It’s always hard to limit your best reads in a high reading year to only ten. Whilst I am still bingeing on psychological thrillers, it is non-fiction that has caught much of my attention this year. These are my top ten reads for 2017:
- Strout, Elizabeth (2017) Anything is possible. Viking. Although not strictly a sequel to My name is Lucy Barton (2016) this compassionate series of stories from Lucy’s hometown wins hands-down as a treatise on human vulnerability in a sad harsh world. Stunning. June 2017 Picks.
- Rutherford, Adam (2016) A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Rutherford highlights divergent concepts and stories that modern genetics has enabled about us as a species. Popular science writing at its best. March 2017 Picks.
- Vance, J D (2016) Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Harper. In this personal testimony Vance shares his chaotic hillbilly past and provides an insight into poverty, the rise of the Republican Party, and social disintegration in the Rust Belt states. Revealing. September 2017 Picks.
- Clarke, Richard A., R.P. Eddy (2017) Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes. Ecco/Harper Collins. This is the book I talked about most in 2017. Clarke explores the Cassandra effect – expert warnings of modern day disasters that were not heeded, and warnings of future threats. Enlightening must-read. September 2017 Picks.
- Kent, Hannah (2016) The Good People. Picador. Superstition and fairy-lore are at the heart of this tale where a widow, and her changeling child, clash with the power of the Catholic Church in rural Ireland. Compelling story inspired by a true event. March 2017 Picks.
- Honeyman, Gail (2017) Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. Harper Collins. Eleanor is slightly odd and profoundly lonely until a simple act of kindness begins to shatter the walls she has built around herself. Enlivened by a constant inner monologue this is a beautiful and unforgettable tale. June 2017 Picks.
- Schmitz, Rob (2016) Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams along a Shanghai Road. Crown. Schmitz, a foreign correspondent, lives off Changle Lu (loosely translated as Street of Eternal Happiness). In his neighbours he finds a mine of narrative to profile contemporary China. Insightful and intimate. July 2017 Picks.
- Strout, Elizabeth (2016) My name is Lucy Barton. Viking. From her hospital bed Lucy confronts the emotional complexity of her New York life and marriage, and memories of her impoverished childhood. Lucy endeavours to make sense of her story, with the benefit of hindsight. Compassionate and wise. January 2017 Picks.
- Moriarty, Liane (2014) Big Little Lies. Macmillan. Read it before viewing the TV series. Three friends and a perfect little school are at the heart of a hot-bed of schoolyard politics, gossip and suburban secrets and lies. Nuanced and cleverly rendered. May 2017 Picks.
- Klein, Naomi (2017) No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. Haymarket Books. Klein’s study warns of the huge toxic potential of the Trump superbrand and offers a blueprint for a counter-attack. Compelling. November 2017 Picks.
Highly commended: De Courcy, Anne (2017) The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York, Lovell, Mary S (2016) The Riviera Set, Rouda, Kaira (2017) Best Day Ever, Taplin, Jonathan (2017) Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon cornered culture and undermined democracy, Weiss, Leah (2017) If the Creek don’t Rise.