HCPL Staff Picks: Best of 2017!

HCPL Staff Picks 2017
Our most frequently favorited titles of 2017!

Librarians read a lot – it’s kind of our thing.  So when we asked HCPL staff to compile their favorites from 2017 and share them with you, we ended up with quite a list!  Read on to discover your local librarians’ picks.  We hope you’ll discover something great to read that you may have missed last year!

From all of us at HCPL, we wish you a happy new year and, as always, happy reading!

If you’re interested, check out our Children’s List and Teen List, too.

Alicia A. – Library Administration

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2) by Seanan McGuire – This novella series features children who have gone through the enchanted doorway and come back into the real world changed is strange and mysterious ways. Some struggle to return to their enchanted land, others never want to return but none fit into everyday life. The stories are haunting and inventive and are the best I have read in recent years.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui – Timely and relevant, this graphic novel will break your heart in the best possible way. (also available on Hoopla)

Dirty Dancing at Devil’s Leap by Julie Anne Long – I have always liked Julie Anne Long’s historical romance novels but her contemporaries really shine. They feature genuinely likeable characters with lots of witty banter and believable situations. Highly recommended!

Ame H. – Training Librarian

Hunger: a Memoir of (my) Body by Roxane Gay

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Amy C. – Tuckahoe Area Library

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Amy S. – Tuckahoe Area Library

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Ann T. – Collection Management

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Barbara B. – Libbie Mill Area Library

Spell on Wheels Vol. 1 by Kate Leth; Megan Levens (Illustrator), Marissa Louise (Colorist), Jen Bartel (Cover Artist), Nate Piekos (Letterer) – Adult graphic novel, like Charmed but on a road trip.

Believe Me: a Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard – Excellent on audio! The footnotes!

Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods – Like my favorite bizarre dream of teenhood, surreal and snarky.

Catharine S. – Tuckahoe Area Library

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

Chris M. – Sandston Branch Library

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

What the Hell Did I Just Read: a Novel of Cosmic Horror by David Wong

Deborah L. – Libbie Mill Area Library

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Diane B. – Fairfield Area Library

Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock Series) by Sherry Thomas – Hard to believe that the second title in this series is better that the first but it is true. Non-stop action with emotional depth.

Gay Lynn V. – Twin Hickory Area Library

The Ninth Hour by McAlice Dermott

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Caesar’s Last Breath by Sam Kean

Greta S. – Twin Hickory Area Library

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Elizabeth H. – Varina Area Library

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Hayley D.– Twin Hickory Area Library

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina RiggsThis book will slice you open and gut you like a silvery fish. It will wring you out like wet laundry, flap you out to dry in the sunlight, and fold your heart into a neat, soft square, it will slide you into a cold, dark, wooden drawer. This book will break you. As Lewis once said of Tolkien’s work: “Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart.” Nevermind The Lord of the Rings, I think Lewis was looking far into the future to The Bright Hour and its lovely, painful meditations on Ralph Waldo Emerson (her great-great-great grandfather) and Montaigne and mortality and motherhood. I am still breathless and gutted from reading this.

Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria and Iraq by Sarah GliddenThe next time someone scoffs at graphic novels as a legitimate genre that can be taken seriously, I’m going to hand them this book. There are other serious graphic novels out there of course (Maus, Persepolis, to name two of the biggies) but this one feels so incredibly timely, and the artwork itself is incredible. Quiet watercolors in multiple styles (one style for the overall story, but more lifelike renditions of people’s family photographs lend a particularly haunting quality to the work overall) make this read both powerful and reverent.

The topics, too, are vast, and yet somehow roll together just-so. The history of the book is important and timely, but so are the explorations of journalism as a whole, both big-picture and little-picture. The point of journalism, what makes a story worth publishing, the history of the Iraq invasion from multiple perspectives, the fist-curling frustration of wanting someone to change and seeing them just….not.  Ultimately, I keep going back to the artwork itself, though. The panels are delicate, lovely, haunting, beautiful, stark and sad all rolled into one. The medium is what elevates this nonfiction work over other works about similar topics.

The Best We Could Do by Thi BuiThis graphic memoir of a Vietnamese family’s journey from Vietnam to America, told in back-and-forth chapters between the two very different experiences of Bui’s mother and father, is beautiful and touching, and incredibly nuanced. I was shocked to learn this is Bui’s first graphic novel, as it’s a master work (and as of this staff note, is in the final round of GoodReads’ contestants for best graphic novel of 2017!)

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi CoatesThis collection of brilliant, devastating essays spans a portion of Coates’s writing career and President Obama’s terms as President, and dives deep into the topics of race and life in America.

How to Murder Your Life by Cat MarnellThis book is one part master class on narrative voice, one part enraging, one part fascinating, and one part hilarious.  It’s both brilliant, and a brilliant bonfire of ego, addiction, and excess.

Hillary B. – Twin Hickory Area Library

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – Loved it!  Great story, the wonderful quirky character of Eleanor, and a nice story twist to surprise the reader.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter – There have been so many good World War II novels recently, but I thought this title brought something new to the field. It’s based on the true story of the author’s family who were separated when the Nazis invaded Poland.

John D M. – Twin Hickory Area Library

It’s Not Dark Yet by Simon Fitzmaurice

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Bluebird, Bluebird: A Novel by Attica Locke

Kareemah H. – Varina Area Library

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – Technically YA but great crossover appeal. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy due out in 2018.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson – If you liked Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next and Daniel O’Malley’s The Checquy Files you will probably like this book.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy – Be prepared to have your heart broken, mended, and broken again.

Leslie O. – Sandston Branch Library

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown

Lindsey H. – Libbie Mill Area Library

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyonce by Morgan Parker

Lisa K. – Glen Allen Branch Library

Paper Girls, v. 3 by Brian K. Vaughn (also available on Hoopla)

Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Maggie A. – Programming Librarian

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

Meghan C. – Libbie Mill Area Library

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

Michael B. – Libbie Mill Area Library

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Meddling Kids: A Novel by Edgar Cantero

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse

Pam M. – Collection Management

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Rachel S. – Libbie Mill Area Library

Radium Girls: The Dark History of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

Rick S. – Youth Services

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Meddling Kids: A Novel by Edgar Cantero

Savannah C. – Collection Management

Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen (also available on Hoopla)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson – Recommended specifically in audio because he reads it!

Sharon C. Fairfield Area Library

Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile – Hands down my favorite read from the Black Authors Book Discussion 2017 list.


Terry H. – Gayton Branch Library

Rise: How a House Built a Family by Cara Brookins

Theodora D. – Glen Allen Branch Library

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of an All-American Town by Brian Alexander

The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks

Tyger B. – Libbie Mill Area Library

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee

Clade by James Bradley