2017 has been a bumper year for books. From prize-winning tomes and unputdownable thrillers to short stories and political memoirs, our 'must read' notes section on our phones is getting out of control. But with the Christmas break only a few days away comes the promise of sofa time and the chance to work through the books from the past 12 months that you haven't had the chance to devour yet.
With so many books and a finite amount of time, we asked InStyle's contributing book critic and founder of The Girly Book Club, Erin Woodward, to give us her edit of the best books from 2017. Read and enjoy.
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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
A thought-provoking memoir but told through a series of poems, short stories and essays after the death of his mother. A Spokane/Coeur D’Alene Indian, Sherman grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA. This book is a raw examination of his life with three siblings and alcoholic parents. Sherman is no stranger to the printed word – this is his 18th published work – and is a hugely gifted author. Buy it here for £20.77.
Hunger by Roxanne Gay
Hunger came out in July this year – and is author Roxanne Gay’s memoir covering a sexual assault as a child and her life struggle since then. The one word that continuously pops up when you read reviews of this book is “honest”. What it takes to tell such a difficult story with such grace and transparency will forever beguile me. Although difficult at times, it’s a book we should all read. Buy it here for £9.03.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Spanning 70 years it begins with Sunja, a young Korean girl from a poor family, who shames the family with an illicit pregnancy. In an effort to save face she ends up marrying a young minister who takes her back to Japan with him. But life for Korean women in Japan isn’t easy so unfolds a sweeping story of family, pain and prejudice. Buy it here for £6.29.
This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel
Rosie and Penn have five children (yup, five) and all of them are boys. Claude, their youngest, at three, decides he wants to wear dresses and style his hair with pretty clips. Rosie and Penn know all about boys, they have four others, but this isn’t something they know about. Claude becomes Poppy and Rosie and Penn decide to move their family across the country so that they can provide their family with a safer environment for their children to grow up – especially Poppy who will encounter issues that her family isn’t really sure how to deal with.
This book is so relevant and current and gives you a real insight into the world of sexual identity for children. It examines gender stereotypes and I found myself asking why we give dolls to girls and trucks to boys? Why we dress girls in pink and boys in blue? Buy it here for £15.18.
What Happened by Hillary Clinton
You might not care – it’s an entire ocean away, but the truth is that the 2016 US presidential election effects all of us. An election so bitter, so fraught with injustice, sexism and prejudice that the very democratic system was under siege. Hillary Clinton, the first female candidate, ran against Donald Trump and this book is the when, where, who and why of that election. Whether you agree with her politics or not is beside the point, this is a frank and absorbing look into the US political beast that brought a country to its knees. Buy it here for £7.99.
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Rupi self-published a book of poetry called Milk and Honey back in 2014 to such acclaim it was picked up by a big publisher the year after. Her newest book of poetry, The Sun and Her Flowers, is a bit lighter, a bit more ethereal but clearly from the same gifted artist. A beautiful gift for the holiday season. Buy it here for £8.83.
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The Brightest Hour by Nina Riggs
Riggs' voice is soft, elegant and full of grace as she travels through a mine field of death and disease. What is most important when you reach the end? For the first half of the book Riggs seems to be in it with a fighting chance, and then she’s not. The cancer spreads and flows through her like a river in the spring. It becomes a fight for time and we know that eventually she will have to leave her loving husband and two young children. This is an important book, for anyone who's ever lost someone or been sick themselves. How to live those last weeks, days, moments to their fullest and find the Brightest Hour. Buy it here for £10.22.