I will. Not because you need another list of books to read, and not because my opinion matters more than anyone else’s, but because books matter. One more list, if it encourages anyone to pick up a new title, can do no harm, in my mind.
My list is slightly different from the usual year-end round-ups. I’ve judged not the books published in 2017, but the ones I read that year. If you are like me and wait in the holds queue at the library, it isn’t as realistic to get our hands on the books right off the press. But we make do, and hey, books that age well need recognition too.
Monkey Beach – Eden Robinson
I didn’t believe the many reviewers who describe Robinson’s novel as a coming of age story until I finished the final pages. I was so wrapped up in the story that I forgot all sense of what it was doing, until it was too late. This is one book that I will forever want to read.
The Break – Katherena Vermette
Love and family are explored through the experiences of powerful, powerful women. Their narratives are real and it’s impossible to leave the final pages without remembering for days the strength they hold.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
Family, identity, and politics weave across the world and through time. Thien’s storytelling is unique and enrapturing. I’ve never read anything quite like it.
1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
A favourite author of mine, Murakami weaves a fine, magical tale in this epic. Wandering through the various realities of a human’s mind, Murakami somehow makes the reader accept events as absolutely possible and calm when they are anything but.
Fall on Your Knees – Ann-Marie MacDonald
MacDonald certainly has a knack for creating characters that make you squirm with discomfort but from whom you can’t escape. I couldn’t put this one down and the characters continue to haunt my thoughts.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel – Heather O’Neill
Fun, surprising, and perfect in the oddest of ways: this was the first novel I read of O’Neill’s and it made me reach for a second. Her storytelling is honest and unique. She is a master of the child’s voice, without ever being naive.
Indian Horse – Richard Wagamese
A story that is somehow both heartbreaking and uplifting. A Canadian tale, it goes further than wielding hockey and residential schools into a narrative of growth. It is a story of grief and loss and the struggle to live beyond it.