2017 may be over, but your reading list from the year sure isn’t, and don’t even try to pretend like it is. This was a year packed with essentials, and the list of favorites around here is overflowing, so we thought we’d help add to your never-ending list of books you’d like to read, but probably will never find the time for. These are by no means everything we loved, but is a healthy dose of picks you can rely on, BookBar staff approved. We can only assume you hold our staff in the highest regard ;).
Quackery – Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen
Staff Recommender: Nicole
Lyda Kang and Nate Pederson have teamed up to put together a massive list of the worst possible things you could do to cure a staggering variety of ailments that happen to have been precisely the way they were treated dating back to the 19th century. The pair have a good time taking a jabs at the absurdity of these misguided practices, but also concede that sometimes an wacky procedure eventually led to a meaningful cure. A fun but also educational read–the perfect book for you uncle who pretends to love non-fiction but never actually reads any of it.
Future Home of the Living God – Louise Erdrich
Staff Recommender: Erin
A unique story for Louis Erdrich, this is a crushing dystopian story in which the evolution of humans has abruptly begun to regress as newborn babies are being born in a more primitive state than the parents that conceived them. As society begins to crumble and pregnant women are being gathered up by the government, Cedar must hide her pregnancy as she seeks out her birth parents. Not a hear-warmer, but riveting, and told in the way only the best authors can.
Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan
Staff Recommender: Tommy
Jennifer Egan weaves a remarkable tale of New York City during the height of World War II. This is a story of a young woman grabbing hold of new opportunities afforded to women as a result of the war, a mobster looking to go straight, and the unfortunate way their paths cross. A great story in its own right, but what lingers after is the frame in which it’s set. The city in its strange new wartime setting where women are the core laborers in manufacturing, the changed coast now dotted with countless warships always coming and going, and the molting of an old society to pave way for the new, all cohere into a powerful snapshot of this time and place.
American Wolf – Nate Blakeslee
Staff Recommender: Russ
Just to be clear, this book actually is about real wolves. Or more specifically, it’s about the wolf O-six as followed by conservationists. After being almost entirely killed off, wolves have been able to return home to the rockies in recent decades. Following the true account of a wolves in America, and the things that threaten them still today, Nate Blakeslee is able to tell a story of the clash of forces, old and new, at the heart of the fight for the place wolves call home.
Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeny
Staff Recommender: AnaMaria
Try this one on: you wake up in a hospital, and you can’t move, speak, or open your eyes, but you can hear. You’re not sure how this happened, but you’ve got an inkling your husband had something to do with it. He’ll be enemy #1. You’re starting to put together the pieces, but is your truth really that authentic? One thing’s for sure, someone in this book is crazy!
Nevermoor – Jessica Townsend
Staff Recommender: Marilyn and Nico
Morrigan Crow, marked girl, gets a taste of a life free of her curse, but to keep it, she’s going to have to earn it. Set in a fantastical world of magic and wonder, Jessica Townsend takes us on a wildly imagined journey of peril, intrigue, and hope for a world in which Morrigan can live the way she’s wanted–normally.
Sourdough – Robin Sloan
Staff Recommender: Becky
Technology, bread baking, food markets, and underground intrigue fuse in this story to form one weirdly original concept that defies explanation. Haven’t you ever considered the implications of the marriage of food and technology? Seems like our plucky protagonist might get herself into a bit of trouble though…
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth – Oliver Jeffers
Staff Recommender: Marilyn
“You’re never alone on Earth” Oliver Jeffers offers a book that gives body to the magnitude of creation for children, while driving home how special what we have on Earth truly is.
Obama: An Intimate Portrait – Pete Souza
Staff Recommender: Tommy
Get your tissues out and remember the good days where your heart didn’t seize up as you prepared to glance at the news.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzi Lee
Staff Recommender: Lance
Monte is a young playboy living what little of his dream is left before the impending responsibility of the family business consumes him. He plans an epic last-hurrah trip across Europe, but maybe accidentally makes a poor decision that possibly creates a great deal of minor issues, and the poor guy’s gotta hang on for dear life. Oops!
The Changeling – Victor LaValle
Staff Recommender: Tommy and Erin, but mostly Erin
Victor LaValle delivers with panache, a staggering modern fairy tale equal parts enchanting, horrifying, heartbreaking, and mind-bending. This is a story that won’t be described here as the journey is half the experience. Just know that this isn’t an optional read.
The Hearts of Men – Nickolas Butler
Staff Recommender: Abbey
Nelson’s story serves as a broad stage for a cast of fathers, sons, wives, and mothers and sets up potent scenes among them rather instead of linear plot development. Heavy with perspective, both uplifting and grievous, and a book that demands consideration for your reading list.
Oathbringer – Brandon Sanderson
Staff Recommender: Kate
There are two people in this world: those who’ve read everything Sanderson’s written, and those who haven’t heard of him yet. Comfortably perched atop the fantasy world in lieu of George R.R. Martin’s seemingly permanent sabbatical, Sanderson can do what almost no other modern fantasy great can–finish his books! Oathbringer is book three in this series of unimaginable scope, and the narrative arc of this series is still just getting started, so it’s not too late to dip your toes into the waters of another high fantasy in the post Game of Thrones world.