Top Ten Books of 2017

Theo Prineas, Copy and A&E

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is about a girl named Starr, who witnesses her unarmed friend shot by the police. It addresses police violence against black people and also hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list for over a month in total. This was Angie Thomas’s debut novel, so it’s a likely possibility that there are a number of good books to come from her.
  2. 1984 by George Orwell. Yes, I’m aware this book came out almost half a century ago, but just after November 7th of 2016 (election night) this book hit the bestseller list and stayed on it deep into 2017.  A recent study by Pew Research Center found that people’s trust in the government is at an all-time low since 1960. This book, known for its striking depiction of totalitarianism and the omniscient government, “Big Brother,” summed up a lot of people’s feelings about the United States government this year.
  3. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur. People often say that poetry is in decline, as we see young poets publishing chapbooks that entirely fail to sell any copies. This book is an exception. Rupi Kaur is a young woman of Sikh-Punjabi descent, whose debut book (Milk and Honey) sold over two million copies. To put this in perspective, nationally acclaimed poets like John Ashberry are lucky if their books sell over 10,000 copies.
  4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Yes, the first book came out in 1997, but The Cursed Child‘s debut near the end of 2016 brought many back to their roots to reread the Harry Potter series. While The Cursed Child brought mixed reactions, it was still one of the largest sellers of this year. It’s a fun and easy read.
  5. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton. We all remember how the 2016 election felt. What was initially called “the race for Hillary Clinton” ended quite differently than almost all polls expected. This book explores the reasons behind that, and answers the question posed by its title: what happened?
  6. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado. This book of fabulist short stories was shortlisted for the National Book Award. While it didn’t win, it did earn critical acclaim across the board for addressing women’s rights, sexual abuse, discrimination against the LGBTQA+ community, and love.
  7. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. This is the winner of the 2017 National Book Award. Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award in 2011 as well, with her debut novel Salvage the BonesSing, Unburied, Sing depicts a biracial boy from Mississippi as he not only examines the historical racial injustices in Mississippi, but also those of today.
  8. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Another top-seller on the New York Times, this book is a comical depiction of a little Cleveland suburb, where Elena Richardson, the epitome of ordinary, rents out a house to Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. Unfortunately, they do not get along and eventually find themselves on two opposite sides of a war for custody of a baby with a mysterious past.
  9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Atwood. Published in 1985, this book experienced a similar resurgence as George Orwell’s 1984. This book hit the bestseller list last January and stayed on it until the beginning of this December. This book examines women’s rights and sexual violence, which has been a particularly large topic as more women come forward to relate stories of unwanted advances, beginning with the Access Hollywood tapes and stretching all the way to Al Franken’s removal from office. This book’s timeless messages of feminism, equality, and totalitarianism resound powerfully with this political moment.
  10. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. This book is exactly what it sounds like; it remembers the struggling blue-collar America in the Rust Belt through a series of anecdotes of Vance’s childhood. This book was named by the New York Times as one of the top six books that explain why Donald Trump won the election in 2016.