2017′s best books thus far, from tearjerkers to titles Rahm should read – Chicago Tribune
American publishing, like Hollywood, tends to hold its prestige releases for the fall. In the summer we get superhero movies and beach reads, but potential prizewinners will make their way into the world in September and beyond.
Fall will see new books from Jesmyn Ward, Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides and Nicole Krauss. Best-selling literary fiction writers Celeste Ng and Tom Perrotta have new books on the horizon. And for those on the more populist end of things, Andy Weir will be releasing his follow-up to “The Martian.”
But as I look back on my reading from the first half of the year — unlike Hollywood, which really does have fallow periods — every week is a good week for new books.
The 2017 Midyear Biblioracle Book Awards
Book I Most Want Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Read
Based on his threadbare proposal to require proof of a “future plan” for graduating high school students, the mayor needs to read Tressie McMillan Cottom’s “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy,” which chronicles what happens when we require additional credentials without care or planning. Placing the responsibility on students means more money going to shady operators with little learning or economic advancement to show for it.
Book I Read Through Parted Fingers
I love legitimately scary books because they’re so rare. Dan Chaon’s “Ill Will” is a deliciously unsettling experience exploring the unreliability of memory and the capacity of anyone to do evil. Runner-up: “Broken River” by J. Robert Lennon is a tense little psychological thriller where the threat of bad stuff happening looms over every moment.
A True Story You’ll Hardly Believe
“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann. At one point, thanks to oil wealth, the Osage people were among the richest Americans, which made them targets for exploitation and murder. It took the FBI in the earliest days of J. Edgar Hoover to solve the killings. Amazing history revealed.
Book That’s Worth Crossing International Borders
“Fugue States” by Pasha Malla. As of yet, this has been published only in Canada, which seems silly because it’s a wonderfully wry and twisty story that’s a buddy comedy with Pynchonian DNA. The eventual American publisher can feel free to put that blurb on the back of the book.
Book That Delivered an Emotional Blow When I Wasn’t Ready for It
When I think of Jami Attenberg, what first comes to mind is the sardonic humor that runs through her work. But her newest book, “All Grown Up,” the story of a woman examining her life, builds to an emotional catharsis that might’ve necessitated a tissue or two.
Book That Delivered an Emotional Blow, Even Though I Was Totally Prepared for It
There’s something about Elizabeth Strout’s books that makes me feel pain on behalf of her characters, so I knew that “Anything Is Possible” might throw me for an emotional loop.It succeeded — and then some.
Book Seemingly Written Just for Me
“The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock” by David Weigel. If the names King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Genesis, Yes and ELP conjure sounds inside your head, this book is for you. If not, that’s OK, those of us on the inside of the pleasure that is progressive rock will continue to lord our superiority over others.
How many will wind up on my year-end list? All of them, if there’s any justice, but there is neither justice nor enough room to talk about all worthy books.
John Warner is the author of “Tough Day for the Army.”
Book recommendations from the Biblioracle
John Warner tells you what to read next based on the last five books you’ve read.
1. “Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler
2. “My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home” by Lisa Anselmo
3. “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene
4. “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter
5. “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life” by Sally Bedell Smith
— Patricia P., Palatine
I’m sensing that Patricia enjoys books about characters struggling to do the right thing, despite themselves, which is maybe a good description for just about everyone. From a few years back, one of my favorites that fits this description, is“Want Not” by Jonathan Miles.
1. “Leader of the Pack: An Andy Carpenter Mystery” by David Rosenfelt
2. “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery” by Agatha Christie
3. “Banana Cream Pie Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery” by Joanne Fluke
4. “The Last Chance Olive Ranch: A China Bayles Mystery” by Susan Wittig Albert
5. “Lean Mean Thirteen: Stephanie Plum, No. 13″ by Janet Evanovich
— Susan G., Skokie
One of the great things about this gig is hearing from readers who introduce me to books with which even the Biblioracle is unfamiliar. In this case, I didn’t know the Andy Carpenter mysteries, which features an adorable golden retriever named Tara as a sidekick. Sold. This mystery isn’t part of a series, but it’s genuine good fun:“The Writing Class” by Jincy Willett.
1. “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
2. “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue
3. “Over the Plain Houses” by Julia Franks
4. “The Story of the Lost Child:Neapolitan Novels, Book Four” by Elena Ferrante
5. “The All of It” by Jeannette Haien
— Cindy M., Sleepy Hollow
Here’s a great family drama that I think fits the bill: “The World Without You” by Joshua Henkin.