I have to admit, I am a bit addicted to "best books" list. I have read no less than 20 "Best of" list already and my to-be-read pile for next year has since grown immensely. I compile my own yearly best books list not only to add my own thoughts, but also as a way to reflect on the great literature I have had a pleasure to read over the past year. I relish the chance to reflect on novels that made me smile and laugh, regurgitate the books that challenged me to see a new perspective, and revisit an idea that was constructed in such a fresh way that it inspired me. So maybe this Best Books of 2017 is more for me than you, but then again, maybe you enjoy seeing these list as much as I do. Here is my Best Books of 2017.
Best Religious Book: Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore. This was the first book I read in 2017 and one of the books I thought often about throughout the year. I Found Dr. Moore's thoughts on the current evangelical culture spot on. This can be a weighty topic, but Moore addressed it graciously, while still speaking boldly. Looking to challenge your thoughts on some topics? This might be the book for you.
Best Non-Fiction Book: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. Evicted follows several families and landlords in Milwaukee, WI through the seemingly endless cycle of evictions for the families and the search for good tenets for the landlords. But the book is about much more than a processes. Its about people and a way of life. What I enjoyed about the book was not if I agreed or disagreed with things, but because it introduced me to something I did not have much experience with. Looking to put yourself in someone else's shoes? This might be the book for you.
Best Fiction Book: Beartown by Fredrik Backman: This novel seemed to have a wide appeal to readers. The story is based around a small towns hockey team, but addresses issues of sexual assault and societal priorities. If you are looking for a novel that will keep you turning the pages as well as keep you up late discussing it over coffee, this is the book for you.
Best Fantasy Book: The Beyond Experience by Michael Reid Jr. Don't let the fantasy category scare you off. This novel is ultimately about love, friendship, and appreciating what you have each day. Two scientist discover a unique side affect of their drug treatment for anxiety and depression....the ability to reconnect with deceased loved ones. Sounds great right? But what if you push the limits too far? Part Romeo and Juliet, Part Grays Anatomy equals one enjoyable read for anyone who wants something out of their comfort zone.
Best Historical Book: Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural by Ronald C. White Jr. I am a sucker for Lincoln books, but this book exceeded all my expectations. When we think of great Lincoln's speeches we always gravitate towards The Gettysburg Address, and rightly so. However, After reading this book I have to agree that Lincolns greatest speech was the Second Inaugural Address. Mr. White does a fabulous job of pulling in Lincoln's personally letters from several years prior to his address to show how the idea of reconciliation for the nation was not a new idea for Lincoln, nor a political strategy. It was something he actually believed. If you love history in any sense, this is the book for you.
Best Biography or Memoir: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. I loved the introduction of this book when Vance confesses that writing a memoir at 31 years of age is quite odd. But Vance has a very unique story. One that I found fascinating. Vance comes from a lower income blue collar factory working area in Ohio and Kentucky, is a self proclaimed "hillbilly" with an alcoholic mother, and eventually graduates from Yale Law. That is quite the story worthy of a memoir at 31. Hillbilly elegy gives you insight into the struggles and triumph of an individual and a culture. If you want to be educated and inspired, this is the book for you.
Best Book of 2017: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amar Towles. To be honest, this was an easy decision for me. I loved everything about this novel. The writing was superb, the character development was extraordinary, and the plot never seemed to lag. Towles crafts a masterpiece about a Russian aristocrat who is under house arrest at the famous Metropol Hotel in Moscow. The novel, like a fine wine, aged gently and has an after taste that will leave you reaching for the novel again soon. The novel just requires of you to give it time. You need to let it swirl around the glass and sit on your tongue for a moment. You need to let it breath. You have to be Ok with nuance and subtlety. If you can do that this will quickly become one of your all time favorites. Looking for a modern American Classic? This book is for you.
What are some of your favorite books of 2017? I would love to hear what you enjoyed reading this past year. Leave a comment below!
I love everything about books. The feel of the page between your fingers, the sound of a book spine cracking, even the smell of an old dust jacket. Looking to share that passion with others.