Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Books of 2017

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Top 5 Wednesday is a GoodReads group where participants discuss their top 5 favorite books for a different topic every week. There are new topics posted every month on this page.  This group is hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and Lainey from gingerreadslainey.

A lot of people usually don’t like to make these lists until after the new year, with good reason. There is always the chance that you’ll be able to cram in one last four or five star book before the end of 2017, but in general, I feel like we all know what our favorites of the year are already. I feel like this is really just a list of the books I’ve read in the past few months, just because I wasn’t reading a lot before finding the online book community, but I have found some gems in the second half of the year. These are five of my favorite books from 2017. These books are in no particular order.

1. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

I read this book in the spring on a whim. I’ve been interested in and thinking about studying neuroscience in the future, and I have a three cousins who have Asperger’s Syndrome. I didn’t think that I would like this book just because it’s really long and dense, but it really blew me away. It’s an incredibly well researched history of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome from the 1930’s up until today. This book was so amazing to me because it really breaks down how and why autism went from being something that we originally assumed to be a rare disorder to something that is becoming more and more common. It also looks at the rise of psychiatric and psychological treatment of disorders, the history of asylums and institutions in the United States, as well as the unforgiving way in which families with members suffering from mental illnesses or disorders were treated for decades. I felt so much sadness and anger while reading this book, but also a great sense of hope and joy for the generations of young people today who are dealing with an ASD. If you know anyone with an ASD this is a great book to pick up. It’s a dense read but it’s 100% worth it.

2. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Before falling into the online book community, I didn’t a lot of graphic novels. Actually I didn’t read any at all. Saga was the first graphic novel I read this summer because so many people that I was following were raving about it. I think I officially picked it up when Hanna from A Clockwork Reader was talking about it. This series is absolutely stunning both in storytelling and art work. I picked up Book 1 and Book 2 and read each of them in one day. I know a lot of people felt like the series was faltering a bit in volume five or six, but I’ve never felt like this story has had a dull moment. Maybe a few stretches, but nothing dull. I recently picked up volume 7 since the next volume is coming out in early January, and it was gutting. I know that Brian Vaughan has said that he wants this series to go on as long as possible, and I feel like, if done right, there is so much that could be delved into. Regardless of whether or not this story goes on forever, I hope it doesn’t slow down any time soon.

3. Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

I heard about Tarryn Fisher while watching a Booksandlala video and looked in my library catalog to see if we had any of her work. We had one copy of Marrow in the entire state, so I went with it. Holy. Shit. This is probably the most intense book I’ve ever read. It’s so emotionally full and brutal and raw. It is definitely stuffed full of content warnings, but if you aren’t someone who affected by strong content you should give this a try. This story is about a teenage girl who is growing up in a town submerged in poverty and what she goes through with her mother, but it really takes off after the murder of a young girl and deals with how this event affects the main character and how it shapes her. Although the book focuses on a teenager this is 100% an adult novel. I had a few small issues with the back half of this book, but in general I thought it was an incredibly powerful read that touches on poverty, how the world we grow up in shapes us, family relationships, friendship, mental illness, and violence in it’s most insidious forms. This is the only book I’ve read of Fisher’s and I already consider her a new favorite author.

4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I read Shadow and Bone a few years ago, before the third book was published, and I liked it and wanted to continue, but it wasn’t a priority. I picked up Six of Crows in September and I honestly couldn’t believe that this was written by the same person who wrote Shadow and Bone. This book is so well written, with blunt language that falls into poetic prose at all the right times, while maintaining it’s sarcastic edge. The part that really did it for me was the characters. One of the reasons I didn’t immediately continue on with the first series was because I didn’t feel connected with the characters in the story, but this story’s character are so much more well rounded and fleshed out. I appreciate the way their individual back stories were weaved into the greater narrative over the course of the novel. Leigh Bardugo’s writing has come so far in a short amount of time and I can’t wait not only to finish this duology, but to see what types of stories she produces in the future.

5. The Shining by Stephen King

Up until this year I hadn’t read anything by Stephen King, and I also hadn’t seen any of the movies based on his work. I figured The Shining is a King classic so I decided to pick it up and it has set a super high bar for all the rest of his books that I’ve read since. This book was super creepy and introduced me to one of my new favorite story types, the sentient haunted house that is no only haunted but kind of alive in some way. This book is not only about someone going crazy, but about family ties and how fragile they can be, especially when someone is struggling with controlling their own demons. The actual writing style is like being stuck in the mind of someone who is going crazy because there are a lot of sections where the writing goes in circles. This book is a horror classic for a reason and, although the movie was a huge let down for me, I’m happy I always have the book to go back to.

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