It’s one of my favourite times of the year! When all of the Best Of lists come out! I love seeing what books people enjoyed and why, and if we have any in common. Not only so, but I’m always on the look out to add to my ever-growing TBR.
Overall, I had a really good reading year. Most of the books I read I really enjoyed. Because I read so many great books, narrowing it down was pretty hard. However, the books I’ve chosen are the ones that really stuck with me and made an impact on my year. Here are the 5 best books I read in 2017!
The Fifth Season (Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
I had been meaning to get to this one for a while. I’d heard tons of great things about her online and on the Book Riot back channels, but I kept putting it off because I wasn’t quite in the mood for SFF. The perfect opportunity to pick it up came in November when my library/work book club decided on the theme of Hugo winners for that month. Considering the first two books in this series both won, I knew immediately what I’d be reading.
I completely devoured this one, itching to read it every moment of the day. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about what was going to happen next! I read the entire trilogy and I have to say, it’s truly stunning and deserves all the hype and praise. With incredibly interesting magic, world building, and narrative style, plus its diverse cast of characters, The Fifth Season (and the whole series!) is an absolute must read.
We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada.[…] Alongside personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.
I spent a cozy Saturday curled up with my cat and a cup of coffee reading this one. I read it in one sitting because I just could not put it down! It had my roommate and my cat both staring at me as I’d laugh out loud. ODWABDANOTWM is a hilarious and thought provoking essay collection about what’s it like to up in Canada, “the land of ice and casual racism,” as the daughter of Indian immigrants. Scaachi Koul’s biting wit and humour are spot on as she chronicles her experience at the intersection of Canadian and Indian culture. I highly, highly recommend you check this out (and follow her on twitter).
Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… And Why by Sady Doyle
She’s everywhere once you start looking for her: the trainwreck.
From Mary Wollstonecraft—who, for decades after her death, was more famous for her illegitimate child and suicide attempts than for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman—to Charlotte Brontë, Billie Holiday, Sylvia Plath, and even Hillary Clinton, Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck dissects a centuries-old phenomenon and asks what it means now, in a time when we have unprecedented access to celebrities and civilians alike, and when women are pushing harder than ever against the boundaries of what it means to “behave.”
I actually listened to this one on audio when I was travelling on the west coast of the US! A few Rioters had really liked this one, so I knew I had to check it out. This book had me pausing in the middle of the street to stop and concentrate on listening. It had me pausing it to jot down notes and quotes. It had me screaming in frustration and crying out many justified “YES!”es. If you’re interested in feminist discourse, or, you know, just are a human living in the world, you should check this one out for sure. Doyle does an amazing job of describing the way women are categorized, cut down, and consumed. She lays it out in a brutal, smart, amazing, unmistakable way. I loved this one and it’s importance so much I’m ordering a hardback for my collection!
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.
I picked up a couple of this one when in Portland, OR, when I was visiting a friend on the west coast. That night, I decided to pick it up and read a couple of poems. Two hours later I was like, Just kidding! Going to read the whole thing–twice–and cry! I read this at the perfect time. I was having a bit of a hard time right before I went on my trip, and I was doing some soul searching during my solo travels. The poems in this collection really spoke to me and encouraged me where I was at. I absolutely loved it and will read it again and again.
Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro
Eisner Award-nominated writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro follow up on the success of Extraordinary Machine with the second installment of their highly acclaimed and fiercely unapologetic Bitch Planet. A few years down the road in the wrong direction, a woman’s failure to comply with her patriarchal overlords results in exile to the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. But what happened on Earth that this new world order came to pass in the first place? Return to the grim corridors of Auxiliary Compliance Outpost #2, to uncover the first clues to the history of the world as we know it…and meet PRESIDENT BITCH.
This brilliant comic book series had me hooked the moment I heard about it. When I got my hands on the first volume, I read it twice. It’s exciting, thought-provoking, patriarchy-smashing, beautifully illustrated, and awesomely diverse. It took quite a long time for this, the second volume, to come out (like almost two years) but it was worth the wait. It immediately reignited my Bitch Planet love and obsession, and compelled me to also mark myself as non-compliant. I got a simple NC tattoo and I love it. If you haven’t started this series yet, it’s a MUST.
Looking at this list, I’m a little surprised by the kinds of books that made it on here! Just the one novel, two non-fiction, a poetry collection, and a comic book trade?! Crazy. I’ve been getting into more non-fiction lately, and that shows in my choices. But in 2017, I wasn’t big into comics! I bought several new volumes in series that I follow but for some reason didn’t get around to reading them. I’ll have to catch up on them this year! I also gave some poetry a shot, which is something I haven’t really read since university. I really enjoyed what I did read, though, and think it’s something I’ll try to continue in 2018!
What were your favourite reads in 2017?
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.