Our 2017 Literary Gift Guide

11 suggested titles for that hard-to-please reader on your list.

Our 2017 Literary Gift Guide

Among other notable happenings this year, Jesmyn Ward became the first female to win two National Book Awards. Stalwarts Alice McDermott (The Ninth Hour), Jennifer Egan (Manhattan Beach), and Elizabeth Strout (Anything Is Possible) released acclaimed new fiction. Tina Brown, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton all have memoirs out. And Alyssa Mastromonaco penned an account of working as deputy chief of staff for the Obama White House.

And that’s just the women.

Although there are way too many wonderful, worthy books out there to include here, these are some of the finest releases of 2017 — all certain to please even the pickiest reader on your list!

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs (Simon & Schuster). As she braces for her mother’s death, the author unexpectedly gets her own terminal-cancer diagnosis. She grapples with her fate in this perfectly devastating memoir she left behind for her two young sons.

Sing, Unburied Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner). Teenage Jojo is coming of age with a father in prison and an addict for a mother. In language that earned Ward national acclaim, this portrait of struggle in the American South comes alive on the page.

Pachinko: A Novel by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central Publishing). Longlisted for the National Book Award, Pachinko tells the story of a Korean woman who flees her conservative environment for a life in Japan, only to be met with the challenges of someone who doesn’t quite belong.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies: A Novel by John Boyne (Hogarth). Cyril Avery, adopted and adrift, spends his life coming to terms with a sexual identity unacceptable in the conservative Irish culture of the 1940s-1950s. This conflict becomes the driving force that takes him across an ocean and, ultimately, back to where he began.

Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris (Little, Brown). Chronicling the absurdities of daily life, this 500-plus-page diary is banal in its observations but riveting in its delivery. 

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat (Simon & Schuster). Chez Panisse alum Nosrat deconstructs the four components that comprise a finished dish in this essential primer for home cooks who want to elevate their game.

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly (Knopf). Astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station Kelly holds the record for total accumulated days in space. His account of a year in orbit takes readers where literally no other man has gone before.

Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press). Following her 2014 bestseller, Everything I Never Told You, Ng here takes readers to the manicured suburbs of Shaker Heights, Ohio, where a mysterious single mother and her daughter upend the status quo.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press). The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 2015’s The Sympathizer is back with eight colorful stories of Vietnamese immigrants living in Southern California.

The Twelve-Mile Straight: A Novel by Eleanor Henderson (Ecco). Twins of two different races are born to Elma Jessup, the daughter of a white sharecropper, in 1930s Georgia. Deception, rape, and murder set against a backdrop of Depression-era Southern social mores make Henderson’s survival tale both urgent and impressive.

The Futures: A Novel by Anna Pitoniak (Lee Boudreaux Books). Publishing insider Pitoniak delivers a page-turning debut in her tale of the evolving relationship between two recent Yale grads, Julia and Evan, who come from vastly different backgrounds.

Shanna Wilson has worked in book and magazine publishing for over a decade from New York to Seattle, managing author publicity, book tours, and media coverage. She is currently a principal with Ein Communications in Washington, DC, and has a B.A. in English and international studies from Wittenberg University, and an M.A. in international relations from the University of Leicester in the U.K.  

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