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Brief Take’s Top Books of 2017

by Brief Take Staff
10. Mrs. Fletcher – Tom Perrotta

The first few pages (and the last couple) ring a little off, but the majority of Tom Perrotta’s Mrs. Fletcher is on point for a messed-up year. The majority of the book reads like a thriller of the most mundane aspects of life, and is a real page turner.

9. How to Murder Your Life – Cat Marnell

Cat Marnell’s memoir arrived at the same time as The Rules Do Not Apply, but in our opinion, Marnell’s book descended into depravity and self-loathing in a way that Ariel Levy’s book could not contest. It is a stretch to call it all true, but it’s a fascinating self-study of harm.

8. All Our Wrong Todays – Elan Mastai

Mastai’s book can be consumed in small chapters so that the story can be read over a long period of time, or all at once. If the idea of coming across the modern reality as dystopia seems too “real”, then the author has succeeded in examining the myopia of the “modern” world.

7. the sun and her flowers -rupi kaur

rupi kaur’s poetry book should have received strong consideration for the major literary awards, but the timing of when it was released rendered the point moot. Still, it’s a shattering experience, and should be picked up and devoured by those suffering loss (and those in recovery as well).

6. Hunger – Roxane Gay

The second of two Roxane Gay books to arrive this year (and interestingly, from different publishers), Gay’s observational style is distinctly recognizable and relatable, to the point that her event in Toronto sold out immediately. We are hungry for more, so luckily we have her entertaining Twitter feed.

5. The Child Finder – Rene Denfield

Denfield’s previous book took some inroads into the prison community and was insular. The Child Finder is something of the opposite approach, playing on the missing child genre and looking outwards, coming across the neglect that is present in child-raising. An urgent novel for our time.

4. The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is our favourite type of young adult fiction, in that Thomas transcends the genre to create a story that is able to appeal to adults and younger children alike. It’s a difficult book, so the timeliness and relevance make this an essential story, and the upcoming movie adaptation should make for essential viewing.

3. We Were Eight Years in Power -Ta-Nehisi Coates

The essays in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ searing book may have already have been published, but they feel alive, especially when given context by Coates in terms of where he stands in his own life at the time of writing, and the sense of optimism present that was tampered by an understanding of what was to come, as Coates predicted the “were” of his title.

 2. Eat Only When You’re Hungry – Lindsay Hunter

The literary fiction book of the year finds Hunter in the (body and) mind of a Floridian man that looks to junk food and other “small” vices as a way to avoid drugs and destruction that consumed his missing son in his disappearance. Over the course of the minor miracle of a novel, we wonder who really embodies the portrayal of a junkie.

1. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life – Samantha Irby

We often use the term LOL as a joke, as it’s a polite terminology, though Irby’s collection of essays, which also features our favourite cover of the year, is truly an LOL book, as we often snorted, chortled, and otherwise found relatable anecdotes and laughter from Irby’s worldview and her place within it. Once the laughs subside, the big picture topics are still noticeable.

Honourable Mentions:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

A really surprising touching tale hides behind what seems to be standard issue romance novel.

Moxie – Jennifer Matheiu

Girl power goes beyond the Amy Poehler quote in the front of the book, as Moxie has real charm.

Startup – Doree Shafrir

The tale of a playboy gone wrong would be funny if its toxic masculinity wasn’t so virulently widespread.

American War – Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad takes the oft-overdone post-apocalyptic genre and suffuses it with a real sense of (dis)placement in a troubling time.

We All Love the Beautiful Girls – Joanne Proulx

When we first came across this book at a preview event, we thought it might stumble into the thriller genre, but the fact that the delicious story is being read by book clubs adds a layer of irony to Proulx’s vision.

The Impossible Fortress – Jason Rekulak

The early-season success of Rekulak’s book hinges on acceptance of an ethic and personal relationship that transcends its eighties vibe.

After Life – Marcus Sakey

The exploration of life after death (and death after life) is perhaps never as transcendent as Sakey’s unique take on the crime novel.

Killers of the Flower Moon -David Grann

In a year in which his The Lost City of Z was released as a film, Grann researches a stunning, too sad to be true story of the Osage Murders in which, despite exploring the 1920’s, feels like living history.

Be Ready for the Lightning – Grace O’Connell

The story of a Peter Pan character explores the nature of our oft-violent culture (in Vancouver, New York and Toronto), and couples it with an ease of exploring half-formed grown-ups.

How to Be a Bawse – Lilly Singh

Lilly Singh seems to be aware of the digital culture and how to impress upon it lessons of personhood, independence for females and Bawse-iness, standing up for what we believe.

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