The Atlantic

The Best Books We Missed in 2017

And the titles their authors say they loved
Source: Katie Martin / Emily Jan / The Atlantic

Editor’s Note: Find all of The Atlantic’s “Best of 2017” coverage here.

“So many worthy books, so little space.”

I type those words all too often, and my colleagues on The Atlantic’s digital side, Jane Yong Kim and Sophie Gilbert, and I have now made a tradition of lamenting that predicament every year as the list-making season arrives. Working both online and in print, as we do, we really should revise the lament to include “—and not enough time.” To the many publicists who excitedly email me about the rich season of titles ahead, I’m always sighing about page constraints at the magazine. With only so many hours in a day to write and edit and so much to cover, the culture team online also looks longingly at books that deserve attention but don’t get it. We echo the message to reviewers who are eager to share their views of this or that author’s latest effort. If only we didn’t have to be so ruthless, we also say to authors themselves, a surprising number of whom come right out and ask: Can they expect any coverage in The Atlantic? The phrase, as I’ve admitted before, is sometimes a white lie, yet always the truth, too: Far too many notable books go unnoticed by us.

In the holiday spirit, now is a moment to mention a sampling of 2017 books we wish we hadn’t missed. We’ve asked their authors to pay it forward, and single out a few books themselves. What recent work has caught their expert eye? What book, however old, helped them write the one they’ve been busy promoting? —Ann Hulbert


Fiction

by Alice McDermott

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