Write Right’s Favorite Books of 2017

Write Right's Favorite Books of 2017How can it be November?! The year seems to have flown by. It feels as though it should still be March or, at the very least, June.

Alas, November is here. People begin to plan Thanksgiving menus, if they haven’t already set them. Others contemplate what to buy friends and family for Christmas. If you belong to the second group and seek to purchase books for those individuals, maybe some of the ones listed here will suffice. They certainly stand as some of my favorite books of 2017.

1. Deathless

Catherynn Valente

This book conflates a Russian folktale about Koschei the Deathless and the Russian Revolution. It’s violent and strange and lovely all at the same time. Reading it feels a bit like opening a Russian nesting doll.

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2. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Susanna Clarke

If your friend or loved one appreciates Dickens or Austen, gift him or her with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. This book takes place during the Napoleonic Wars, albeit with a magical twist. The book hearkens to the aforementioned Dickens and Austen, so it may take a while to read.

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3. Luka and the Fire of Life

Salman Rushdie

Rushdie has been a favorite since the reading of East, West, a collection of short stories. He combines magical realism with the emotions that make people, people. I love this particular book for its focus on the son-father relationship, not to mention some allusions to videogames I played as a kid in the nineties.

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4. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Robin Sloan

Secret societies that meet in out-of-the-way bookstores? The plot element plays a role in this book, but the story truly revolves around Clay Jannon and Mr. Penumbra. The book also contemplates how technology affects people of all ages.

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5. Oathbringer

Brandon Sanderson

It might be slightly dishonest to include Oathbringer since it doesn’t release until mid-November. I own no early copy, so I mention the book based on the two that precede it. If your person loves complex worlds and mythologies or is a fan of Robert Jordan, direct them to Sanderson’s work.

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6. Silence and Beauty

Makoto Fujimura

This book examines art and faith and their intersection with suffering. I like the book because it causes one to think about all three topics. If you know someone who obsesses about the subject the same way I do, you might give them the gift of Silence and Beauty.

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7. Strange the Dreamer

Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer is the first part of a duology, with an as-yet-unknown release date for the second. In this book, the big questions center upon forgiveness, revenge, and fear of the “other.” The book also examines questions of identity and belonging through the lens of Lazlo, the protagonist.

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8. The Eyre Affair

Jasper Fforde

If British, tongue-in-cheek humor sates your friend or family member’s palate, give Jasper Fforde a look. The Eyre Affair introduces Thursday Next, a literary detective. She faces off against Hades and nearly takes out Thornfield Hall in the process.

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9. The Gone-Away World

Nick Harkaway

Toward the end of The Gone-Away World, Harkaway introduces a plot twist that throws the entirety of the book into question. I like that sort of thing. Plus, the book is odd (Mimes, anyone?) and gritty as only a post-apocalyptic world can be.

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10. The Naming

Alison Croggon

Croggon evokes Tolkien and Brooks. If you know someone who appreciates those two authors, you should buy The Naming, wrap it, and place it beneath the tree. The Naming introduces Maerad and her moody mentor Cadvan.

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11. The Shadow of What was Lost

James Islington

Islington belongs with Jordan and Sanderson in terms of his scope. He presents a beautiful, chaotic, and confusing world—a fact lived out by a number of the characters. Their stories come to light as the book progresses and continues in the second and soon-to-be third. (The third book, the conclusion, is slated for a 2018 release.)

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12. Vicious

V.E. Schwab

I could recommend everything by Schwab, but I’ll choose one of her adult books. Vicious comes across as a sort of Count of Monte Cristo. Your reader can expect revenge and soul-searching questions about the nature of love and forgiveness.

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13. Wild Magic

Tamora Pierce

Again, I could suggest almost anything by Tamora Pierce—she’s that good. I present the first book I read, though, Wild Magic. This book concerns Daine, a teenaged girl trying to figure out who and what she is amidst rumors of war with the long-lost immortals.

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I read more than thirteen books this year, so if you seek something specific, let me know. Perhaps I can help you narrow your Christmas book list.

Image: Markus Spiske (Creative Commons)