LitzyDitz: Best Books of 2017

Originally published December 2017

It’s that time of year.

Everyone’s got their favorites, and in 2017, the following were mine. It’s always interesting when I get to the end of the year, and I see a pattern in my reading selections. This year, a lot of what I read was about women coming of age. In a couple of weeks, when I post my annual roundup of everything, it’ll be even more apparent, but the evolution of the female is evident in each of these reads. Without further ado …the Best Books of 2017 are:


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

It’s the kind of book I wish I could write, but the effort would absolutely pale in comparison. The good ones make it look so easy. Little Fires Everywhere “is a glorious character study, comparing and contrasting the two different paths we can take as we emerge from adolescence into adulthood — one a carefully crafted, planned-to-the-last-detail existence and the other road, on which one’s adventurous spirit consumes the soul and throws caution to the wind.”


Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Two months later and I still miss the Telemachus clan, with their penchant for telepathic mischief and mayhem. “The humor and depth with which Gregory is able to weave a realistic family from the fantastic that is a mob and psychic mayhem escapade is hard to measure. In the hands of a lesser writer, this story would seem preposterous. Yet somehow, it works.”


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

This may be one of the few places my “must read” list overlaps with just about every one else’s list for the year. Hamid leans on love and tragedy to take his two central characters, and thus, the reader, on an unpredictable journey. “Mostly, though, Exit West examines not just the life cycle of a romantic relationship, but familial ones, cultural ones and the ones we have with ourselves. That, even if we stay in one place all our lives, in the end, we are all still migrants.”


Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002 by David Sedaris

My lone nonfiction/memoir choice for the best book list, Sedaris has been a longtime favorite of mine. But in particular, it’s the brutal truths he tells in this book that make it so damn compelling. It’s not pretty, but it’s honest, which is commendable these days. “It’s also a glimmer of hope for any parent that watches their child take a twisting, turning journey into and out of the abyss that is self-doubt, addiction, and lack of direction to a healthy, mature adulthood. As it turns out, even the wildly successful are capable of taking a wild ride on their way to the top.”


The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

I fucking loved this book. Period. Why? Because Sam Hawley is not a good person. But he is a good dad. Because this book recognizes a person can make some really horrendous choices in life, but somewhere in it, there remain wholly redeemable qualities. “After all, we’re talking about a guy that could work for Marcellus Wallace. In this case, though, it’s a guy named Ed King. And if Hawley Is Vincent Vega, his friend Jove is Jules Winnfield. Hawley’s been pulling jobs with Jove since his early 20s — sometimes successful, but always leaving a disgruntled customer on one end or the other. But Hawley is more than a hired gun. He’s human. And when Hawley falls in love with Lily, he finds himself at a crossroads.”


Mischling by Affinity Konar

The hardest of all the books I read this year in terms of its subject matter, Mischling is next level tragedy. And it’s grounded in very real circumstances, making it difficult to reconcile that evil once existed to this degree. Which is probably what makes it so important to read. And the ending’s emotional payoff was, at least for me, worth what I had to endure to get there. “More than anything, Mischling is a love story — that between two sisters, between survivors, between families born from blood and from circumstance. It’s a study in how souls create survival systems in the very worst of circumstances and are still able to cling to faith when faith abandons them.”

2017 has proven to be a really good year for reading, and as always, I look forward to another. Keep your eyes out for my all-inclusive list on January 1! Would you like a few more lists? Try these:

HuffPo’s Best in Fiction

The NPR Book Concierge

New York Times

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