What a long, strange year it's been. Pretty much the only thing that's remained refreshingly consistent, thankfully, are the books that transport us to a world outside of our own. Celeste Ng's novel about small-town politics and Naomi Alderman's dystopian feminist thriller were among the highlights of 2017. Here, see the rest of our must-reads.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
When an artist and her teenage daughter rent a home from a well-to-do family in the idyllic suburb of Shaker Heights, they quickly develop a close relationship and become completely enveloped in each other's lives. Things eventually come to a head when they each wind up on opposite sides of a town-wide debate over the adoption of a Chinese baby.
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
Jami Attenberg tackles the heavy, emotionally loaded topic of adulting with the story of a 39-year-old New York woman, whose life as a perpetual single lady—binge-drinking and having casual sex—changes instantly when her brother and his wife have a child with terminal birth defects.
A Separation by Katie Kitamura
In this unputdownable drama, a woman agrees to separate from her husband in private, but then learns from her mother-in-law that he's gone missing in the midst of researching his new book in Greece. To appease her mother-in-law, and confront her spouse, she travels to find him and is left contemplating the state of their marriage.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
A young Muslim couple finds love in a war-torn dystopia and escapes through magical doors that enable people to migrate to safer countries. An alarmingly poignant, fantastical read in light of today's political climate.
Into The Water by Paula Hawkins
Equally alluring as The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins's latest psychological thriller centers on a river in the small town of Beckford that has claimed the lives of multiple female residents, including a single mother and a teenage girl, over the course of one summer.
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Set during World War II, this novel follows a young woman who works as a diver repairing ships at the Brooklyn Naval Yard—a job typically held by men—and learns about her father's sudden disappearance through a nightclub owner and mobster who used to employ him.
Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Told from alternating characters' points of view, Jesmyn Ward's novel focuses on a poor family in rural Mississippi haunted by ghosts of the past and struggling with a drug addict mother, a father fresh out of prison, an ailing grandmother, and another set of grandparents that want nothing to do with their mixed-race grandkids.
South and West by Joan Didion
The inimitable Joan Didion returns with excerpts from her notebooks that chronicle a road trip she took with her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, through the Deep South in the summer of 1970. Along the way, she interviews locals in the blazing heat and it becomes clear that America's race problem was—and still is—prevalent.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko chronicles four generations of one Korean family, beginning in the early 1900s, when a teenage girl winds up pregnant and, after being abandoned by her lover, migrates to Japan with a minister who offers to marry her. Once there, they endure discrimination as expatriates and struggle to find jobs and a place to live.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Apropos of the #MeToo movement, the women in Naomi Alderman's post-apocalyptic world possess the power to electrocute people due to a genetic mutation, bestowing them with the ability to physically destroy men and therefore turn patriarchy on its head.