We’re kicking off 2018 by looking back on the best books we read in 2017. Today’s picks come from Brittney Reed-Saltz.
Favorite new author or series you tried:
For me, 2017’s reading was all about making time for books I had put off, and discovering that I loved books I had assumed I would dislike. Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series, which begins with The Raven Boys, fit squarely in both of those categories.
A book that surprised you:
I read a couple of classics that I had been too intimidated to try in the past and which I found surprisingly approachable and enjoyable: Orlando by Virginia Woolf and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. I also re-read The Stranger by Albert Camus, and I was shocked by how much I missed or misunderstood when I originally read it in high school.
A book you read for the first time that you will reread in the future:
Near the beginning of the year, I tore through the first two books of V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, reading against the clock so I could attend an author event spoiler-free. I loved them, but I feel like the experience lost something from my breakneck pace. A Darker Shade of Magic is the first book.
The best book you read that was also published this year:
I read several great books that came out in 2017, and had enough trouble narrowing it down to a tie.
First, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which has received many deserved accolades for its timely, powerful, and much-needed depiction of the death of a black teenager at the hands of a white cop and the effects it has on the witness and on the community.
Second, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. How can you go wrong with a romantic, historical adventure featuring a bisexual young lord, his best friend, and his bluestocking sister embarking on a Grand Tour of Europe that goes spectacularly awry?
A book you read that was outside of your comfort zone:
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer is a book that I might never have picked up if not for a reading challenge that required me to read a collection of short stories. It helped me get past my oddly stubborn insistence that I don’t like short fiction and eased the way for me to read two other short story collections in 2017.
The book that you recommended to the most people:
After reading Gabrielle Zevin’s novel The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and discovering that it was heartwarming without being the saccharine mess I had assumed it was, I told everyone who would listen to me to read it. If you’re like me, and sometimes the crappiness of the world numbs you until you just need to feel something, read this book.
The best cover from a book you read this year (please include image):
Undoubtedly it’s Drag Teen by Jeffery Self.