Books of the year 2017

Favourite book(s) out this year?
Favourite book(s) you’ve discovered this year, regardless of when they came out?
I want to hear about some top drawer non-fiction too.

For me, best fiction of 2017 is a toss-up between George Saunders - Lincoln in the Bardo & Philip Pullman - La Belle Sauvage
Non-fiction, I was a big fan of Patricia Lockwood - Priestdaddy and a bunch of stuff Verso put out, mostly Adam Greenfield - Radical Technologies: the Design of Everyday Life

The book that made the biggest impression on me this year came out in 1999—Chris Harman - A People’s History of the World was a fuckin’ riproaring Marxist tour through the entirety of human history from the dawn of man through to the '90s. Biased as hell, but engaging and very persuasive in many ways.

i’ve decided ICE by anna kavan is good (finished it about an hr ago).

a people’s history of the french revolution - uses contemporary accounts to tell the story. found myself warming to it as i went along and i came away with a better perspective on an event i think we’re too quick to dismiss as completely awful and without any potentially inspiring moments, words, actions, etc.

the witches - stacy schiff - about the salem witch trials. you might like this @Witches (based on our krampus chat). so it’s a history of the trials but - here’s where you’ll either like it or ditch it - to put you in the mindset of a puritan in new england, and because the records are so spotty, she includes the supernatural occurrences as if they’re every bit as factual as the real events. so as you go along you really get a sense of a small, suspicious community paranoid it’s besieged by the devil and witchcraft. i thought it was pretty effective, good read for this time of year too.

it can’t happen here - sinclair lewis - well it did, and this dude called it. well played, sinclair.

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I think the only book I’ve read that came out this year is Lincoln in the Bardo so that wins by default! It was probably my favourite thing overall that I’ve read this year though.

A Little Life made a big impression on me, although it is unremittingly bleak!

For non-fiction I enjoyed Thinking, Fast and Slow which is a pop psychology book about biases in our thinking/decision making. There’s some really eye opening stuff in there.

I think The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers was the only 2017 book I read, so that’s the winner for me. Luckily I thoroughly enjoyed it. By turns brutal and beautiful, with the occasional bit of slightly wobbly prose, but still pretty great. Not a light, fun read by any stretch of the imagination. Went on to read Beastings by him the other day, which was also great but even more grim.

Favourite book I read during 2017 was Jerusalem by Alan Moore. There were definitely parts that dragged slightly, the rape scene in the car was pretty unpleasant and didn’t feel entirely necessary, plus getting smacked with the Joyce parody chapter just when you thought you were on the run to the end of the book means that it wasn’t perfect, but it’s definitely a remarkable achievement.

You can really revel in the language, and there’s such love for both Northampton as a place and the characters that he populates the book with that you really feel it springing off the page. Just wonderfully imaginative and engaging, and I was more than happy to spend almost 3 months in the company of those characters and in that place. Can’t think of a better endorsement than that.

Might have to check out that lil’ French Revolution book there. I love a people’s history.

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I know what you mean - it was the cover that first made me pick it up!

To be honest, it’s pretty much like transporting Cormac McCarthy to the North of England, both in terms of the kind of story and the writing style, so if you’re not into that kind of thing it might not be up your street. It’s a fascinating story though, based on real events of the Cragg Vale Coiners, which apparently was one of the biggest financial frauds in the history of the UK.

say what you want about robespierre, danton, etc, those fuckers knew how to write and make an argument. reminds me of memoirs from civil war soldiers.

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