The Reading Room | Best Books of 2017

Slip away from the festivities with a good read, or glean gift inspiration with our round-up of the best books of 2017

The Memoir
This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
Adam Kay resigned from his job as a junior doctor in 2010 and, soon after, rediscovered his diaries that he kept throughout his 12 years of training and working in an NHS hospital. Those diaries form the basis of this book, taking us on a timely journey through the cases he dealt with, the bureaucracy he faced and the people he came across; from the patients and their relatives to his NHS colleagues. Award-winning comedian Kay injects a healthy dose of humour and humanity as he talks with blistering honesty about the brutal hours faced by doctors and the sacrifices they make. Pan Macmillan, £8.99

The Hit Debut
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Glasgow-based Gail Honeyman’s debut novel was discovered through a writing competition and it has since been sold worldwide. The central character, Eleanor, is a socially awkward loner whose home life is empty and isolated and the cause of much speculation among her work colleagues. As the novel unfolds, the reasons for her loneliness are gradually unpicked as she forges a touching friendship with a kind colleague and is forced to face up to the devastating demons she has avoided all her life. Unexpectedly funny and brimming with kindness, this is a delightfully quirky debut novel with a warm heart. Harper Collins, £12.99  

The Award-Winner
The Power by Naomi Alderman 
What would the world look like if women had the power? This is the question posed by Naomi Alderman’s award-winning speculative fiction novel in which women not only have the power – they have the power to abuse it. One day, teenage girls around the world find that they have the supernatural ability to inflict agonising pain or death with just a flick of a finger. An experiment conducted through the stories of four very different women, the result is a masterfully-achieved exploration of gender politics and the reality of power. Penguin, £7.99

The Non-Fiction
Me. You. A Diary by Dawn French 
The number one Sunday Times Bestseller and potentially the most fun you’ll have with a book all year, Me. You. A Diary may be written by Dawn French, but it’s personalised by you. The book is designed as a way for you to record the story of your own year alongside that of the comedian’s, with spaces for you to record appointments, write lists and generally vent your spleen. Along the way, there are plenty of thoughts and witticisms from Dawn as she discusses her ideas on age and life. By the end of the year, you’ll (hopefully) have a much fatter book filled with your own mementoes. The perfect stocking filler. Penguin, £20

The Love Story
Together by Julie Cohen
Billed by Waterstones as ‘an epic love story with a secret you won’t see coming’, Julie Cohen’s writing is both beautiful and heartbreaking. This evocative tale tells the story of two lives and their great love. It starts at the end, when Robbie is suffering from Alzheimer’s and Emily is still shouldering the burden of their shocking shared secret. As the chapters continue in reverse chronological order, charting their relationship back to its fledgling days as students in 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer. Original and beguiling, this is a truly memorable novel that will stay with you. Orion, £7.99

The Surreal One
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders 
For a good few years now, the literary glitterati have been crying out for the master of the modern American short story, George Saunders, to sit down and pen a novel – and here it is, with a Man Booker Prize to boot. Inventive, melancholy and at times surreal, Lincoln in the Bardo unfolds over a single night in February 1862. As the American Civil War rages on, President Lincoln is grieving the death of his 11-year-old son. The soul of young Willie Lincoln is trapped in a transitional realm between life and death – known in Tibetan Buddhist tradition as the ‘Bardo’ – and, as spirits whirl and squabble around him, he finds himself faced with a monumental struggle. Bloomsbury Publishing, £9.99

Grace Cain

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