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

Get going.
Get going.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

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

Top 16 nonfiction books

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