Lit Crush: Best Books of 2017

2017 gave us neck-break news cycles, Fifty Shades Darker, and the man romper (why it wasn't the bro romper—or the #bromper—we'll never know). But 2017 also gave us searing memoirs, blazing poetry, and breathtaking novels. In short, it was lit-tastic. These are the Grub staff and community's very best books of the year. 

 

The Grub community has spoken. We conducted a super scientific poll (a.k.a. monitored a Facebook comment thread), and the results are in: The runaway favorite of 2017 is none other than Grub instructor Alex Marzano-Lesnevich's The Fact of a Body: A Murder and A Memoir, followed by Angie Thompson's The Hate U Give, and The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, by Muse & the Marketplace Presenter Hannah Tinti, in a tie for second. Joint third place goes to Pachinko, by 2018 Muse Presenter Min Jin Lee, and Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders. Next is Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere, Mohsin Hamid's Exit West, and The History of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund, in a three-way tie for fourth. Other notable books were The Stone Sky, by NK Jemisin, Rabbit Cake, by Novel Generator instructor Annie Hartnett, Her Body And Other Partiesby Carmen Maria Machado, and Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay. Below, see how a selection of community members voted.

 

 

After much hemming and hawing, Youth Programs Manager Eson could only narrow it down to three best reads for 2017: Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.

 

 Muse presenter Mira T. Lee's top pick for non-fiction is No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America, by Ron Powers. A tough but beautiful, necessary read.

 

Programs Coordinator Ren's best book of 2017 is definitely the harrowing The Fact of a Body, by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich. She still can’t get it out of her head.

 

 GrubStreet Writers of Color Group member Tanushree Baidya is a little obsessed with We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America, edited by Lisa Page and Brandon Skyhorse. It not only explains but legitimizes what so many of us do with regards to passing.

 

Head of Faculty and Curriculum Dariel's favorite novel read in 2017 is The Infatuations by Javier Marías (from 2012), a dark, profound exploration of love and human relationships. His favorite book to come out this year is Things We Lost In The Fire by Mariana Enriquez, a haunting and memorable collection of stories set in Argentina.

 

GrubWrites Editor Sarah's favorite nonfiction book was also The Fact of a Body, her favorite novel was Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward, and her favorite poetry collection was Don't Call Us Dead, by Danez Smith.

 

Grub instructor Marjan Kamali got to read an advance copy of Grub Launch Lab member Maria Mutch's When We Were Birds, and it is brilliant! Forthcoming in April 2018. 

 

While Administrative Assistant Erin is also currently enjoying Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, the real show-stoppers for her this year were both pre-2017: Disgrace, by JM Coetzee, and Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo.

 
Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman murdered Marketing & Programs Director Alison with homesickness for the weird mix of stubbornness, nostalgia, and pragmatically dark sense of humor that she associates with living in Israel. It also plays with form in a way that floored her, as a writer. She loved it with her whole heart, and will revisit it often.

 

YAWP Teen instructor Katie Bayerl loved We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour.

Director of the Muse Conference & Advocacy Sonya's favorite book was Chip Cheek's Cape May, forthcoming in 2019. Quietly devastating, funny, transcendent, and tragic.

 

Muse & Events Coordinator Hanna's favorite book this year was Samantha Irby's essay collection We Are Never Meeting In Real Lifewhich made her laugh out loud on public transportation multiple times.

 

Novel Incubator grads Rachel Barenbaum and Michelle Ferrari both loved Hannah Tinti's The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, as did grubbies Amy Sakovich, Leah Bogdan DeCesare, and John DiCocco.

 

Founder and Executive Director Eve's favorite book this year was Boy Erased by Memoir Incubator instructor Garrard Conley (released in 2016) because it's an incredibly important story, beautifully written with deep empathy for all who walk across its pages.

 

HR & Operations Manager Lauren's favorite book this year was Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts (2015), without a doubt!

 

Senior Communications Manager Liz's favorite read this year was Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster (1997), by Jon Krakauer. (She has no plans on climbing a mountain anytime soon.)

 

Missed an edition of Lit Hits? Fear not! Find the entire back catalogue of Grubbie-recommended titles right here.

About the Author

GrubWrites is a space for the writing and reading community to share ideas and seek advice, a place where writers at the very beginning of their careers publish alongside established authors. Book lovers, we bring you reviews, recommendations, and conversations with exciting new authors to keep you up to speed on all things lit. Writers, this is your one stop shop for expert craft talk, opinions on how we learn and teach writing, and essential advice about the publishing industry.

Plus, we want to hear from you! Our ongoing call for submissions is open to literary community members of all types and persuasions. We want to hear from students, teachers, authors, readers, editors, agents, publicists, and any devotee of the written word. If you have something to say about writing, reading, the publishing industry, or anything related to the literary world, this is the place to voice it. We’re particularly committed to advocating for a diverse range of voices in the literary marketplace and raising the visibility of writers from under-represented communities.

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