NYPL's 10 Best Books of 2017

By Lynn Ann Lobash, Associate Director, Readers Services and Engagement
December 6, 2017

The end of the year is a natural time to reflect, to take stock. Consequently, there are many "best of" lists this time of year: best movies, best tv, best albums, and best books. These lists are validating when they include things we loved, and useful for making future plans: movies to see, tv to watch, music to check out, and books to read.

"Best" is a controversial term for librarians because we believe that any book you enjoy reading is a good book for you. There are no "good books" or "bad books" and it would follow, no "best books." However, we are a staff of readers, working in the service of New York City's readers, and we read some books published this year that we loved—and we want to list them! 

We are an institution built on the principle of free and open access for all, so in keeping with that democratic spirit,  we put it to a vote.  We asked our staff to send us titles they read, published between January and December 2017, that they feel deserve a place on a top 10 list. The results were as broad and diverse as our collections, but there were ten titles many agreed were very special. Without further ado, NYPL's Top 10 Books of 2017. 


Autumn by Ali Smith

A free-form novel, the first in a seasonally themed series, that centers around two characters, Elisabeth and the neighbor from her childhood. Leisurely-paced, reflective, psychological character-driven fiction at it's most artful. 

Exit West

Exit Westby Mohsin Hamid

Two young people fall in love as their city falls into civil unrest and their relationship takes on the velocity of their surroundings. Political fiction meets love story with a beautiful touch of magical realism. 

Lincoln In the Bardo

Lincoln In the Bardoby George Saunders

Part historical fiction, part ghost story, three characters stuck in an ambiguous limbo after their deaths, narrate the story of Abraham Lincoln’s visits to the graveyard following the tragic loss of his eleven-year-old son Willie.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Filled with B-horror movie and pulp monster iconography, the diary of ten-year-old Karen Reyes records her investigation into the murder of her upstairs neighbor Anka Silverberg, a Holocaust survivor.


Pachinkoby Min Jin Lee

A sweeping family saga and historical fiction that tells the story of on Korean family who moves to Japan in the early 1900s. 

Stay With Me

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

A story of a contemporary marriage set in Nigeria, told from the perspective of both the husband and wife, and revolving around a series of secrets they keep form one another.

The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

A spare and reflective graphic memoir about one family's journey from war-torn Vietnam to America and what is passed down from that experience. 

The Changeling

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

A menacing work of contemporary fantasy. Apollo Kagwa, who suffers from bizarre dreams, is shocked when his wife commits an act of astounding violence before disappearing.

When I Grow Up I Want To Be a List of Further Possibilities

When I Grow Up I Want To Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen

Playful, humorous, and tender, this debut is a welcome addition to contemporary Asian American, immigrant, and LGBTQ narratives.

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

A candid, sardonic, moving memoir about a complicated relationship told in a mix of poems, prose, and essays. 

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!