Here's a roundup of the "Best of 2017" lists from publishers, media and readers!
Request any of these books at your local library or online through VALNet or OverDrive.
NPR’s Book Concierge 2017 (pretty much the best book picker out there)
Ultimate Best Books Of 2017 List (compiled results from many lists) - Lit Hub
Staff Picks: Fiction and Non-Fiction - Powell’s Book Store (Portland, OR)
The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2017 - Barnes & Noble editors
Best of 2017 picks - Multnomah County Library staff (Portland, OR)
16 Favorite Music Books of 2017 - Pitchfork Magazine
Best Books for Kids - New York Public Library
Costa Book Awards (outstanding UK/Ireland)
100 Notable Books of 2017 - NYT Book Review
10 Best of 2017 - New York Times
Best Books Of 2017, Part I and Part II - The Guardian (U.K)
17 Books Every Woman Should Read From 2017 - Bustle Magazine
Must-Reads of 2017: From Space to Chinese Noir - Bloomberg
10 Best Picks of the Year - Amazon.com
Best Cookbooks - New York Times
Best of 2017 - GQ Magazine
Top 10 of 2017 - Publisher's Weekly
Best of 2017 - Goodreads reader votes
Best of 2017 - The Economist
25 Best Comics of 2017 - Paste Magazine
10 best architecture books of 2017 - Frankfurt Book Fair
Best Non-Fiction - Paste Magazine
Best Physics Books of 2017 - Symmetry Magazine
Best Sports Books of 2017 - Sports Illustrated
Top 10 Gardening Books - Telepgraph (U.K)
Here's a roundup of the "Best of 2016" lists from publishers, media and readers!
Request any of these books at your local library or online through VALNet.
Children/Young Adult lists
Miscellaneous / Fun lists
How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World By Steven Johnson. Who would imagine that glass and ice have been of prime importance, influencing the development of our everyday world in many different ways? Author Steven Johnson makes a fascinating case for the impact of seemingly simple innovations—things we take for granted now. This is a companion book to the 2014 PBS television special of the same name. DVDs of the program, as well as audiobooks, are also available through VALNet. I enjoyed the “ah-ha” moments and the utter readability of this non-fiction book. (Available in print and audio) –Dianne
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor. Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home. When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means? (Available in print and audio) –Dena
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? As good as anything I’ve ever read by her. Provides a lot of food for thought. (Available in Large Type, regular print, ebook, and digital audiobook) –Lisa P.
I have two picks this time – The Nix by Nathan Hill was deep and made me cry. BookRiot’s review sums it up for me, “The Nix is a sprawling, funny (and sad) story about the relationship between a college professor and his mother. Samuel hasn’t seen his radical hippie mother since he was a young boy, but when she shows up in his life, asking for help, he decides to give it to her. Helping her means revisiting both their pasts, and learning things about his mother and himself he never realized. If you love big, occasionally self-indulgent literary fiction (and I mean that in a good way), this is perfect for you!” (Available in print and digital audiobook.) My second pick is an audiobook that has a fantastic reader – the book is Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt and the reader is Simon Prebble. The book is like reading a Wes Anderson movie with great dialogue, hilarious names and Mr. Prebble’s voice talents are probably the best I’ve heard. The story is described as “A love story, an adventure story, a fable without a moral, and an ink-black comedy of manners.” (Available in print and digital audiobook.) –April
Cook It In Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes For The One Pan That Does It All by the editors at America's Test Kitchen. There’s nothing better than food cooked in cast iron. I’ve read it once and waiting for it again. (Available in print.) –Dixie
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This book has stayed with me since I read it several weeks ago – satisfying, eye-opening and poignant. It spans several generations of two African families, the descendants of two half-sisters separated by circumstances in 18th century Ghana, and continuing to the modern day. (Available in print, audio CD, ebook and digital audio.) My second pick is Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. A psychological thriller with a real kicker of an ending, this will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. It’s very good on audio; the readers are excellent. –Lisa C.
When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning. It is the story of how librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops during WWII in response to Hitler’s “war of ideas” that led to the burning of more than 100 million books in Germany, France, Poland and other occupied nations. Successful book drives by local librarians led to the American Library Association’s National Book Defense Campaign and a partnership with the U.S. Government and publishing companies. Millions of lightweight paperbacks called Armed Services Editions were distributed to America’s servicemen and women. It’s a wonderfully enlightening and inspiring telling of wartime history that I’d never heard before. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Megan Marshall writes: “If the pen is mightier than the sword, Manning definitively proves an army of books can go a long way toward winning a war and securing the peace.” (Available in Large Type and regular print.) –Claudia
A few titles I’ve enjoyed lately: Commonwealth by Anne Patchett (availvable in print, audio CD, ebook and digital audio); Be Frank With Me by Julia C. Johnson (available in print and audio CD); A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley (available in audio CD); and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - I agree with Lisa as this book has also stayed with me long after reading the last page. –MaryAnn
The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss by Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper – enlightening conversations between famous mother and son. Though Anderson Cooper has always considered himself close to his mother, his intensely busy career as a journalist for CNN and CBS affords him little time to spend with her. After she suffers a brief but serious illness at the age of ninety-one, they resolve to change their relationship by beginning a year-long conversation unlike any they had ever had before. The result is a correspondence of surprising honesty and depth in which they discuss their lives, the things that matter to them, and what they still want to learn about each other. (Available in print.) –Paula
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon's grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand. A gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic. (Available in Large Type, regular print, audio on CD, and digital audiobook.) –TJ
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid – “In this deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and his girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is left stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. What follows is a twisted unraveling that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.” - Lisa C.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell you She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman – “Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other. Mr. Backman has given us another heartwarming story that will reaffirm your faith in humanity. I am looking forward to reading his next book, “Britt Marie was Here”. – TJ
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. After blasting through the Wayward Pines series by this author (a sci-fi/thriller set in rural southern Idaho) I won a copy of his new thriller and finished it within 24 hours. Another reviewer summed it up as “a sci fi/speculative fiction love story with philosophy sauce all over it” and I can’t say more without giving away the plot. – April
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny [Release date: August 30, 2016]. This is the 12th book in the bestselling Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. This latest mystery places Armand Gamache in a new role as a commander of the Sûreté Academy d Québec, and leads investigators back to Three Pines, the remote village where Gamache now lives. “Gamache fans will be thrilled by the way this installment unlocks some of the series’ enduring questions: Why is Three Pines off the grid? Why do we know so little about Gamache’s past? At the same time, the main plot offers a compelling mystery and a rich human drama in which no character is either entirely good or evil, and each is capable of inspiring empathy.” [Booklist, June 2016] This is a fascinating read that will keep you guessing until the last page. – Claudia
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – This was a book club selection for us recently and the author makes characters come to life, you can really feel their feelings. “With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.” – Paula
A Man Called Ove: a Novel by Fredrik Backman – This book reminded me of my Uncle Louie, a tough but caring man. I definitely came to love Ove. This wonderful story on the way our lives affect others features Ove (pronounced Oo-vuh), a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door…”a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul.” - Shawn
The Aromatherapy Garden by Kathi Keville - Very detailed with wonderful pictures! The Aromatherapy Garden explains how fragrant plants can be as therapeutic as they are intoxicating, and how easy it is to add this captivating element to gardens large and small. It reveals the scents, secrets, and science behind fragrant plants, and how to optimize the full benefits of fragrance. Hone your powers of concentration with lemon verbena. Beat the blues with wintersweet. And use rose geranium to relieve anxiety and stress. Revealed here are the scents, secrets, and science behind plant aromatherapy, and how to optimize its full benefits. Detailed plant profiles will help you create a beautiful source of restorative aromas, oils, sachets, teas, and more. The nose knows—and with Keville’s expertise, now you too can create your own sanctuary of health and happiness. - Dena
Painted Horses by Malcom Brooks - The Everybody Reads! Choice for 2016. "Painted Horses is the story of a young woman on a journey to tame a wild landscape, the tide of progress in the middle of the 'American century,' and a beautiful and passionate love story told by an extraordinary and exciting new literary voice. " Brooks’ ability to make a descriptive impression with even the sparest of words gives the reader the feeling he/she is truly looking through the eyes of the character. His imagery is absolutely stunning, in my opinion. He uses his settings to develop the depth of his two main characters and the reader gets a strong sense of the forces, conflicts and choices which ultimately bring them to knowledge of their own minds and convictions. Because of the frankness of his writing I would recommend this selection for mature readers. – Jenny
The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss - This book has a story about sneetches with green stars on their tummies. It teaches us that just because some sneetches have certain characteristics (green stars) that it doesn’t make them better than any of the other sneetches that do not have the green stars. I used this book to teach kids that it doesn’t matter what you look like; it is what is inside that matters. – Chris
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people," Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life. Mitchell weaves a story of rich fantasy mixed with our real world events and conditions and takes a speculative look at our future, which should be taken as a literal heads up. - TJ
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. Carolyn and each of her adopted (kidnapped?) siblings have been raised by Father to master their own catalog of ancient wisdom to rule the world – from murder and war to languages to animal behavior. But Father is missing (or dead) and the library stands unguarded – who will take his place? It’s a thriller, mystery, scifi, comedy and horror all rolled into one. - April
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Steward. Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared. - Dena
The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny. Intelligent and intriguing as always, this latest (#11) in the Armand Gamache series delivers all the things we love in Louise Penny's absorbing novels: multi-layered plot, nuance, great characters, and a expertly crafted plot. - Claudia
Missoula: Rape And The Justice System In A College Town by John Krakauer.
Of the estimated 110,000 women aged 18-24 raped each year, 350 sexual assaults were reported in Missoula between January 2008 and May 2012. Krakauer investigates the experiences of several women – the nights they were raped; the psychological trauma they experienced afterwards; the way they were treated by police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the general public. Not for the faint of heart, this eye-opening book is a well written, level-headed, in-depth report of how sex crimes are handled throughout the country. - Pam
The Farm by Tom Rob Smith. By the author of Child 44, this fast-moving tense drama begins when Daniel gets a call from his father in Sweden telling him his mother has had a psychotic breakdown and is in an asylum. Before he can get there, he gets a call from his mother telling him that everything he's been told by his father is a lie, that his father is involved in a crime. She leaves the asylum, immediately travels to London and unravels the story to Daniel, who still doesn't know which of his beloved parents to believe. The tension mounts as Daniel's father arrives in London accompanied by a mysterious stranger. -Lisa
Whatever you're after, we're here to keep you supplied with whatever you need for your reading pleasure. If you love your library and what it means to your community, you may enjoy Joe Queenan's essay entitled In Praise of Libraries. Libraries are more than just books.
Everybody Reads 2017
by S.M Hulse
Read a description of the book.
S.M. Hulse will be visiting area libraries including Nezperce on Nov. 8.
See all dates here.
Staff Pick Archives