Every year I read a lot of books. Out of the 339 that I read in 2017, I've picked out the 36 that I liked the best. 2017 was a hard year, and I found myself looking for books that were happy and not particularly difficult or challenging. I was looking for escapism and for me escapism involves a sense of optimism. That's not to say that there are no challenging books in the list—Homegoing was brilliant and I adored Beartown. But you'll see lots of romance and fun reads here too. I hope you find something that you'll enjoy just as much as I did!
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This novel follows the paths of two families from the Gold Coast in Africa from the 1700's to the present day. One branch is sold into slavery in America, one remains in Africa. Heartbreaking and beautiful.
Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen
Josh and Caleb have lived in a cult compound all their lives. But when their lives spin out of control, can they find their way outside, and together?
Bookburners Season 1 by Max Gladstone
A Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad stands between humanity and the magical apocalypse.
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Beauty and the Beast set in rural medieval Russia. Evocative and languid.
My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul
A memoir / literary diary, this book taps into the deep connection we can feel with books and how that informs our reactions to every aspect of our lives.
All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis
In a future when every word and expression is copyrighted and charged for, the ultimate act of rebellion might be saying nothing at all..
The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock
I never thought that vaginismus could be the basis for a charming and hilarious romance romp, but there you are.
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
A dreamy story of six women whose lives intertwine in 1940's San Francisco.
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
In an alternate timeline, the world got the futuristic utopia it was promised. But when one man ends up in our world, he has to choose between fixing the future or discovering what makes this version worthwhile.
Shtum by Jem Lester
This is a warmhearted but unflinching look at the challenges of raising a profoundly autistic child. Ben's family is crumbling around him, and he has to step up to be the best father he can be.
A Queen from the North by Erin McRae
Everyone loves a royal wedding. But in an England where the War of the Roses never really ended, a political match could change the nation. Romance, politics, and royalty!
Something Like Happy by Eva Woods
Annie is great at hiding from the world. But when she meets irrepressible Polly she is sucked into a happiness experiment that could change her life.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
All the security bot wants is to be left alone with his soaps, but murderous conspiracies and needy humans keep getting in his way. This is the first of a series of novellas featuring the Murderbot, who just wants to do his own thing.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee
High school drama, supernatural strength, and a pantheon of Chinese gods all conspire to get in the way of Genie's quest for academic perfection.
An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles
It's not that common to find a historical romance that doesn't deal solely in aristocracy. In this first in a Victorian series, a boarding-house keeper meets a mild-mannered taxidermist. There is murder and mystery in spades, but the central romance will have you rooting for Clem to find happiness and acceptance.
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
If you like your books full of action and violence and banter and science and killer mermaids, this might be the book for you.
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
One planet on the verge of conquest, one teenage soldier, and one enemy android. Can two reluctant allies rescue the world?
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
When a robotics engineer discovers the mysterious power of spicy soup and sourdough bread, she finds herself drawn in to the weird and shadowy artisan food world of San Francisco.
Artemis by Andy Weir
The next book by the author of The Martian.
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
During the Civil War, Elle is undercover as a slave in the South and Malcolm is a Pinkerton Detective. They find themselves working together to achieve their goals. Also, this might be my favorite cover of the year.
The Backstagers: Rebels Without Applause by James Tynion IV
Theatre nerds unite! There's a certain segment of us who will relate to the trials of the high school backstage crew (although we probably didn't have to fight mysterious monsters down in the depths...)
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
A charming Christmas story about a family facing eviction and the kids determined to prevent it by befriending their grumpy landlord.
Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Courtney Milan
Inspired by the musical Hamilton, here are three romances set in and around the battle of Yorktown. You'll never look at cheese the same way again!
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
Based on some of the most famous monsters in literature, Jekyll's daughter Mary starts digging into her father's past as a serial killer stalks London.
Big Mushy Happy Lump: A "Sarah's Scribbles" Collection by Sarah Andersen
Sarah's cartoons about life and love and anxiety and being an adult never fail to make me happy.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
The second in McGuire's Wayward Children series (but it's a prequel and can be read first). This might be one of the darkest takes on the Jack and Jill story I have ever read.
Beauty Like the Night (The Spymaster Series) by Joanna Bourne
Set just after the French Revolution. She's a former British intelligence agent, now a private investigator who's dragged into a missing person's case that leads to treason and murder... and love.
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
The author of Smoke Gets In Yours Eyes is back, this time traveling around the world to learn about ritual surrounding death.
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Two best friends, one annoying sister, one Grand Tour, highwaymen, pirates, alchemy, crushes, misunderstandings, and more. This is a fantastic historical teen romp.
The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean
After three years in exile, the Duchess of Haven is back and ready to demand a divorce so she can get on with her life. But her husband needs her help for one last thing before he lets her go...
Kith and Kin by Kris Ripper
This is a story about Singer and his partner who are trying to adopt a child, and the people they are surrounded by. If you like stories about found families, this might hit you right in the heart.
Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts by Alisha Rai
Livvy and Nicholas were childhood sweethearts until tragedy tore them apart. But once a year, no matter where they are, they come together for one night—until Livvy missed the date, and then shows up back in town...
Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories by Naomi Kritzer
This collection of excellent science fiction short stories includes the Hugo award-winning "Cat Pictures Please".
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Dimple wants her parents to stop trying to arrange her marriage—she has school and a future career to focus on. Rishi wants the romance his parents have, and is happy to go along with their plans to arrange his future...
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
Scalzi is the king of fast-paced space opera. This first book in a new series is no exception. Fast, funny, and not too deep, it's a great book to curl up with.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
The author of one of my previous all-time favorites (A Man Called Ove) is back with a story about one small town with nothing to call its own except hockey and how far they will go to protect their big chance.
You can see all of my favorites from 2017, plus my selections from past years, as well as many other Staff Picks and recommendations from other librarians through our curated lists in our Library Community and links to our Catalog!
I've already read three books this year, so I'll see you back here in 2019 with all the books that made me happy throughout 2018!