Well, it’s December, and aside from the holiday season, it’s the time of year when everybody’s busy compiling their Best of the Year lists. Every year, Goodreads.com has a Readers Choice vote where millions of readers cast their votes in different categories for the best books in a variety of categories. This year, some 3,887,000 votes were cast, and you’ll be delighted to know that here at the Field Library we have the winning books in most of the fiction categories Come to the Field Library and check the books Goodreads readers have chosen as the best of 2017.
In the general category of fiction, the winner is Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. A character-driven novel about families and expectations, about the gaps between planned lives and what actually happens. Elena Richardson is a by-the-rules person who rents a house to Mia Warren, a free-spirited and fairly poor artist. The Richardson children mingle with Mia’s daughter, the Richardson kids yearning for the kind of freedom that Pearl Warren has, and Pearl longing for the stability and material world the Richardsons have. When a friend of Mia’s changes her mind about giving up a baby for adoption and the would-be adoptive parents, friends of Elena Richardson, fight to keep the child, the rifts between the families and within the town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, are exposed, with shattering results.
The best mystery and thriller, narrowly edging out Dan Brown’s Origin, is Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. I’ve already written about Into the Water here. Suffice it to say the book is twisty and complicated, a murder mystery that turns on the twisted history of characters who know each other too well and keep too many secrets.
The winner in the category of Historical Fiction is a book we can’t keep on our shelves, Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, a book that turns on the terrible actions and abuses of a real-life orphanage and adoption scam in the 1930’s, and the long-lasting scars on individuals and families from those nightmares. I wrote about it here
Without Merit, by Colleen Hoover, won this year’s vote for best romance. The protagonist lives in one of the most colorfully dysfunctional families in literature (her stepmother and mother live in the same house, which actually was a converted church, and that’s not even all of the weird stuff going on with her family), and has her own little quirks, like buying used trophies and pretending they were given to her. When she meets a young man who just might be The One, wouldn’t it just turn out that he’s her identical twin’s boyfriend? Finally she decides to blow up all the family’s secrets just before she escapes from them for good, but when the escape plan fails, she’s left with the consequences of her truth-telling, even if those consequences mean losing the only guy she’s ever loved.
It’s not surprising that Andy Weir’s second novel, Artemis, is this year’s Goodreads winner in the category of science fiction. After the mind-boggling success of his first book, The Martian, Weir had a built-in audience for whatever science fiction he chose to write next, and he surprised and delighted audiences with his heist-on-the-moon book, Artemis, which I wrote about here.
Nor is it terribly surprising that the winner for best horror of 2017 is Stephen King, though in this case he shares the award with his co-writer and son, Owen King, for Sleeping Beauties. A strange plague affects nearly all the women of the world: when they go to sleep, they’re covered in a gauze-like cocoon, and they don’t wake up on their own. In their sleep, they go to a different world, a place of harmony and peace. If they’re disturbed or someone tries to break through the cocoon or awaken them, they become feral and violent. One woman seems to be immune to the disease, but there’s a real question whether she’s a medical freak to be studied or a demon to be destroyed. The all-male society falls into violence and chaos, as only Stephen King (and his sons) can portray.