2017 Books I Loved

For the first time in years I renewed my Peterborough Library card, and it has opened new vistas for me on Overdrive. In the last months I have read several authors who have been on my list for a long time including Elena Ferrante, Thomas King and Michael Redhill.

In 2017 I boned up on non-fiction by indigenous authors in Canada. Each of these well-known books either won or was short-listed for major awards, and each is erudite and clear-eyed. My favourite, I think, is the Talaga, which explains so vividly the mess that is T-Bay, and some things that might be done about it.

Tanya Talaga: Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City
Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call by Arthur Manuel
The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Other 2017 non-fiction reads, this time by white people:

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit. I wasn’t surprised to find out Macdonald and and Olivia Laing are close. They seem like the kind of people who would send each other their WIPS for comments.

Fiction 2017 Reads. For those who are interested, the top three are by indigenous authors. These are all novels except for the Simpson, the Carrington, the Parisien/Wolfe and the Tor selection, which are either story collections or anthologies. All are first-time reads, except for The C.S. Lewis which I reread for research purposes. There are more award winners/new releases here than I usually read in a given year, and it might be because I was able to order them from the library.

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese
This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington by Leonora Carrington
The Starlit Wood by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe
Best of Tor.com 2016 (I need to look up the actual title/editor for this)
The Magician’s Nephew: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1 by C. S. Lewis
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night by Joel Thomas Hynes
Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill
This Insubstantial Pageant by Kate Story (see my review on Amazon)
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
The Days of Abandonment Elena Ferrante

My favourite of these is the Robinson, no contest, hands-down, but that may just reflect my taste. The neglected, beautiful teens remind me of my own characters. There isn’t a book here which didn’t startle me and provide me with joy. And that’s why we read, isn’t it? My least favourite was, oddly, Ferrante, who comes so highly recommended. The claustrophobic quality of the protagonist’s world and her breakdown was discomfiting, although that may well have been Ferrante’s point.
There are books I haven’t included because I didn’t finish them, and others I lost track of because I read them in hard copy. Unless I make a list it’s difficult to remember the print books–they don’t leave electronic breadcrumbs. Except for The Starlit Wood, all the books above I read as ebooks. I love physical books and read ebooks not so much for price (authors deserve to get paid) but because I read twice as fast when I can control the font size and there’s a backlit screen.

Happy reading, happy 2018!
Don’t forget to dream, lest the old world just keeps rolling on.

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