The 10 Best Books You Should've Read in 2017
Whether you're sticking your head in the sand or looking for some meaningful advice, dark times make for excellent books. Now we're on the last pages of 2017 it's time to remind yourself of the glut of great reads you might have missed this year, from imagined romances in cities on the brink of war to an explanation of why the human brain is addicted to technology.
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
One of the most talked-about debuts of the year, Sally Rooney's muted but engrossing tale of how two best friends and a married couple become entangled with each other, both in their hometown of Dublin and during a clandestine holiday in France, introduced a novelist who has already found her voice. It'll be fascinating to see where she goes next.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
New Yorker staff writer Ariel Levy covers domestic life, loss, and career anecdotes with brilliance and poise. Her memoir is really a cautionary tale of the eternal modern problem of wanting everything from life. "I thought I had harnessed the power of my own strength and greed and love in a life that could contain it. But it has exploded," are the words scrawled over the cover.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Hamid's debut novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, earned him a Man-Booker Prize nomination and widespread acclaim. This, his fourth novel, is a magic realist tale of two refugees who find love in a city on the brink of civil war, before escaping through a series of mysterious portals that begin springing up around the world. Part timely commentary, part timeless story of love and loss, it deserved its place on this year's Booker shortlist.
Irresistible by Adam Alter
Addiction is not a new phenomenon, argues NYU professor Adam Atler, but our slavish devotion to Instagram, Netflix, Fitbit and email are. Looking at why we are drawn to technology that promises to make our lives faster and easier, while ignoring the obvious side-effects, Atler lifts the lid on how apps and platforms are designed to coax us into staying plugged in, and what we can do about it.
White Tears by Hari Kunzru
Best known for his award-winning debut novel The Impressionist, Hari Kunzru is becoming one of Britain's most celebrated authors. His 2017 novel White Tears follows two white New York jazz lovers who collect records before discovering an unknown singer who draws them into the history of the American blues. Bonkers and heavy-handed in places, it is nevertheless a deeply enjoyable read.
Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
Murakami's first collection of short stories since his bestselling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage comprises seven tales of men who find themselves alone for various reasons. Each story is centred around the concept of heartbroken longing or loneliness, told with Murakami's illuminating written style. One for long-serving fans and newcomers alike.
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Patricia Lockwood's memoir about growing up with a father, a Catholic Priest, recounts her childhood with painful honesty and emotion. It isn't without humour either, particularly in reference to her dad: Father Lockwood lounges around in boxer shorts and jams on the guitar, reverberating "like a whole band dying in a plane crash."
Theft by Finding by David Sedaris
The diaries of bestselling author and comedian David Sedaris that span over 40 years are published here for the first time. The autobiographical essays recall his daily observations in his familiar sardonic tone. Candid entries include life events like Sedaris taking acid, moving to New York, receiving homophobic abuse, and doing several different jobs along the way.
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coats
A book of essays from the masterful voice of Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose long-form articles My President Was Black and later Donald Trump Is The First White President have both gone viral. Here he examines the new voices, ideas and movements for justice that emerged over the period Obama was in power through the lens of his own journey from an unemployment office in Harlem to interviewing the president in the Oval Office.
The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst
Leaping between 1940's Oxford with German bombers flying overhead and 1970s London with the Three Day Week, Booker Prize winning author Alan Hollinghurst gives a moving portrait of clandestine gay Britain. Characters followed over decades demonstrate the changing attitude to gay love and sex and debauched nightclub depictions of drugs and dancing are both thrilling and beautiful.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.