We’ve asked our contributors and book clubbers to share their favorite books they read this past year. We have eleven lists for you, consisting of 56 separate books and a whole bunch that we all loved. So these are our favorite novels of the year, but feel free to leave yours in the comments! And if you’re looking for more best of lists, you can find our list of 2015 and 2014 right here.
Co-host of Bored to Death book club & YA book club + owner of this blog
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
I saw Yanagihara in Amsterdam before I started reading this novel. Hearing her talk and seeing how others reacted to her novel, made me want to read it asap. Then I did on vacation – bringing just this big ass book with me – and all vacation long I wanted to stay in and read. This novel is amazing, heartbreaking and completely deserving of all the high praise it gets.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
I think part two of this series is one of my most anticipated books of 2017. I loved the world of Truthwitch Dennard created, but above all I loved how none of this was cliche and expected. There is an awesome female friendship, actual diverse characters and just so much banter. Can it be January already, because I need Windwitch stat!
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
This book is on many of our best of lists this year and I’m very proud of that. We read this novel for our YA book club and although many found it bleak and depressing – which it definitely is – I loved it for that. O’Neill doesn’t shy away from terribleness and in Only Ever Yours she captures perfectly how horrible women can be to each other. This book had a big impact on me and whenever someone says YA is nothing but sappy love triangles, I whip out this book and hit them over the head with it.
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
My love of V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series was already present on last year’s best of list and the second part of the series was just as awesome. The final part is coming out in February and as with all great series I can’t wait to read it and hope at the same time that it never gets published just so it doesn’t have to end.
You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman
This was also a book club pick and I loved it even though many book clubbers didn’t. I kind of feel like my enthusiasm was infectious though, because it ended up on some best of lists here anyway. This is another book about body image and female friendship, but written in such a different manner from any of the other books I listed above. I guess I had a theme this year. Kleeman’s writing is very post-modern and so vivid that I still do not want to eat any oranges. Also, Zadie Smith recommended this book as a book club pick, so just go read it.
Charlotte de Heer
Co-host of Bored to Death book club
The Story of a New Name (& the other Neapolitan novels) by Elena Ferrante
Mislaid – Nell Zink
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine – Alexandra Kleeman
The People in Trees – Hanya Yanagihara
The Vegetarian – Han Kang
YA book clubber & contributor for our blog
1. Mindy McGinnis – A Madness So Discreet
I’m lying a bit, because I’m still reading this book while writing this list. I’m only 200 pages in but I feel like this is going to be one of the best books I ever read. The pace is perfect, the characters are very interesting and it has a sexy doctor (OK, the writer doesn’t say he is sexy but in my head he is) that reminds me of both Sherlock and Dexter.
2. Emma Donoghue – The Wonder
Although this book isn’t a very fast read, I really liked how the writer was able to keep the suspence and write such interesting characters. Also, the cover is beautiful and the end leaves a lot of room for you to fantasize about what happens after. Normally I hate these kind of endings, but it is done beautifully and I wouldn’t like it any other way.
3. V.E. Schwab – This Savage Song
Finally, a dystopian that is not a rip-off of every other dystopian published before. I may or may not have put all of Schwab’s other books on my Christmas wishlist.
4. Naomi Novik – Uprooted
I hunted this book down for months because I didn’t like the covers that the earlier versions had. I just knew that I was going to like this book so much that I wanted it with a nice cover, and after reading the first page I knew I was right.
5. Cindy Anstey – Love, Lies and Spies
This book made me fall in love again with the Regency-period. It is funny, dramatic and romantic.
Saskia den Ouden
Illuminae Files – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
I’m always up for a good space adventure, but this one blew me out of the water. Compiled through interviews, emails, documents, diaries and a whole slew of beautiful visualisation, it tells the stories of teens in the midst of a space war. It’s funny, beautiful and very interesting.
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits – David Wong
I really love David Wong and his ‘John Dies’ series, but this book really hit me. It’s an incredibly funny dystopian, set 30 some years in the future. It paints a scarily accurate picture, without getting too down on humanity and if you like strong female leads (and you should). Zoey is a great one. She will yell at you for trying to murder her on camera.
The Gentlemen Bastards – Scott Lynch
To stay in the fantasy/sci-fi theme (it might be sci-fi. Lynch hasn’t decided yet), I will also recommend the Gentlemen Bastards, which features lovable con-men, fantasy settings that remind you of existing places, terrible puns, (super)scary magi and interesting stories.
Y: The Last Man – Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra
I’m sticking with the theme here, although it’s a slightly different medium: a comic book series! A world in which the males of every species have inexplicably died off, except for a man and his monkey. It’s a great look at the world we live in today. Keep the tissues ready if you decide to give it a go.
Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
It’s not just a depressing movie, it’s also a depressing book. I have to add, although I loved it, it’s hard to get into because parts of it are written in Scottish English dialect. If you can get passed that, it’s really really good. Again, be prepared to feel bad.
Roy den Boer
Book clubber & contributor for our blog
1. Elena Ferrante – The Story of a New Name
I’ve only read the first three of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels so far, but I’ve adored these books. Ferrante creates an engrossing story that is brimming with both intellect and sentiment. It’s incredibly hard to balance these and Ferrante does it masterfully.
2. Patricia Highsmith – The Talented Mr. Ripley
I’ve loved several cinematic adaptations of Highsmith’s Ripley novels, so I felt it was time to finally actually read them. This first one is really quite spectacular. Highsmith is clearly a master of creating these scenes where the tension just increases and increases without ever going too far into the ridiculous. After The Talented Mr. Ripley I hurried my way into the second Ripley book (Ripley Under Ground), but found it sadly underwhelming.
3. Alexandra Kleeman – You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine
Upon reading it I didn’t think it was going to be one of my favorite novels of the year. But it is so vivid in its imagery that it has stayed with me more than almost any other novel I read this year.
4. Jason Aaron, Jason LaTour – Southern Bastards
A gritty noir comic book series about a county in Alabama is still ongoing, so the story is not yet complete, but so far it’s really great.
5. Jonathan Lethem – A Gambler’s Anatomy
This book is all over the place. That has upsides and downsides, but I ended up enjoying the audacity of just switching plots every seventy-five pages. I have loved work by Lethem and hated work by him. This I didn’t full-on love, but I really enjoyed it.
Co-host of the YA book club & contributor for our blog
To be honest, I really don’t know if I think these are the best five books that I’ve read this year, because there were so many great ones. So yeah, I did make a choice, but it was hard, and to be honest, I could have easily replaced them with five other titles. Anyway, here you have it, my top five, in no particular order.
1. Grief is the Thing With Feathers – Max Porter
Great debut! Beautifully written. Heartbreaking, but also makes you smile.
2. The Smell of Other People’s Houses – Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Another great (YA) debut. A beautiful story about different teenagers in 1970s Alaska. It made me cry in the end.
3. We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
This short read made me say ‘yas queen!’ more than once. I had to stop myself from not underlining almost every sentence. A very smart and enlightening read.
4. Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill
This is a wonderful book. It makes you uncomfortable in all the right ways and it is truly a very depressing read. Which also makes it a great one because it actually does something to you, whether you like it or not.
5. Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
Great novel about a marriage, which might sound boring, but it’s not. There’s a whole deal of pretentious characters in it, and once you get to the wife’s perspective, it really gets interesting.
Books you should also check out (sorry): To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Jenny Han), Gold Fame Citrus (Claire Vaye Watkins), Swing Time (Zadie Smith, love her), Silence Once Begun (Jesse Ball, awesome mindfuck!)
Owner of Just plain Suus & book clubber
1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Although it is officially a children’s book, A Monster Calls is amazingly deep, moving and a wonderful story about grief and illness of a loved one. Keep tissues near and be prepared to feel all the feels.
2. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
A book club pick for the YA edition, I could not even make myself go to discuss this book because it triggered a lot of insecurities. Incredibly unnerving and triggering, but I would recommend it nonetheless as it is a different type of dystopia you usually read within the YA genre.
3. Man V. Nature by Diane Cook
Also a book club pick (great pickings this year!), Man V. Nature is a short story collection full of slightly fantastical, sometimes dystopian, always disturbing stories. I really enjoyed (wrong word perhaps) reading these stories and often find myself thinking about some of the stories which means it is perhaps time for a reread.
4. High-Rise by J.G. Ballard
Turned into a movie this year with Tom Hiddleston, both book and movie have left me feeling queasy about the nature of men. High-rise deals with the slow decline of the humanity of people living in a high-rise, written around the time that the ideality of living in skyscrapers was starting to be called into question more and more.
5. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Although the only reason I managed to finish this book was a 9-hour train ride along the coast of California, I am really glad I finished it. It truly is a wonderful book and Melville writes with sharp wit and some insights into humanity that are still quite accurate today.
Owner of Ik Vind Lezen Leuk & YA book clubber
1. Nicola Yoon – Everything, Everything
This was one of the YA book club picks from this year and I loved it! I was so into the story that I walked reading to the kitchen to put on the kettle for tea. One of two books that got 5 stars from me this year
2. Suzanne Young – De remedie (The program 3)
The reading of this book started a bit strange, because I thought it was book 3 of the series. But I didn’t get where the connection with the other books was. I almost threw the book aside, but I decided to read some reviews on Goodreads. There I discovered that while the book was marketed as number 3 in The Netherlands it actually was the prequel. With that in my mind I started reading again, got very quickly into the story and was suprised by it. This was my second 5 star book
3. Terry Goodkind – First Confessor
In the past years I read the whole The Sword of Truth series. And then I found it that there was a prequel series and I read the first book. It’s about 1000 pages and I almost read it in one day. I was totally back into this magical world
4. V.A. Schwab – This Savage Song
This was also one of YA book club picks from this year. It took me a while to get into the story, but when I did I almost finished the book in one go. I can’t wait for the next book coming out
5. Lize Spit – Het Smelt
This was one of the Dutch books this year that got a lot of attention. Normally I don’t like hype books, but I needed a audiobook while going on my daily walks and Das Mag (the publisher) started a free podcast this summer for this book. I decided to give it a go. It became a book that got stuck into my mind, and it has the most horrible scene I’ve ever written. It’s not a happy story, but I found it very intriguing. I predict this book will end up on high school book lists.
Jette van der Veen
YA book clubber
1. The Martian – Andy Weir
I saw this film at the beginning of the year and just had to read the book. This is such a great book, it’s funny and thrilling and moving. I absolutely love all the explanations behind everything the main character does, it’s so detailed. This one definitely makes it one my list of all time favorite books.
2. A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas
This year I finally decided to read some books from Sarah J. Maas and I was not disappointed. It’s a quick to read series with a captivating story. And I absolutely loved this sequel.
3. The Sun is Also a Star – Nicola Yoon
This book I just absolutely loved. It’s such a different thing than I normally read but it’s amazing. I just love her writing style and all the different stories she incorporated within the story.
4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This was one of the books we read for the book club this year and I just loved it. It made me laugh, it made me cry and I can’t wait for his next book.
5. Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy – Cassandra Clare
This book is just pure nostalgia for me. I love the shadowhunter world and have for years now. This book is just a great book for the fangirl in me.
1. Man v. Nature by Diane Cook
Best collection of short stories I’ve read in a while, I can’t wait for something else to be published by this author! Very dark stuff but also very well written.
2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’ve heard so much about this book already that I was very curious if it would live up to its expectations. Not only does this book touch essential contemporary issues like feminism and diversity, it is also a very well written story.
3. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
Short stories again: this one made me wonder why no one ever told me about it.
4. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
I’m still not completely sure how to feel about this one because of its quite shocking and inappropriate storyline – but I just think it was nice to read a very different voice for once.
5. Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Made me decide all books by Bret Easton Ellis should be on my to-read list!
Lien de Witte
YA book clubber
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin