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A YEAR IN GHOSTS

The best books of 2017, if you combine 21 “best books of 2017” lists

reading bookstore best books 2017
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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By Thu-Huong Ha
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Best-books-of-the-year lists are a way for editors to promote the books they loved the most, but it’s easy to forget such lists are subjective. One way to get a view of what the industry thinks as a whole is to look at the lists in aggregate. That’s why we combined 21 of 2017’s best-books roundups into one master list.

This year, Jesmyn Ward’s brutal Sing, Unburied, Sing was mentioned in the greatest number of lists. Ward’s novel is about a mixed-race family in Mississippi: Leonie, an addict struggling to keep her family together; Jojo, a straight-laced 13-year-old wary of his mother; and the ghosts that haunt them. George Saunders’s polyphonic Lincoln in the Bardo, another multiple-point-of-view-including-some-ghosts novel, was just behind her. His book takes place in the crypt of Willie Lincoln, the son of US president Abraham Lincoln, who died when he was 11. Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, about two migrant refugees in love and on the run, was another fiction contender for most mentions.

The nonfiction book mentioned most was David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. The bleak, riveting whodunit by the New Yorker writer recounts the cold-blooded murders of Osage natives in early 20th century Oklahoma, and the people who tried to uncover what happened. We Were Eight Years in Power, by American essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates, about the end of the US’s Barack Obama years and the election of Donald Trump, was runner up in nonfiction. Behind him were journalist Masha Gessen’s The Future Is History, about Putin’s Russia; and The Rules Do Not Apply, a memoir by Ariel Levy.

The lists aggregated here are from: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, GQ, Huffington Post, Kirkus, The LA Times, The New York Times, Newsday, Publishers Weekly, TIME, USA Today, Vogue, New York Magazine’s Vulture, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. For consistency we’ve included short lists from US outlets with books chosen by editors or staff, meaning no popular choice awards, bestseller lists, or sprawling lists like NPR’s 350 books.

Top 16 fiction books

“Sing, Unburied, Sing,” by Jesmyn Ward
11
“Lincoln in the Bardo,” by George Saunders
10
“Exit West,” by Mohsin Hamid
9
“Manhattan Beach,” by Jennifer Egan
6
“Little Fires Everywhere,” by Celeste Ng
6
“White Tears,” by Hari Kunzru
5
“The Power,” by Naomi Alderman
4
“The Ninth Hour,” by Alice McDermott
4
“The Answers,” by Catherine Lacey
4
“What We Lose,” by Zinzi Clemmons
3
“The Ministry of Utmost Happiness,” by Arundhati Roy
3
“Pachinko,” by Min Jin Lee
3
“Mrs. Fletcher,” by Tom Perrotta
3
“Ill Will,” by Dan Chaon
3
“Her Body and Other Parties,” by Carmen Maria Machado
3
“Goodbye, Vitamin,” by Rachel Khong
3

Top 16 nonfiction books

“Killers of the Flower Moon,” by David Grann
8
“We Were Eight Years in Power,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
5
“The Rules Do Not Apply,” by Ariel Levy
4
“The Future Is History,” by Masha Gessen
4
“You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” by Sherman Alexie
3
“Priestdaddy,” by Patricia Lockwood
3
“Hunger,” by Roxane Gay
3
“Homo Deus,” by Yuval Noah Harari
3
“What Happened,” by Hillary Clinton
2
“The Evolution of Beauty,” by Richard O. Prum
2
“Sticky Fingers,” by Joe Hagan
2
“Locking Up Our Own,” by James Forman Jr.
2
“Leonardo da Vinci,” by Walter Isaacson
2
“Grant,” by Ron Chernow
2
“Behave,” by Robert M. Sapolsky
2
“Ants Among Elephants,” by Sujatha Gidla
2

All books, fiction or nonfiction, that appear on more than one list

“Sing, Unburied, Sing,” by Jesmyn Ward
11
“Lincoln in the Bardo,” by George Saunders
10
“Exit West,” by Mohsin Hamid
9
“Killers of the Flower Moon,” by David Grann
8
“Manhattan Beach,” by Jennifer Egan
6
“Little Fires Everywhere,” by Celeste Ng
6
“White Tears,” by Hari Kunzru
5
“We Were Eight Years in Power,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
5
“The Rules Do Not Apply,” by Ariel Levy
4
“The Power,” by Naomi Alderman
4
“The Ninth Hour,” by Alice McDermott
4
“The Future Is History,” by Masha Gessen
4
“The Answers,” by Catherine Lacey
4
“You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” by Sherman Alexie
3
“What We Lose,” by Zinzi Clemmons
3
“The Ministry of Utmost Happiness,” by Arundhati Roy
3
“Priestdaddy,” by Patricia Lockwood
3
“Pachinko,” by Min Jin Lee
3
“Mrs. Fletcher,” by Tom Perrotta
3
“Ill Will,” by Dan Chaon
3
“Hunger,” by Roxane Gay
3
“Homo Deus,” by Yuval Noah Harari
3
“Her Body and Other Parties,” by Carmen Maria Machado
3
“Goodbye, Vitamin,” by Rachel Khong
3
“What Happened,” by Hillary Clinton
2
“Uncommon Type,” by Tom Hanks
2
“The Leavers,” by Lisa Ko
2
“The Idiot,” by Elif Batuman
2
“The Evolution of Beauty,” by Richard O. Prum
2
“The Changeling,” by Victor LaValle
2
“The Burning Girl,” by Claire Messud
2
“Sticky Fingers,” by Joe Hagan
2
“Sourdough,” by Robin Sloan
2
“Sour Heart,” by Jenny Zhang
2
“So Much Blue,” by Percival Everett
2
“New People,” by Danzy Senna
2
“My Absolute Darling,” by Gabriel Tallent
2
“Moving Kings,” by Joshua Cohen
2
“Marlena,” by Julie Buntin
2
“Magpie Murders,” by Anthony Horowitz
2
“Made for Love,” by Alissa Nutting
2
“Locking Up Our Own,” by James Forman Jr.
2
“Leonardo da Vinci,” by Walter Isaacson
2
“Improvement,” by Joan Silber
2
“Homesick for Another World,” by Ottessa Moshfegh
2
“Grant,” by Ron Chernow
2
“Borne,” by Jeff VanderMeer
2
“Behave,” by Robert M. Sapolsky
2
“Anything Is Possible,” by Elizabeth Strout
2
“Ants Among Elephants,” by Sujatha Gidla
2
“American War,” by Omar El Akkad
2
“A Legacy of Spies,” by John le Carré
2

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