I admit I don’t read as many “grown-up” books as I “should.” I just like being swept away on a story, and so much of adult literature is just… not for me. Adult fantasy sometimes gets bogged down in detail, adult fiction can be just plain tiresome. I’ll take the precious tropes of YA any day! Give me fairies and high school angst! But I try to keep at least a few adult books in rotation. Here they are, my favorite books for grown ups of 2017. Again, these are books I read in 2017, not books published in 2017. This list also contains YA that I considered 16+, thought were right on the line, or thought best for kids to read with an adult.
This book is written by an omnivore and it’s the most thoughtful, balanced look at the food industry I’ve ever read. Foer talks to folks of all different perspectives and visits places from happy pastoral farms to horrific factory “farms” (I’m loathe to call a warehouse full of sick little turkey poults a farm), and several in between. You likely won’t be a vegan or a vegetarian at the end of the book, but you might be inclined to buy your meat from different sources.
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
This book gets the esteemed title of being the only non-fiction book I’ve ever read that has made me cry. Moore follows women painting dials on clocks and other equipment with radium paint from WWI well into WII. This story has implications for women and workers everywhere. It’s fascinating, and reads like a fictional book, and I cried at the end.
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
This is the book I gave my dad for Christmas! I probably love this book so much because I am a sleep hygiene nut, and love sleeping. I learned so much from this book, and it’s something so vital that folks don’t think about when they think about their overall health. It was incredibly readable and I’m sure I will go back and reference it at a later time.
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Easily the funniest book I read all year (and the book I gave my brother for Christmas) Jenny Lawson brings us into her tumultuous, hilarious, taxidermy-loving life. It’s truthful, embarrassing, and a refreshing positive-ish look into mental illness. Absolutely worth it, amigos.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is the book you want to read if you’re pretty much on board with the Black Lives Matter movement, but sometimes wonder “why don’t ALL lives just matter, though?” Coates brings a lyrical, passionate voice to the history of racism in the US, with particular focus on the body. It’s also written as a letter to his young son, which makes it particularly poignant. I suggest listening to him read the audio-book.
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
Look out, Margaret Atwood, Melamed brings a horrifying, harsh twist to your classic tale. If the Handmaid’s Tale wasn’t traumatizing enough for you, you need Gather the Daughters! In all honesty though, it’s a gorgeous, visceral read that’s 100% worth the shudders. I have my spoilery review here.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Part Spy-Drama, part coming-of-age novel, full on War Book, and gorgeously raw, The Alice Network wowed me from the very beginning. The characters are incredibly compelling, which would usually lead me to wish for a sequel, but this novel holds its own so well that I don’t need one. The plot is intricate and takes us through two separate timelines, but all weaves together to make an amazing tapestry.
Mockingbird Volume 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk
BOBBI MORSE GUYS, THOUGH. Even if you’ve never once in your life picked up a comic, or a superhero comic, this incredible, thought-provoking, feminist masterpiece should be it. Bobbi’s under observation– she’s got new powers and they’re not really sure how to deal with it. That’s all I can say.
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
How is this book marketed as YA?! This is undoubtedly THE sexiest book I read all year and I read some nonsensical romance novels last January. This smoldering middle volume the Court of Thorns and Roses series follows Feyre into the Night Court. This book is dark and smart, the story is riveting, and the ending was incredibly satisfying. I’m currently reading book three, and hope to re-read the whole series in 2018! You really should read Court of Thorns and Roses first, but this was clearly the best book.
The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
I’m a ridiculous Margaret Atwood fan. Of her as a person and of her work. I set out to read all of her novels this year and just did not make it– I’ll get to them all next year! With entries for my favorite Atwood book like “Lady Oracle,” “The Heart Goes Last,” “Hag-Seed,” and “Surfacing,” it was almost easy to pick this series, since I could at least recommend three at once! Really, pick up anything with her name on it. She’s probably my “have lunch with anyone living or dead,” person.
These are terrifying, brilliant, vivid dystopian novels. I’m an absolute sucker for this genre, and I honestly don’t know why. They’re creative and fascinating, with compelling characters and an amazing story. They are not for children, or adults looking for a light, happy read (it’s not something I’ve ever encountered reading Atwood’s novels).
Welcome to Night Vale/It Devours! by Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink
Whether you love Welcome to Night Vale, or you have never heard of Welcome to Night Vale, you will know very quickly whether you will enjoy these novels. WTNV appeals to folks who enjoy British humor, so if Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of your favorite books, these are for you.
They’re both action-packed, fascinating, creative, and for SciFi books about a town where a five-headed dragon once ran for mayor against The Faceless Old Woman Who Lives in Your House, they are painfully truthful about the human experience.
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