December 20, 2017
The Best of the Best Books of the Year Lists for 2017
by Stephanie DeLuca
It’s the end of 2017 (*praise hands emoji*), so it’s that time when all of our beloved media and cultural outlets offer their picks for the best books of the year. For some of us, this is a way to confirm our suspicions that we’re the well-read, discerning, sophisticated readers we always knew we were; others (yours truly) become increasingly anxious, trying to figure out how we managed not to incorporate more of the “big books of the year” into the previous 365 days; others still are introduced for the first time to some brand new reads. But overall, these lists do us the service of highlighting books that perhaps say something about the current time we are living in, and have the potential to last into the future. But. There. Sure. Are. A. Lot. Of. Best. Books. Lists.
To help you navigate through all the best books of the year, we’ve created a handy guide. We present: The Best of the Best Books of the Year Lists in 2017.
The Best List That’s Interactive and Lets You Play With Filters to Figure Out What to Read Next — NPR
For the last few years, NPR’s best books of the year list, which the help of their “Book Concierge,” has allowed readers to apply filters, choosing from categories like “Biography & Memoir,” “For History Lovers,” “For Music Lovers,” “Let’s Talk About Sex,” “It’s All Geek to Me,” “Identity & Culture,” “Realistic Fiction,” “The Dark Side,” and “Tales from Around the World.” The concierge pulls from over 350 books, helping readers to find exactly what they’re looking for. And since it allows users to apply multiple filters simultaneously, if you’re looking for something very specific—say, a “Rather Long” “Non-fiction” “Tale from Around the World” “For Art Lovers”—you get an equally specific recommendation—say, Alan Bennett’s Keeping On Keeping On. The concierge is like a game where you get to hit a lot of buttons — and since you’ll always get a book recommendation, you win every time.
Best List That’s All About Food – Epicurious
There’s quite a few lists out there focused on the best cookbooks of the year. But you know whose lists I’m inclined to trust most? The ones from a website whose main purpose is to provide recipes. Epicurious is upfront about its mission, and gets straight to the point: “We don’t know which 2017 cookbook was the most thoroughly tested. And we don’t know which has the least typos. What we know is which books inspired us to think differently, to try something new, and to overall cook more.” I respect a niche list that keeps it real, and sticks to what it knows.
Best List That We’re Partial to Because There’s a Melville House Book On It — Wall Street Journal
Sorry not sorry, but please give us a minute to toot our own horn here. One of the coveted twenty spots on the WSJ’s “Best Fiction and Nonfiction of 2017” list goes to our own Becoming Leonardo by Mike Lankford. Praised as an “elegant and poetic journey into Leonardo da Vinci’s imaginative world,” it resonated in a year when Leonardo was quite the hot topic! Cowabunga.
Best List That’s Chosen by Actual Readers and Not Critics — Goodreads
As we’ve mentioned before, the Goodreads Choice Awards are special in that Goodreads allows its community, made of the general book-reading and -buying public, to vote for their favorite books, making this one of the few lists that’s not curated by critics. The Awards include a wide variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, YA, historical fiction, fantasy, history & biography, and poetry. 3.8 million votes were cast by Goodreads users this year, with women prevailing in sixteen out of twenty categories. Democracy at its finest.
Best List That Highlights Black Authors — The Root
It’s not really a secret that publishing has a diversity problem. In this essential list, The Root highlights the sixteen best books written this year by black authors across a number of genres — from literary novels to YA, detective fiction to short story collections, critical essays, memoirs, and collections of poetry. Often reflections on our current culture, these books speak to some of the most important issues of the past year and deserve to be held up to the world.
Best List that Features 130 Books — PopSugar
If you can make it through the 130-page slideshow, you won’t be disappointed.
Best List that Features a Book About Sharks — National Geographic
Among other books about science and adventure, this list has what I never knew I’ve always wanted: a photography book of great white sharks from underwater photographer Brian Skerry, aptly titled Shark. And on that note, this list has officially jumped…. don’t make me say it.
Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.