Rosalind Faires’ Top Reads of 2017
Uncovering literary gems in areas such as historical fantasy, suburbia melancholia, female-centric speculative fiction, and more
Reviewed by Rosalind Faires, Fri., Dec. 29, 2017
Maybe I'm supposed to feel a wave of Black Mirror anxiety when Netflix analyzes my watching habits and starts suggesting other Gritty British TV Crime Dramas Featuring a Strong Female Lead, but I'm a firm believer in embracing your particular interests. Hence this year's list of literary favorites, organized by the subcategories my wistful, anxious, old people and bread-loving heart longs for.
GENRE: Suburbia Melancholia
Little Fires Everywhere (Penguin Press) Celeste Ng's exploration of the intricate quandaries of motherhood follows the arrival of a photographer and her daughter to pristine Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Barking Dogs (Affirm Press) The lives of the Australian residents of Mount Barker are deeply ordinary and somehow that makes Rebekah Clarkson's precise observations about them all the more tender.
GENRE: Old LGBT People Telling You About Their Lives
The Heart's Invisible Furies (Hogarth) There's something Dickensian – which is to say, rambling and wry, full of cruel heartaches and lucky coincidences – about John Boyne's charting of a gay man's upbringing in postwar Ireland.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Atria Books) The prospect of reading an Elizabeth Taylor stand-in's memoirs is tantalizing enough, but Taylor Jenkins Reid goes one better by offering a deeply moving reminder of how the closet shapes the lives of those we elevate to stardom.
GENRE: Female-Centric Speculative Fiction That's a Little Too on the Nose
Future Home of the Living God (Harper) As evolution runs backward, a pregnant Ojibwe woman struggles to evade the government's attempts to control her womb with the help of her adoptive and birth families in Louise Erdrich's compelling, deeply human book.
The Power (Little, Brown) Naomi Alderman's imagined future, where the gender power balance reverses when women are suddenly able to administer electric shocks with their bodies, feels uncannily timely.
GENRE: What You Read When The Great British Bake Off Starts Making You Feel Cocky but Not Cocky Enough to Actually Bake Something
Sourdough (MCD) Robin Sloan's delightful techno-fable of a programmer gifted a possibly magical sourdough starter is just the thing to inspire culinary adventures in the new year.
GENRE: Historical Fantasy That Isn't Limited to Hot Takes on King Arthur and Robin Hood
The City of Brass (Harper Voyager) S.A. Chakraborty's Daevabad trilogy is off to a rollicking start with this sumptuous page-turner about a Cairo con artist who accidentally summons a djinn that she thought was merely a legend.