These Are Our Favorite Books Of 2017 — So Far

We may be living in a Golden Age of television, where you can hang out on the couch and watch hours of award-winning series that are legitimately stimulating and not feel even the tiniest bit guilty about it. (Fact: We do that too. It's our go-to Sunday afternoon plan.)

But in 2017, we'd like to suggest a new concept: Instead of binge watching, why not try binge reading? Sure, it sounds like more work than camping out in front of the ol' boob tube. But your attention span — not to mention the more literary muscles of your mind — will thank you.

That's why we're issuing a challenge: Stop downloading Netflix series to your phone to watch when you're bored at work, between classes, or at the bar with a particularly lame Tinder date. Always have a book in your bag instead. And if you need some ideas for which titles to bring along wherever you go — well, we've got some suggestions...
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Photo: Courtesy of Henry and Holt and Co.
By Lijia Zhang
Out January 1

Inspired by the author's own true story about discovering that her grandmother had been sold into prostitution during her youth, Lotus delves into the history of Chinese "flower girls" in a fictional narrative about a young streetwalker who reaches a fork in the road — and must choose her path carefully.

Read the author's essay on the inspiration behind her novel.
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Photo: Grove Press.
Difficult Women
By Roxane Gay
Out January 3

While we'll admit that we would read anything that Roxane Gay writes, from her groundbreaking essay collection Bad Feminist to a scribbled grocery list, her latest release is especially intoxicating. Each of these fictional stories tells the tale of a complicated woman and the way she moves in the world. You could read this one in small bites, one narrative at a time... But it's even better if you sit down and don't get up until you're all done. Our rec? Just let this whole book wash over you.
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Photo: Courtesy of Random House.
By Emily Ruskovich
Out January 3

Long-married couple Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves in northern Idaho. But as Wade's memory begins to fade, Ann becomes determined to learn more about the fate of her husband's first wife, Jenny, and their two daughters, all three long gone.

Little by little, the shocking tragedy that split Wade and Jenny emerges — as does the story of how Wade and Ann found one another. Haunting and full of heart, this book is a perfect place to begin your new-year reading list.
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Photo: Courtesy of Random House.
The Most Dangerous Place On Earth
By Lindsey Lee Johnson
Out January 10

Not since The Breakfast Club has there been a narrative so insightful about the secret lives of high schoolers. The characters of this smart, gripping debut are the kids you think you know: wealthy students in San Francisco who it seems have everything at their fingertips.

But just below the surface is a far more complex story about a tragedy that binds them all together and rippled through their lives from middle school forward. Smarter than Mean Girls and every bit as chilling as Asking For It, Johnson's novel will linger in your mind long after the pages are closed.
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Photo: Gallery/Scout Press.
The River At Night
By Erica Ferencik
Out January 10

When Winifred Allen departs on a white water rafting trip with her three best friends, she thinks she's going to relax and unwind. But what begins as an invigorating nature retreat ultimately becomes a quest for survival in the Maine wilderness.

A thriller like you've never encountered before — make sure this one finds its way to your bookshelf. But maybe don't read it right before an adventure vacation.
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Photo: Courtesy of Grove Atlantic.
History of Wolves
By Emily Fridlund
Out January 3

Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents on a near-abandoned commune in the woods of northern Minnesota. Isolated both physically and emotionally, she begins to find her place in the world when she is hired as the babysitter for a family that recently moved in across the lake. She grows to love caring for the family's son, Paul — a task that finally gives her life meaning and purpose.

But just as Linda uncovers a sense of belonging, she also uncovers the family's secret, and it will alter the course of her life for good.
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Photo: Courtesy of Chatto & Windus.
Lucky Boy
By Shanthi Sekaran
Out January 10

Solimar Castro-Valdez is a young Mexican who made her way to America for a better life and winds up in an immigration detention center, separated from her infant son, Ignacio. Kavya Reddy is a wealthy American woman who has struggled to have her own children — and ends up with Ignacio under her care, allowing her to finally be the mother she has always dreamed of becoming.

But when both claim a child as their own, which mother — and which nation — does he belong to?
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Photo: Courtesy of Little Brown and Company.
The Futures
By Anna Pitoniak
Out January 17

Evan and Julia met and fell in love at Yale before moving to New York City to start their post-grad life together. Julia — born wealthy and beautiful — goes to work at a nonprofit, while Evan — who went to the elite Ivy on a scholarship — lands a job at a prestigious financial firm.

Yep, this is another novel about the economic collapse of the late aughts. But it's an especially enjoyable one, all about the things you believe in when you're young — and what breaks your heart along the way.
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Photo: Courtesy of Melville House.
What We Do Now: Standing Up For Your Values In Trump's America
Out January 17

Okay, okay: So this one is a little (a lot) left of partisan. But if you're at all feeling lost in 2017 because of the political situation we've found ourselves embroiled in, let it be known that there are good books, and great essays, to get you through.
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Photo: Courtesy of Flatiron Books.
This Is How It Always Is
By Laurie Frankel
Out January 24

When Rosie, Penn, and their four boys welcome another baby to their brood, the new little boy fits perfectly. But one day, Claude decides he wants to don a dress and grow out his hair; ultimately, he tells his family that he hopes to be a girl.

Illuminatingly nuanced and heartfelt, This Is How It Always Is is the story of how a family evolves — and grows — together.
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Photo: Courtesy of Penguin / Random House.
A Word For Love
By Emily Robbins
Out January 17

It is said that there are ninety-nine Arabic words for love — and when Bea, an American exchange student, travels to the Middle East to study a manuscript of famed romantic legend, she aims to understand them all. But when Bea arrives at the home of her host family, reading Arabic takes a backseat to watching a real-life love story play out before her eyes.

A beautiful novel about our connection to language, to culture, and to one another, A Word For Love will tug at your heart in all the right ways.
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Photo: Courtesy of Random House.
The Animators
By Kayla Rae Whitaker
Out January 31

Sharon Kisses and Mel Vaught met in college — and have been best friends ever since. Both artists, they moved together to Brooklyn after finishing school, to spend the rest of their twenties drinking, laughing, and, most importantly, drawing together.

Now, after nearly a decade of trying to make their way, the pair finally have their first big break on the horizon: a film that literally illustrates Mel's dark and difficult childhood. Soon their movie — and both women — become the toast of the indie scene. But success cracks the foundation of their relationship, and the women have to decide if it's even possible to patch things up.

A chronicle about the fierceness of female friendship and what it takes to sustain a lifelong partner in creative pursuit, The Animators is new spin on the coming-of-age novel — and a fabulous, funny, sometimes traumatic one at that.
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