Good Reads have just announced which books their members voted for in 2017.
It turns out I didn't pick a single winner, although two of the winners, "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng and "Into The Water" by Paula Hawkins are in my TBR pile. Perhaps, if I'd gotten to them in time, they'd have been my choices too.
I like this award as it's based on votes from readers and not on sales or critical acclaim.
Of course, GoodReads decides which books will be nominated and almost all the nominations have been pushed to me by Amazon or Audible during the year so it's not exactly a neutral list.
I enjoyed cheering for the authors I already knew and checking out some I hadn't met yet.
Here's who I voted for. I recommend them to you.
I thought the Fiction nominations were the strongest this year. As well as the winner, "Little Fires Everywhere", I'm looking forward to reading Elizabeth Strout's "Anything Is Possible" and Ruth Hogan's, "The Keeper Of Lost Things".
"Beartown" is a great book, even if I couldn't get myself past the emotionally challenging content to finish it.
Even so, I had no hesitation voting for "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine". It is original, honest, authentic, challenging and yet still manages often to be funny and always to be humane.
Gail Honeyman is now on my Must Read list.
Mystery and Thriller
This is a genre I've only really begun paying attention to this year so many of the books nominated passed me by.
Based on the list, I've picked up the winner, "Into The Water" by Jane Hawkins, who is new to me, and "Stillhouse Lake" by Rachel Caine who I know only from her fantasy books.
I would have bought "Glass Houses" by Louise Penny, but it's the thirteenth Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book, and I've only read "Still Life" the first in the series and I like to read series in order.
So my vote went to Jane Harper's debut novel, "The Dry", set in a dying small town in Australia. It's an atmospheric, mostly character driven book, that I found to be fresh and engaging.
Aaron Falk, the detective at the centre of this story about a murdered family seems authentic and relatively cliché-free. The second Aaron Falk book "Force Of Nature" is now on my TBR pile.
I'm a fan of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson and, to a lesser extent, Ilona Andrews' Sweep series but I'm well behind the current releases so I couldn't vote for them.
"Etched In The Bone", the last in Anne Bishop's "The Others" series has been on my shelf since it was published but it hasn't called to me yet. I think I'm delaying bringing the series to an end and a little worried that I'll be disappointed.
I'm a longstanding J. K. Rowling fan and I enjoy the movie of "Mythical Beasts And Where To Find Them" but I'm disappointed to see the screenplay win this section. It got almost twice as many votes as its nearest rivals so it's a clear winner but screenplays are not books. Not even close.
My vote went to Mark Lawrence's "Red Sister", which is original, bloodthirsty and bold. Some of the themes are distressing and all of the (frequent) violence is graphic but it swept me along in its own self-confidence.
Science Fiction also has a strong set of nominees. I loved "Provenance" by Ann Leckie for its quiet evocation of another world and its insights into people, not all of whom were human.
I'm curious about "Waking Gods" by Sylvain Neuvel. I want to see if the technique changes from "Sleeping Giants" to become something more like a novel and less like a play.
The list tempted me to add new authors to my TBR pile: Martha Wells "All Systems Red", Omar El Akkad "American War", and Jeff Vandermeer, "Bourne".
Andy Weir, who won with "Artemis" doesn't appeal to me: too hard science, too puzzle-based.
My vote went to "And The Rest Is History" because Jodi Taylor, in the eighth book of what used to be a fun series about time traveller historians causing mayhem, played my emotions like a violin and made me cry. That's character driven writing at its best.
Best Debut GoodReads Author
I'm grateful to GoodReads for providing a platform for new talent.
Jane Harper is on here for "The Dry" and Omar El Akkad for "American War" and Jennifer Ryan for "The Chilbury Ladies Choir".
I voted for "Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore" by Matthew Sullivan.
I would probably not have found this book if it hadn't been on the longlist for this award.
It's not as bright and cheery as the title suggests but it is a wonderful look at how books give the damaged hope. It's wrapped around a good mystery and has memorable, believable people at its heart.