2017 Staff Picks: Fiction

Our expert readers advisory staff take a look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • Little Fires Everywhere

    2017 by Celeste Ng

    "I didn't like Everything I Never Told You as much as I was expecting to so I went into Ng's second novel with some trepidation. But I absolutely loved this family drama that was told with insight, emotion, and sharply drawn characters. As much a story about art and creativity as what it means to be a family, Ng beautifully weaves big ideas into a compact character study. "

    Recommended by Kathy

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  • Always Happy Hour : Stories

    2017 by Mary Miller

    "All of the women in this short story collection were probably called difficult in their (fictional) lives. Miller shows how these 'difficult' women are actually survivors and women to emulate. I still think about their stories and wish I could be as tough as they are."

    Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • History of Wolves : A Novel

    2017 by Emily Fridlund

    "This masterfully written debut novel has much to recommend it: beautifully descriptive writing, an unusual and suspenseful plotline, and a young outsider protagonist with keen, if not always wise, powers of observation. The novel asks how far we'll go for love and to hold onto our (questionable) beliefs. "

    Recommended by Lukie.

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  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

    2017 by Gail Honeyman

    "Charming and sweet, this book was my absolute favorite of the year. Eleanor is a wonderfully quirky character. The writing is strong and the characters perfectly defined."

    Recommended by Cecelia.

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  • The Sleepwalker : A Novel

    2017 by Chris Bohjalian

    "Having lived with someone who sleepwalks, I was entranced from the moment I opened this book. I've conducted years of medical/psychological research regarding this subject but it doesn't compare to what I learned from the plot and storyline of this book. Bohjalian is in rare form with this story."

    Recommended by Mary.

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  • Seven Days Of Us : A Novel

    2017 by Francesca Hornak

    "When Olivia's family is forced into quarantine for the holidays, all the family secrets come out. I love a good family drama novel and this one did not disappoint."

    Recommended by Denise.

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  • The Misfortune of Marion Palm : A Novel

    2017 by Emily Culliton

    "This clever and weirdly funny novel tells the story of Marion Palm who has been embezzling from her children's private school and is now on the run as questions start piling up. Imagine if Miranda July wrote Where'd You Go Bernadette?, or if the narration in the movie The Royal Tenenbaums was an actual book—you might get something like this. It may be a debut but Culliton writes with assurance and handles her relatively unlikable characters like a seasoned novelist."

    Recommended by Kathy

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  • Lucky Boy

    2017 by Shanthi Sekaran

    "An imprisoned undocumented immigrant's baby is taken from her and placed in foster care where the foster mother wants to adopt him. There is nothing easy about the choices that must be made or the events that occur in this beautifully written novel, but how could there be? Told in alternating viewpoints of the two women, it may have you alternating your own sympathies. A wrenchingly emotional novel with an unexpected ending."

    Recommended by Lukie.

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  • The Burning Girl : A Novel

    2017 by Claire Messud

    "The Burning Girl is a snapshot in time of Julia and Cassie, two best friends who grow apart as they grow up. Messud is a spare and beautiful writer, and she captures the acute emotions of Julia as Cassie grows distant—the love tinged with jealousy and loss, the pretense of aloofness as a defense against rejection, the slow realization that what she thought she knew about her friend is no longer true, if it ever was. Messud also deftly touches on Julia’s growing awareness of, and reaction to, the subtle ways society can pressure young women to feel afraid and unsure."

    Recommended by Meredith.

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  • Celine : A Novel

    2017 by Peter Heller

    "Celine, a retired private investigator of a certain age, is drawn into investigating the mysterious disappearance, 25 years ago, of her client’s father. I loved the image of Celine with her retired partner, leaving their New York apartment, heading out to tour Wyoming in a camper, to pick up the pieces of a suddenly not-so-cold case. Slowly, we began to understand Celine is not your average retiree as her many talents are revealed. I hope it’s the first of many books."

    Recommended by Terry.

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  • A House Among the Trees

    2017 by Julia Glass

    "Julia Glass shines with this novel about a famous children's book author, his assistant, and the famous actor who's to play him in a biopic. Both Glass's groundedness and her imagination make this an effortlessly enjoyable read—or listen; the audiobook is excellent! I haven't read this author since her very successful Three Junes, now I look forward to adding her to my must-read author list."

    Recommended by Lukie.

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  • Lincoln In the Bardo : A Novel

    2017 by George Saunders

    "As a fan of Saunders’ deeply humane, wonderfully weird short-story work, I was initially wary when I first read he had written a novel about Lincoln. But 20 pages in I was muttering 'masterpiece,' and slowing down to savor Lincoln in the Bardo’s grand, unearthly, heartbreakingly gorgeous chorus of historians, ghosts, sons, fathers, and some of the greatest writing to ever explore the fleeting nature of our earthly bonds."

    Recommended by Chris.

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  • Beartown : A Novel

    2017 by Fredrik Backman

    "Confession: I was not a big fan of the uber-popular A Man Called Ove. Beartown, on the other hand, really got me in its clutches. A timely plot dealing with athletes and rape set in a small community, a hockey town, Backman's characterizations and storytelling are superb. Knowing anything about or caring about hockey is not required."

    Recommended by Lukie.

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