Monday, May 7th, 2018

May 2018 Early Reviewers

Win free books from the May 2018 batch of Early Reviewer titles! This month we’ve got 117 titles, and a grand total of 3,950 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, May 28th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Candlewick Press Akashic Books Tundra Books
Penguin Teen Canada Puffin Books Canada Random House
Bloomsbury World Weaver Press Heritage Books
Muskrat Press, LLC Avery Beacon Press
Mirror World Publishing Everything Goes Media Timber Press
The Lemic Group, Inc. Nicholas Brealey William Morrow
Ballantine Books Platypus Media Revell
Plough Publishing House The Ardent Writer Press Read Furiously
CarTech Books Tantor Media HighBridge Audio
NewCon Press Cloud Lodge Books Harper Perennial
Gecko Press Sinful Press Anaphora Literary Press
Open Books Oneworld Publications Prufrock Press
Mythic Delirium Books Month9Books BHC Press
Zimbell House Publishing Small Beer Press EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
City Owl Press Common Deer Press Spirit Paw Press, LLC
Prodigy Gold Books Gefen Publishing House Hot Tree Publishing
Eifrig Publishing Chronicle Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

April 2018 Early Reviewers

Win free books from the April 2018 batch of Early Reviewer titles! This month we’ve got 116 titles, and a grand total of 3,670 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, April 30th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Chronicle Books Akashic Books Tundra Books
Puffin Books Canada Penguin Teen Canada World Weaver Press
Harper Perennial Raincloud Press Apex Publications
Sinful Press William Morrow Prodigy Gold Books
Tule Publishing ClydeBank Media Muskrat Press, LLC
HarperCollins Childrens Books Candlewick Press Heritage Books
The Ardent Writer Press Poolbeg Press Twin Crowns Press
HighBridge Audio Ballantine Books EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
Allium Press of Chicago Beacon Press Mirror World Publishing
Tantor Media Revell CarTech Books
Hot Tree Publishing Gefen Publishing House BookViewCafe
Oneworld Publications City Owl Press Plough Publishing House
BHC Press John Ott Peasantry Press
Prufrock Press Bellevue Literary Press Emerson & Tilman
Kazabo Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Monday, March 19th, 2018

LibraryThing and Litsy Q&A

litsy_screen_fullAs we wrote in the last blog post, LibraryThing has acquired the mobile platform Litsy. Here is a sort of Q&A about Litsy, and how Litsy and LibraryThing can help each other. Other resources:

Q: What is Litsy?

Litsy is both like and unlike LibraryThing. First, everything happens within a smartphone app—there’s no website. Second, although Litsy members can “catalog” their books in a simple (works-only) way, the main activity is sharing posts with words and photos of books you’re reading, of passages you find interesting, or even where you’re reading a book. (Posts are marked “review”, “blurb”, or “quote.”) Litsy has friends, comments, hashtags and so forth, but lacks a central “Groups” or “Talk” like on LibraryThing.

Here’s some past press coverage of Litsy.

Q: How can I try it out?

The Litsy app is available for iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android systems. Check it out at http://litsy.com.

Q: Why did LibraryThing acquire Litsy?

Litsy is an amazing community, similar to LibraryThing in its passion for books, but different in its feel, focus, technology, and demographic. We admired what Jeff and Todd had built so when Jeff approached us recently, we jumped at the opportunity. Litsy is a cool thing, and we think it has a great future ahead of it.

Q: How big a deal is this for LibraryThing?

The terms of the deal are not disclosed, but we can tell you it did not involve company-limiting amounts of money.

To be frank, we see no major changes for the LibraryThing site or community, at least in the near- or medium-term. We may offer syncing or single sign-ons between services. And we will definitely be leveraging LibraryThing’s superior book data within Litsy. We also see a lot of potential in getting Litsy members into LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program and attracting more publisher interest with the larger community this offers. But we aren’t going to try to combine the services or communities. If you choose not to join Litsy, you won’t likely see or read much about it on LT.

Q: How much membership overlap is there?

Very little. They are different communities that have spread in different ways. We hope to drive some cross-service exploration, but LibraryThing and Litsy are different places.

This difference is a strength. LibraryThing is now working across the book-loving spectrum. It gives us greater profile in the book world, and helps us to serve all kinds of passionate readers.

Q: What can LibraryThing offer Litsy, and visa versa?

In the press release, we speculated about some ways that LibraryThing can help Litsy. They include:

  • Better book data.
  • Syncing between the services.
  • Moving LibraryThing’s excellent barcode scanning into the Litsy app.
  • Get more libraries involved in Litsy.
  • Bringing Litsy members into LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program.

Litsy can help LibraryThing in similar ways. The Litsy apps have some nice features we’re liable to steal for LibraryThing. And we hope that if we provide syncing between services, some Litsy members will also become LibraryThing members.

Come to Talk to discuss other ways of making Litsy useful to LibraryThing.

Q: What’s this about Early Reviewers?

The idea of bringing Litsy members into Early Reviewers may stir some concerns. If more people can get books, won’t there be fewer books?

We don’t think so. Publishers love Early Reviewers for its unique picking system, which connects their books to readers likely to actually enjoy their book. And they love that we’re free for publishers, whereas our larger competitor now charges publishers.

But we remain small, and our membership demographics don’t fit every publisher’s offerings. Adding Litsy will increase Early Reviewer’s reach, with notices going out to another, substantial set of passionate readers who buy a lot of books. And Litsy members have a somewhat different demographic profile than LibraryThing members, which should draw some new publishers.

Q: How does Litsy fit into LibraryThing’s business model? (short)

Litsy is cheap to run. We’re happy to be its new owners. And we’re in for the long haul.

Q: How does Litsy fit into LibraryThing’s business model? (long)

The usual pattern for social companies is to “get big fast or die.” You get funded. You spend all your money quickly to get as many users as you can. Then you sell yourself to a larger company who want your community size. In reality, however, the most common path is that the company flames out and dies, everyone loses their data, the community is blown apart, and the founders move onto the next idea.

LibraryThing never followed that approach. From the start, we conserved our resources, and made money by charging members small fees. We didn’t look for a buyout from Amazon or Google. Eventually we found another path to making money—turning some of LibraryThing’s technology and data toward making libraries better. We earn every dollar we make, and we don’t annoy or exploit members to do it.

As things stand, Litsy is large enough to matter to a lot of people, but it’s too small to be significantly “monetized.” Fortunately, it’s also cheap to run—even cheaper now that Litsy can live within the existing LibraryThing infrastructure.

After twelve years of making LibraryThing work, we believe the race is long, and good things with great communities will find their business. We plan to take the same approach with Litsy.

Q: What else?

Come talk about Litsy on Talk. We also started a group, Onward Litsy! for Litsy members to talk to each other and LibraryThing staff, on Facebook. (We started it on Facebook, as a neutral place.) You are more than welcome to join, but we hope to get the Litsy people talking. LibraryThing’s been doing big, burly staff-community conversations for years; it’s a new thing for Litsy.

Labels: LibraryThing, Litsy

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Litsy Newsletter: Big news

Note: This went out today in the Litsy newsletter. Litsy doesn’t have a blog, so we thought we’d also post it here, for Littens to share.

We have big news! LibraryThing, the team behind the long-running social cataloging and book discussion site LibraryThing.com, has acquired Litsy.

litsyandlibrarything

The Short Version

Don’t panic. Litsy is not going away or getting folded into another site. On the contrary, we at LibraryThing will be working hard to support and grow Litsy in new ways!

We have some immediate plans in mind, starting with better book data from LibraryThing and LibraryThing’s partner, Bowker. But most of all we want to know what YOU want.

We’ve set up a Facebook Group “Onward Litsy!” to begin a two-way conversation with Litsy members. Please join the discussion here.

Thank you for reading this; we can’t wait to get to know you better. Thank you to Jeff and Todd for creating such a great service, and trusting us to keep it safe and build it up! Please be sure to check out their note below.

The Long Version

LibraryThing is the new owner and manager of the Litsy app and service. We took over from Jeff and Todd, the founders of Out of Print Clothing, a few weeks ago. (Read their note, below.) We’ve been working on moving the technical side to LibraryThing services, and are now turning our attention to the Litsy community, and how we can bring Litsy to the next level.

If you’ve never heard of LibraryThing, we’re both like and unlike Litsy. Like Litsy, LibraryThing is a unique, passionate, and often tight-knit community of book lovers. LibraryThing and Litsy are each others’ kind of people.

LibraryThing was started in 2005 by Tim Spalding (Litsy: TimSpalding) as a pet project to catalog his own library and for bibliophile friends. Since then we’ve racked up 2.2 million users, who’ve cataloged over 123 million books. Although members have created 11,000 groups, and started over 200,000 discussions, LibraryThing is relatively focused on cataloging—on recording everything you own or read. While we have an app for searching for and scanning books into your library, all our social engagement happens on the website.

Tim is new to Litsy, but others of us aren’t. One of our library team, Kirsten (kgriffith, formerly glitterfemme), has been on Litsy since just after its launch, contributing early user experience feedback and feature testing in addition to being active on the platform ever since. Our social media expert Loranne (lorannen) followed soon after. Both have been critical in bringing Litsy into the LibraryThing world.

We want you to know that we love Litsy and have no plans to make drastic changes. Litsy is here to stay, and we’re here to make it even better for you.

We still have a lot of technical work to get up to speed and bring Litsy onto LibraryThing servers. But here are some of the ideas we’ve had to bring Litsy to the next level:

  • Give Litsy better book data, from LibraryThing itself and from its data partner, Bowker.
  • Provide an easy way to link accounts and sync between the two services.
  • LibraryThing works with thousands of libraries. Get more of them involved in Litsy.
  • Add barcode scanning to the Litsy app, so you don’t need to do as much searching.
  • Bring Litsy members into LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, which offers free pre-release books to interested readers. We think a larger and more diverse community will draw more publishers, and more books.

What do you think? Do you have any questions? We want to get to know you better, and for you to get to know us. We want to hear what you love about Litsy, and talk through ideas about how to make it better. To that end, we’ve started a Facebook group to open dialogue between the LibraryThing team and Littens everywhere.

» Onward Litsy!

If you don’t do Facebook, you can find us on Twitter at @getlitsy and @LibraryThing. Or just email us at litsy@librarything.com.

Thank you for your time! Thank you too to Jeff and Todd for building such a great service, and trusting us with it now. They deserve a standing ovation for everything they’ve done. Please be sure to check out their note, below.

Thanks!
Tim and the LibraryThing Team

A Note from Jeff and Todd

Fellow Littens,

From day one, we wanted Litsy to be a place where readers could share their love of books and expand their TBR lists. Over 14 million app visits later, we’re simply blown away by the awesomeness of the Litsy community!

Working with LibraryThing is the next natural step in fulfilling our original mission. With their vast experience in books and tech, we can’t wait to see where they take Litsy next. As for us, we will continue leading the charge at Out of Print, which is now a subsidiary of Penguin Random House.

Thanks for helping to make Litsy so special. We will miss working with you all, but we’re just a Litsy @mention away! :)

Cheers,
Todd and Jeff

Labels: LibraryThing, Litsy

Monday, March 19th, 2018

LibraryThing Acquires Litsy

duallogoLibraryThing has acquired the mobile platform Litsy! What’s Litsy? Here’s some past press coverage:

Here’s a press release we wrote up about it. When you’ve read it, check out:

Press Release: LibraryThing Acquires Litsy

LibraryThing, creator of the social site LibraryThing.com and a leading provider of software for libraries, has acquired the mobile app Litsy.

Litsy, “where books make friends,” is a mobile platform known for being “Instagram for booklovers.” Litsy was launched in early 2016 by Jeff LeBlanc and Todd Lawton. The two had previously founded the book-themed clothing company Out of Print Clothing, acquired by Penguin Random House in June 2017.

“LibraryThing and Litsy are very different platforms,” said Tim Spalding, Founder of LibraryThing. “But they share a love of reading, and a respect for the passionate, unusual communities that animate them.”

“LibraryThing is the perfect home for Litsy,” said LeBlanc and Lawton. “Their technology and expertise delighting readers will help take Litsy to the next level.”

Litsy’s unique approach to social media has inspired its users to create discussion threads, community read-alongs, and book-sharing groups. Users accumulate “Litfluence,” an indication of others’ engagement with their posts, and celebrate milestones with hashtags and giveaways. Having a book profile linked to each post makes it simple for users to discover and to “stack” books they would like to read or have read in the past, which is all added to their profile.

LibraryThing’s initial plans are modest. “Our first duty is to keep what’s great about both Litsy and LibraryThing, and build from there. We aren’t going to do anything drastic, like combine them into one service,” Spalding said. “Most of all, we want to listen to Litsy members, and take it from there.”

As part of the acquisition, LibraryThing is inaugurating a two-way conversation with the Litsy community (“Littens”). A Facebook group has been set up for this, “Onward Litsy!” All Litsy members, and curious LibraryThing members, are invited to participate.

Spalding indicates that LibraryThing staff is currently focused on moving the service to take advantage of LibraryThing’s more extensive technical infrastructure. They plan to upgrade Litsy’s book data using information from LibraryThing itself, and from its library- and data-partner, Bowker/ProQuest. LibraryThing will be encouraging libraries to get involved with Litsy too.

Publishers will see one planned change, as LibraryThing intends to offer Litsy members access to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. Early Reviewers helps publishers connect with readers and create buzz for new titles by providing pre-release books in exchange for an honest review.

More details on the LibraryThing blog: http://blog.librarything.com/main/2018/03/librarything-acquires-litsy/
Q&A on the LibraryThing blog: http://blog.librarything.com/main/2018/03/litsyquesti/
“Onward Litsy” Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OnwardLitsy/

Media inquiries:
Loranne Nasir
loranne@librarything.com

About LibraryThing
LibraryThing is a leader in social networking for readers and in software for libraries. LibraryThing.com counts over 2.2 million members who have cataloged 123 million books. LibraryThing’s library software, including Syndetics Unbound, co-developed with ProQuest, is used by thousands of libraries around the world. Learn more at LibraryThing.com and proquest.syndetics.com.

Labels: LibraryThing, Litsy

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Introducing the LibraryThing Alexa Skill

Introducing the LibraryThing Skill for the Amazon Echo, Dot and other Alexa devices. Take a look:

The LibraryThing Alexa Skill is a weird but easy way to add books to your LibraryThing account. Just stand in the foyer, with a bag of new books, or on top of a rickety bookshelf ladder in the attic, and say:

Alexa, tell LibraryThing to add [Book Title] by [author]

And Alexa will add the book. Or it will try to. It’s not perfect.

To get a higher success rate, skip the title and author and just read the barcode, or ISBN number, off the back of your book:

Alexa, tell LibraryThing to add [Barcode or ISBN number]

There are a few other commands. Try:

Alexa, ask LibraryThing how many books I have.

To dazzle your friends with your intelligent personal assistant and your impressive library.

What Else?

Have fun!


Credits:

  • The Alexa app was coded up by Chris Holland (@conceptdawg), who did a bang-up job, with an immature programming environment.
  • Thanks to Abby and Puck (pictured) for the video.

Labels: app, new features

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

March 2018 Early Reviewers—Win free books!

Win free books from the March 2018 batch of Early Reviewer titles! This month we’ve got 109 titles, and a grand total of 3,233 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, March 26th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Raincloud Press First Steps Publishing Candlewick Press
Akashic Books Kaylie Jones Books Open Lens
Tundra Books Puffin Books Canada Penguin Teen Canada
Revell William Morrow Literary Wanderlust LLC
Oceanview Publishing Petra Books Ballantine Books
Random House Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Heritage Books
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing HighBridge Audio Tantor Media
EsKape Press Raven Books Blue Crow Books
Gefen Publishing House Harper Perennial Odyssey Books
Apex Publications CarTech Books Bellevue Literary Press
Kazabo Publishing Open Books NewCon Press
City Owl Press Oneworld Publications Prufrock Press
BookViewCafe BHC Press Henry Holt and Company
Small Beer Press Poise and Pen Publishing Emerald Lake Books
ForeEdge Small Beer Press/Big Mouth House Three Rooms Press
Chronicle Books The Lemic Group, Inc. 1845 Publishing
Soul Food Publishing Emerson & Tilman Loose Leaves Publishing
Stone Pier Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

February 2018 Early Reviewers

Win free books from the February 2018 batch of Early Reviewer titles! This month we’ve got 100 titles, and a grand total of 3,945 copies to give out, and it’s a particularly good month for children’s book fans. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, February 26th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Raincloud Press Candlewick Press Faber & Faber USA
Month9Books Chronicle Books Everything Goes Media
Velvet Morning Press Apex Publications Harper Perennial
Akashic Books William Morrow Anaphora Literary Press
John Ott Revell Tundra Books
Penguin Teen Canada Tule Publishing Random House
Hawaiian Heritage Press Orca Book Publishers Oneworld Publications
Meerkat Press Prodigy Gold Books BookViewCafe
Tu Books Tantor Media HighBridge Audio
CarTech Books Literary Wanderlust LLC ForeEdge
Ballantine Books NewCon Press Prufrock Press
Plough Publishing House EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing BHC Press
Flyaway Books Fernwood Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

January 2018 Early Reviewers

Win free books from the January 2018 batch of Early Reviewer titles! The first batch of the new year is here with 67 titles, and a grand total of 2,064 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, January 29th at 6pm Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Beacon Press Apex Publications Raincloud Press
Prodigy Gold Books Candlewick Press Brash Books
Tundra Books Penguin Teen Canada Faber & Faber USA
Greenleaf Book Group Harper Perennial Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
World Weaver Press BHC Press Five Rivers Publishing
Books by Elle, Inc Random House Chronicle Books
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers NewCon Press Poolbeg Press
HighBridge Audio Tantor Media Odyssey Books
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing CarTech Books Vintage Pug Press, LLC
Open Books Blue Crow Books Bellevue Literary Press
Blacksmith Books BookViewCafe City Owl Press
Prufrock Press Akashic Books Henry Holt and Company

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Top Five Books of 2017

Every December, LT staff members compile a list of our top five favorite books we’ve read this year. You can see past years’ lists here.

We also like seeing members’ favorite reads, so we compiled a list that all of LibraryThing can add to. We’re interested in not just the most read books of 2017, but the best of the best. What were your top five for this year? Note: books on this list weren’t necessarily published in 2017—these are the best we’ve read this year, regardless of publication date.

» List: Top Five Books of 2017—Add your own!

Without further ado, here are our staff favorites!


KJ

Hunger by Roxane Gay
This memoir is both baldly honest and achingly human. Gay writes in her forthright manner about her lifelong relationship with her body and soul, pointing her incisive lens on how fat women experience a deeply prejudiced world.

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan
Combining two of the world’s great storytelling cultures, Gilligan’s book about Jewish people in Ireland in the 20th century, told through three intertwining stories, strikes a unique and heartfelt note.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
This collection of connected short stories really nails the unique interpersonal conflicts of small town Maine better than any book I’ve ever read, except perhaps a couple Stephen King novels.

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
This author’s first book (he’s better known for his second, The Queen of the Night), which details the fallout from a sexually abusive choir conductor, contains the spectrum of human emotions in spare, wrenching prose, and some lush descriptions of Maine landscapes as well.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
The book I have been physically pressing upon every woman in my life who has ever been called “kinda intense.” Machado’s short story collection uses the format of gothic tales to interrogate the daily visceral horrors of women living under a patriarchy which is both distant and intimate at the same time. My favorite? “Eight Bites,” a.k.a. the answer to the question: “where does the fat go after bariatric surgery?”

KJ’s honorable mentions:
Honorable mentions go to the fantasy books that helped me through the hard parts of this year: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Note from Abby: this book is utterly charming, the perfect balm to the insanity of 2017), The City of Brass, and The Queen’s Thief series.


Loranne

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
I read the entirety of Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy this year, back-to-back-to-back, and if I’m being 100% honest, those three books would all be in my Top Five. But I wanted to give a special nod to the second installment, for knocking my socks off where other middle-of-the-trilogy books often fall short. If you like inventive fantasy, with rich, unique worlds, or if you just like rocks, definitely give her work a shot.

Touch by Claire North
This was one of the most fun, compelling books I read all year. A sci-fi thriller about a centuries-old entity that can take over a person’s body via touch, and who finds theirself being hunted down.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Smart, well-written, hard sci-fi set around China’s Cultural Revolution. Full of wonderfully complex characters and a unique premise—once you figure out what’s really going on.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
If a 1980s girl gang of newspaper deliverers + time travel doesn’t sound like an awesome, wild ride, then this probably isn’t the comic for you. If it does…

Injection by Warren Ellis
My favorite creepy, weird comic about a group of geniuses who unleash an AI onto the Internet, and what it does once it settles in.

Loranne’s dishonorable mentions:

  • Armada by Ernest Cline: Meet “All the pop culture references that couldn’t be crammed into Ready Player One: The Novel”. I’m not much of an RPO fan to begin with, but attempting to read this one (my only DNF this year!) makes me actively dislike RPO in retrospect.
  • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari: A big ol’ NOPE. What a slog that amounted to nothing.

Abby

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
A fantasy world with gay spies and smugglers in an eerily prescient fascist state.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
A fantastic but somewhat quiet character study of astronauts during a simulation of a mission to Mars. (Note from KJ: cosigned from the resident company space opera nerd.)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
This book has everything. It’s an Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist, with magic, and with maps in the front. (I’m a sucker for a book with a map in the front.)

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Murder mystery + theater students who are both incredibly pretentious and undeniably human + so much Shakespeare. Glorious.

The Unseen World by Liz Moore
This book is smart, and heartbreaking. If your motto is like mine, “get wrecked by literature,” read this.

Abby’s honorable mentions:

  • The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone: The amazing story of Elizabeth Friedman, one of the first code-breakers, whose achievements are buried in history behind those of her husband.

Kate

Honestly, I would have an easier time of listing the five books I disliked most this year (I’m looking at you, Lincoln in the Bardo). Turns out 2017 was difficult for a lot of folks! Add a newborn and a toddler to the mix and my year in reading was less than stellar. I did, however, read every single children’s book published, so here’s my top five in children’s literature:

Supertruck by Stephen Savage
We love all of Savage’s books, but my son especially loves this one. And the dedication definitely didn’t* make me cry.
(*it did)

Dog on a Frog? by Kes Gray
Silly rhymes, which led to lots of laughs.

Gaston by Kelly Dipucchio
A cute book that challenges what it means to fit in, complete with great illustrations, and dialogue which necessitated my horrid, exaggerated french accent which made my son howl with laughter. Plus dogs!

Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery by David Gordon
My sons is crazy about trucks—to the point that we’ve exhausted our library’s vehicle-centric kids’ collection. This one popped up a few weeks ago and he loved it: animals, trucks, and a sneaky lesson about forgiveness.

Everyone by Christopher Silas Neal
Sparse and beautifully illustrated, my son had LOTS to say about this one.

Kate’s honorable mentions:


Kirsten

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
I had no idea when I started this book that it would be one I consider potentially life-changing YA. Featuring protagonists with intersectional identities; questions of culture, gender, sexuality, and family; a healthy dose of magical realism and unique prose, I wish it had been around 20 years ago for teenage Kirsten to read.

The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune
Look, I’ve boiled this down to a simple pitch: it is at once the raunchiest and most wholesome thing I’ve ever read. This book has everything: wizards, a royal family, sexually aggressive dragons, a hornless gay unicorn—need I go on?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Listened to this on audio—Bahni Turpin’s pacing probably isn’t for everyone, but her delivery was perfect throughout. This is a very accessible story about police brutality, race relations between classes, and living one’s truth. Recommend to absolutely everyone.

The High King’s Golden Tongue by Megan Derr
Yep, more MM romance fantasy, because 2017. I loved the characters in this one, as well as Derr’s decision to center a linguist as necessary to successful governance. Another fun romp, a bit less absurd than the Klune, but no less enjoyable.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Beautifully told stories of intricately interwoven lives, over seven generations of a family. Do recommend looking up the family chart if you listen to it on audio.

Kirsten’s honorable mentions:


Tim

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Lockwood by turns dazzles and drives me nuts. Either way, I’m sure to remember the characters that inhabit her breakthrough memoir—the strangest and most interesting of whom may be the author. The next State of the Thing newsletter will include my interview with her.

The Samurai by Shusaku Endo
Silence made my list last year, in anticipation of the Scorcese movie. Samurai is a much “larger” book, and might have made a more successful movie.

A History of Britain by Simon Schama
Especially volume three (1776–2000). Help me, I’m turning into my Dad. Schama was one of a number of British history books I read this year. Also memorable—and even more of a Dad-read—was Lukacs’s The Duel: The 80-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler.

John W. O’Malley The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present and St. Ignatius Loyola and the Remarkable History of the First Jesuits.
After Georgetown, devouring a raft of “Jesuits in Space” novels, and experiencing the first Jesuit Pope, it was time to do a deep dive into Ignatius and his order.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
I read and/or listened to a number of books with my eleven year-old son this year. Hatchet was one of the stand-outs.

Tim’s dishonorable mentions:
This year was marked by as many duds as successes. A few deserve special mention.

  • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari: What a terrible follow-up to Sapiens—or rather, a magnification of everything flip and cliched in Sapiens, without any of its interest.
  • The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher: Dreher is asking some of the right questions, and he started a necessary conversation. But his answers are mostly wrongheaded—and frequently gross.
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer: How on earth did this win the Nebula? If this is the best, why bother?
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner: Now and then I like to read a celebrated YA book. This one’s a stinker.

Kristi

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
This sensuous historical romance chronicles the evolution of Nancy Astley, an oyster girl who follows her beloved male impersonator to the theatres of London. The abrupt end to their romance is just the beginning for “Nan King,” who discovers other parts of herself—and other lovers—in Victorian England.

Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou
Incredible tale of an orphan from Loango who flees to Pointe-Noire at 13, and experiences a myriad of adventures, trials, and tribulations.

The High House by James Stoddard
High fantasy starring the newest steward of Evenmere mansion. Evenmere holds the power to the universe, quite literally, and our hero must protect it from those who seek to endr reality as we know it.

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
A creepy thriller! A young couple’s relationship—and sanity—is tested after moving into their new and suspiciously cheap home in small-town Wisconsin.

In the Woods by Tana French
Det. Ryan returns to the woods of his Dublin hometown to investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl. The case resembles one in 1984, where Ryan and two friends went missing: he was found with no memory of what happened. Now, he must try to remember…


Chris C.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
I found this oldie but goodie absolutely fascinating and eye-opening. Offers an insightful history of the world’s cultures from a variety of different angles.

Stranges in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
An account of a writer’s journey to understand a part of the US she doesn’t personally “get.”

Numbers and the Making of Us by Caleb Everett
A fascinating look at the way numbers have shaped societies and human development from a technological and linguistic point of view. I particularly loved the linguistic aspects.

Sicily: A Literary Guide for Travellers by Andrew Edwards
A tour through Sicily from a literary point of view, visiting important Sicilian writers’ towns and explaining some of Sicily’s variety through a history of it’s literature.

Agile Data Science by Russell Jurney
An introduction to a set of tools and practices for processing large amounts of data and producing visualizations and/or predictions from that data.


Pedro

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Radical Candor by Kim Scott Malone

The Weekly Coaching Conversation by Brian Souza

More?

Tell us about your favorites for 2017 on Talk, or add your own Top Five to our list!

Labels: holiday, lists, reading, recommendations, top five