Ahh, another year gone, and a whole bunch of books read. While the events of 2017 were divisive (to say the least), I think we can all agree it was an excellent 12-month ride for us bibliophiles. Diverse voices are finally being given their due. Countless little-known stories—from the heroics of Dunkirk to the Washington Post journalists who stood their ground—are finding second lives on the big and small screens. Not to mention, our Early Bird Books nest has grown (hello, all 100,000+ of you following us on Facebook!), which means more people are discovering the hidden literary gems that flew under their radar.
We asked you to tell us the title(s) of the best book(s) you read in 2017 and, as always, you delivered. A Man Called Ove, All the Light We Cannot See, and A Gentleman in Moscow seem to have bowled over a lot of responders, though there were many others that stayed with you throughout the year, too. As for me, I'm still thinking about Emily Ruskovich's writing in Idaho, and cannot recommend Kayla Rae Whitaker's heartbreaking story of female friendship, The Animators, enough.
Take a look below to see a sample of your favorite reads from last year, and get ideas for your TBR pile! Thank you for sharing your answers with us—and may your 2018 be filled with a plenty of energy, downtime, and great books so you can go above and beyond your reading goals.
Love and Other Consolation Prizes
"Love & Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford. Finished it in two days.....and still miss the people in that book. Another great one was The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne." —Cheri H. Mitton
The Girl on the Train
"It was a great suspenseful novel. I never saw the end coming. It was wonderful!" —Staci B.
"Definitely agreed. The end blew me away." —April W.
Related: 8 Books Like The Girl on the Train, from Murder & Mayhem
"...my pick is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. If you've never do yourself a favor read it. You can also find it being read by Bradbury on YouTube." —Meg J. B.
"I just recently read F 451 and was blown away. Had read Martian Chronicles as a teen. Loved him." —Anne L.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
"Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan was the book that has stayed fresh in my memory all year. Drawn from interviews with the hero the book takes the reader back to Italy during WWII. I had not read much WWII history from this region and this heroic work does so in style. Great read!!" —Cheryle F.
"That’s a hard one, I read a lot of great ones, I’ll pick Beneath a Scarlet Sky, great story!" —Lois H.
The Japanese Lover
"Isabel Allende’s, 'El amante japonés' (The Japanese Lover). Loved as always her seemingly simple and impeccable style. The story is entertaining and poignant at the same time with a surprising ending." —Evelyn R.
"An Amazing-book by an Amazing Author😍 The book pulls you in, you feel like you are part of the adventure and not only is it hard to put down, but you never want it to end." —Karen A.
"I've been reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, I'm on Book #7 out of 8. They're wonderful. I have to add A Handmaid's Tale, it was riveting." —Barb L.
"I flew through the entire Outlander series in 2016. I loved them! I can't wait for the next one!" —Michele Palmer H.
Related: 10 Books Like Outlander to Get You Through the Hiatus, from A Love So True
A Discovery of Witches
"My best read of 2017 was Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. I picked it up at a library book sale, one of those 'fill a bag for a buck' deals. Boy, what a deal I got!
Why was it worth the read? Harkness stepped away from the 'cookie cutter' supernatural witch/vampire/demon story that can be found in a hundred other series these days. What Harkness delivered were cleverly crafted and likeable characters, a mystery that keeps you guessing, a harrowing quest, unlikely but loveable heroes, truly hateable villains, and even a little unrequited love. Plus, all of your favorite supes are represented here from witches and vampires to demons and ghosts. But perhaps best of all, this catalyst of this story is a mysterious ancient manuscript that holds the undoing of all creation. It's a book about a book! Any true book lover has to be on board with that!" —Niki K.
"I loved everything about this book! Murder mystery, set in a snowy village just before Christmas, with a leading male character I fell in love with. Lots of suspense and some love scenes without being graphic. I hope the author makes a whole series of this!" —Michele Palmer H.
"For the first time ever, a non-fiction book was the best book I read this year. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance not only tells the story of how J.D. overcame a horrendously traumatic childhood to become a Yale law graduate and a writer, it gives amazing insights into the lives and mindsets of poor white Appalachian/Rust Belt/Southern families. If you want to understand why so many of us are part of the opioid crisis, have dropped out of the workforce and depend on government assistance, are prone to violence, and have illegitimate children, this book explains it clearly and honestly, from the point of view of a boy and man who has lived it." —Diane M.
"An amazing thought provoking book. Made me realize I knew very little about segments of society." —Carolyn W.
"...awesome honest insight to being poor & addiction. Author was great!" —Carol G.
"It was better than The Giver which of course I had to re-read because I found out there was a series. But this book was beautiful and sad, and yet so good." —Eva L.
The One Memory of Flora Banks
"It was gripping; I couldn't put it down. And wonderfully written. Told in the voice of a teenage girl who can't form short term memories." —Constance B.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
"How can you tell if someone is a good writer? When they make 450 pages about the technicality of waves fascinating." —Lynn D.
"The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a view of US history before we had any safety net in place for orphans. It was very sad but also gave insight into this period in our history and how these children survived. I love historical fiction and this author is gifted at taking her reader into the story....couldn’t put it down!" —Theresa E.
A Gentleman in Moscow
"A good story, interesting historical perspective, but the beautiful use of the English language puts it over the top!" —Judith Rankin O.
Max Perkins: Editor of Genius
"If you love reading, you must read Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg. Perkins was the 'discoverer' and editor of many young authors such as Wolfe, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway, just to name a few. I learned so much about writing, editing, and the lives of Perkins and these men. Fascinating! So well researched. National Book Award winner and NYT best seller of 1978. Also a 2014 movie (Genius) starring Colin Firth and Jude Law. Berg is a great biographer. Other works include Kate Remembered, Charles Lindbergh (Pulitzer Prize Winner), Wilson, and Goldwyn. You won’t be sorry." —Mary Helen F.
Lincoln in the Bardo
"Lincoln in the Bardo. It's my favorite of the 75 I read." —Lynn S.
"George Saunders isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think he's brilliant. Even though Lincoln in the Bardo was hard to take sometimes, it astounded me." —Jan H.
A Man Called Ove
"Absolutely beautifully written and engaging." —Amy Libman C.
"That’s mine, too. What a wonderful book!" —Jenn Montgomery L.
"...Very heartwarming." —Christy Jones R.
"As much as he tried to be a miserable, grumpy, old man, the people around him loved him as he was, which wasn't as bad as he thought. A heartwarming story." —Nancy McDermott M.
Before We Were Yours
"I loved that book." —Stacy W.
"I’m halfway through...it’s really good!" —Linda Y.
"Great book!" —Marcia Spigel B.
"Loved it!" —Elizabeth S.
"Yes it was amazing!" —Joan Scully S.
We Are Water
"The family dynamics were interesting. Some of the characters made me crazy uncomfortable. That, to me, is the sign of a good author." —Monica S.
Black Hawk Down
"I really liked Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden. It was much more then the movie. Really in-depth look at politics, what drove the war, and the ramifications." —George J.
All the Light We Cannot See
"Just beautiful." —Susan S.
"The story was so good and love the characters." —Elizabeth S.
One Good Mama Bone
"It is a beautifully written story of perseverance, acceptance, and love in all its forms." —Elizabeth H.
"I read One Good Mama Bone and loved it so much, I bought the audio book. To hear this book in Bren McClain’s voice rocked my world. Her incomparable Southern accent does this heartwarming book total justice." —Claire F.
"I have read many great books in 2017, however the one that sticks with me everyday is One Good Mama Bone. I learned that every female has at least one good mama bone. Live with compassion for all beings." —Sara H.
The German Girl
"Historical fiction about a young girl connecting with her ancestors who were Jewish refugees. Opens one's eyes to the refugee story." —Nancy McDermott M.
Inclined to Escape
"I was interested to hear about the author's escape from Soviet Russia, and was unable to put it down once he started describing the conditions of the Soviet "psychiatric hospitals". Amazing book, and a great eye opener to life in the USSR in the 60s and 70s." —Sara H.
Featured photo: Christin Hume / Unsplash