The best fiction books of 2017
Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 fiction books of the year, voted for by Readings’ staff, and displayed in no particular order.
(You can find all our best picks for books, CDs & DVDs of 2017 here.)
Pachinko by Min Jee Lee
Family and history come together in this captivating saga that spans nearly 100 years. Pachinko follows the multi-generational story of a Korean family and their personal struggles as immigrants in Japan. Lee captures the subtlety of human emotion with a masterful eye and raises important questions of identity and belonging. A compelling read.
─ Isabel Baranowski
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
This debut from a young Irish writer is one of the most buzzed-about books of the year – deservedly so. The heartbeat of this incredible novel lies in its witty, startling dialogue, played out between two college students (ex-girlfriends, now best friends) and an older married couple. Rooney’s prose is dazzling, her emotional intelligence acute.
─ Stella Charls
A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
Irene and Titch Bobs love cars – and with their strange neighbour, Willie Bachhuber, they embark on the drive of their lives around Australia in the famous Redex Endurance trial. Along the way, they encounter wonderful characters and Willie discovers his past. The two-time Booker winner will surely be up for a third with this creation.
─ Mark Rubbo
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The year’s Bailey’s prize-winner is a mad, glorious, thrilling ride through an alternative future where women become the dominant sex after waging a brutal and bloody war on men. Full of brilliant insights on gender politics, power, religion and violence, The Power has all the hallmarks of a modern classic.
─ Lian Hingee
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
The thing that consistently gets me about Elizabeth Strout is her surprising sense of scale. Gradually, all her small details, her moments of good and bad communication, build up to a greater life picture, all with that cold, strange, Fargo-esque atmosphere. I like it all.
─ Oliver Driscoll
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
A sharply observed, wry account of a woman who comes home to care for her father with Alzheimer’s disease, Goodbye, Vitamin pulls off the difficult trick of being a funny book about sad things. Told in short and well-crafted scenes that build together to make something incredibly heartfelt by the end.
─ Chris Somerville
Jean Harley was Here by Heather Taylor Johnson
Charmingly written, this is the story of Jean Harley, who we never actually meet. Instead, we meet the people in her life who are impacted when she’s knocked off her bike by a van on her way to work. Full of heart and soul, this book is one of the year’s best.
─ Gabrielle Williams
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Taking us from Brooklyn in the Great Depression to World War II, Manhattan Beach is a masterful novel of America’s growth toward global superpower. As Anna Kerrigan strives to escape the boredom of work at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, the world begins to change and reveal its possibilities. It is a story of striving and self-doubt, thrillingly alive and beautifully written. As close to perfect as a book gets.
─ Robbie Egan
The Town by Shaun Prescott
A bit like many things, nothing quite like anything else, Shaun Prescott’s The Town might be Wake in Fright written by Dostoevsky (as a try-out for Notes from Underground). But it’s funnier. It’s a plot full of holes and a story without end. Something’s always happening but there’s nothing going on – life’s a bit like that, and The Town is full of life – running on empty.
─ Mark Luffman
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
An exquisite exploration of grief and loss, family and friendship. These entwined tales follow two women, once best friends – and circles back to confront the taboo that broke their friendship, and the traumas that have broken them now. Honest and interrogative, infused with feeling, this is a beautiful book by an accomplished Australian author.
─ Jo Case