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Best books of 2017: ‘The Hate U Give,’ ‘Exit West’ and more

There has perhaps never been a better year for reading in America than 2017. A slew of push alerts, tweets and an incessant cable and digital news cycle dominated the media, but escaping current events with a book to physically page (or tap) through, felt easy with the help of some timely, provocative and Subway Book Club-worthy reads that hit shelves this year. If you missed these 2017 books, add these recent releases to your 2018 reading list ASAP.

‘The Hate U Give’  by Angie Thomas

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
Photo Credit: Balzer + Bray

A young adult book that nearly dismantled adults’ ideas of what a young adult book can be, this fictional tale tells the story of teenager Starr Carter, a prep school student whose best friend, Khalil, is killed in an act of police brutality. Relevant, poignant and nearly impossible to put down (except to reach for some tissues), Thomas’ debut novel has spent more than 40 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. 

'The Power' by Naomi Alderman

"The Power" by Naomi Alderman (Little, Brown; October
Photo Credit: Little, Brown

Imagine if women, rather than men, were the dominant sex. The latest novel by the author of “Disobedience” and the co-creator of the apocalyptic app “Zombies, Run!” takes readers to a Margaret Atwood-esque dystopia (or utopia, depending how you look at it), where girls and women reign superior thanks to an electric current called The Power surging through their bodies. As electrifying as her fictional world, deeply creative and thought provoking, this novel feels both timeless and hugely rooted in the issues society grapples with today. 

'Exit West' by Mohsin Hamid

"Exit West" by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead, March 2017)
Photo Credit: Riverhead

The fourth novel by the celebrated Pakistani author, this tale takes readers to an unnamed land in violent political strife (one may equate the fictionalized city to Aleppo or Mosul). A young couple, Nadia and Saeed, decide to flee and quickly become refugees, divorced from the life they’ve always known. Hamid’s storytelling quickly takes readers beyond today’s headlines and into emotions, struggles and complexities that humanize the refugee crisis. 

'All Grown Up' by Jami Attenberg

"All Grown Up" by Jami Attenberg (Houghton Mifflin
Photo Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Nearly deceptive in its simplicity, Attenberg’s newest novel is told through the eyes of a single, 39-year-old Brooklynite, who sacrificed artistic dreams for a mildly satisfying corporate life. From drinking a little too much Sancerre at Balthazar on a weekday afternoon to struggling with family both in and outside of the city, Attenberg’s conversationally narrated novel is relatable to New Yorkers of any age and gender.

'The Rules Do Not Apply' by Ariel Levy

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy.
Photo Credit: Handout

Those who look forward to seeing Levy’s byline in The New Yorker (guilty!) have probably already devoured her 2017 memoir, detailing a gut-wrenching period of her life in which her marriage and family fall apart. Her sadness is told with wit and a fighter’s insight, and a more personal tale couldn’t be more appropriate in this strange age where it seems, truly, the rules of years past do not at all apply.

'Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002' by David Sedaris

Photo Credit: Little, Brown

The brilliant idea to release his intimately detailed and totally wacky diary pages for mass consumption makes Sedaris truly one of today’s best humorists. The beauty of his newest book is that it need not be read chronologically (fans of his writing already know the bare bones of his life story) nor all in one sitting; sporadically reading chapters of Sedaris’ well-documented life, between heavier books or while Netflix is queuing up the next episode of whatever you’re watching, may be the best way to reap this title’s laughs.

'We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy' by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates' bestselling reflection on black bodies and racial
Photo Credit: One World

Coates’ bestselling reflection on black bodies and racial violence, “Between the World and Me,” won the National Book Award and climbed bestseller lists in 2015. In his new collection of essays, Coates reflects on the presidency of Barack Obama and the backlash that contributed to the election of Donald Trump, along with other issues of race in America. Readers of his earlier book know that Coates is fiercely passionate, intelligent and clear-eyed. (One World, Oct. 3)

‘Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York’ by Roz Chast

The New Yorker magazine cartoonist has a style
Photo Credit: Bloomsbury

The latest graphic memoir from the iconic New Yorker cartoonist is indeed an ode to everything we love (and love to hate) about the greatest city on earth. Smartly illustrated and captioned (of course), this illustrated manual to loving New York — part guide to the city, part personal history, part attractive hardcover you’ll want to show off — should be on every New Yorker’s coffee table. 


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