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LJ Best Books 2017 logo
LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literature, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles.



In late October, nine LJ editors gathered at New York’s gothic Jefferson Market Library to select this year’s top ten best books. Our nominee list consisted of 23 carefully selected fiction and nonfiction titles. After many weeks of reading and much deliberation, the winning titles are evenly split: five works of fiction and five nonfiction; five women authors and five men. If there is a “winner among winners,” it would be Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, for which every editor voted. Certain themes leapt out: Prepub Alert Editor Barbara Hoffert noted a strong thread of “community” among the titles, both fiction and nonfiction. Irish American nuns in early 20th-century New York, “new nomads” on the fringes of society, Osage Indians under attack, politically diverse justice seekers, ghostly beings in a Washington, DC, cemetery, and Muslims in London—all contend with living, dying, and surviving in this world (no space travel titles this year). Another strong theme is parents, specifically mothers. In You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, Sherman Alexie grieves for his difficult mom; foster parents and biological mothers figure in both Shanthi Sekaran’s Lucky Boy and Benjamin Ludwig’s Ginny Moon; Roxane Gay keeps a huge secret from her loving but concerned parents in Hunger.

Our top ten bring readers to the core of existence: the larger groups with which we identify and the mothers and fathers who give it heart. For more great books, check out the Top Five lists curated by LJ editors and contributors.—Liz French


The LJ editors’ Notables are titles that didn’t make it to the top ten, or weren’t nominated, or somehow flew under the radar. This is our chance to tell you about even more books we love and think you will too.

Want a hard copy? Just fill out the form below to download a printable PDF version of the full LJ Best Books 2017 list:

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LJ editors are listed by initial at the end of annotations:

  • Mahnaz Dar (MD), Assistant Managing Editor, LJS
  • Kate DiGirolomo (KD), SELF-e Community Coordinator
  • Bette-Lee Fox (BLF), Managing Editor, LJ
  • Liz French (LF), Senior Editor, LJ Reviews
  • Barbara Hoffert (BH), Prepub Alert Editor, LJ Reviews
  • Stephanie Klose (SK), Media Editor, LJ Reviews
  • Amanda Mastrull (AM), Assistant Editor, LJ Reviews
  • Annalisa Pesek (AP), Assistant Managing Editor, LJ Reviews
  • Stephanie Sendaula (SS), Associate Editor, LJ Reviews
  • Wilda Williams (WW), Fiction Editor, LJ Reviews

All outside contributors are listed by name:

  • Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.
  • Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL
  • Tom Batten, Grafton, VA
  • Lisa Campbell, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., South Deerfield
  • Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Lib., Pittsburgh
  • Martha Cornog, Philadelphia
  • Nanette Donohue, Champaign P.L., IL
  • Rachael Dreyer, Pennsylvania State Univ. Dept. of Libs.
  • Karen Ellis, Taylor P.L., TX
  • Heather Halliday, American Jewish Historical Soc., New York
  • Emilie Hancock, Mount Pleasant Regional Lib., SC
  • Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, LLC, Duluth, GA
  • Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN
  • Megan M. McArdle, Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
  • Maria McCarville, Pub. Libs. of Saginaw, MI
  • Elizabeth Nelson, McHenry Cty. Coll. Lib., Crystal Lake, IL
  • Kristin Ramsdell, Libn. Emerita, California State Univ. East Bay
  • Derek Sanderson, Mount Saint Mary Coll. Lib., Newburgh, NY
  • Christine Sharbrough, Tewksbury P.L., MA
  • Lissa Staley, Topeka & Shawnee Cty. P.L., KS
  • Ann Chambers Theis, Henrico Cty. P.L., VA
  • James Wetherbee, Wingate Univ. Libs., NC
  • Gayle Williamson, Fashion Inst. of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles