Our Favorite Books of the Year

Throughout the year you depend on our booksellers to steer you towards your next favorite book. And during the holidays, we're here to recommend that special book for your Father-in-Law who's always into the latest kitchen craze, or your best friend who insists that you watch every episode of the Golden Girls. I imagine that many people assume recommending books is as easy as handing someone your favorite book and calling it good. But some of us have really weird taste and not everyone is going to like that book about an alternate history US in which the bayou is overrun by feral hippos and patrolled by a bunch of mercenary hippo wranglers (which is really too bad, 'cause it's GOOD). As booksellers we often have to reccomend books outside our natural reading inclinations; we have to actively supress that love of feral hippo river fight scenes in order to make sure we get the right book in your hands.

But the end of the year, that's all for us. The end of the year means bookseller top ten lists. Lists made up of our favorite books, with not a care given to whether or not those books will appeal to anyone else... though they usually do, and you'd be remiss to ignore them, because in the end, we really do have pretty good taste in books.

I'll be rolling out our individual lists throughout the next couple weeks, but I wanted to give you a little teaser of our collective favorite books of the year. I've polled our nearly 50 employees across three stores and come up with a pretty amazing list of our Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017.

Here they are in not much of any order:

Sing, Unburied, Sing

by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing opens with thirteen year-old Jojo and his grandfather, Pops, killing a goat for the boy's birthday dinner. The scene, like all those in Jesmyn Ward's excellent new novel, is beautifully rendered; brutal and matter-of-fact in its violence, yet touched with a mythic quality that elevates it, turns it into something more. Ward's view of her characters is deeply compassionate and symbolically rich while always remaining honest and naturalistic in showing how the intergenerational effects of racism and poverty shape their lives. — Theo at Ravenna

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

by Emil Ferris

Here be monsters in the unlikeliest of places and we are all the better for it. Ferris' debut stalks the graphic diary of 10-year old Karen Reyes. Monsters, pulp-fiction, and bic-pen work meet to tell the macabre tale of growing up in '60s Chicago and solving a neighbor's murder. Ferris has drawn it out of the park. — Alex at Ravenna

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

by Sherman Alexie

This book destroyed me. So raw. So generous. This is the book of his career. Absolutely incredible. — Robert at Lake Forest Park

The Hating Game

by Sally Thorne

I have nothing bad to say about this book. Thorne is a MASTER at telling an enemies to lovers story - which most people seem to get wrong. Not only that but her characters are rich, her dialogue is witty, and she just all-around makes you feel good! You'll want to read it five times in a row... and then, maybe again, just for good measure. — Jaimie at Lake Forest Park

So Much Blue

by Percival Everett

Middle-aged painter Kevin Pace is a philandering husband and a mediocre father. He's also keeping some pretty hefty secrets. He shouldn't be a likeable guy, and yet he really is. Sure, he might be cheating on his wife, but his complete bafflement at the situation somehow charms. I walked away giddy, and half in love with this flawed, deeply feeling, oblivious, good and caring man. We get these glimpses of unlikely charm as Kevin recalls three seminal events from his life; his current day home life, an affair in Paris about 10 years back, and a mysterious trek to El Salvador from his early adulthood. Through these experiences he explores the nature of family and friendship, love and art and we uncover the complexities of guilt, loyalty, and connection. And then there's the mysterious and enormous painting done entirely in shades of blue. His life's work, and Kevin hasn't shown it to anyone. Not his best friend, not his children, not his wife. Percival Everett's skill and cleverness in juggling each piece of this tangled narrative leaves you racing for the end. Can he really pull it off? Don't worry, he doesn't disappoint. — Erin at Lake Forest Park

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

When an unarmed black teenager, Kahlil, is shot and killed by police during a traffic stop, his childhood best friend, Starr, is the only witness to his death, aside from the cop who killed him. After Khalil’s death, Starr is thrown into a world in which hashtags bring recognition but not justice. She is forced to confront the reactions and inactions of white society and the reality of the injustice that plagues black life in this country. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this fictional story is a poignant and necessary exploration of police brutality and racism in today’s America. — Kim at Seward Park

Her Body and Other Parties

by Carmen Maria Machado

This collection of short stories feels the way I think epiphanies are supposed to feel. Haunting, gorgeous, and bizarre, these inventive stories are sensual and creepy. Machado combines magical realism, body horror, and feminism to create an unflinching look at the way s the world debases and abuses the female body and our relationship to our own bodies. — Courtney at Lake Forest Park

The Heart's Invisible Furies

by John Boyne

This is hands down my favorite book of the year. Boyne has written a story that is heartbreaking, rage inducing, and often laugh-out-loud hilarious. The story covers 70 years in the life of one unforgettable Cyril Avery whose life mirrors the development of Ireland from near-medieval Catholic clergy control to the modern, more accepting country it is today. Characters you will love, characters you will hate, all of them will rattle around in your head for months, if not longer. — Michael at Ravenna

Idaho

by Emily Ruskovich

Idaho is the best novel I have read in years. It follows more than fifty years in the lives of Jenny, who performs a terrible act early in the book, and the family she leaves behind. The prose is truly insightful, with metaphors that leap off of the page-- memory scatters like "dozens of blackbirds, startled at nothing." This novel is a powerful testament to human resiliency and forgiveness, and should join the canon of lasting Northwest literature, alongside Marilynne Robinson and Sherman Alexie.— James at Ravenna

Evicted

by Matthew Desmond

Given the rise of inequality, rent and racial homogeneity in the Seattle area, Desmond's Milwaukee narratives aren't far off from the bleak housing experience thousands have in Seattle on a daily basis.

A must read if you enjoy being dialed into reality. — Garrett at Seward Park

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