The Best Books of 2017
We read a lot. A lot, a lot. Ever seen our back room? The ceiling is probably propped up by all the ARCs. And we read as many of them as we can.
This year was a strong one for new books, and it was difficult to choose just a few titles to include in our “Best Books of 2017” list. But choose we did, and amazing they are. Just consider this your holiday shopping guide—we promise you won’t be disappointed.
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - October 10th, 2017
Barnett and Klassen team up again in a clever, winning tale about a mouse who is eaten by a wolf, only to find a duck already living in the wolf's belly. Duck has things pretty well figured out and shows Mouse how to make the best of the situation. Clever and beautifully illustrated, the duo's newest picture book reminds readers to find a creative solution to any circumstance.
Welcoming his son to the world, Jeffers offers advice on how to live on planet earth. From describing the land, sea, and sky to talking about the people and animals who inhabit it, he provides his signature illustrations full of detail and color. And he reminds us, above all, to be kind. A wonderful message all year round, and especially during the holiday season. For all ages.
In this long form picture book, Dave Eggers explores the history of the Statue of Liberty. Using a conversational tone, he details the iconic statue's history, observes that her right foot is on the move, and wonders why. With a light touch of humor, he reminds readers that protecting liberty and freedom requires our nation to continually move forward. A gentle, elegant celebration of Lady Liberty.
Mrs. Elena Cercatore Sicurezza has turned state witness against her family, the notorious Cercatore crime mob. In return, the Witness Security Program will provide a new home, new jobs, and new identities for Elena, her husband, and their son—as well as a new family member. Confident, wise-cracking, street-smart—and pick-pocket!—Nicki Demere will be the contact between her new family and the US marshals. But it may be her own background that puts all of them in danger. Fun, funny, and action-packed for girls and boys 10 and up!
Morrigan Crow has the misfortune to be born on Eventide, the unluckiest day of the year, and is therefore destined to die on her 11th birthday. Shortly before that day, a mysterious man named Jupiter spirits her away to Nevermoor, a fantasy version of London. The only way Morrigan can remain in Nevermoor is to gain entrance to the Wondrous Society by passing several challenging tests. This is a fabulous debut novel for grades 4 and up that's full of wonderful world building and characters you immediately consider friends. I cannot wait to read more!
Red is an oak tree who has been around for years. She's also a wishing tree, so each May 1, neighbors tie their wishes -- some silly, some heartfelt, some selfish -- on Red's branches in the hopes that they will come true. When a new family moves in, not everyone welcomes them and Red's role as a wishtree is more important than ever. A beautiful, timely and timeless story for grades 4 and up.
Charlie is a diplomat’s son, whose father is too busy with work to pay him much attention. While the family is stationed in Marseilles, France, Charlie witnesses a display of skill the likes of which he’s never seen: An organized pickpocketing job. Does Charlie have what it takes to join the talented, ragtag Marseilles Whiz Mob? This clever middle grade read is punctuated by unique, whimsical art by Carson Ellis, and is guaranteed to steal your heart.
— Mary Cate
Teenaged Starr Carter rotates between two worlds - the poor, black neighborhood where she lives, and the rich, white high school she attends - and is acutely aware of how she changes as she passes between them. When her childhood best friend, Khalil, is murdered by a policeman before her eyes, Starr becomes a witness to a crime that headlines national news and throws her neighborhood -and her double life- into turmoil. As Starr confronts injustice with the law, she also challenges it in her social life, bravely soldering into a heroine whose greatest strength is her voice.
— Mary Cate
Viv Carter's goal is to keep her head down, stay unnoticed and graduate from her small town Texas high school and go to college. But she's fed up. Fed up with the football team being treated like gods, fed up with ridiculous dress codes, fed up with guys making gross comments in class. So, taking a page from her mom's punk rock teenage years, Viv anonymously creates MOXIE, a feminist 'zine that strikes a chord with girls at school regardless of clique or popularity level. A novel that perfectly captures small town Texas and girl empowerment. Get yourself some MOXIE! Best for grades 7 and up.
Lockhart proves once again that secrets and deceit are her specialty in this tricky mystery. The book begins with chapter 19 (the last chapter) and moves backwards until the beginning of the story (chapter 1). Once I got past the strange narrative style, I was completely hooked. Jule West-Williams is on the run from police, hiding in hotels while she grieves the suicide of her best friend, Imogen. As the novel progresses and we go back in time, we see more into their relationship, and we begin to question the story. Jule is obviously hiding something, but who is she really? A grieving friend...or a liar?
Will's brother Shawn was just murdered outside their apartment complex. He spends that night stunned with grief and wakes early the next day to find and kill the person who shot Shawn. As Will rides the elevator down to the lobby, the car stops on each floor and a ghost gets on. First, his surrogate brother; next, his best friend from childhood. An uncle. His father. And finally, Shawn. Each ghost tells a story and wonders why Will is seeking vengeance. Told in spare prose poetry, this stunning novel describes the unflinching violence that still inhabits parts of our cities and forces recognition of the unbearable grief these communities must bear. An important conversation starter for all to read, from grades 7 to adult.
Aviva Grossman, a capable, ambitious congressional intern, makes a mistake: She has an affair with her boss. When the news gets out, the congressman slips through the headlines unscathed, while Aviva's name is filleted – destroying her career before it can begin. To build a life, Aviva is forced to move away from home and recreate herself entirely. Told from the perspectives of five well-realized, provocative women, YOUNG JANE YOUNG is an entertaining, thoughtful story that will lace your blood with empathy and get you thinking about today's political and social climates. Why aren't more women elected to office? What's with the double standard of morality imposed on women? A thorough takedown of slut-shaming. Highly recommended.
— Mary Cate
McBride shines again in her second novel set in Las Vegas. A cast of characters, all of whom you know to the core of their hearts as she did before, go about living their lives. There is love, loss, redemption, and ultimately hope. These are real people—neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances. Prepare to live along them. Recommended.
Joan Ashby is a famous short story writer. She is feted world wide. After marrying a charming eye doctor, she vows to never have children. The best laid plans change when she has two boys. Her life is subsumed by mothering, suburbia, and a fear that she will never have a life again. She writes in private. The boys grow to men (with attending problems that all families deal with). It's when they have left home that she is finally ready to fly. But treachery awaits and her world is changed in ways she never thought possible. The beautiful conceit of this ambitious debut lies in the interwoven short stories that are truly her thoughts about her own life. 5 Stars!
This short but powerful novel traces the lives of Nadia and Saeed who, facing an uncertain future in a country where conservative militants have taken over, decide to emigrate to the West, first to Greece, then to London and later to Northern California. Posing as husband and wife, Nadia and Saeed handle their changing circumstances in different ways, trying to hold onto their mother culture as they attempt to fit into their new environments. In telling their story, Hamid bores deeply into the heart of the immigrant's experience, cleverly constructing a modern fable about the costs of cultural assimilation. His narrative is so moving that I found myself reading his beautiful sentences over and over again, slapping my forehead as I realized the universal truth in his conclusion that for every human being there is a constant newness and possibility of alienation as we proceed through life, that "we are all migrants through time." He uses the metaphor of mysterious doorways to substitute for the details of the immigration process, and this gives the story a somewhat surreal tone (cf. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD). Of his four novels, it's one that I will be recommending to anyone who asks for the best book I've read recently.
The race to see the eclipse of 1878 is on in this wonderful narrative nonfiction by David Baron. From the ignorant people who had no idea this was coming to the teams sent by the government to Colorado and Wyoming, Baron tells the story of the people, the science, and the burgeoning era of discovery, ego, and showmanship. Highly recommended.
From the witty and wise Roxane Gay comes HUNGER, a brave, deeply touching contemplation of her relationship with her body. Gay's sharp prose stares baldly at her trauma and pain, drips with a venom that whips between broken and strong, and extends beyond her experience with her physical self—a woman, a victim, a body of a certain size. More than anything, this book is achingly, heartbreakingly, satisfyingly human. Oh, how she hungers. How we all do.
— Mary Cate
This is a fascinating way to look at history—comparing the thoughts and actions of two famous figures from the American Revolution as they made their way through the early days of the Republic. The two came from different backgrounds and had opposing views of society, democracy, and how a republic should be governed, yet the fragile threads of their early friendship survived political upheavals and their two presidencies and flourished again in their last 15-20 years. Because it is the story of their friendship, Wood isn't writing a definitive history of the period, and he assumes a basic understanding of early U.S. history. Nor is this book a double biography. Wood's greatest gift is using the disagreements of these two men to illustrate the philosophical divisions in U.S. political history at the inception of the country, differences that continued through the next two centuries and can be still identified in today's politics. He shows convincingly that although the practical realists are always right, it is the idealists who are remembered. Highly recommended.
I love the whole package, from the unique Tyvek cover to the beautiful colors of the photographs. But the best part is the story of how the book came to be. When super-chef Massimo Bottura (of three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) was asked to be a part of the Milan Food Expo in 2015, he decided to embark on an ambitious plan. Instead of talking to foodies and the self-proclaimed of custodians of taste, he renovated an old theater in the seedier part of town and worked with social services to bring the needy to the table and serve wholesome, flavorful food—using the leftovers that many of us would throw away. A delicious homage to the overripe, the bruised, and the scraps, BREAD IS GOLD will change the way you think about food waste.