A Few Recommendations to End 2017

Dear Readers, I hope 2017 has ended on a high note for you, and that you have much to look forward to in 2018.

I’m popping in (I know I’ve been largely absent from this site, and I have no idea, really, if that will change in the new year) to share some lists. I read 150 books, this year—the most since I started keeping track—and I wish I had the time to tell you about them all.

You can find my baker’s dozen favorite fiction releases of 2017 here, on Bookish Beck’s blog. A few expected reads, I think, but maybe some that are new to you?

And here’s some of the poetry I read in 2017 (new releases are to the left of Anne Carson’s Float): 

Ten 2017 poetry releases I recommend:

Don’t Call Us Dead, Danez Smith
Calling a Wolf a Wolf, Kaveh Akbar
Good Bones, Maggie Smith
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, Morgan Parker
Whereas, Layli Long Soldier
Sycamore, Kathy Fagan
Afterland, Mai Der Vang
Lena, Cassie Pruyn
All the Bayou Stories End with Drowned, Erica Wright
Lessons on Expulsion, Erika L. Sánchez

And ten backlist titles I read this year that stood out:

Float, Anne Carson
Blue, George Elliott Clarke
Look, Solmaz Sharif
Miracle Fruit, Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Count the Waves, Sandra Beasley
Duende, Tracy K. Smith
Human Chain, Seamus Heaney
Loop of Jade, Sarah Howe
Bright Dead Things, Ada Limón
Thrall, Natasha Trethewey

One thing that’s kept me away from this site, besides reading: my own writing, which I’m chipping away at. If you’re interested, you can find links to some published work at carolynoliver.net.

Happy New Year, Dear Readers! Here’s hoping 2018 brings beloved new books and old favorites your way.


The Rosemary and Reading Glasses Holiday Gift Guide (Because it was inevitable, wasn’t it?)

Dear Readers,

Last year I recommended non-book gifts for readers, and while those recommendations hold, I thought I’d recommend real live books this year.

Now, 2014 hasn’t seen one everybody’s-buying-it-even-if-they’re-not-reading-it hit like The Goldfinch (I myself got if for Christmas, and absolutely want to read it, I swear), but there have been a few high-profile books that have made the rounds of the top-10 and best-of lists (looking at you, The Martian, All The Light We Cannot See, Everything I Never Told You, The Book of Unknown Americans). Three cheers for those books and their authors!

But let’s branch out, shall we?

Fiction for Poets

Katy Simpson Smith, The Story of Land and Sea

Lindsay Hill, Sea of Hooks*

Howard Norman, Next Life Might Be Kinder

Something’s Up, and You Won’t Be Able to Put the Book Down

Kate Racculia, Bellweather Rhapsody

Rebecca Makkai, The Hundred-Year House

Big Sky and Taciturn Men with Unusual Names

Malcolm Brooks, Painted Horses

Kim Zupan, The Ploughmen

Lin Enger, The High Divide

Fabulous Tales, Re-Told

Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, Bird

Alexi Zentner, The Lobster Kings

Historical Fiction: Colliding Worlds

Laila Lalami, The Moor’s Account

Joseph Boyden, The Orenda

Women at War

TaraShea Nesbit, The Wives of Los Alamos

Laird Hunt, Neverhome

Worlds You Can’t See, Worlds You Don’t Want to See

Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water

Sharona Muir, Invisible Beasts

Chris Beckett, Dark Eden

Poetry for Everyone (Everyone, Read More Poetry)

Hailey Leithauser, Swoop*

Saeed Jones, Prelude to Bruise

Mark Wunderlich, The Earth Avails

Charlotte Boulay, Foxes on the Trampoline

Books in Translation

Kyung-sook Shin, I’ll Be Right There

Elvira Dones, Sworn Virgin

In Which Letters Play a Part

Simon Garfield, To the Letter

George Prochnik, The Impossible Exile

Books by Authors Famous for Different Books

John Williams, Augustus

Jane Austen, Persuasion**

J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Together with Sellic Spell (ed. Christopher Tolkien)

Brilliant and Uncomfortable Reading

Hilary Mantel, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Richard Powers, Orfeo

Coming Up Next: Your Humble Blogger’s Reading Wishlist

*Yes, it came out last year, but I read it this year and it is awesome. So there.

** There is never a bad time to recommend Persuasion.