Thomas’s Top Ten 2017 Reads

Hello friends! It is that time of year again – the end of the year, which means another annual top ten reads list. Wow, time sure does fly when you exist as a queer Asian American in Trump’s America and use reading as a mechanism to escape the persistent problematic actions and beliefs that catapulted Trump into office. I only read 72 books this year, a record low I contribute to grad school interviews, my senior thesis, starting grad school, and watching Ariana Grande and BlackPink music videos on repeat until the end of time forever and ever. Still, I read a ton of fabulous books within these 72 titles, so I want to share them and see if any of our top picks match up. I also included links to past years’ top ten lists for easy reference. So, without further ado:

Top 5: Fiction

Kindred by Octavia Butler

5. Kindred by Octavia Butler. A gripping book that integrates science-fiction and historical fiction, Kindred follows Dana, a 26-year-old black woman who gets transported back to the antebellum south. Butler’s character-driven novel addresses themes of race relations, intergenerational trauma, and how we have no choice but to learn from the past unless we want to relive it. Full review here.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. A visceral and timely debut novel that centers on Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old who sees a white police officer shoot her best friend Khalil, even though Khalil had no weapon. Thomas tackles important topics like police brutality and racism, and she creates a vibrant cast of characters, with Starr herself acting as one of the most memorable YA protagonists to date. Full review here.

We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson3. We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson. The first book to make me cry in a long time, this novel follows the return of Sam Walsh, a fourteen-year-old boy who had been kidnapped three years ago. Told through the perspectives of Beth, his sister, and Josh, his friend, Wilson captures deep emotions and stunning character development in quiet, understated prose.  Full review here.

Chemistry by Weike Wang2. Chemistry by Weike Wang. A wry, emotionally resonant debut novel about an Asian American woman who drops out of her Chemistry PhD program halfway through, Chemistry details the turbulence of navigating one’s 20’s with heart and humor. With great skill, Wang weaves together science, cultural differences, family piety, and a protagonist on her journey to discover what she truly wants. Full review here.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. A compelling and gorgeously-written book that focuses on the Richardsons, a well-to-do white family living in the suburbs of Ohio whose lives get much more complex when Mia and Pearl, a mysterious mother-daughter pair, come to town. Ng interrogates privilege, motherhood, and social change in this powerful and poignant sophomore novel. Full review here.

My honorable mentions in fiction go to Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Unseen World by Liz Moore, and Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.

Top 5: Nonfiction

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister5. All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister.  A glorious book that eviscerates the notion of “single” women as pathological or pathetic. With a mix of interviews, stats, and critical analysis, Traister shows how women have found fulfillment without romantic partners and have served as pioneers of social change in the United States. Full review here.

Salt by Nayyirah Waheed4. Salt by Nayyirah Waheed. A piercing, heartrending poetry collection that addresses topics both political and personal, including xenophobia, self-love, racism and sexism, the power of softness, and more. An empowering set of poems that may resonate deeply with people of color and more feminine individuals, though I recommend it to everyone. Full review here.

The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit3. The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit. One of the most intelligent feminist essay collections I have ever read, this book’s beautiful language and brilliant ideas made me cry. Solnit writes about topics ranging from toxic masculinity to sexual assault to the glorification of white male writers and how patriarchy harms us all. Every essay, every word, felt like a treat. Full review here.

Hunger by Roxane Gay2. Hunger by Roxane Gay. A daring memoir about food, weight, self-image, and learning how to take care of yourself in a world that encourages us, especially women, to make ourselves as small as possible. With her signature eloquence and honesty, Gay details her struggle with fatness and fatphobia, the rape that began her difficult relationship with food, and her challenging journey to heal. Full review here.

All About Love by bell hooks1. All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. With groundbreaking compassion and intellect, hooks writes about the necessity of love in our personal and private lives. She argues that traditional conceptions of love (e.g., romance, the nuclear family) often fail us and that we must create a more radical, all-encompassing love that focuses on healing, healthy communication, and sustained effort. I would write almost every page of this book a five-star review if I could. Full review here.

My honorable mentions in nonfiction (as always, I had to cut this list short because I somehow always read a ton of great nonfiction) go to This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein, You Play the Girl by Carina Chocano, Evicted by Matthew Desmond, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Steven Hayes and Jason Lillis.

Do any of these books look familiar? What were your favorite books in 2017, and what are you looking forward to reading in 2018? I am particularly interested in books that have to do with feminism, interpersonal relationships, and mental health, but I am open to almost anything and everything because I know I should push myself out of my comfort zone as long as you do not recommend Hemingway because I detest essentially everything about Hemingway, that sexist man who should be replaced by bell hooks or Roxane Gay in every high school and college classroom. Hope everyone has a fabulous New Year and hope you will enjoy my next already-written, soon-to-be published blog post that will come out next week.

Also, past years’ Thomas’s top ten reading lists: 2016 | 2015 | 2014




Filed under Book Reviews, Books

18 responses to “Thomas’s Top Ten 2017 Reads

  1. Great list there. little Fires Everywhere is one of my top books of this year and Salt was one of my top reads of last year.
    I’d love to take a look at Hunger.

    • Aw, thank you so much! So glad Little Fires Everywhere seems to be getting the attention it deserves, and yay for your enjoyment of Salt! If you appreciated Salt I have a suspicion that you’d like Hunger too. Thank you again for reading and commenting. (:

  2. I’m going to bookmark this page and go hit the library; all of these sound *really* interesting. I love books about people and the effect they have on each other, too. Have you read Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman? It’s not really difficult in terms of reading level, but it sounds like you might like it. I remember loving it when I first got my hands on it.
    The Mother of All Questions looks really good, along with… well, all five of your top five. I’m totally looking forward to reading them all. 😀
    In terms of other books, I just got this book called The Gene about the history of genetics- it’s written by a journalist and is apparently a New York Times #1 Bestseller, so that looks really good! I also bought a book last year called Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, which checks most of the boxes you listed up there; and it is PHENOMENALLY written. I highly recommend that one if you’re looking for new material. It’s set in a World War Two backdrop and has insanely vivid characters.

    • Yay, I hope that if/when you read any of these titles that you enjoy them! I just added Seedfolks to my to-read list and The Gene and Salt to the Sea were both already on my to-read list, so I have even more motivation to check them out now. Thank you for your glowing praise and for taking the time to read and comment on this post! (:

  3. I’m so happy to see Chemistry on your list, as it’s on my reading list for 2018!

    • I’m so happy you mention Chemistry! It’s such an underrated book, I feel like so many people don’t appreciate it for all it has to offer. Hope you enjoy it if/when you get to it. (:


    I heard Roxanne Gay on a podcast, probably This American Life, and made a mental note to read her. I’d like to read bell hooks as well. I’m currently excited by The City & the City, by China Mieville; it takes place in two cities that occupy the same physical space but are separated by the constant social practice of acknowledging only the city of one’s residence and ignoring evidence of the other. It’s fantastically clever and well-imagined, and the experience of those who live in Bezhel or Ul Qoma conveys so much of how we create realities with our communal beliefs and practices.

    • Yes, I think you’d appreciate Roxane Gay and bell hooks! Please let me know what you think of them if you read their writing. (: And thanks for the recommendation, I just added it to my Goodreads to-read list, love how you write that it conveys “how we create realities with our communal beliefs and practices.” Hope you’ve had a great start to 2018, too.

  5. Jas

    So happy to see All About Love on your list, one of my all time favorites. 🙂

  6. What brilliant books you’ve read, they all sound superb. I have seen about quite a few of them on other blogs and I think I’ll eventually pick up Little Fires Everywhere as well as The Hate U Give which you know is on my TBR. And that’s a lot of books read when studying as intensively as you do!!

  7. Nuha

    My friend gave me Salt as a Christmas present! I’m in awe of how she’s able to use the most beautiful language to articulate the complexities of life – especially life as a woman. Happy to see it made your list!

  8. Ron

    Kindred is one of those books that has really stuck with me the past couple years, and THUG of course was wonderful, actually I had a lot of great reads last year: A Monster Calls, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Redefining Realness, A Man Called Ove, George, Girl Hearts Girl. This year my goal is to focus on more queer and diverse reads.

  9. Pingback: Thomas’s Top Ten 2018 Reads | the quiet voice

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