Top Ten Books Laura Discovered in 2017

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These were the best books I read in 2017. Some were published a few years ago (and as usual, I’m late to the party), but they are all fantastic!

Manhattan Beach Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476716732
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - October 3rd, 2017

I love all things historical fiction, so when I found out that Jennifer Egan’s newest book would be a noir-ish novel set in the 1940s, I was completely on board. Luckily, Manhattan Beach did not disappoint. It follows Anna Karrigan, a young woman who grows up to become the first female diver working to repair battleships in the New York Naval Yard. Her life intertwines with her absent father’s business partner, Dexter Styles, and she begins to catch glimpses of long buried secrets. What I loved most about this book was the atmosphere – you can smell the smoke from the factories, feel the icy water of the harbor; Jennifer Egan has created a beautiful, haunting book that will stay with you long after you’ve reached the last page.

Exit West Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735212176
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - March 7th, 2017

A parable for our modern times, Exit West is the deceptively simple story of two young people falling in love in a war-torn Middle Eastern country. What unfolds is a magical story about doors that can transport the traveler instantly to anywhere in the world, and a larger meditation on what it means to be a refugee, thrown into a new culture and divorced from your homeland.

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101902783
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - October 17th, 2017

American Wolf is a non-fiction book that chronicles the re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, with particular interest in O-Six, an extraordinary alpha-female who roamed Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. Wrapped up in her story, however, is the story of the humans connected to her, from the wolf-watchers who took meticulous notes on her every-day behavior, to the hunter who eventually took her life. It’s a complex story, but Blakeslee handles it deftly, with the research driven approach of a journalist, and the story-telling chops of a novelist.

The World of Tomorrow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316382199
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - September 5th, 2017

If you’re looking for an epic page turner, this sweeping debut historical novel is for you. Set in 1930s New York, it follows three brothers (two of them on the run from the law) and the many lives that intersect their own. From the underbelly of New York to the bright promise of the Wold’s Fair, this book has something for everyone!

Goldeline Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062498755
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - November 14th, 2017

This is the best middle-grade novel I’ve read in a long time. It follows Goldeline, a young girl who escaped to live with bandits after her mother was killed for being a witch. On the run from The Preacher, a man who can spin lies so sinister a whole town will believe him, Goldeline must find the courage to save her friends and rediscover the magic her mother taught her. Goldeline is a fantastic character – at times spiky and unlikable, at times completely endearing. The world Cajoleas has created is ripe with magic, and there were a few genuinely terrifying moments. I’d highly recommend this book to people of all ages, especially fans of Neil Gaiman.

The Gypsy Moth Summer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250087515
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - June 6th, 2017

Wow, what a book. This is a family saga set on Avalon island off the coast of Long Island, during the summer of 1992 – the summer the gypsy moths infiltrate every crevice of the island. What follows is a twisting, at times grotesque tale about the things we hide from each-other, and the dark, twisted roots of privilege.

A Gentleman in Moscow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670026197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - September 6th, 2016

Yes, I know this book is ever popular, but Amor Towles is honestly one of my favorites. A Gentleman in Moscow follows a Russian count who is sentenced to house arrest in Moscow’s famed Metropol Hotel. When I first started this book, I was not expecting to like Count Alexander, but I could not have been more wrong. The count is one of the most delightful characters I’ve read in a long time, and I can’t remember the last time a book made me smile so much. He has all the charm of a 19th century gentleman, and he manages to keep his rosy disposition throughout the 30 years of his house arrest, as Russia changes drastically right at his doorstep. Towles has created a sweeping, funny, completely endearing novel that I immediately fell in love with.

Gold Fame Citrus Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594634239
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 29th, 2015

How did I only discover Claire Vaye Watkins this year? Gold Fame Citrus is a gorgeous apocalyptic tale about two squatters living in the Mojave desert. When they adopt (kidnap?) a child, they must strike out in search of a better life, even though the odds are stacked against them. This is an impossibly lush, fever-dream of a book, complete with abandoned Hollywood mansions, charismatic cult leaders, and a giant ever-shifting dune sea. Really, what more could you want?

Half Wild: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062444394
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - August 2nd, 2016

This was the first book I read in 2017, and it has stuck with me. One of the best short story collections I’ve read, period, this book follows a cast of loosely connected characters through their home of small-town Vermont. The harsh, beautiful landscape is everything in this book, and MacArthur captures the loneliness of rural Vermont, but also the possibilities there for connection, beauty, and hope.

Forty Rooms Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101982334
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Marian Wood Books/Putnam - February 16th, 2016

Olga Grushin was one of my favorite discoveries of 2017. Forty Rooms is a kaleidoscope of a novel that follows one woman’s entire life through the many rooms she inhabits. Both a coming of age tale and a mediation what it means to be a woman artist, Forty Rooms is a beautiful poem of a novel that I didn’t want to end.

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