan Kincaid.

Best Mystery:  The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz for being a literary puzzle within a puzzle.

Pure Escapism (aka Beach Reads)

Flight Patterns by Karen White for delving into china patterns, bees, and the quirkiness of sisters.

Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs for another absorbing story of family relationships about a caregiver for an older woman.


Most Memorable Memoirs

Guesswork by Martha Cooley for exquisite writing about losing dear friends and life in a small Italian village.

Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance for an eye-opening account of growing up in a dysfunctional family in rural America.

Best Political:  What Happened by Hillary Clinton for its comprehensive and soul-baring candor about the 2016 presidential race.


House among the Trees by Julia Glass (novel)

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien (novel)

Constance Fenimore Woolson by Anne Boyd Rioux (biography)

Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston (nonfiction)


2 thoughts to “Favorite Books of 2017”

  1. Favorites for the past year –
    The Jane Smiley trilogy (Some Luck. Early Warning, Golden Age)
    Richard Russo – Nobody’s Fools, Everybody’s Fool
    Non-fiction: The Warmth of Other Suns (older but wonderful!)
    I also liked The Underground Railroad, Women in the Castle, and not on this list but I liked Strangers Tend to Tell me Things which I got for my sister and read before wrapping it (I know some of the people in it!)
    I have the Paulette Jiles title on my list to read on your recommendation, I read her other one and really liked it.

    1. What a great list! You inspire me to re-discover Jane Smiley. I read one of Russo’s and found The Warmth of Other Suns compelling. Thanks.

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