Best Books of 2017



Always books. Never boring.

The following are Book Riot’s Best Books of 2017.



Show All Comics Fiction Non-Fiction Science Fiction Romance Mystery/Thriller Fantasy Young Adult Memoir / Autobiography Middle Grade Poetry
Conjuring of Light cover

A Conjuring of Light

by V.E. Schwab

Kate Krug


Kate is a 2011 Drake University grad, where she received her BA in magazine journalism. A hopeless romantic with a cynical heart, Kate will read anything that comes with a content warning, a love triangle, and a major plot twist. Twitter: @katekrug Blog:

In the thrilling conclusion to V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy, all your favorites are back in the epic battle for stability between the four parallel worlds, as Black London’s shadow king, Osaron, invades the other kingdoms. The book takes off immediately after the second book’s jaw-dropping cliffhanger and the action just does not stop for over 600 pages. Schwab’s writing is on point, her characters are vividly and consistently developed, and in terms of satisfying endings, Schwab more than delivers in her usual flawless fashion.

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg cover

All Grown Up

by Jami Attenberg

Amanda Kay Oaks

Staff Writer

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Amanda Kay Oaks has a BFA in Creative Writing and Literature from The University of Evansville and is a current creative nonfiction MFA student at Chatham University. An AmeriCorps alum, online tutor, and literary journal editor, Amanda considers herself a professional wearer of many hats and isn't sure what she'll do if she ever actually has only one job at a time. When she isn't working, reading, writing, or pretending to be a practiced yogi, Amanda can most likely be found snuggled up on the couch with her cat, Artemis, and a plate of cookies. She tweets T.S. Eliot quotes a little too often and tries to keep up with her personal book blog, I Write Things. Twitter: @I_Write_Things

All Grown Up tells the story of a single, childless, thirty-nine-year-old woman named Andrea. Told through a series of chapters that read like individual stories, this novel, like its protagonist, defies convention as it brilliantly captures one woman’s relationship to the ever-shifting definition of what it means to be “all grown up.” In Andrea, Jami Attenberg creates a sharp narrative voice that brings us deep into Andrea’s internal monologue, complete with contractions, fears, and desires that many so-called adults (like myself) are sure to recognize. This book had me nodding along, laughing out loud, and cringing at the brutal truth of it all.

An Extraordinary Union

by Alyssa Cole

Jessica Pryde

Contributing Editor

Jessica Pryde is a member of that (some might call) rare breed that grew up in Washington, DC, but is happily enjoying the warmer weather of the desert Southwest. While she is still working on what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s enjoying dabbling in librarianship and writing all the things. She can be found drowning in her ever-growing TBR and exclaiming about romance in the Book Riot podcast (When in Romance), as well as on social media. Find her exclamations about books and pho on twitter (JessIsReading) and instagram (jess_is_reading).

When Elle Burns, a free black woman with an eidetic memory, goes undercover in the household of Confederate sympathizers and potential conspirators, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with her partner in spying, a young Scottish immigrant posing as a Confederate officer. The two don’t start on the best foot, but easily learn to work together, even as their attraction for each other complicates things. Alyssa Cole’s spectacular story of espionage and romance doesn’t pull punches when it comes to the time period and the challenges Elle and Malcolm endure, and the emotion it evokes lingers long after reading is done.

Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke cover image

Bluebird, Bluebird

by Attica Locke

Rincey Abraham


Rincey is a writer and editor who always has a reaction gif ready to go. Rincey spends her free time reading (obviously), and wandering the streets of Chicago in search of good food and possibly not as good music. (She does have an affinity for pop music. Don't hold that against her.) She is also often busy taking notes on how to be more like Leslie Knope. YouTube: Rincey Reads Twitter: @rinceya

One of the great things about Attica Locke – besides the fact that she writes a great mystery – is how real the world she creates is. She doesn’t ignore the problems of our world, in fact she often faces them head-on. In her latest book, Texas Ranger Darren Mathews, who is Black, investigates the murder of a black man and a white woman in a small town. Locke explores the complexity of a black man poking around in a small town where he is not welcome and how race impacts everyone involved. A tense mystery that keeps you turning the page, with an ending that knock your socks off.

don't call us dead by danez smith

Don’t Call Us Dead

by Danez Smith

Mya Nunnally

Staff Writer

Having loved books since the age of four, Mya is a writer and poet who looks to explore the complexities of life through language. They attend Barnard College of Columbia University with their kitten, Ramen. Their reviews of independent literature can be found at Foreword Reviews. When they aren't writing or reading, they're playing video games with strong female characters. Twitter: @literallymya Blog:

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith is an evocative, spellbinding book of poems centered around the life of today’s black youth. It is a gorgeous, poetic call to arms. Smith uses masterful language and metaphors so skillfully it’s hard to believe this is only Smith’s second book. These poems force the reader to confront their ideas of blackness, of young black men, of poetry itself. Don’t Call Us Dead is the perfect catalyst to bring action and awareness to notions of police brutality, black sexuality, and the AIDS crisis.

Exit West

by Mohsin Hamid

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

How much of your identity remains with you when you leave the only place you’ve ever known? That is at the heart of this remarkably powerful story of love and war, about two young people whose escape from the violence of a civil war in their country leads them to a foreign land and an uncertain future. Hamid has constructed a dizzyingly beautiful novel, not just about the contemporary devastations of displacement, but about the emotional tethers that bind us to the place that shaped us, and how those bonds fray the farther you get from home. Let this book’s quiet power wash over you.

hate to want you by alisha rai cover

Hate To Want You

by Alisha Rai

Jenn Northington

Director, Editorial Operations

Jenn Northington has worked in the publishing industry wearing various hats since 2004, including bookseller and events director, and is currently Director of Editorial Operations at Riot New Media Group. You can hear her on the SFF Yeah! podcast nerding out about sci-fi and fantasy. When she’s not working, she’s most likely gardening, running, or (obviously) reading. Find her on Tumblr at jennIRL and Instagram at iamjennIRL.

I’ve been a fan of Alisha Rai’s since she was first recommended to me, and her new contemporary series, Forbidden Hearts, has cemented her status as an all-time favorite. Hate To Want You features feuding families, a strong and complex heroine, and an ambitious hero with a dark secret. It is so real and frank about so many things, whether it’s the inconvenient realities of sex in the woods or dealing with depression and family dysfunction. And Rai does that while also delivering a smoking hot, beautifully romantic novel, which is both astounding and refreshing. I’ll be thinking about this book and recommending it for a long time to come.

Her Body and Other Parties Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties

by Carmen Maria Machado

Emma Nichols

Staff Writer

Emma Nichols is a career bookseller. Though she expected to grow up to be a librarian, or a witch, she's quite happy with how things are working out. Officially, she specializes in children's books and manages their book fairs; unofficially, she is passionate about short stories and spreadsheets. When not evangelizing her favorite books to unsuspecting customers, she can be heard discussing books and bookselling on her podcast Drunk Booksellers. Her other hobbies include organizing her books, taking pictures of her cat, and binge-re-watching her favorite TV shows. Blog: The Bibliot Twitter: @thebibliot

Her Body and Other Parties is an intoxicating combination of folklore and pop culture, fabulism and realism. With language so deft and elegant, it’s hard to believe this is Machado’s debut collection. These stories dig into the wounds inflicted upon women by society, their peers, and themselves. Women’s bodies fade and are stitched into garments, the apocalypse is recounted through sexual encounters, Law & Order SVU is retold as the ghost story it truly is. At turns seductive and sickening, this collection will enchant you and make your skin crawl. I recommend you read it slowly and not before bed.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

by Roxane Gay

Patricia Elzie-Tuttle

Contributing Editor

Patricia Elzie-Tuttle is a writer, podcaster, librarian, and information fanatic who appreciates potatoes in every single one of their beautiful iterations. Patricia earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Musical Theatre from the University of Southern California and an MLIS from San Jose State University. Her weekly newsletter, Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice, offers self-improvement and mental health advice, essays, and resources that pull from her experience as a queer, Black, & Filipina person existing in the world. More of her written work can also be found in Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy edited by Kelly Jensen, and, if you’re feeling spicy, in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Patricia has been a Book Riot contributor since 2016 and is currently co-host of the All the Books! podcast and one of the weekly writers of the Read This Book newsletter. She lives in Oakland, CA on unceded Ohlone land with her wife and a positively alarming amount of books. Find her on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Bluesky, and LinkTree.

Sometimes we tell our stories and emotions with our facial expressions. Sometimes, we tell stories and emotions with our whole bodies. In Hunger, Roxane Gay tells us the story of her body, what it’s like to live in such a story, and how it is to have such a painful, lasting story live inside her. Hunger is so intimate and personal that it leaves readers feeling spoiled by the author’s candor and authenticity. It is difficult to read about the physical and psychological assaults, while then being faced with thinking about the stories our own bodies tell. Hunger is an amazing book that is completely worth the time and tears.

lincoln in the bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

by George Saunders

Teresa Preston

Staff Writer

Since 2008, Teresa Preston has been blogging about all the books she reads at Shelf Love. She supports her book habit by working as a magazine editor at a professional association in the Washington, DC, area, which is (in)conveniently located just a few steps from a used bookstore. When she’s not reading or editing, she’s likely to be attending theatre, practicing yoga, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer again, or doting on her toothless orange cat, Anya. Twitter: @teresareads

I was skeptical about this book before I read it. I wasn’t convinced the Saunders’s style could work for a whole novel, and I was worried that the book would be nothing but plotless introspection about death and grieving. I needn’t have worried. Saunders uses voices from history and those of the dead to tell a universal story about how death is part of life and how death makes every life matter. There’s genuine suspense in the question of whether young Willie Lincoln will be able to move on and whether his father will allow him to do so. Once I got oriented to the world Saunders created, I was enraptured.

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Ilana Masad

Staff Writer

Israeli American, queer, chronically ill, and forever reading, Ilana Masad is a book critic and fiction writer. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Tin House, McSweeney's, Joyland Magazine, and more. She is the founder and host of The Other Stories, a podcast that features new, emerging, and established fiction writers. Twitter: @ilanaslightly Blog: Slightly Ignorant

Celeste Ng’s second novel is everything you would want it to be and more. In gorgeous prose that urges you on through the pages, Ng tells the story of Mia and her daughter Pearl who arrive in Shaker Heights, OH, and begin to stir things up. Mia is a nomadic artist, while Pearl has always wanted to experience a normal American life. She finds it with the Richardson kids who live in the lap of upper middle class luxury and privilege. Mia, meanwhile, befriends Bebe, her colleague at a restaurant in town. Bebe is a Chinese immigrant mourning the loss of her daughter… except that her daughter isn’t so far away after all.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

by Emil Ferris

Michelle Hart

Staff Writer

Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, Michelle Hart was once profiled in her hometown newspaper for being in the process of writing a novel--a novel she is still in the process of writing. After graduating from college with High Honors in English--for her very upbeat thesis on the relationship between trauma and gender--Michelle went on to graduate school to write buoyantly depressing stories, which landed her a gig as a reader for the New Yorker. She spends an inordinate amount of time thinking of ways to casually begin a conversation with Emily Nussbaum. Michelle has been awarded a fiction fellowship by the New York State Writers Institute and was granted the Feminist Killjoy Award by most of her friends. Twitter: @mhmhart42 Blog:

Fantagraphics is putting out some of the most beautiful-looking books (Sophie Goldstein’s House of Women is also a sight to behold) and My Favorite Thing is Monsters is no exception. Made to resemble the young protagonist’s sketchbook/diary, Emil Ferris’s wildly accomplished debut graphic novel is a gorgeous and harrowing coming of age story and the story of a city on the edge: Chicago in 1968.

Every heavy subject gets its due here: race, sexuality, sexual assault, art, the Holocaust, murder. Yet despite its heaviness (both physical and metaphysical), Monsters moves lithely, buoyed by the wide-eyed wonder of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, who takes in the horrors of the world and turns them into something dazzling.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

by Scaachi Koul

Kim Ukura

Staff Writer

Kim Ukura is a book lover, recovering journalist, library advocate, cat mom, and lover of a good gin cocktail. In addition to co-hosting Book Riot’s nonfiction podcast, For Real, and co-editing Book Riot’s nonfiction newsletter, True Story, Kim spends her days working in communications at a county library system in the Twin Cities area. Kim has a BA in English and journalism from a small liberal arts college in Minnesota, and a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. When not getting to bed before 10 p.m., Kim loves to read nonfiction, do needlework projects, drink tea, and watch the Great British Baking Show. Instagram: @kimthedork Twitter: @kimthedork

ODWABDANOTWM is a debut essay collection about “growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in western culture, addressing sexism, stereotypes, and the universal miseries of life.” Koul is great at moving easily between funny and poignant moments. The stories about her parents contain a fair amount of frustration, but she always writes about them with a sense of generosity. Chapters are punctuated with brief email exchanges between Koul and her father that are succinct, funny, and give some depth to the last (and best) essay in the book, about the consequences Koul faced telling her parents about her long term relationship with a white man.


by Min Jin Lee

Celine Low

Staff Writer

A dabbler in everything from painting to astronomy, Celine Low graduated from the National University of Singapore with an honours degree in English Literature, surprised that she’d managed to pass at all after failing all those Einstein courses. She decided that if she couldn’t calculate the wonders of the earth she could at least write about their incalculable incomprehensibility, so now she spends most of her time in her glass house of books, where she writes, makes coffee, reads, makes coffee, and tutors English using her giant mirror as a whiteboard. Her fiction works have been published by The Bride of Chaos and Marshall Cavendish, and her illustrated poem “Wild” won second place in the 2014 Eye Level Children’s Literature Awards. If you look for her but don’t find her, she’s probably floating around somewhere lost in the world, soaking and working out its magic through song and silence (and, of course, coffee). Until then, she hopes that the Northern Lights look as good as they do in Google wallpapers. Twitter: @celine_low_ Blog:

In a fishing village in pre-WW2 Korea, a plain peasant girl catches the eye of a wealthy, but married, yakuza. When her pregnancy threatens to shame her family, a young pastor offers her marriage as escape. She follows him to Japan, beginning an epic charting the lives of three Korean generations through the war and after. Industrious and fiercely independent, Sunja and her family struggle to survive poverty, persecution, and discrimination in a new land. In honest and simple prose, Pachinko, titled after a Japanese game similar to the slot machine, captures the ups and downs of family life as a marginalised race strives to master the vagaries of fate and come to terms with their identity.

Priestdaddy cover image

Priestdaddy: A Memoir

by Patricia Lockwood

Aldalyn Eleanor Ross

Staff Writer

Aldalyn grew up with a bunch of weird siblings who expressed themselves by literally joining the circus. Since Aldalyn feared heights and most forms of physical exertion, they became a writer instead. They read, scribble, and enable young word lovers in Newark, NJ, where they are affectionately known as Mx. Aly, Library Unicorn. Find them on social media @mx_alycorn

Patricia Lockwood has always felt out of place in her insular Catholic family, but she understands them as she does no one else. In Priestdaddy, she examines the forces that shaped her, from her aggressively nurturing mother’s devotion to pro-life activism to her boisterous father’s complicity in protecting abusive fellow clergymen. Lockwood leans into both her family’s strangeness and her own with a poetic specificity that makes every word simultaneously jarring and just right. Years from now, we’ll turn to Priestdaddy to understand how poets and priests like Lockwood and her father coexisted in the same America—and the same homes.

sing unburied sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing

by Jesmyn Ward

Jessica Woodbury

Staff Writer

Jessica Woodbury's professional life has taken her to prisons, classrooms, strip clubs, and her living room couch. After years as a Public Defender in the South, she now lives in Boston with her two small children. Cursed with a practical streak, she always wanted to pursue music or writing but instead majored in Biochemistry because it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. These days she does absolutely nothing with science or law and instead spends too much time oversharing on the internet. She has a soft spot for crime novels and unreliable narrators. And the strip club gig was totally as a lawyer, she swears.  Blog: Don't Mind the Mess Twitter: jessicaesquire

If you’re wondering who the next Toni Morrison is, Jesmyn Ward’s newest novel cements her in that role. It’s the tale of one family’s small journey that takes on epic form, as drug addict Leonie travels with her estranged children, wise Jojo and young Kayla, to pick up their father when he’s released from prison. These characters struggle not only with the day-to-day struggles of life in poverty, but with ghosts that haunt them without ceasing. Leonie and Jojo circle each other warily, but each comes alive through their narration, and the book will leave you more than a little heartbroken for these characters and our country.

the changeling by victor lavalle cover

The Changeling

by Victor LaValle

S.W. Sondheimer

Staff Writer

When not prying Legos and gaming dice out of her feet, S.W. Sondheimer is a registered nurse at the Department of Therapeutic Misadventures, a herder of genetic descendants, cosplayer, and a fiction and (someday) comics writer. She is a Yinzer by way of New England and Oregon and lives in the glorious 'Burgh with her husband, 2 smaller people, 2 cats, a fish, and a snail. She occasionally tries to grow plants, drinks double-caffeine coffee, and has a habit of rooting for the underdog. It is possible she has a book/comic book problem but has no intention of doing anything about either. Twitter: @SWSondheimer

The delicious creepiness of The Changeling comes from Victor LaValle’s mastery of the “we’re all fine here until we’re not” tale. The terrifying and sublime lurk just beneath the everyday, invisible but somehow palpable until they emerge, all at once, to surprise, horrify, and fascinate. A story of family, love, revenge, magic, and forgiveness, permeated by darkness and bursting with light, The Changeling uses, while inverting, twisting, and rebuilding, fairy tale conventions into something at once familiar and wholly new. Utterly, brilliantly riveting.

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Sarah S. Davis

Staff Writer

Sarah S. Davis holds a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master's of Library Science from Clarion University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sarah has also written for Electric Literature, Kirkus Reviews, Audible, Psych Central, and more. Sarah is the founder of Broke By Books blog and runs a tarot reading business, Divination Vibration. Twitter: @missbookgoddess Instagram: @Sarahbookgoddess

As a law student, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich worked for a death row defense firm, a cause she was passionate about—until Ricky Langley, a pedophile accused of a child’s murder, challenged her beliefs on justice. The further she dug into Langley’s past, the more her own memories as a victim of child abuse surfaced from repression. The Fact of a Body is a meditation on trauma and a chilling exploration of nature and nurture, whether monsters are made or formed. It’s impossible to read The Fact of a Body and not feel it change you. This haunting debut will linger in your body and mind, scars felt long after you read the explosive ending.

The Gauntlet

by Karuna Riazi
Fantasymiddle grade

Adiba Jaigirdar

Staff Writer

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher. She resides in Dublin, Ireland and has an MA in postcolonial studies. She is currently working on her own postcolonial novel and hopes that someday it will see the light of day outside of her computer screen. Twitter: @adiba_j

The Gauntlet is an action-packed novel with a headstrong and brave protagonist. It tells the story of young, Bangladeshi-American Farah who gets sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand. The stakes are high because if Farah and her friends can’t defeat the mechanic of the game, they will be trapped inside forever. Farah meanders through this Jumanji-like game world, using her wits to defeat various obstacles in her way. The world of The Gauntlet is also an intricate Middle-Eastern inspired setting that feels vibrant and real, aided by Riazi’s rich prose.


Jessica Plummer

Contributing Editor

Jessica Plummer has lived her whole life in New York City, but she prefers to think of it as Metropolis. Her day job is in books, her side hustle is in books, and she writes books on the side (including a short story in Sword Stone Table from Vintage). She loves running, knitting, and thinking about superheroes, and knows an unnecessary amount of things about Donald Duck. Follow her on Twitter at @jess_plummer.

Just as The Gentleman’s Guide’s reluctant hero Monty takes utter glee in flouting society’s conventions, author Mackenzi Lee seems to delight in flouting genre conventions: yes, historical fiction can be laugh-out-loud funny. Yes, romance can be diverse, in multiple senses of the word. Yes, a teen from the 18th century can be immersed in rich historical detail and yet compellingly, heartbreakingly modern. And yes, all three can miraculously be found in the same delightful book. I couldn’t have put this book down if highwaymen had demanded I do so at musket-point – a common peril, I’ve learned! – and I can’t wait for the sequel.

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas
Young Adult

Deepali Agarwal

Staff Writer

Deepali Agarwal has a Master’s in literary linguistics, which means that every person she’s ever known has, at some point, asked her to ‘edit a thing’ for them-- ‘just see if it reads okay?’ She doesn’t mind, because she believes that the world can be fixed one oxford comma at a time. Deepali lives in Delhi, the capital of India, where cows are sacred, but authors and poets exist and write brilliant things. She works as an editor with OUP India’s School ELT division, where she moves apostrophes, looks up pictures of cats, and talks about children’s books for eight hours. The rest of her day is spent reading, thinking about Parks and Recreation, and wondering if there exist jobs for English majors that pay more than peanuts. Twitter: @DeepaliAgarwal_

Nothing I write about this book will do justice to how great it is and how well it understands our current social and political climates. Read it to learn about representation and the Black Lives Matter movement, read it to undo and question racist stereotypes, read it for characters and relationships which poke at your heart, and a powerful, engaging narrative that leaves you a little choked up. Angie Thomas’ debut is a masterpiece, and one of those books which deserve to be put in a time capsule to represent the year 2017. It made me take a beat and think about how much good stories matter when the world is unfathomable and disheartening.

The Prey of Gods

by Nicky Drayden
FantasyScience Fiction

Derek Attig

Staff Writer

Derek works in graduate student career development and is (believe it or not) one of the world's foremost experts on the history of bookmobiles. Follow Derek on Twitter @bookmobility and on Instagram @bookmobility.

In the first two chapters of The Prey of Gods, a dolphin and a crab have sex while a sentient robot achieves consciousness, and it only gets stranger and more fabulous from there. Blending urban fantasy and science fiction, this South Africa-set novel is packed with wild, raucous fun: demigods reclaim their powers, robots rise up, a new club drug gives humans godlike abilities, a trans politician embraces her inner diva, queer teens fall for each other, a dik-dik infestation gets adorably out of control, and more. Somehow, thanks to a rip-roaring story and Drayden’s expansive imagination, it all coheres into the most fun you can have in 2017.

Book cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Beth O'Brien

Staff Writer

Beth is an east coast Canadian, born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is (unsurprisingly) obsessed with books and is a public library assistant and book blogger. When she’s not convincing all her friends to be friends with each other, she’s trying to convince them to read YA. She likes poetry and coffee and the ocean, but her true love is her cat Edith.

Monique Grant is a writer for the magazine Vivant and Evelyn Hugo is an enigmatic movie star from Hollywood’s golden age. Evelyn is in her seventies now, and decides it’s time to tell her story—her whole story.

The question is, why now? Why tell it to Monique, an unknown reporter writing mostly puff pieces? As we follow Evelyn through the decades, we learn how she got to where she is, why she chose Monique, and the difference between forgiveness and absolution.

With a sometimes unlikeable, but not irredeemable, woman at the forefront, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a great story about perseverance, ambition, friendship, and forbidden love.


The Wanderers

by Meg Howrey
Science Fiction

Kristen McQuinn

Staff Writer

Kristen McQuinn is a medievalist who dreams of reading more, writing more, and traveling more while being the best single mama by choice she possibly can be. By day, she can be found working with English teachers at the University of Phoenix, where she also teaches the occasional class on mythology, Shakespeare, or Brit lit. Sometimes she updates even her own blog. Follow her on Twitter:@KristenMcQuinn or  Twitter: @KristenMcQuinn

The Wanderers was one of the best books of 2017. It explores the human condition through the lens of politics, exploration, and the boundary between what was real and what was imagined. This is a must-read for anyone who agrees with me that sci-fi and fantasy are the perfect media in which to address some complex and difficult social issues such as racism, balancing family dynamics, or discovering the innermost depths of the human spirit. It may have been marketed as science-fiction and genre fiction, and it is, but The Wanderers is also a masterful work of literary fiction. I think I will find something new in it every time I read it.

We Are Okay by Nina Lacour from Best Books of 2017 |

We Are Okay

by Nina LaCour
Young Adult

Rachel Brittain

Contributing Editor

Rachel is a writer from Arkansas, most at home surrounded by forests and animals much like a Disney Princess. She spends most of her time writing stories and playing around in imaginary worlds. You can follow her writing at Twitter and Instagram: @rachelsbrittain

When her grandfather disappeared, Marin fled to New York, leaving everything—and everyone—she loved behind. After months of isolation, her best friend Mabel is coming to visit whether she’s ready or not. Told in alternating chapters before and after her grandfather’s death, this book tells the story of how Marin’s life fell apart…and how she starts to put it back together again.

We Are Okay is one of those books that snuck up on me. It’s equal parts grief and healing, loneliness and hope. Despite all that, this book has a gentleness that makes it feel like a break from the fast-paced world of YA. You’ll smile, you’ll cry, you’ll want to reach through the pages and give all the characters a hug. And you’ll finish the book feeling like you’ve just taken a breath of fresh air.

we were eight years in power

Josh Corman

Staff Writer

Josh Corman is a writer and English teacher in Central Kentucky and a Contributing Editor at Panels. He also writes for Kentucky Sports Radio’s pop culture blog, Funkhouser. If he’s not reading, he’s hanging out with his wife and two young children or cheering on his beloved Kentucky Wildcats.   Twitter: @JoshACorman

Each of the brilliant, searing essays in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ We Were Eight Years in Power is like a puzzle piece that, when joined with its mates, forms a challenging, essential statement on race and American identity. If you’ve read all or even some of these pieces, previously published in The Atlantic, you may be tempted to skip this book. Resist that temptation. Not only has Coates added new material to contextualize each piece, but each of the essays (ranging in subject from respectability politics to reparations to Trump’s election) is given fresh life by the presence of the others. Their collective impact is a thing to behold.

What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky

by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Rachel Manwill

Staff Writer

Rachel Manwill is an editor, writer, and professional nomad. Twice a year, she runs the #24in48 readathon, during which she does almost no reading. She's always looking for an excuse to recommend a book, whether you ask her for one or not. When she's not ranting about comma usage for her day job as a corporate editor, she's usually got an audiobook in her ears and a puppy in her lap. Blog: A Home Between Pages Twitter: @rachelmanwill

It is difficult to overstate the stunning talent on display in Lesley Nneka Arimah’s debut story collection. The collection as a whole is a gut punch, moving easily between magical realism to dystopia to fable to gritty realism. Despite varying genres, each fits in concert effortlessly, strung together by themes of home, family, and trauma. From the first page, I was floored by the remarkable way in which she turns the expected on its head. Each story is imbued with freshness, empathy, and imaginative twists. If this utterly captivating collection is any indication, Arimah, a master of the short story form, is surely only getting started.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi

by Sandhya Menon
Young Adult

Dana Staves

Staff Writer

Going through life with an apron tied on and a pen in her hand, Dana Staves writes about books and food. She also writes a little fiction. She lives in Maryland with her wife, their son, and their cat.

Dimple wants nothing to do with marriage and wants only to study coding and win Insomnia Con. Rishi can’t wait to be married, and when he agrees to be matched with Dimple and meet her at Insomnia Con, he does so believing she’s in on the plan. (She isn’t.) Dimple and Rishi completely charmed me with their earnestness and their romance. What I loved about this book was how solid Dimple and Rishi’s senses of self are. That’s Sandhya Menon’s magic – as sweet as their coupling is, Dimple and Rishi develop foremost as individuals, becoming more authentic, more deeply themselves, the closer they draw to each other.

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears

by Hari Kunzru

Kathleen Keenan

Staff Writer

Kathleen Keenan is a writer and children's book editor in Toronto. In addition to Book Riot, she has written for Reel Honey, The Billfold, and The Canadian Press. She also edits a monthly newsletter for the indie bookstore A Novel Spot. Kathleen has an MA in English with a focus on nineteenth-century fiction, and there is nothing she loves more than a very long Victorian novel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @KathleenMKeenan or find her writing even more about books at

A literary thriller about blues? Yes, please. Two white men, Seth and Carter, record an unknown singer in a New York City park and pretend it’s a lost 1920s blues song by invented artist Charlie Shaw. But after a record collector tells them both song and Charlie are real, Seth and Carter are caught in a maelstrom of darkness, greed, and revenge. Kunzru builds the tension so slowly and effectively that you won’t even notice you’re on the edge of your seat—until you’re about to fall off. The book’s haunting final act, and what it says about black bodies and talent and the white people who exploit both, will stay with you for a long time.


You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

by Sherman Alexie

Holly Genovese

Staff Writer

Holly Genovese is a Ph.D student in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also completing graduate portfolio programs in African and African Diaspora studies, as well as Women's and Gender Studies. Her writing has been published in Teen Vogue, The Washington Post, Electric Literature, The La Review of Books, Literary Hub, Hello Giggles, and many other places.

Honestly, I love everything Sherman Alexie writes. But his memoir about his relationship with his mother, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, combines childhood stories familiar from Absolutely True Diary, his refreshing frankness about his struggle with mental illness, and his skill with poetry. It’s a long read, but every word is worth it. It’s funny and moving and devastating at once and Alexie openly and lovingly writes about his relationship with his flawed but real mother. Get ready to cry. But they are the good kind of tears, I promise. 


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