The Best Books of 2017

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At the beginning of 2017 I challenged myself to read 28 books this year, which I surpassed by reading 33. It’s not as many as I would like to read ideally, and at this rate my current ‘to read’ list will take about 6 years to get through, but I like to think I go for quality rather than quantity. My ratings would certainly suggest that too: I scored 9 of the 33 books as 5/5, and a further 15 as 4/5. Even the books I scored as 3 were enjoyable reads on the whole, just less remarkable or memorable than others.

Some of these I have written full length reviews of, and those have hyperlinks so you can navigate to them.

5-Star Books

In order of reading:

Party at the World’s End – James Curcio. A fast-moving, unhinged story about mythological beings re-appearing in the modern world. It is funny, sexy, intelligent and satirical all at once. Full review here.

Fallen Standing – Reshma Valliappan. A brutally honest account of the onset and treatment of schizophrenia. This book has a lot to say about the way we view mental illness, gender, and normality. Full review here.

Deragon Hex: The Vipdile Key – Carlie Martece. A highly imaginative dystopia in which everyone is sealed in an underground network by a secret code. It is dark and claustrophobic at times, but simultaneously laugh out loud funny. Full review here.

Eating Robots and Other Stories – Stephen Oram. A collection of very short stories around imagined (but plausible) futures for humanity. It will leave you pondering long after you finish the book. Full review here.

Shark – Will Self. An extremely clever work of literature that is one long stream of consciousness, but switching between the heads of characters and across their timelines. It is an eye-opening account of PTSD, psychiatry, addiction, and the human condition. Review in brief here.

The Girl from the Other Side (Volumes 1 and 2) – Nagabe. A manga series with stunning artwork and a dark, uncanny mood that gets right under your skin. It is about a demonic guardian taking care of a little girl in a world split into ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. I can’t wait to read volume 3.

Noumenautics – Peter Sjostedh-H. A fascinating collection of philosophical essays about psychedelic consciousness, pan-psychism, and Nihilism. This book has had a profound impact on my thought processes and I intend to revisit some of it in the future. Full review here.

Kraken – China Mieville. I’ve read a couple of books by this author this year on the recommendation of a friend. This one is a bizarre tale of an alternative London in which a giant squid has been stolen from the Darwin Centre. A specialist investigation team are assigned to it, and more and more absurdity is revealed as the story unfolds. It is hilarious, and ridiculously imaginative.

Borne – Jeff Vandermeer. A dystopian science fiction story in which a strange, shapeshifting creature called Borne appears on the back of a giant experimental bear created by The Company. It is at times dark and hopeless but the Borne creature/creation itself is endearing, and it raises questions about the nature of personhood. I can’t wait to read the companion story to be released in February.

 

4-Star Books

The Spell of the Sensuous – David Abram. Full review here.

The Scar – China Mieville

The Psychedelic Experience – Timothy Leary

The Metamorphosis and Other Stories – Franz Kafka

The Gift Garden – Kenny Mooney. Review in brief here.

The Active Side of Infinity – Carlos Castaneda. Full review here.

Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman

Shadowbahn – Steve Erickson. Full review here.

Quantum Enigma – Bruce Rosenblum. Review in brief here.

Lost at Sea – Jon Ronson

High-Rise – J.G. Ballard

Fever Dream – Samantha Schweblin. Review in brief here.

Dark Matter – Blake Crouch. Full review here.

Astronauts and Other Stories – Ash N. Finn. Review in brief here.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman. Full review here.

 

3-Star Books

The Drowned World – J.G. Ballard. Full review here.

Sum: Tales from the Afterlives – David Eagleman

Island – Aldous Huxley

Gulabi – Pankaj Suneja

Broken Sleep – Bruce Bauman. Full review here.

Author 2.0 Blueprint – Joanna Penn

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

The World Walker – Ian W. Sainsbury

 

1-Star Book

The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls – Emilie Autumn

 

Reading List 2018

For 2018, my challenge is to read 30 books. I have a big pile of physical books waiting to be read and even more on my Kindle: I doubt I will get through them all, and I know I will be buying still more to add to it (I don’t read in order of purchase). Some of the titles I have in waiting are: Anti-Oedipus by Felix Guttari and Giles Deleuze, Narrative Machines by James Curcio, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space by Joseph Campbell, The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse, Phone by Will Self, and You Should Come With Me Now by M. John Harrison… The list goes on.

Having said that, I am always open to both recommendations and requests to review books by indie authors. They must be in line with my interests, so anything mind-bending or philosophical; science fiction, weird, slipstream, magic realism, or experimental literature. Anything I choose to review will be honest and without spoilers.

Happy New Year to you all, I’ll see you on the other side!

*****

My own collection of short, quirky stories is out now. Fragments of Perception will leave you contemplating such questions as: How will future technology affect the human psyche? What defines the line between reality and imagination? And, is it possible to find spirituality in modern science? The full blurb and details of stockists can be found here.

I am hoping to get a few more reviews up on Goodreads and Amazon, so if you have read the book, I kindly ask if you could spare the time to write something, no matter how brief, on one or both of those sites. If you are a book blogger and would like to feature Fragments of Perception, please send me an email (orchidslantern@gmail.com) and I will arrange to send you a free digital copy in exchange for your honest opinion. Thank you!

12 thoughts on “The Best Books of 2017

      1. I picked up four “best sellers” and put them all down. Neither profound nor well written. How sad is that? For kicks I re-read Richard Bach’s “Illusions”, a suimple and elegant take on the wizard and the novice with some Messianic doom. And I went to Half PRice Books and pciked up four of Barbara Park’s Junie B. books. All a crash course in Flash Fiction novel writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Another list from which I can pull from for my own ever-growing reading wish-list!
    Dark Matter was the first book I read of 2017 and is in large part responsible for kickstarting my eagerness to read voraciously again. Ironically, most of my reading has been non-fiction sense then.
    Happy reading in 2018 and I look forward to your growing collection of reviews. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every time I mention that I’ve only read one thing by Neil Gaiman (his Norse mythology retellings) I get weird looks so this is the year I read more of his work. I adored the TV adaptation of American Gods so I’m really excited about reading the book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same – until 2017 I’d only read his Sandman comics. The strange thing is my stories have been likened to his on several occasions despite me having read very little of his. I’m catching up now, planning to read Neverwhere next.

      Like

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