Best Books of the Year at the 2017 Festival


As this year comes to a close, it’s time to look back at the best books of the year. Check out these books that appear on some of 2016’s best-of lists to get an idea of what to read before the upcoming Festival in March!

Several Festival authors appear on The Washington Post’s list of notable fiction in 2016If you’re interested in historical fiction, the Post has touted both The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie Brown and Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings by Stephen O’Connor.

If mystery is more your speed, the Post calls Laura Lippman’s Wilde Lake and Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me two of the most notable mystery novels this year. Abbott’s latest was also selected for The MillionsA Year In Reading: 2016 list as well as BookRiot‘s Best Mysteries and Thrillers list.

Publisher’s Weekly lists Redemption Road by John Hart as one of the best this year, a novel brimming with secrets and betrayal. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee‘s The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets also made the latter list.

Jane Alison‘s Nine Island is listed as one of Longread’s Best of 2016 Under-Recognized Books, saying, “I never expected an experimental novel that makes extensive allusions to classical Roman poetry to feel so vital and immediate, but Nine Island proved me wrong again and again.”

Kaitlyn Greenidge‘s We Love You, Charlie Freeman and Manuel GonzalesThe Regional Office Is Under Attack! were both selected by The Morning News as best books of 2016, which are included on the 2017 Tournament of Books Long List. Greenidge was also selected for the Washington Independent Review of Books‘ 25 Favorite Books of 2016.

Further, Jung Yun‘s Shelter was selected as one of this year’s 35 Over 35 books and the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards Long Lists feature Festival authors Jennifer Ackerman, Clare Beams, Belle Boggs, Ruth Franklin, Joe Jackson, Patrick Phillips, Rion Amilcar Scott, and Dava Sobel.

Phillips also appears on the New York Times’ list of 100 notable books of 2016, along with Festival author Beth Macy appears with Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South, a “riveting” account of two albino African American brothers in the Jim Crow South. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America was also touted by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the best of the year, as well as Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race.

Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell, a nonfiction book about the landmark Supreme Court decision extending the right to marry to same-sex couples, landed on The Washington Post’s list of notable nonfiction in 2016.

In children’s literature, Lulu Delacre‘s Olinguito, de La A a la Z! made multiple lists, including Kirkus Reviews‘ best picture books of 2016. Also making the list is Kwame Alexander, a Festival headliner.

But, these aren’t the only Festival books to make the 2016 best-of lists… A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold, Dodgers by Bill Beverly, and many others made the lists! Browse our Festival Speakers to get to know our #VaBook2017 authors and even begin cultivating your very own best-of list.