I sent an email to the entire Iowa City Public Library staff in early November. The question was simple: What was the best book you read in 2017? But as any book lover will tell you, that question doesn’t have a simple answer.
The purpose of the email was to repeat what the library has done since 2012: compile a list of great reads published that year.
Everyone was asked to name a favorite book, or more, in eight genres: fiction, young adult, children’s, mystery, science fiction/fantasy, autobiography/biography/memoir, non-fiction, and graphic novels. The only rule was that the book had to be released in 2017.
Any book nominated more than once made the library’s Best of the Best for 2017 list. The book that received the most nominations would be named the library’s No. 1 recommended book for 2017.
After several years of books sharing the honor of being the library’s most recommended book, one title quickly took the lead in this year’s nomination process and easily became our No. 1 book for 2017: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas.
“The Hate U Give” explores the Black Lives Matter movement through the eyes of 16-year-old Starr Carson. Starr is one of two people who saw her childhood best friend die by a gun’s bullet. The other witness is the police officer who fired the gun.
Released in February, “The Hate U Give” has spent 42 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list so far and is a National Book Award Longlist title.
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Fellow young adult authors tout it as “ ... a stunning, brilliant, gut-wrenching novel ...” and “ ... tragically timely, hard-hitting, and an ultimate prayer for change.”
In all, library staff nominated nearly 100 titles as their favorite books of 2017. Of this total, 20 made our Best of the Best list, including “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman, “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman, and “Hunger” by Roxane Gay.
The complete Best of the Best list, as well as the titles of all nominated books, can be found at www.icpl.org/lists/top-picks-2017
l Meredith Hines-Dochterman is public relations specialist at the Iowa City Public Library.