Best of 2017: Fiction Books

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I often feel overwhelmed by the number of great books I want to read and my lack of time to do so. Even if all I did was read for the rest of my life and I lived to 100, I wouldn’t have enough time read every book I’d like to. But as I wrote about here, we often fail to realize how much we actually get done. I catalog every book I read on Goodreads, so at the end of the year, I can look back and be surprised at just how many books I read. The total was 115 this year, including novels, non-fiction, comics, and audiobooks. I already went through my favorite comic books. Next up is are my favorite fiction books I read in 2017.

1. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang – (2002)

I’d read a couple of Ted Chiang’s short stories before this, but after seeing and loving the movie Arrival (based on his short story “Story of Your Life”) I had to go back and read all of his work. Arrival/Story of Your Life is one of those rare occurrences where the movie and book, though different, are equally great. Chiang’s other stories are fantastic as well. He writes some of the smartest mind-bending science fiction today. Ted Chiang is rare in that he exclusively writes short stories, which I admire, as compressing your material to is bare essence can be more difficult than writing an overlong novel.

2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – (1968)

Speaking of movies equally as great as the book… I had seen Blade Runner many times, but I finally read the source material for the first time this past year. It varies a bit from the movie, especially around the central question of Deckard’s humanity, but both narratives are great for different reasons. I’ve read several other PKD books, and will continue to read his full bibliography, but Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was my favorite book of his so far.

3. The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss – (2011)

The first book in this series (The Name of the Wind) topped my list last year, and the sequel did not disappoint. If you love Game of Thrones and are looking for a similar epic fantasy story with less incest and killing, this is it. I can’t wait for the conclusion to this trilogy.

4. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak – (2014)

It doesn’t seem fair that actors can also be great authors, but B.J. Novak’s (Ryan from The Office) collection of short stories is fantastic. Really smart and funny.

5. Replay by Ken Grimwood – (1987)

I can’t believe this book hasn’t been made into a movie. It’s about a middle-aged man who dies of a heart attack then wakes up as a teenager and “replays” his life, then dies again, and replays again…and again… It’s kind of like Groundhog Day, but he repeats decades of his life as opposed to one day.

6. PopCo by Scarlett Thomas – (2009)

This is a unique story about a woman with an affinity for codebreaking who works for a toy company and gets embroiled in a mystery.

7. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay – (2016)

Tremblay was on my top-10 list last year, and he continues to be one of my favorite authors working today. This one is a horror/mystery about a teenage boy who disappeared in the woods.

8. Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters – (2017)

Winters is another of my favorite authors. I loved his The Last Policeman trilogy. Underground Airlines is set in a present-day alternate history version of America where the Civil War never happened and slavery remains legal in the South. The story follows an ex-slave who works undercover as a bounty hunter tracking down runaway slaves.

9. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – (2014)

I actually read the full “Southern Reach” trilogy in 2017, but I liked the first book a lot more than the second two. I can’t wait to see the film adaptation coming out in 2018, written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina), one of the best filmmakers working today.

10. Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse – (1927)

I try to balance reading modern books with the classics. Hesse’s novel is a profound examination of suffering and what it means to be human.

Honorable mentions:

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