The Best Books I Read in 2017

the-hike-drew-magary

For the past four years, I have sent out a monthly newsletter in which I summarize and review each book I read that month.

And, for the fourth year in a row, I’ve compiled the best of the best that I consumed over the past twelve months. I didn’t get through as many books as in previous years (only 32 in 2017), but I was still fortunate to dive into some truly excellent ones.

Most of them are several years old, but great books have a timeless quality.

The Best Books I Read in 2014

The Best Books I Read in 2015

The Best Books I Read in 2016


FICTION

3. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937)

2. It by Stephen King (1986)

1. The Hike by Drew Magary (2016)

Like so many others, I’ve been a fan of Drew Magary for years. At first, it appeared to many that he was only another snarky sports blogger with funny jokes full of profanities, but even his humorous takes have quite a bit of intelligence behind them and he’s shown himself to be honest and vulnerable many times.

His debut novel, The Postmortal, was quite good but, perhaps predictably, it was presented in an epistolary format, told through essentially blog posts. He followed that up with a nonfiction memoir about parenting before returning to fiction with The Hike.

A combination of different genres and influences, The Hike is what Ready Player One wants to be. It’s funny and sensitive, a combination of realism and fantasy. Most of all, it’s just fun. It’s one of those rare novels that I was racing to finish, staying up late into the night because I couldn’t put it down.

Honorable Mention:

– A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (2015)

Different Seasons by Stephen King (1982)

– The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (2001)


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NON-FICTION

3. Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe (2011)

2. Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday (2017)

1. Columbine by Dave Cullen (2009)

While the term “fake news” fully entered the lexicon over the past year or so, Dave Cullen’s Columbine reminds you how much misinformation was shared in the days following the school shooting in 1999.

Cullen does an amazing job of juxtaposing the horror of that day with how the two shooters reached that point – and how they did not. It had nothing to do with Marilyn Manson. It wasn’t due to video games. It was much more – and much less – than that.

Using the fateful day as the pivot point, Cullen balances between the boys’ lives leading up to it and the school and the communities reaction and coping following it.

It is a powerful read that can teach us so much about disaffected youth…and ourselves.

Honorable Mention:

– Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (2016)

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari (2016)

– “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt (2003)


Those are the best books I read this year, but here are all of the books I read in 2017:

FICTION

Law & Disorder by Mike Papantonio (2016) [review copy]

The Hike by Drew Magary (2016)

White Fang by Jack London (1906)

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris (2016)

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (2001)

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006)

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King (1992)

Camino Island by John Grisham (2017)

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)

Lexicon by Max Barry (2013)

The Family Corleone by Ed Falco (2012)

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937)

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner (1930)

It by Stephen King (1986)

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (2015)

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham (2017)

Different Seasons by Stephen King (1982)

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NON-FICTION

The Smartest Book in the World by Greg Proops (2015)

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari (2015)

First Family by Joseph Ellis (2010)

Tip-Off by Filip Bondy (2007)

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (2008)

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (2016)

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight (2015)

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (2016)

“I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt (2004)

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe (2011)

Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday (2017)

The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson (2008)

Columbine by Dave Cullen (2009)

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (1937)

Between You & Me by Mary Norris (2015)

Every Book I Read in 2016


Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business InsiderThe CauldronMedium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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