Updated on July 3, 2017
The best books of the year (so far)
Happy July! We’re now halfway through 2017 (I know, already?!), so I thought I’d take a look at the books I’ve read this year and see which ones are my favourites so far. When I do my Book Awards in December I can look back and see if any of my mid-year favourites have been knocked out of the running, or if they’ve stuck it out until the end of the year. Let’s get going!
The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
A real contender for the ‘Best Short Story Collection’ award (maybe even ‘Best Book’!), this is an incredible collection of sci-fi and fantasy stories about magic, technology, patriotism and folklore. It gave me feelings. The story ‘State Change’ may be one of the best things I’ve ever read. I really can’t see this book going anywhere.
Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan
With this book I said goodbye to Lady Trent, the star of Marie Brennan’s Victorian dragon-fantasy series. As someone who hasn’t avidly followed the release of a book series probably ever, it was a wrench. There’ll always be a place for these books in my heart, and if I can be even a little bit as badass as Isabella then I’ll be happy.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Another collection of sci-fi short stories, this one slightly more ‘sci’ than ‘fi’ at times, there are a couple of stories in here that I’m still thinking about months after reading them (‘Division by Zero’ is just ridiculously good). Any other year it would probably sweep the ‘Best Short Story Collection’ award easily, but this year it’s up against The Paper Menagerie. We’ll have to see in December which one comes out on top.
On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
A timely how-to guide for spotting tyranny (specifically fascism) in its early stages, this book treads the fine line between worrying and inspiring. Snyder provides short, snappy history lessons and real, practical advice for living under and stopping tyranny. Of course, if I don’t read some more non-fiction in the second half of the year, this one will win the ‘Best Non-Fiction’ award almost by default – but it will still deserve it.
Human Acts by Han Kang
Everything about this book is ambitious – the subject matter, the narrative voices, the broad time span – and Kang deals with it all expertly. The book gives voice to unnamed victims and acts as a record of a forgotten/repressed atrocity. Potential ‘Best Translated Book’? I think so.
The Dumb House by John Burnside
I don’t have a ‘Creepiest Book’ award, but if I did The Dumb House would carry it off, no doubt. This is a weird story about a man who conducts language experiments on his own children, and you spend the whole book in his disturbed mind, seeing the world as he does. Expect shivers.
What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
I also have a ‘Worst Book Award’, and at the moment Helen Oyeyemi’s What is Not Yours is Not Yours is the front-runner to win that one. It’s not Fifty Shades of Grey terrible by any means, but there’s a big gap between this book’s hype and its reality – a big gap filled with disappointment. The stories barely made any sense to me, I felt no connection to the characters, and I had to stop halfway through. Even the title pisses me off a bit now. But hey, there’s still six months left – I might read a real stinker and this one will be off the hook!
So those are my stand-out books of the year so far. What are your favourites from the first half of 2017? Do you think you’ll still love them come December? Let me know with a comment down below!