Favorite Books of 2017

Here it is! A fabulous list of recommended books made by readers for readers! Thank you to everyone who contributed. The winner for this year’s giveaway is:

Mary Nichols

Congratulations to Mary!

Now, here are the books word nerd readers loved, along with the reasons why they loved ’em.

Adult Fiction

  • Small Great Things
    One of my favorites for 2017 too!
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – “I love Jodi’s writing. Family drama, current and really important issue, and her signature surprise twist at the end!”
  • The Life List by Lori Nelson Speilman “It is the story of a 34-year-old woman whose beloved mother dies and while she expects to inherit a company and lots of money is instead sent on a quest to re-discover herself.”
  • The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by P. Patrick  “On the first anniversary of his wife’s death, Arthur Pepper decides he has to clean out her closet. In the closet, he finds a red velvet box with a charm bracelet. He has never seen the bracelet before and it does not look like anything his wife would wear. He sets out on a journey to find out about his wife’s life before she met him.”
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara “A long and tough read, but it is still with me, months after I finished it.”
  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn GreenwoodAs the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle.” Goodreads
  • This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel  “This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.  When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.  Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.”  Goodreads 
  • Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks, short story collection “I liked all the stories in it and I loved some. Hanks writes in a variety of formats (traditional, movie script, movie junket itinerary, small-town newspaper social column, and so on), in a variety of settings, and from a variety of perspectives. And–bonus–a typewriter features in some way in every story.”
  • Come Sundown by Nora Roberts  
  • The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah historical fiction, WWII (see my review here)
  • Changes (The Dresden Files #12) by Jim Butcher urban fantasy/ paranormal
  • The Martian  by Andy Weir 
  • America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray historical fiction about Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, “a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.” Goodreads
  • Mistress of the Art of Death by Diana Norman “Great take on the clash between science and religion at the time of King Kenry II, and how gender roles played out (and got in the way) in the late medieval period. The plot is “Chaucer meets CSI.” Makes you skin crawl, but you can’t stop reading.”
  • Order to Kill by Kyle Mills “This is the first book written by Mills in this series since the series creator, Vince Flynn, passed away. If you like CIA/Black ops types of books this whole series is a must read.”
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders  (Man Booker Prize 2017, Goodreads Choice Award Winner 2017) “Historical reports say that when Lincoln’s 11-year-old son died, the president was so stricken with grief that he returned to the crypt several times to hold his son’s body.  From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying.”  Goodreads

Adult Non-fictionHidden FiguresWe Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on race and resegregation by Jeff Chang  “Explains so much of what is going on in the U.S. at the moment and puts things into perspective.”

  • Miracles and Massacres by Glenn Beck “Little known stories from American history.”
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shutterly 
  • I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher “Big Mike” from the movie The Blind Side tells his story.

Young Adult

  • What to Say Next by Julie Bauxbaum “When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find.”Goodreads
  • The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin  “After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting–things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone.” Goodreads
  • The Hate You GiveThe Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (Goodreads Choice Award Winner 2017)  “Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.”  Goodreads

Middle Grade

  • The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud  “It’s the last book in the Lockwood & Co. series. I LOVE this series. As in, as much as Harry Potter (warning, it’s a bit spookier and I wouldn’t recommend it the series for kids under 11 or so).”
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio  Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.  Goodreads

Wow, I have so many more books I want to read now!  I’m definitely sharing these titles with my book club.  Thanks again to everyone who contributed, and happy shopping!

Julia Tomiak
I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and Wordsmithstudio.org.


  1. Thanks for the book list! Yes, so many good books to read. Just checked out “Year of Yes” at the library 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation!

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