Top Ten Books of 2017

2017 was a good reading year … a few disappointments, but lots of great books. I read 89 books altogether, but not as many new books as usual since quite a few were re-reads (the release of Robin Hobb’s novel Assassin’s Fate prompted me to reread the 15 novels preceding it in the same series, so that I could fully appreciate the climax of the final book). I also reread a few Lord Peter Wimsey novels, as I tend to do most years, and I re-visited a couple of favourite trilogies — Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Catherine Fox’s Lindchester novels.

The ten new favourites I’ve posted in the graphic below were, as always, hard to pick, though there were a few definite standouts. They’re shown in the order I read them in during the year, not in “Top Ten” ranked format, because I can’t really rank them. At the bottom of this post I’ve listed them by title and author with a link to my review of each book. And for those of you who like stats, I’ve also included below the graphic some stats about the kind of books and kinds of authors I read this year.

top10books

Of the 89 books I’m counting (totals vary among this blog, my Goodreads page, and my Pinterest board, mostly because I sometimes count re-reads and sometimes don’t, but I’m going with the Pinterest board because it’s the quickest and easiest to count), I read:

66 books by female authors
23 books by male authors

73 works of fiction
16 works of non-fiction

I don’t normally break down my reading by author’s country of origin but in the interests of promoting our local writing scene I will add that of the total, I read:

9 books by Canadian authors, of which
3 were by Newfoundlanders
(the rest were overwhelmingly by US or British writers, but I didn’t analyze it further).

I also made a concerted effort in 2017 to diversify my reading with more non-white writers. In cases where I knew for sure (and including mixed-race writers who identify with non-white communities and concerns in their writing, such as Jamie Ford’s representation of the Chinese-American experience), this attempt to diversify my list resulted in me reading 20 books by writers who identify as people of colour. This was a great initiative as it caused me to seek out some new authors whose work I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

As for how that variety over the year’s books translated into my year end favourites, the Top Ten were: 7 female, 3 male authors; only one non-fiction book (another, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, was a close contender and would have made the Top Eleven if I’d done such a list); 4/10 were non-white writers; only one of my Top Ten list was by a Canadian (that one was a major Canadian award winner, Do Not Say We Have Nothing).

You can read my reflections on each of these favourite books at the links below:

Golden Hill, by Francis Spufford
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien
Assassin’s Fate, by Robin Hobb
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
Hunger, by Roxane Gay
The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson
Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
Realms of Glory, by Catherine Fox
Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green

Here’s to more great reading in 2018! By the way, my favourite new project in 2017 was to start a (more or less) bi-weekly podcast where I talk with people about what they’re reading and books they have loved. If you haven’t already checked out Shelf Esteem, the podcast, give it a listen (on SoundCloud, iTunes, or wherever you listen to podcasts).

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