I wrote a two–part series in early 2016 about my most-anticipated books for the year and it was really well received, so I have decided to do it again for 2017. While it’s no secret that this year hasn’t been my best year for actual reading, I’ve discovered so many new authors and new sources of bookish information and putting this list together has made me incredibly excited about the reading year to come.
One again I’ve broken the publishing year down month by month, and I’ve also linked all of the books to their relevant Goodreads pages. I don’t love Goodreads as much as I used to, but it’s still the best spot I find to keep track of all the exciting bookish releases, and oh boy, will there ever be lots of those in 2017! Please let me know if I’ve missed anything that you can’t wait to read, and sorry in advance if you do find big books left off this list. It’s a heck of a thing to compile this list, so some books will of course be (unintentionally) overlooked.
What does 2017 have in store for us? Let’s go take a look!
January is typically a quiet publishing month, or so I used to think until I started to put this list together. It is by no means as big as some of the months ahead, but there is a lot to look forward to here. Tommi Grayson is back in Who’s Afraid Too? by Maria Lewis, and since Maria’s debut was one of my favourite Australian picks in 2016 you better believe I’m desperate to get my hands on this sequel.
Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson headlines a list of great thriller and mystery books in January. Others to look out for include The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia, the story of a 17 year-old girl who is murdered in Midwestern America and is told from three character’s perspectives, and The River At Night by Erica Ferenick. I can’t wait to read this one, actually. The main characters are planning for an adrenaline-raising, breath-taking, white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Five thousand square miles of remote countryside. Just mountains, rivers and fresh air. No phone coverage, no people, no help… January also brings Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land. I didn’t love this book, but I can understand why it’s getting loads of local and international buzz.
If psychological thrillers aren’t really your thing but you still love a bit of mystery, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson is one to look out for. It’s a debut novel set in an American high school that’s said to be reminiscent of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep. Nicola Moriarty, sister to Liane and Jaclyn, kicks off the Moriarty novels for 2017 with The Fifth Letter. Four women who have been best friends since high school write anonymous letters on an alcohol-filled evening, full of deep secrets, and then a fifth letter appears. I can’t wait to read this book! There’s also The Futures by Anna Pitoniak, a glittering debut story of a couple coming of age and a tender, searing portrait of what it’s like to be young and full of hope in a city (New York, of course!) that often seems determined to break people down.
If short stories are more your thing, you’re pretty spoiled in January. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay is published, and so is Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh. Moshfegh’s debut novel Eileen was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, this is collection of stories is already receiving lots of praise overseas.
There’s not going to be a lot of YA in my list this year, largely because I didn’t read much of it in 2016, but there are some I’m looking forward to picking up. Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen, is a scrapbook-style guide for teens on what it means to be a feminist. Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos is about a girl and her family, and how their lives are thrown into the spotlight on reality TV. Her dad is dying of a brain tumour and has auctioned his life off to the highest bidder, and while I try to avoid ‘sick lit’, I’m hearing good things about this one. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr is another one to look out with an interesting premise. Flora has no short-term memory, and she sets off to solve the mysteries of her life after one particular memory breaks through her fractured mind and remains with her.
February is where things really start to pick up. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney, a psychological thriller, so I’m looking forward to reading that shortly (or as soon as the publisher reads this and decides to send me a copy <3). My favourite Australian crime author Candice Fox is back with a standalone novel, Crimson Lake. I would read a cereal box if it was written by Candice Fox, so I’m glad to have a new book from her instead. The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy is a literary debut that sounds absolutely fascinating. It’s about a young woman who channels the dead for a living, and who crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances. Storm and Grace by Kathryn Heyman is another one on my radar, and so is Rattle by Fiona Cummins. A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter, you say? Sure! I’ll give it a go. Finally, A Separation by Katie Kitamura is on my list. It’s about a woman who agrees to separate from her husband, only for him to go missing in a remote part of Greece. She keeps their separation to herself and tries to find him, uncovering a whole host of dark secrets along the way.
Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller has the best cover of 2017 so far, and she ‘… evokes the gritty comfort found in bad habits’. I have a lot of bad habits, so I’m excited to read this short story collection. Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller sounds wonderful. It’s the story of a woman who hides letters to her husband about their marriage in books, and then disappears. I’ve got an early reading copy of The Antiques by Kris D’Agostino, and I’m cranky that I haven’t read it yet. It’s an incisive and fast-paced comedic drama about a family who reunites after the death of its patriarch, just as a hurricane tears through town. There are two things I’d never like to be in life: accidentally pregnant or accidentally sacked. In How Not to Fall in Love, Actually by Catherine Bennetto, Emma the main character is both at once! How fun for her. I also can’t wait to read The Golden Child by Wendy James. It’s a novel that grapples with the modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. So just a normal day on Twitter, really!
There’s more to February than thrillers, selfies, and accidental pregnancies, though. In 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster, Archibald Isaac Ferguson’s life takes four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. It sounds extraordinary. More short stories come in the form of The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen, the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. There’s also the debut novel from the best-selling author of short stories, George Saunders. Lincoln in the Bardo tells the story of Abraham Lincoln and the death of his son. Finally, there’s Norse Mythology from Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman retelling Norse myths? Hell to the yes.
On the YA side, By Your Side by Kasie West is about teenagers that get stuck in the library, also known as my primary romantic fantasy circa 2005. If you prefer your romance with higher stakes, then Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan could be for you. It’s science fiction, about two people adrift in space. Frogkisser by Garth Nix is one I’ve been hearing about for months. Described as 50% fairytale, 50% fantasy, and 100% pure enjoyment, I think this will be a really popular book. February also brings Caraval by Stephanie Garber, perfect for fans of The Night Circus, Hunted by Meagan Spooner, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles, a fantasy novel with bounty hunters.
March brings one of the very best crime novels I’ve read in years. Ragdoll by Daniel Cole is brilliant. It’s about the team of detectives that are in a race against a killer’s clock to solve six murders and prevent six more. A corpse is found that is comprised of body parts from six separate victims, all linked by one event from the past. It’s so good. Just read it.
The Caller by Chris Carter is also out in March. It’s the 8th in a series, but it sounds terrifying. What would you do if you answered a FaceTime call and found your best friend bound and gagged in her living room? It’s not fun to think about, but it sounds like it would creepy AF to read about. Speaking of creepy, I can’t wait to read Indelible by Adelia Saunders. Magdalena has an unsettling gift. She sees writing on the bodies of everyone she meets—names, dates, details both banal and profound—and her only relief from the onslaught of information is to take off her glasses and let the world recede. What an interesting premise for a novel!
Some more March fiction titles include The Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates, a very topical and relevant novel about an Evangelical who believes he’s doing God’s work and assassinates an abortion provider in Ohio, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai is one of my most anticipated debuts of 2017, and it’s about the versions of ourselves that we shed and grow into over time. I love a book with character development that I can relate to. Another book getting lots of great buzz already is The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachio. Set during the peak of Colombia’s drug-fueled conflict, and in New York City, this captivating, kaleidoscopic debut novel centres on a group of high school girls and the people whose lives touch theirs—including their parents, teachers, housekeepers, and the warlords and guerrilla fighters who surround them.
All the Beloved Ghosts by Alison MacLeod sounds magnificent. It’s a collection of stories that confront reality culture and interrogate our relationship with iconic figures, coming to life at the boundary between reality and fiction. Another to look out for is An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen. Some time in the near future, university lecturer Caspar receives a gift from a former student called Liv: a memory stick containing a virtual narrative. Hooked up to a virtual reality bodysuit, he becomes immersed in the experience of their past sexual relationship. It’s a novel in five parts, and I think it will be haunting and wonderful. If that’s too heavy there’s All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg, a wickedly funny novel about a thirty-nine-year-old single, childfree woman who defies convention as she seeks connection, and The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker to look forward to. Of The Animators, Emma Donoghue says: ‘An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love—familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make.’
Okay so that’s January to March, and once again like the 2016 list this already feels long enough. April and May are big months, so be sure to check out part two here.