In 2017, four of my favorite books were non-fiction. This year, while I read some non-fiction, none of them made my “best of” list. Here’s the 2017 list, if you’re interested.
I read more excellent YA fiction this year than last, though my list is still pretty eclectic. Here’s my list on Goodreads, if you’re interested. The count is a little different from my personal tally; Goodreads had a glitch midway through the year, and I’m guessing they missed recording a few. Of the 143 number of books I read last year, these are my favorites.
Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon (Historical fiction): These books just keep getting better. I love books that aren’t any one thing, and these books cross lines of historical fiction, romance, science fiction, and fantasy. Jamie and Claire are fantastic main characters, and their chemistry is wonderful.
A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara (Literary fiction): A friend of mine really wanted to read this book, but had heard that it was horribly depressing. The back cover copy seemed interesting, so I said I’d read it along with her. And it happened to match a Popsugar category (a book with an ugly cover), so I killed two birds with one stone.
I read this book almost a year ago now, and I’m still thinking about it. When I first finished it, I couldn’t decide if I loved it or hated it. It’s horribly sad, but also says some wonderful things about relationships. As time has gone on, and I’ve gotten some distance from it, I like it better. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone.
I Remember You, by Cathleen Davitt Bell (YA Romance/ Fantasy): This book was an unexpected favorite for me. It had intriguing back cover copy that made the book sound a bit sinister. It’s not really; it’s a lovely romance with some twists I never saw coming. I read it several times this year, and it was just as good on audiobook as it was in print.
Uncanny, by Sarah Fine (YA thriller): Uncanny is a wild ride. Every time I thought I understood what was going on, there was a twist. Cora can’t remember what happened the night her sister died, and she turned off her brain-computer interface. As she tries to piece together what happened along with an android therapist, things get more and more sinister.
The Woman in the Window, by AJ Finn (Mystery/ Thriller): I really dislike the “main character is a drunk unreliable narrator and no one believes her” genre. I’ve read several books like that, and I’m over it. Because of that, I didn’t really enjoy the first half of this book because it seemed like more of the same. But a friend insisted I’d like this book, so I went with it.
Midway through the book there was a twist I didn’t see coming, and once it happened, I couldn’t put the book down. It was totally worth reading.
The Girl from the Well, by Rin Chupeco (YA horror/ paranormal): I got this book from a search I did for “best YA horror.” It was recommended on several sites, so I gave it a try.
It’s very different horror, borrowing Japanese lore to create a ghost story that’s just fantastic. Okiku is a ghost who kills child murderers, but is otherwise not really interested in the living. Tark is a teenager with weird tattoos and a strange past. When Okiku notices him, the fun begins.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me/ Nowhere Near You, by Leah Thomas (YA science fiction): I seriously had no idea the first one was science fiction until midway through the book. Two boys write letters to one another on the advice of their doctor. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Moritz has a pacemaker. They know going into the friendship that they’ll never meet. They’re such opposites that they don’t expect to find common ground, but they do. Their voices are so different, yet complement one another so well that I enjoyed every minute of these strange books.
I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson (YA contemporary): Once upon a time, Noah and Jude are inseparable. They’re twins, and no one understands them like the other. But then, something terrible happens, and they’re suddenly strangers. This is a moving book about grief and love, and how when we’re in pain, we sometimes alienate the person we care about most.
The Weight of Zero, by Karen Fortunati (YA contemporary/ mental health): In my opinion, there aren’t a ton of YA books that get mental health “right.” This one is a poignant portrayal of bipolar disorder, grief, and suicidal ideation. It covers some pretty heavy material and probably isn’t for everyone. Yet, it’s not unrelentingly depressing and ends up with a happy ending that feels realistic, rather than trite. Excellent book.
An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones (contemporary): You know how when everyone is talking about a book, you start to feel like it can’t live up to the hype? I was seriously concerned that this book would be a disappointment. It wasn’t. It comments our flawed justice system and relationships. What would you do if your spouse was convicted for a crime you knew they didn’t commit? It’s an interesting question without easy answers, and I honestly had no idea how this book would end.
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke (YA science fiction): This may be the strangest book I read this year. It’s a love story between a woman and an android. It’s somewhat disturbing at times, but poses the fascinating question of what it means to be human. Should a sentient being have the same rights as a human?
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell (Romance): In my eyes, Rainbow Rowell can do no wrong. This was a cute romance novel about a guy who ends up reading email exchanges between two women in his office, and falls in love with one of them. He knows it’s creepy, but he can’t stop. I knew it was going to end with HEA (because duh), but couldn’t figure out how it would get there. Great fun.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (Contemporary): Eleanor Oliphant is completely unlikeable. She’s rigid and annoying… and completely compelling. Even in the beginning, when I didn’t like her, I couldn’t put the book down. By the time I got to the end, I wanted to give her a huge hug and make her some tea.
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli (YA contemporary): Reading this book was like a mini-vacation. Simon has such a weird and wonderful voice. I couldn’t stop reading, and I eagerly tried to figure out the mystery of who “Blue” was. This is one of those books best read in one big gulp.
The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd (Historical fiction): I have to thank the Popsugar reading challenge for this one. I probably never would have read this book if I didn’t need something for the category “a book (fiction or non) about a real person.”
This was a fascinating take on Sarah Grimke, an abolitionist and “her” slave, Handful. While the real Ms. Grimke was gifted a slave as a child, there isn’t much known about her. The story is told in alternating voices between Sarah and Handful, and hearing the two women tell their stories was riveting in an unexpected way. If this is what history class was like growing up, I would have paid closer attention.
The Boy At the Door, by Alex Dahl (Mystery/ thriller): Another book I owe to Popsugar, for the category “Nordic noir.” This was a thrill ride. There were some parts I figured out long before they were revealed, and other things that kept me guessing until the last minute. There are times when I kind of want the “bad guy” to escape the consequences of their actions, and this was one of them.
What were the best books you read this year?