procrastinator’s picks – best books of 2017

I should abandon the ‘best’ language since this is just all the books that I’ve read. There were some gems but if nothing else I’ve read more books this year! Listed in order read with months indicating my book club’s pick.

  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Jan) – This was sort of the book of 2016 and definitely appreciated the fictional, somewhat fantastical, and yet illuminating journey seeking freedom.
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – This book was certainly readable but I didn’t buy the story ingredients that our heroine gets herself wrapped up in.
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders – Another on my list because of high regard, I really enjoyed this collection of slightly off kilter short stories.
  • Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer (Feb) – I’ve read a few of his books and this tale of a woman time traveling between lives struck about the same balance in being a little unusual and basically enjoyable.
  • The Nix by Nathan Hill (Mar) – This was one of my faves of the year, if not the fave, as it wove a very smart story with great cultural awareness and enjoyable characters as we follow a man who gets reconnected with the mother who abandoned him and a whole lot more.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Apr) – After really enjoying the short story collection earlier I was excited for this much buzzed about book, and I don’t want to say I hated it but I just could not get into the odd format and tale of Lincoln and the living and dead characters.
  • 1984 by George Orwell (May) – This year just seemed like a time for a reread, and while the book was still enjoyable what was most interesting about the reread is the parts that I did and didn’t remember.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Jun) – I’d had this on my list since someone being interviewed at City Arts & Lectures (and I can’t remember who, maybe Zadie Smith) raved about it and it’s well worth a read to follow through the stories of the lineage of two sisters born in 18th century Ghana.
  • Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo (Jul) – Even though this wasn’t one of my favorites of his, his writing is still some of my favorite and was glad to revisit this town from Nobody’s Fool and some of its interesting characters.
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – This had been on my shelf for years and I was glad to pick up and dive into the poignant tale of two friends unfolding their story from Afghanistan and beyond.
  • In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – Also readable but didn’t really get into the unbelievable bachelorette weekend gone darkly awry.
  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Aug) – This fantastical book covering technology, magic, romance, and the complications these can bring was fun enough if not totally successful for me.
  • Razorgirl by Carl Hiaasen – You can’t go wrong with a campy Florida caper and this one is very typical Hiaasen.
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Sep) – I really enjoyed this quirky rom com of a book following a socially awkward scientist trying to boil down the ingredients to marriage with the help of a slightly less by the book female.
  • The Brookly Follies by Paul Auster – Another off the shelf, this protagonist comes to Brooklyn to die only to reconnect with life, very enjoyable and I have some Auster backlog still to do.
  • Everyman by Philip Roth – Speaking of backlog, I haven’t done a ton of Roth but I enjoyed the look at one man’s life through illnesses.
  • Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Oct) – As a fan of his television work I was curious about the writing and enjoyed the story of the last survivors of a private plane crash and its look at media.
  • Intrusions by Ursula Hegi – I had a stack of old Hegi options after falling for Stones From the River and this book about an author mixing her life, her in progress novel, and talking to her characters was odd and entertaining enough.
  • Golden Hill by Francis Spuffold (Nov) – I almost stopped reading the heavy handed language of this novel of old world New York but stuck it out because others said it got better, and it did in that the treatment of the protagonist, the story, and the writing got less annoying but though it moved to have some entertaining moments I can’t quite endorse.
  • I Remember You: A Ghost Story by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Dec) – Well it was definitely a ghost story, and although I didn’t read it late at night I thought it did an appropriate job of being spooky and tying a few yarns of creepy abandoned remote island house and creepy kids of years gone by together.
  • The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood – This was sort of a year of Atwood so I picked up another one of the books on my shelf and while the overall story wasn’t completely successful for me I really enjoyed the stories of three women and their relationship to a college ‘friend’.

For a more consolidated list of critic picks check out Largehearted Boy or Literary Hub. What were your favorites?


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