Favorite Reads of 2017 (So Far)

We are almost halfway through 2017 and I am horribly behind on my resolution to post at least a blog a month this year. Please accept my apology in the form of nine books I’ve read since we last spoke and loved enough to recommend to you. 

What I read because Reese Witherspoon recommended it

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman | General Fiction

Full of unspoken loneliness and laugh-out-loud humor. Eleanor is a fascinating character, and the writing made me want to hug every odd person I’ve ever met.

For members of the Resistance

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson | Nonfiction

A powerful non-fiction look at the flaws in our justice system from the perspective of an influential lawyer.

The characters I couldn’t stop thinking about

The Mothers by Brit Bennett | General Fiction

The summer after her mother commits suicide, Nadia Turner begins a relationship with the pastor’s son, Luke that leads to her having an abortion. The rest of the novel follows the coming of age journeys of three teenagers (Nadia, Luke, and Nadia’s best friend, Aubrey) as they deal with the results of her choice in their socially conservative community. I felt anxious reading this book, hoping the characters would find a way to be okay in the midst of their growth and mistakes.

World War Z meets Transformers 

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel | Science Fiction

11-year-old Rose Franklin falls into a hole near her home, and is discovered soon after — sitting in a metal hand over 20 feet long. No one has any memory of how this hand came to be buried, or what the glowing symbols surrounding it mean. Told in a series of transcripts and interviews, the rest explores what happens when a grown-up Rose investigates the giant mystery beyond human understanding. I’m admittedly a sucker for books told in non-traditional formats, and though I don’t love where the sequel landed, this is still a blockbuster quality read.

What to read instead of The Nightingale (or if The Nightingale gave you an itch that needs scratching)

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck | Historical Fiction

Whether you love or just dabble in historical fiction, try it.  I devoured this book, and sent the marketing team an email at 2:30 am  to gratuitously thank them for sending me an early reader copy. It is literary fiction at its absolute finest, following the pre-war, war, and post- war stories of  three German widows whose husbands participated in the failed assassination attempt on Hitler in 1944.

In the category of Best Suspense, the winner is…

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley | General Fiction

This is a wild ride. Sixteen minutes after takeoff, a private plane headed to New York from Martha’s Vineyard crashes and all but two people on board are dead. It opens with a passenger list of people on board, then proceeds to alternates  between the present day consequences for the two surviving passengers (a young boy and a last minute addition to the flight who somehow swims the pair to shore post-crash) and the stories of those on board.

Favorite book I’ve worked on this year

Life After by Katie Ganshert | Christian Fiction (but try it even if you don’t read Christian fiction)

All the disclaimers here: I’m the publicist for this book. But hopefully the sparsity with which I recommend my own books to you here earns me some credibility. It follows Autumn Manning, the sole survivor  of an attack on the Chicago public transit system that kills twenty-two people. The book doesn’t focus on the attack, but instead uses Autumn’s story to explore  questions of purpose, grief, and survivor’s guilt. If you love how JoJo Moyes deftly handles complex topics, this is one to try.

Favorite book someone else at my company has worked on this year

English Lessons by Andrea Lucado | Memoir

It’s lovely, challenging, and encouraging. I wrote, “Me, too!” and “Someone else thinks this?” and “I’m not alone in this?!” and “PREACH” all over the margins. I think more is underlined in my copy than is left intact.

For fans of Back to the Future 

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai | Science Fiction

A high concept time travel book full of fantastic writing and compelling ideas about human nature, life, and love. At times the narrator’s whiny, self-inflicted problems had me rolling my eyes, but the creative complexity and humor outweighed the issues I had with it. I don’t even know how to go about summarizing it, so I’ll let the professionals do the talking for me.


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