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Headshot of me wearing red lipstick Kara Babcock

Best books I read in 2017

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As with last year, I’m eschewing lists of top 10 best and worst books in favour of simply highlighting some of my favourites read in the past year.

Social Justice

I want to start with a book that is actually being published this year, on January 16: Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race. You must read this book if you want to learn more about systemic racism and the ways in which we can dismantle it.

Next up, one of my favourite books of the year is The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. This is a powerful book about police brutality and anti-Black racism by a Black woman. Again, it’s a must-read, this time in novel form.

Closer to home, we have Seven Fallen Feathers, by Tanya Talaga. This book examines the deaths of seven Indigenous youth who came to my town, Thunder Bay, for high school. Talaga exposes the racism and systemic failures of our police and government. It’s a harrowing but important read.


Lots of my non-fiction this year was dedicated to science, which I’m happy about. I requested many ARCs from NetGalley, and two science texts in particular went over very well.

First, we have The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease, by Meredith Wadman. This is a compassionate portrayal of the ethical and policy dilemmas around developing vaccines.

Next, The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore, sheds light (no pun intended) on the (often young, often poor) women who were paid very little money to paint watch dials with radium, even after the companies employing them knew it was linked to sickness. Although very sad by its nature, this book is such a well-written account of this little-discussed part of history.

Hidden Figures, by Margot Shetterly, was one of the first books I read in 2017. It left an indelible impact, and the movie based on the book is also amazing. Shetterly expertly tells the story of the women who worked as computers at NASA and its predecessor.


I keep meaning to do more re-reads of favourite books. I didn’t do many this year, but I had a hankering to re-read Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart. It’s just an interesting, stylized take on myths and fables. I also re-read The Count of Monte Cristo, an absolute beast of a book that is just so good.

A Tyranny of Petticoats, edited by Jessica Spotswood, is an excellent anthology of YA stories about/for women and girls being badass women and girls.

Honestly, looking now at my 2017 shelf on Goodreads, I’m floored by how many great books I read. I’ve only mentioned handful; there were plenty of 4-star reads that are worthy of honourable mentions in this post, if I had the time and energy to go through them. I think their reviews stand for themselves.

If 2018 is even half as good a reading year as 2017, I think I’m in for a treat.

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