Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Some of My Favorite Books Published So Far in 2017

Here are some of the books I have enjoyed reading in the first six months of the year. Readers and book clubs often pick books that are on 'top' lists and miss others which are as good, and even better. Here are some not to be missed, presented from the earliest to the latest 2017 publications.


The Tunnels by Greg Mitchell. The story of the Berlin Wall and those who dug tunnels under the wall, the journalists who filmed the tunnelers, and President Kennedy's surpressing the story.

High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel reminds us of the cost of allowing our fear to negate the rights guaranteed by our laws and warns against the misuse of power.

The Life and Death of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan lays out the natural history of the lakes the ecological problems we have created, and what it will take to preserve and restore the Great Lakes.

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson book is sure to bring another generation under the thrall of the tragic story of the Franklin Expedition.

A $500 House in Detroit by Drew Philip. "We have an amazing opportunity to become, as strange as it sounds, the city of the future."

The Gatekeepers: How The White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple. I enjoyed this both as history and as a model for understanding the present.

Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. I was charmed, then delighted; then I felt educated, and finally, elevated. In beautiful language and uplifting insight, Mozart's Starling is my most unexpected find of the year.

Apollo 8 by Jeffry Kluger is an exciting narrative about the Space Race.

Detroit: 1967 considers the riot/rebellion from a historical perspective and first-hand accounts.

The Making of Jane Austen by Devoney Looser traces how Austen was 'made' through her illustrators, the dramatization and adaptation of her novels in plays, movies, and television, the political use of Austen, and finally through how her novels were used in education.

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley. I so enjoyed and loved this book about Jane Austen. A must read for Janites.


Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. The novel is a complicated, slow moving, intense story, delving into characters linked by love and horrific tragedy, in gorgeous writing.

Lucky Boy. Parental love, it's obsessive envelopment and fierceness, is the theme of Shanthi Sekaran's moving and thoughtful novel. I loved the writing, the characters are sympathetic and real, the story heartbreaking.

The Animators. Kayla Rae Whitaker's novel is about two women who use their life stories in their animated films then reap the consequences.

The Refugees. Viet Thanh Nguyen's 2015 novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. These short stories explore the refugee experience, informed by his own family history.

The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis. A remarkable story, beautifully written and wise. Henry's journey resonates with self-recognition and affirms that going home can open the path to the future.

Things We Lost in the Fire by Argentinian author Mariana Enriquez are more than eerie or creepy. They are disturbing, upsetting, and some are even repulsive. They are amazing.

Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar is an unusual book, at once funny and probing, emotionally wise, and improbable; a blend of philosophy and fantasy.

The Underworld by Kevin Canty. People in a small town react to a devastating mine disaster.

To the Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman. The empowerment of women to impact their community, the use of art for healing, and a belief in the power of books are the themes behind the stories of three women.

Grief Cottage by Gail Goodman. A 'ghost story' in which character's inner ruins lay concealed, their grief diverted by obsessions and addictions.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. To understand the experiences of those who are from different backgrounds, forget some of the over-marketed best sellers. Read Strout.

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker. Shoemaker gives us a kinder and more lovable version of Jane Eyre's Rochester.

Some Rise by Sin by Philip Caputo. If God is good, why is there suffering and evil? Set in Mexico where 60,000 murders in six years have brought Father Riordan past doubt--he is losing his faith altogether. Should he break his vows to save his flock?

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde. An elderly woman and a teenage girl, both escaping their past, are thrown together by fate and become family.

The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris are short stories about how good people can make very bad decisions. Mesmerizing.

The Reminders, musician/actor Val Emmich's first novel, is a heartwarming story of the friendship between a girl who remembers everything and a grieving man who is forgetting his beloved.

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron draws on new research to recreate the waning days of the Neanderthals.

The Quiet Before the Thaw by Alexandra Fuller follows the lives of two Sioux boys, in writing beautiful and eloquent and charged with emotional intensity and devastating revelation.

Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt, set after WWI, is a chilling vision of the impact of war, a mystery, a love story, and a revelation of war's human cost.

Tell Me How This Ends Well by David Samuel Levinson is wildly funny and yet deadly serious, a dark comedy and a chilling look at how America, and the world, is evolving.

We Shall Not All Sleep by Estep Nagy is an intriguing Cold War family drama with elements of a spy thriller and mystery. I was riveted.

Grace by Paul Lynch recreates Ireland during the famine. The writing is gorgeous, the protagonist, Grace, memorable, the descriptions of what she experiences while on the road crushing.

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar imagines a world where divisions have blurred between man-created and biological entities and corporate and personal memory. Award winning science fiction.

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is a compelling dystopian novel concerning a disturbing cult, with sympathetic characters and enough mystery that kept me turning pages.

Brave Deeds by David Abrams. Six soldiers are denied permission to attend their captain's memorial service. They go AWOL, risking their lives to honor him.


My Life, My Love, My Legacy: Coretta Scott King. A timely lesson in how resistance movements can alter policy, raise awareness, and impact cultural norms.

Manderley Forever by Tatiana De Rosnay brings alive a complicated author in context of her family history, her personal and creative growth, and literary place.

The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber. The compelling story of the daughter of Margery Williams Bianco (author of The Velveteen Rabbit) who was a child prodigy in art, and her struggle with mental illness.

Morningstar: Growing Up With Books by Ann Hood is a wonderful memoir about the impact of books on her life. Beautiful.

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