Four Seasons of Sara's Favorite 2017 Releases

What a fantastic year of books this has been. In the interest of covering both early 2017 and late 2017 releases, I’ve broken my favorites up by season (though Houston this year has really only had two: Monsoon and Not-Quite-Cold-Enough-To-Be-Winter). And in the interest of leveling the playing field compared to, say, a certain newspaper’s “100 Most Notable” list, I’ve tried to tend more toward indie press-released, female- or queer-authored, and translated books. A few others snuck in, as you’ll see. You’ll also find a lot of speculative books on this list. Don’t let the science fictional or fantastical elements deter you from enjoying these smartly-crafted new literary gems. Enjoy!


Recitation Cover Image
By Suah Bae, Deborah Smith (Translator)
ISBN: 9781941920466
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - January 24th, 2017

At the beginning of this year, our national Han Kang obsession led me to pursue more female Korean authors. Bae Suah is an acclaimed Korean author with many titles to her name, but unfortunately we only have a few of her works in English. RECITATION is by far my favorite so far (though this year’s short story collection by her is also fantastic). The narrative begins with an unnamed woman stepping off a train in Europe, and flows into a tale of intrigue, a mysterious group of emigrants, magic shows, wanderers, and questionable identities. Bae Suah has shaped a fantastic, subtle series of characters for RECITATION. The book reads like a dream. It IS a dream. Beyond being in my Top Ten, this book is also in my Top Three.

Recombinant Cover Image
ISBN: 9780932716866
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Kelsey Street Press - March 1st, 2017

Ching-In Chen is a local poet (how lucky we are!), and (again, lucky us) we had a wonderful event for the release of their book of poetry. RECOMBINANT functions as an intricate, beautiful assertion of genderqueer and diasporic identity. It’s bleak at times, sure, but what a gorgeous merging of history, future, identity, theory. I don’t even lend this book out to other people; it’s installed permanently on my bedside table.

The Book of Joan: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062383273
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - April 18th, 2017

A space opera, a retelling of Joan of Arc’s life, or a deep, almost mythical exploration of our relationships to gender, sexuality, environmentalism, and reproductive rights? ALL OF THOSE THINGS. That’s right. How has Lidia Yuknavitch done it without writing an overwrought piece of gimmicky genre fiction? She just has. This book made me laugh and cry. I’ve recommended it to any of my friends interested in THE HANDMAID’S TALE or science fiction, but also to folks who care about really good character development and subtle human relationships.

Notes of a Crocodile (NYRB Classics) Cover Image
By Qiu Miaojin, Bonnie Huie (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781681370767
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: NYRB Classics - May 2nd, 2017

I really just… Love this book. Definite Top Three This Year pick. It’s a Taiwanese cult favorite from the 90’s that totally reinvents the college novel and the sense of outsidership we feel in our teens.

Most of the book is the narrative of the main character’s connections to other young men and women, and resulting relationships with them (platonic and romantic). There are these fascinating small dips through the book in which the narrative retreats to these weird, surreal news articles and media snippets, which serve to reinforce the narrator’s sense of being an outsider and unease with constant confrontation.

I chatted about this book earlier this year on our website. Check it out!

Not One Day Cover Image
By Anne Garreta, Emma Ramadan (Translator)
ISBN: 9781941920541
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - May 16th, 2017

In the interest of keeping my Top Ten to books released in 2017, I’m focusing on Anne Garreta’s release from this year. Garreta is the first female member of the French experimental writing group Oulipo, and the first of its members to join after the group was formed. NOT ONE DAY charts the sultry, sensual series of encounters Garreta has had with the women in her life (“not one day” without women, so to speak). But ALSO, Garreta is the author of my favorite 2015 book SPHINX (a story of love and loss based in Berlin’s nightclubs). Garreta's books are so, so good at inducing very strong moods – I read NOT ONE DAY alone in one evening at the bar next to Brazos the day it came out, and the experience is one I’ve never duplicated. 


Amatka Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101973950
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - June 27th, 2017

In a world where objects are dependent on being spoken into solidity (literally; forget to re-label a suitcase and it will turn to mush), a bureaucratic colony worker discovers her own desire for abstraction and unsureness. Tidbeck forms a plot out of the inadequacies and subjectivities of language, creating new possibilities for both the environment and the characters. The characters are immediately subtle but personable and the story is invigorating.

Especially in a political climate such as ours, it seems fitting to spend time with a book that so experimentally digs into what objectivity, truth, and individuality are (and could possibly be).

Kingdom Cons Cover Image
By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (Translator)
ISBN: 9781908276926
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: And Other Stories - June 8th, 2017

The Artist moves through the city, singing songs of success and drama for anyone who will listen. He is hired by the King to act as court bard, and is privy to a whole new level of intrigue and violence. This isn’t just a fantasy story; this is Yuri Herrera’s amazing rendering of drug cartels along the border. Though Herrera wrote KINGDOM CONS years ago, it’s newly out in English and I hope we’ve all spent 2017 adequately celebrating that fact. Haven’t read it yet? At about 100 pages, you’ll breeze through this book with awe and delight. 


Mammother Cover Image
ISBN: 9781943888108
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Featherproof Books - September 12th, 2017

This book rounds out my Top Three of this year. Schomberg’s book is an epic!!! In a town called Pie Time, we witness the growth of a child and factory worker, Mano Medium. As people die from a strange plague, they leave objects behind. Mano collects these objects, growing larger by the day as he ages. He takes over the jobs of the people who die, until finally two outsiders find a solution to the deaths. Mano’s purpose in the town shifts, but he maintains an evocative importance. What a beautiful, tender, weird snapshot of a community over a period of years.

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977887
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - October 3rd, 2017

My favorite short story collection of 2017, hands down. Machado explores female sexuality and personhood with a deft hand. This book is both speculative and erotic, with a strong focus on bodily disintegration, disease, apocalypse, and epidemic.


Houses of Ravicka Cover Image
ISBN: 9780997366662
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dorothy a Publishing Project - November 1st, 2017

Renee Gladman’s Ravicka series WAS a trilogy. It was one of my favorite trilogies. And now, thanks to HOUSES OF RAVICKA, there are four books in the series, and I love them all. Gladman inspects the methodologies by which we get to know the physical places around us. Then she takes them all apart and reinvents piece by piece with poetry and with rigor. HOUSES OF RAVICKA charts the city comptroller’s search for a mysteriously missing house, and it’s equally mysterious invisible counterpart across the city. I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand all the facets of this series, nor do I think that’s important to enjoy RAVICKA thoroughly.

Madonna in a Fur Coat: A Novel Cover Image
By Sabahattin Ali, Maureen Freely (Translated by), Alexander Dawe (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781590518809
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Other Press - November 7th, 2017

I’m always excited to recommend this to customers in the store. Translated into English for the first time, Other Press brings to us this 1930's Turkish author's beautiful little masterpiece of interwar relations. An office worker finds the handwritten memoir of his dying coworker; in it, his coworker's memoir of a love affair in Berlin. Compared to THE GREAT GATSBY, its portrayal of smart, disaffected youth is top notch.

Staff Pick Badge
Old Rendering Plant Cover Image
ISBN: 9781931883672
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Lines Press - November 7th, 2017

Hilbig's command of language is unparalleled. A young European man discovers that an area behind his neighborhood isn't as it seems; as he comes of age, he recognizes it for what it is (yes, literally a rendering plant), and as such peels back the layers of naivety that youth provides for us. This book is a subtle look at post-War difference and division, at adulthood, at exploration, and man's effect on his surroundings.

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