2017—This Year in Books: Amazon Charts

by Adrian Liang, December 13, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

This Year in Books - ChartsWant to know what your fellow readers are fascinated by?

Each week, Amazon Charts refreshes its Most Read and Most Sold lists, giving insight into which fiction and nonfiction books are flying into readers’ hands. Powered by the reading choices made by print book readers, Kindle book readers, and Audible audiobook listeners, Amazon Charts provides a rare glimpse into the real reading trends of thousands of book lovers.

Most Listened To

This week, however, Amazon Charts takes a wider view and looks back at the books that shaped the year in This Year in Books.

With colorful graphics and joyful facts, Charts highlights the 10 Most Read fiction books of 2017 and the 10 Most Read nonfiction books of 2017. (No spoilers here—take a guess and then go see for yourself.) Then learn which books were “unputdownable,” the most highlighted, and the most listened to on Alexa.

Golden Eyes

Take a journey back through the literary world of 2017, month by month, and then see which cover design trends caught readers’ eyes.

And, finally, be inspired to read more in 2018.

Isn’t that always a marvelous New Year’s resolution?


Best Books of the Year: Science and Nature

by Jon ForoDecember 08, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

A few of our selections for the best science and nature titles of 2017, along with some thoughts about why we liked them. See all 20 picks, or browse all of our Best Books of the Year across 15 categories.

BOTY-ApolloApollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 50 years since NASA’s Apollo program first landed a man on the moon. Since passing decades tend to filter out everything save the highlights, that epic effort has been boiled down to a couple of missions: Apollo 11’s triumphant landing, and the near calamity of Apollo 13, which we might not remember were it not for Tom Hanks and Ron Howard. Lost is all (or most) of the daring preamble, when the United States and the Soviet Union repeatedly swapped positions in the Space Race, recklessly shooting manned aluminum cans – packed with all the computing power of a scientific calculator – into orbit. You won’t have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy Jeffrey Kluger’s Apollo 8 (though it’s pure candy for aficionados). Kluger – who previously documented the Apollo 13 crisis with Commander Jim Lovell, also the pilot aboard Apollo 8 – recounts the first manned mission to orbit the moon, marrying technological and historical perspectives with eyewitness accounts to spin a brisk, thrilling, and informative tale. Kluger writes, “The Saturn V engines had only one speed, which was full speed.” So does this book.

BOTY-Learn-Better.jpgLearn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything by Ulrich Boser

I recently tested my family’s patience for weeks as I announced during dinner, “I discovered something today,” and then related a new technique for learning I’d read in Learn Better. What my family didn’t realize at the time was that by teaching them what I’d learned, I myself was absorbing the lesson better than I would have if I’d just reread it again. That was only one of dozens of methods I’d consumed in Learn Better to help me understand, retain, and connect information better than through the old (and less effective) systems of highlighting and rereading. Boser’s smart and approachable writing style engaged me at once as he laid out six methods for becoming an expert at whatever you like, whether it’s basketball, parenting, or quantum physics. Experiments, data, and anecdotes back up his techniques, but almost as important, he explains learning in such a clear way that aha! moments abound. “Learning does not have a comfort zone,” he says, following up later with: “To develop a skill, we’re going to be uncomfortable, strained, often feeling a little embattled.” He emphasizes that expertise is not the most important quality of an effective educator: “We need instructors that know their subject—and know ways to explain their subject.” Boser even puts himself of the spot, suggesting that readers should question whether they believe an author’s arguments in order to bring analytical thinking to a subject, which will cement that knowledge (or their rejection of the author’s thesis) deeper in their brains. There’s a lot to absorb here, but happily you have an expert teacher guiding you now on your own path toward effective learning. –Adrian Liang

BOTY-Upstream.jpgUpstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table by Langdon Cook

A few years back, Langdon Cook wrote The Mushroom Hunters, an unusual book about the underground economy of fungi foraging and the weirdoes and outsiders who fuel it, which we leveraged for this little boondoggle. His latest, Upstream, does the same for salmon, following the paths of these essential fish from spawning grounds and hatcheries to the tables of exclusive restaurants – a voyage spanning history, culture, adventure, politics, and commerce. [Full disclosure: Lang is a former colleague who occasionally pulls Chris and me out to the river for some tortured attempts at fly fishing. It’s not that he’s a bad teacher.]

BOTY-Gene-Machine.jpgThe Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids–and the Kids We Have by Bonnie Rochman

As the father of a preteen boy, I’ve seen enough Godzilla movies to understand that our capability often outpaces our foresight, and genetic manipulation opens the door to unimaginable possibilities. Where once parents could choose to know the gender of their unborn baby, our understanding the human genome can now forecast disabilities and predisposition for particular diseases later in life, including cancer. The science is complex and confusing, and the ethical dilemmas are self-evident. Bonnie Rochman has witnessed the advance of gene technology first-hand – as both a journalist and a mother – and her recent book, The Gene Machine, expertly unravels this brave new world of family engineering, from both scientific and human perspectives.

BOTY-Big-Chicken.jpgBig Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats by Maryn McKenna

Ever wonder where all the chicken is coming from? I do, and as I always suspected, I’m not sure I feel better knowing. In Big Chicken, McKenna – a journalist who who reports on public health and food policy – tracks the path of this most common fowl and food source from backyard coops to the (let’s face it, horrible) antibiotic-soaked “industry” that fuels our hunger for cheap wings and nuggets. Bwok-bwok.

The Best Romance Novels of 2017

by Adrian Liang,December 06, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

Best romances of the year 2017
In 2016, shelves and Kindles were stuffed to bursting with small-town romances. This year saw a slow shift from small-town to contemporary cowboy, at least as seen on the cover. (The stories inside remained fairly similar.) A larger switch was the surge in urban-based romances, signaling that readers and writers are looking to the big city for excitement. On the emotional side of things, angsty new adult started getting eclipsed by screwball comedy.

What will 2018 bring to romance readers? I can’t wait to find out!

Below are 10 of our favorite romances of 2017. You can find the list of all 20 here. From dukes to FBI agents, and from football coaches to librarians, we’ve got you covered.

Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren– The romantic geniuses behind the Beautiful and the Wild Seasons series deliver a standalone and standup-comic-funny contemporary tale of an office romance gone wrong. Really, really wrong. The accelerating romantic relationship of two talent agents in Hollywood hits the skids when a new boss tells them they have to compete for the same job. As Carter and Evie bounce between courtship and combat, this hilarious, sexy novel will make you gasp and giggle.

Getting Inside by Serena Bell – Female professional football coaches are rarer than political civility on Facebook, and this forbidden romance between a new linebacker coach and the Seattle Grizzlies’ top—but struggling—defensive linebacker had me glued to every word. Iona Thomas has to not only excel at her job but represent women in the professional league, and Ty Williams is the very last person she should be getting involved with. Both of them realize the stakes are too high for a relationship between them, but, hey, love can’t be denied. Tense, heart-scalding, and emotionally riveting, this had earned a spot on my best of the year list when it hit shelves in January.

The Undateable by Sarah Title – I think I snort-giggled all the way through Title’s contemporary romance set in the dating landscape of San Francisco. Wise, funny, and spot-on in its gleeful puncturing of male and female stereotypes, this tale of a librarian who unwittingly becomes the face of a “Disapproving librarian disapproves” meme will have you cheering Bertie on as she agrees to go on thirty dates in thirty days to prove to herself that she’s not undateable. Bertie is helped/hindered by Colin, a staff writer for locally based fashion magazine Glaze, who is sponsoring Bertie’s makeover as a publicity stunt. You might think that Bertie is being set up for a My Fair Ladyish ending, wherein conforming to society’s expectations of how a Woman Should Be/Look/Talk allows Bertie to Finally Find True Love. Pish. Though Colin has bro tendencies, he’s fairly enlightened and aware, making him Bertie’s perfect sparring partner as he briefs her and then debriefs her for her dates. It’ll be no surprise that eventually Bertie debriefs Colin as well, but it’s supremely satisfying.

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran – For years, heiress Jane Mason has been at the mercy of her horrible uncle, who has been siphoning off her funds even as he strives for power in Parliament. The last person Jane expects to help her escape her situation is Crispin Burke, a handsome but morally blackened confederate of her uncle’s who appears to care only about ruthlessly accumulating power. Burke gives Jane the initial helping hand, but it’s his fall that will allow her the ultimate opportunity to seize her destiny. To say more would ruin a deliciously intriguing plot. Just trust in Duran to dig into the dark corners of this complex relationship between two stubborn people who will discover unwelcome truths about how far they will go to get what they want, even as they learn to rely on each other. Love blooms here in rocky ground, but it becomes all the stronger.

A Merciful Death by Kendra Elliot – Elliot is a master of romantic suspense, and her latest sets a rural community of preppers (people preparing for disaster) in the sights of a killer. Because large caches of guns were stolen from the victims’ homes, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick is sent from the Seattle office to investigate further. But Mercy herself has a fraught history with Eagle’s Nest, and it takes police chief Truman Daly patience and persistence to unstopper the secrets Mercy has kept packed deep inside. Elliot expertly interweaves the current murders with the damage that past crimes have done to Mercy and Truman’s souls, and she lays out convincing tracks to a number of possible culprits in Eagle’s Nest. Fascinating details about prepper lifestyle give extra flavor to this mystery, adding to its memorability.

On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton – Not too many people are tackling grieving widows in romances these days (widowers, yes—wives die off before the story opens as often as mothers die off before Disney’s princess movies), and Cleeton handles it with a beautiful slow build. Dani Peterson has always been the love of Alex’s life, but when she was married to his commanding officer, she was way off limits. Now, a year after Dani’s husband’s death in a training accident, Alex is still keeping Dani at arm’s length. What Dani needs, though, is arms wrapped around her. A graceful exploration of the devastation of a spouse’s early death, the remnants of grief, and the ways we can heal…plus a bunch of sizzle.

Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson – Ever since starting Rebecca Zanetti’s Scorpius Syndrome series, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a romance novel that gleefully sets its hero and heroine in the near future and gives them a storyline that couldn’t work in any other setting. Wanted and Wired does all that, with sniper Mari Vallejo and her sometime business partner, Heron Farad. Texas has split off from the Union, mechs are built to be indistinguishable from humans, and it’s up to individuals to determine how organic or how tech they want their bodies to be via augmentation. When Mari is set up to take the fall for a murder, she and Heron go on the run, forcing them to figure out where to draw the line in their partnership…or if a line should be drawn at all. If your pulse rate accelerates at the thought of sexy sci-fi, give this action-filled romance a try.

The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd – Dodd concludes her Virtue Falls series by finally giving police chief Kateri Kwinault her own story even as she weaves in a perplexing mystery centered on a mute millionaire’s widow who brings death with her to the small coastal town. You don’t need to start the Virtue Falls series with Virtue Falls—each book stands strong on its own—but it was a special joy to watch Kateri overcome the mountain of obstacles thrown at her through four books and finally find peace with her own choices at the end.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare – Scarred in face, body, and heart by an explosion on the battlefield, the Duke of Ashbury has been a bit of gloomy gus since his return from war, but he still knows his duty: find a wife and make an heir. But with his ruined face, social events–and especially wooing–seem an insurmountable barrier. Luckily, down-on-her-luck seamstress Emma Gladstone comes straight to his house and pushes her way into his study to demand payment of the intricate (and awfully ugly) wedding gown she hand-sewed for his former fiancee. Ashbury’s marriage proposal seems a farce, but his persistence–and her imminent eviction–convince Emma to accept. So begins a delightful story of tiptoeing through emotional minefields toward true love that I think is among Dare’s best and at times made me laugh out loud. Perfect for readers of Megan Frampton, Julia Quinn, and Courtney Milan.

Dating-ish by Penny Reid – Those seeking a perfect friends-to-lovers story need look no further than Dating-ish. Marie and Matt’s first meeting could not be more inauspicious for the beginning of a friendship, but less a romance. Marie is expecting the good-looking guy she agreed to meet via an online dating site; instead she gets Matt, a nerdy scientist seeking data on what single women are looking for. When Marie decides to incorporate Matt’s study into a piece she’s writing about compassion and whether it can be outsourced, she (and the reader) starts to see past his awkward and literal-mindedness to the guy inside. Complex and smart, fueled by a fierce will-they-or-won’t-they? tension, Dating-ish might have a slow start for some but will delight all with its glorious finish.

The Best Comics of 2017

by Alex Carr, December 01, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

To me, my comics fans! 2017 was a banner year for the medium, and our editors assembled to forge a list that covers the best in illustrated fiction and non-fiction, with 20 graphic novels spanning memoirs, family dramas, superheroes (both hopeful and downtrodden), pets, and subjects that defy classification.

Below is a quick snapshot of three highlights, but please see our Best of the Year store for the full list.

Congratulations to Katie Green, as her debut memoir, Lighter Than My Shadow, is the editors’ pick for our 2017 Best in Comics and Graphic Novels. A harrowing study of a life gripped by eating disorders, Green’s story reveals itself as a narrative greater than one of abuse. Instead, this is the story of a life recaptured. Editor Adrian Liang had this to say last month when she celebrated it as a Best of the Month selection for October: “A vast number of thoughtful books about mental illness and eating disorders already exist, so it seems almost impossible that a new story could add anything more to the genus. But Katie Green does exactly that with her astonishing graphic memoir that reveals through every delicate squiggle the long-lingering anguish people in recovery live through while friends and family assume that everything is now A-OK…Artist and storyteller Green exposes buried-deep emotions through the slope of a shoulder or the slightly-too-big distance between her characters in a way that can’t be mimicked through words.”

Another startling debut, Emil Ferris’ graphic novel arrives in the form of a fictional diary—complete with faux notebook pages upon which she illustrates incredible land and mindscapes–detailing a murder mystery in the life of young Karen Reyes. Set in Chicago during the 1960s, Karen’s story is one of family and where reality and fantasy embrace. As she investigates the death of her upstairs neighbor, Karen uncovers truths about her own brother, mother, and the tenuous truths we cling to in order to cope with everyday madness. But Karen’s focus tends to wander, as she is fascinated with monster movies and pulp horror magazines, inserting creatures into the margins and, with loving detail by Ferris, as centerpieces into her journal (Karen portrays herself as an adorably fanged werewolf). It’s a singular vision with effortless humor and a brilliant form. My favorite thing is also monsters.

If any superhero ruled 2017, it’s Wonder Woman. Breaking box office records and becoming a rallying symbol in and outside of the genre, Wonder Woman stepped off of Themiscyra Island and into the zeitgeist. With 75 years of backstory to sift through, DC Comics offers new and old fans an easy entry point into her adventures with an origin story written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Nicola Scott. The result feels a lot like her cinematic debut: full of action and charm. Here, Wonder Woman is hero with brains and brawn, discovering her powers as well as the modern world. Steve Trevor and Ares are both here, and although it is confusingly subtitled with a “Volume 2,” this can be read as a stand-alone adventure to complement the film, by Hera!

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2017

by Adrian Liang, November 30, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

Artificial intelligence, angels fallen to earth, Loki, murderbots, apocalyptic doom, and a leap in evolution are among the highlights of this year’s best science fiction and fantasy.

Every best-of list like this has its own criteria for a book’s inclusion, whether it be formally written out or lurking in the back of the editors’ minds. For my part, I wanted to put a spotlight on stories that were willing to stride down a less-beaten path while still thriving on the core values of heroism and derring-do that draw us to read science fiction or fantasy.

Every year it’s nearly impossible to winnow the list down to only 20. This year, thirteen of the 20 are either standalone books or start a new series, and the other seven books continue series that you’ll thank yourself for plunging into (but start with book one!). Three stories are self-labeled for teens or young adults, quite a few more straddle the “coming of age” space where so much adventure can happen, and even a handful of books revel in the hard-won wisdom that middle-age brings.

Below are 10 of the 20 best books of the year, focusing mostly on standalones or series starters.

To see the full list, go to our page that lists all 20 best science fiction and fantasy books of 2017.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – Arden’s debut novel builds like a thunderstorm, with far-off disquieting rumblings that escalate into a clash between sprites and humans, ancient religions and new, honor and ambition. Set in the 14th century in the bitter north, a two-week ride from the rough city of Moscow, this mesmerizing tale centers on Vasya Petronova, a girl who barely survives birth and grows up with a secret affinity for the sprites and demons that live in and around her village. “A wild thing new-caught and just barely groomed into submission” is how her father imagines her, and he’s not wrong. As her family tries to harness her into the typical domestic life of a young noblewoman, Vasya spends more and more time among the sprites and soon gets caught between two old and powerful gods struggling for domination over her part of the world. And while I think there are only a dozen or so novels in this world that have a perfect ending, I would put The Bear and the Nightingale high on that list. Book two, The Girl in the Tower, hit shelves on December 5.

All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells – A weapon-heavy security bot on a contract with surveyors sent to investigate a new planet, Murderbot (as it refers to itself) takes pains to conceal from the humans it’s guarding that there’s something different about it: Murderbot has disabled the function that requires it to obey any orders given or downloaded. All Murderbot wants is time to itself so that it can watch the thousands of hours of entertainment vids it’s downloaded on the sly, but the sudden, ominous silence from the surveyors’ sister camp knocks those plans awry. Tense action locks in step with Murderbot’s march toward owning its personhood, imbuing the android with more character than other, far larger novels ever manage to do. A tight space adventure with a deep core of humanity, All Systems Red has become one of my favorite books this year to press into the hands of my fellow SF readers.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – Neil Gaiman putting his own fingerprints on the Norse myths? Cue the hyperventilation of delighted readers. That reaction is genuinely earned in this inventive retelling, as Gaiman darts between a Tolkienesque tone in the epic origin stories and his own bright wit in the tales centering on the adventures of Thor, Loki, and Odin. Those new to Norse mythology might be astonished by how bizarre some details are, while fans more well-versed in Norse myths should still appreciate the humor and spark that Gaiman infuses into the stories he has selected to retell, adding to the existing rich literature. Many who read Norse Mythology will make this volume their joyful leaping-off point into a strange and mesmerizing world of gods, giants, undead goats, betrayals, a slanderous squirrel, elves, dwarves, and Valkyries. And don’t forget that ship made of the finger- and toenails of the dead.

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King – This tale of young orphan girls who are trained to be devout warriors—and then, disturbingly, are given to benefactors as servants, concubines, or wives—is ultimately one of strength and sisterhood. Sickly but spirited 18-year-old Kalinda is chosen to be the rajah’s 100th and final queen, an “honor” she desperately does not want but to decline means death. A bubbling civil war and the deadly intrigues of the court complicate Kalinda’s choices further, and King dials up the tension as the date of Kalinda’s wedding grows closer. Powerful and innocent at once, this is a good pick for those who embraced the lessons of justice and generosity in Wonder Woman.

The Power by Naomi Alderman – Margaret Atwood calls this book “Electrifying!” and it’s not just because in The Power young women have developed the ability to electrocute people, overturning the power hierarchy of the world. Girls and boys are sent to segregated schools, and female public officials are required to go through testing to make sure they don’t have the ability because, oh my gosh, the world just might as well be over if women gain physical leverage over men. It would have been easy to write a strident and simplistic anti-man book—one that would be welcomed especially now, during a tsunami of sexual harassment scandals—but instead Alderman weaves more nuanced ideas into a thoughtful yet action-packed story, giving readers of The Power lots to consider and lots to thrill to.

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty – George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones meets Naomi Novik’s Uprooted in this marvelous debut fantasy about a young con artist from 18th century Cairo who learns that her mysterious parentage—and her ability to work small magics—might be connected to the nearly forgotten legends of the djinn, Suleiman the Magnificent, and the mysterious brass city of Daevabad. When Nahri accidentally summons Dara, a djinn warrior with a long and bloody past, she plunges both of them into the brewing animosity among the ancient djinn tribes united only by their disdain for their half-human offspring, who have few rights in the djinn stronghold of Daevabad. But not all djinn think the half-humans should be persecuted. Alizayd, the djinn king’s second son, works in the shadows to right wrongs even as surging tensions birth battles in the streets. Deep and gorgeous world building plus the political plot corkscrews caused me to happily ruminate on this book and its characters weeks after I finished it. I have a few quibbles—Nahri doesn’t have as much to do in the second half as in the first—but Chakraborty’s heck of a finale was both a surprise and felt completely right…and left me quivering with anticipation for the second book in the trilogy.

Artemis by Andy Weir – As in The Martian (the book, not the film), Artemis‘s strengths are Weir’s plotting and the gee-whiz science facts leveraged to make survival more unlikely than guaranteed. Twenty-something Jazz has made a niche for herself as a reliable smuggler in the one and only small city on the Moon. When one of her clients offers her a sabotage job that will let her pay back an old debt, Jax pushes aside her misgivings…and the hijinx begin. For me, the weakness of Artemis is Jazz herself, who, like Mark Watney (in the book!), can come off sometimes as an infantile jerk. Still, there’s quite a lot to enjoy about Artemis as a clever heist-gone-wrong-on-the-Moon story.

The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard – The second book in the Dominion of the Fallen series is just as atmospheric as the first and shoves you right into the middle of the twisty political action in which fallen angels and dragons compete for people and power. De Bodard knows how to craft a deliciously tense story in which flawed characters with competing agendas keep you flipping the pages to find out what happens next—and her broken, dark Paris is the perfect setting. Fantasy and urban fantasy fans should start with The House of Shattered Wings with a happy confidence that book two is excellent as well.

Void Star by Zachary Mason – In this near-future SF suspense novel, Irene’s neural implant and her ability to talk with machines makes her a much-coveted and very expensive tech troubleshooter, but her meeting with billionaire Cromwell sets off all sorts of subconscious alarm bells, as does the frightening glimpse of a wild AI she’s never encountered before. Void Star utilizes a deliberate, predatory pace more common to the most exquisite horror novels. A buildup of tiny tells, headlong plunges into the sharp-as-glass memories saved in Irene’s implant, and eerie snapshots of the strange and inexplicable hammer the tension into a near-unbearable drumbeat. But even as Irene crisscrosses the planet—sometimes on the run, sometimes on the chase—it’s the essential role of memories that gives this novel its heft, coaxing us to consider what we keep and what we leave behind in our own daily world-building.

When the English Fall by David Williams – In this spare but tense novel, only the Amish have the skills and the food stores to survive after an unexplained event destroys most modern technology, causing planes to fall out of the sky and electricity to fail. Told through the diary entries of Amish farmer Jacob, the bubbling-up of anger and violence in the outside world slowly begins to affect the self-sufficient Amish, forcing them to rethink their relationships with the non-Amish and how they will stay true to their beliefs while under new pressure. A fascinating exploration of the corrosive effect of anger and the strength that can be found in holding true to one’s beliefs, even if it leads to the harder path.

Best Cookbooks of 2017

by Seira Wilson, November 22, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

SmittenInterior200This year we saw favorite cookbook authors return, discovered bright debuts, and enjoyed some really terrific food writing.  All of this is reflected in our list of the Top 20 Best Cookbooks of 2017.  Below is a sort of mini-tasting menu of the overall list of the twenty books we thought stood out from the crowd this year.

Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Every Day is our pick for the number one cookbook of the year–you’ll see why below and check back for a recipe road test excerpt from the book.

See all the Best Cookbooks of the Year

Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman

This is Perelman’s follow-up to her debut cookbook Smitten Kitchen and it made the top of our list because this is a cookbook for anyone who appreciates a beautiful meal, simply prepared. Smitten Kitchen Every Day is accessible for the kitchen novice but her flavors and style will speak to the most professional of home cooks.

Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden

After this debut cookbook, I look forward to seeing more from chef/farmer/author Joshua McFadden. Six Seasons takes the seasonal cookbook one step further with recipes for preparing vegetables to draw out their best at every growth stage–starting with the veggies at their naked best and moving into recipes that draw out changing flavors with different cooking methods and ingredients. Another must-have, this is a cookbook that you can give anyone and won’t want to be without.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

This was our top cookbook for the first half of 2017 and it’s stayed on top all year. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is like going to culinary school through the pages of a book, learning from a really fun, smart, and brilliant teacher who imparts kitchen wisdom to last a lifetime.  Once you read this special cookbook, your confidence level in the kitchen will skyrocket…

Indian Instant Pot® Cookbook by Urvashi Pitre

I can’t tell you how many Instant Pot® cookbooks have crossed my desk, and many look more or less alike.  The Indian Instant Pot® Cookbook stands out from the crowd and makes a cuisine that many may find intimidating to cook at home as easy as the machine itself.


The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty

Southern food is having a moment again, and it’s a diverse culinary landscape with roots that cross cultures.  In The Cooking Gene, Twitty traces his own ancestry in a unique memoir rich with history and food.  Soul food, barbecue–dishes we love and dishes that have come from times of hardship and plenty–Twitty shows us how through food we can find understanding and a new way of looking at why Southern food is so often the comfort we crave.

The Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2017

by Chris SchluepNovember 20, 2017, first appearing on Omnivoracious

It’s never easy picking the best of anything. Best car, best burger, best book… it’s all subjective. Plus, our favorite book falls into an entirely different category than our favorite car or burger. A book is more than a commodity. It’s a book.

That said, the goal of our editorial team is to help readers find books they’ll love– and mysteries and thrillers are a good place to start. Here is a sample of our Best Mysteries & Thrillers of 2017. You can see the full list here.

The Dry by Jane Harper – We named this debut from an Australian writer as our 2017 Best in Mysteries & Thrillers. Here’s what Amazon’s Penny Mann had to say about the book way back in January when we picked it as a Best Book of the Month: “I was surprised to realize that The Dry was Jane Harper’s debut novel. The writing is fantastic, and the plot – where many mystery/thrillers fall short these days – was completely unpredictable in the best ways possible. Federal Agent, Aaron Faulk, returns to his hometown in Australia to mourn, and inevitably investigate, his best friend’s apparent suicide. What comes next is a series of twists and turns that will keep you guessing all the way until the end. I repeatedly found myself shocked and pulled in by Harper’s fast paced and engrossing writing. Truly a fantastic read and hopefully the first of many to come from Ms. Harper.”

A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré – Apparently, Penny has been busy reading great thrillers this year. In September, she wrote: “John Le Carré, who you may know from the classic George Smiley spy novels, has returned after 25 years to bring us A Legacy of Spies, an interweaving of past and present story lines that allows new readers a way into these (I’m going to say it… perfect ) thrillers and will have longtime fans swooning. I have loved the Smiley series since I first read book one, so I was more than apprehensive when I heard Le Carré was reigniting the story with ‘Legacy’ after so many years (needlessly apprehensive, as it turns out). Peter Guillam, Smiley’s most prized assistant, returns with both grace and vengeance as he evaluates life and the lies he has created to survive. Readers don’t need to have read the past titles to understand or enjoy ‘Legacy’, but I guarantee you will want to go back and start at the beginning as soon as you turn that final page.”

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz – Amazon’s Vanessa Cronin wrote the review for Magpie Murders, which we picked as a Best Book of June: “When editor Susan Ryeland begins to read the latest manuscript by curmudgeonly, bestselling author Alan Conway, she has no idea that by the time she gets to the end, the author will be dead from a mysterious fall, and that the last chapter of his last novel will be MIA. Sounds simple enough, but Horowitz uses this set-up to construct a clever novel-within-a-novel framework. One novel is set in 1950s Saxby-on-Avon, the English village where Conway’s Poirot-like fictional detective Atticus Pund arrives to investigate a murder, the other in modern-day London where Susan’s reading of the manuscript leads her to suspect that Conway’s death may not have been accidental. Two novels for the price of one means double the fun for readers: two mysteries, two detectives, and possibly two murderers. Paying homage to the vintage British manor house mysteries, Magpie Murders is a masterfully dark, twisty thriller with only one down side: reading it will make you wish there really was a series of Atticus Pund thrillers.”
Again here is the full list.