Best books of 2017

Sneaking in with only hours left of this year, I’ve complied my ‘best of 2017 list’.  It was a great year for books (and audiobooks); whispers and snippets of many of them are still rattling around in my head.

I’ve actually surprised myself with this list, and in particular with the ranking of the books. On any given day the list could’ve looked different (how did Sarah Waters not end up in the top spot? Where is Pachinko? Anything Is Possible?).

However, given 2017 is ebbing away as I type, without further prevarication I give you my favourite four audiobooks and my best ten books of 2017.

Can a book have too many rhetorical questions? Ask The Wonder

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue sounded like a book perfectly calibrated for a rave review from me.A yellow tick

  • Historical fiction – check
  • Author of Room, which I loved – check
  • Set in Ireland. Bit of a theme for this year – check
  • Enticing book cover – check

Yet it was a challenge to get to the end of this book, let alone properly enjoy it. And the biggest reason why? Total overuse of the rhetorical question. Can I come back to the issue of rhetorical questions in a moment?

Totally Glorious: The Glorious Heresies

Several of my favourite reviewers proclaimed it (Kate W, BookerTalk and Jan Hicks, for example). The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction judging panel announced it pretty vehemently too by awarding it first prize in 2016. Pretty much everyone is agreed that The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney is an outstanding novel. It takes the Irish Tourism version of Ireland and warps it mercilessly into something real and meaningful but also grubby and degenerate.

Audiobook Nook: The Dalai Lama’s Cat

I’ve developed a tendency to choose audiobooks that have silly titles, like my most recent pick The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie. It’s precisely because it has a silly title that I singled this out one. I’d never heard of David Michie, although he seems quite famous, and I’d never heard of the book either.

The Dalai Lama’s Cat serves as a gentle introduction into Buddhism, as delivered by ‘Snow Lion’, the Dalai Lama’s Cat. If you like the idea of being talked to by a cat about the philosophical underpinnings of happiness, then this book is definitely for you.  If you think this sounds either pompous or ludicrous (or both), you’re right, it is.  But don’t completely write it off.