5 January 2018

Best and Worst Reads of 2017





This is a hard list and we hardly ever agree. We're sorry to all the authors who made it on the 'worst' list but maybe just write books we like more? If any of the authors are reading this, which of course they aren't. Anyways, these are in no particular order.


God I love reading a massive, beautiful piece of fiction. Here I Am is easily Jonathan Safran Foer's most mature book. Not only is it not from the perspective of a child, but it also doesn't use the "narrative tricks" he has been known for. Everyone already knows that I love a story about a crumbling marriage, so I was already sold from the start.. but Foer really pushes it beyond just that. There are so many small, heartbreaking situations we can all recognize throughout it. It also has one of my favourite endings. Look for an author spotlight from me on Foer this year!



This, surprisingly even to me, was one of my favourite books I read all year... and I read it in January (full review here)! The plot to this fiction novel has stuck with me this entire year as I've navigated my own relationships. It's an amazing story about best friends and couples on Nantucket Island, women who don't ask for the things they want and need, romantic relationships that get dragged through the mud... all my favourite things. I love Elin Hilderbrand novels in general but this one has stuck out to me from her whole repertoire, and even above anything else I've read this year. It's a perfect chick-lit fiction novel.

I mean, obviously this is on my list. Joan Didion is the ruler of my world and my favourite writer to ever live and breath. I am crippled with anxiety from her approaching death. I found out last Christmas that this book was to be published and I pre-ordered it immediately. I read it in February of 2017, so it made a lasting impression for the rest of the year. This isn't something she wrote presently, it's an accumulation of her notes from a trip she took across the southern states decades ago. So while it isn't exactly something new, it is definitely still required reading. Just read Joan Didion... Honestly who cares where you start, just do it. My full review can be found here!



I think if you read my review of this Canadian short story collection, you'll already know I'm absolutely obsessed with it. A friend of ours is actually the author but that has absolutely nothing to do with me carrying on about it like it's the best thing ever, it IS the best thing ever. Huebert has this amazing knack for capturing incredibly human moments that you didn't even know could ever be written down but then there they are on the page in front of you. It also helps that he pads all of his short stories with factual passages related to the topic in the story, and I love to read pure facts. I've already gone back and re-read some of my favourite stories ("Enigma" and "How Your Life"), it's definitely one of the best books I've read this year.



This was a very pleasant surprise for 2017. Our brilliant friend Emily got us a copy of her colleague Adrian Owen's book Into the Gray Zone. It's about his research and work communicating with patients who are believed to be in a state of "unconsciousness." Not only is this book incredibly informative (and also easy to read for people who are not phd-level geniuses) but it is also highly personal. I would recommend this book to literally anyone. My full review can be found here!



We read this book for book club this year and I have to say, it was brutal. I thought it would be fun (the topic is women who organize a town-wide sex strike, sounds fun right??), but it was because of MAGIC which, kill me, is my least favourite topic. Had I known magic was at all a factor I would have vetoed it immediately. The best part is that it was very short and easy to blast through, the downside is that I had to waste time reading a hybrid of young adult fiction and sci-fi, the two worst genres.

I love any film by Alex Garland so I was really excited to read this book when I found out he was adapting it for 2018. Unfortunately I was pretty disappointed with the source material and I hope Garland can make something new out of it. There were all sorts of different themes I wanted Jeff Vandermeer to dig into and he just barely scratched the surface. I wouldn't suggest starting off with Annihilation for your first attempt at science fiction. But, decide for yourself.. read my full review here.



Not only was this book garbage, but the movie was brutal also. I thought it would be an amazing adventure fiction book, two people fighting for their lives in the wild... and it was... except magically these characters had all sorts of snow gear and energy. This book's biggest downfall was how unrealistic it was. The love story throughout also felt unnatural... I just overall wouldn't recommend this and I especially wouldn't recommend wasting 2 hours of your life watching the film. My expanded rant can be found here.



How sad that there are two picks for book club on this list? Whomp-whomp. I didn't HATE this book, and I definitely feel a ton of anxiety picking out books for this list because it is so difficult.. but I also far from loved Helter Skelter. For one, it was just way too long and way too dense. I really enjoyed the book club aspect, like getting to read Kenan or Emily's summaries and discussing what was going on in real life (i.e. MANSON DYING). But this is a book I would have a lot of trouble sticking with if I was reading it totally alone.



I wouldn't say this book was especially bad, but I didn't love it and I barely even remembered it until I scrolled through my Instagram figuring out what was going to make this list... This was a book sent to us by a publishing company, it's a murder mystery, and it was FINE... but it wasn't great. The relationships were cheesy and overdone and the revenge plot is something we've read about 1000 times... If you care to read more about what I liked and didn't like my review is here.

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