Newsletter: The Best Books of 2017

A Note from Andrew, RJ Julia's Adult Book Buyer:

January is rife with lists. A natural time of reflection, you’ll see lists from every source of the year’s top books, movies, restaurants, TV shows, athletes, albums... you name it. You'll even see our list, below, of the Best Books of 2017. 

At RJ Julia, we judge our Best Books of the Year list very seriously. Harshly, if necessary, because this is for posterity. We want to be sure that we are truly giving you the best of the best from the year past.  

Without further ado, please peruse below our Best Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Children’s Books of 2017. Questions and comments are encouraged, as long as they are passionate.

Adult Fiction


History of Wolves 

by Emily Fridlund

Not purely a psychological thriller, but psychologically thrilling! Boiling with tension from the first page, this one is a must-read.  

Read Brian's review.




by Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee plays with the fates of her deeply felt characters. Epic yet intimate. 

Read Sharon's review. 




Exit West 

by Mohsin Hamid

Relevant, profound, and exquisitely written! 

Read Katherine's review.



Magpie Murders 

by Anthony Horowitz

A modern mystery, a classic English mystery, and a mystery within a mystery all at once. 

Read Andrew's review.



Sing, Unburied, Sing 

by Jesmyn Ward

Beautifully written and realistically tragic. 

Read Lori's review.



Norse Mythology 

by Neil Gaiman

The tales of gods you may know – Odin, Thor, Loki – and gods and goddesses you may not yet know. 

Read Lindsey's review.



The Power 

by Naomi Alderman

Thrilling to the last sentence, Naomi builds an alternate yet believable scenario, showing that power without management is always corruptible. 

Read Terri's review.


The Good People 

by Hannah Kent

I love that I could smell the scents and feel the dew as I read this book. Beautiful and haunting!

Read Lori's review.




Manhattan Beach 

by Jennifer Egan

Egan's first historical novel is an absolute triumph filled with vibrant details and flawed, compelling characters. 

Read Kelly's review.




Anything Is Possible

by Elizabeth Strout

Strout proves herself a master! Each chapter reminds us that the past is extremely powerful and can result in different interpretations. 

Read Lori's review.

Adult Non-Fiction

Leonardo Da Vinci 

by Walter Isaacson

Isaacson has painted the most riveting picture of Leonardo in full-color. Here's an engrossing true tale that you will not be able to stop reading. 

Read Terri's review.




The Lost City of the Monkey God 

by Douglas Preston 

Join the team of intrepid explorers as they uncover the mythical lost city, braving venomous snakes, crippling disease, biting insects, and jaguars.

Read Andrew's review.


Prairie Fires 

by Caroline Fraser

The book Laura Ingalls Wilder fans have been waiting for! The first full length biography written for adults delves into the long debated mystery as to whether Laura or her daughter Rose was the true author of the Little House books.

- Andrew



by Ron Chernow

Chernow tackles the enigmatic general then president, Ulysses S. Grant. Chernow is at the top of his craft and fame. 

Read Andrew's review.



The Origins of Creativity 

by Edward O. Wilson

Wilson explores the complicated relationship between the humanities, the sciences, and creativity itself. 

Read Brian's review.



Killers of the Flower Moon 

by David Grann

This is the best kind of true crime book: the crimes occurred 100 years ago, have since faded into obscurity, and you can't believe you never heard a thing about them! 

- Mary



The Book of Cheese

by Liz Thorpe

This great companion is organized not by type of cheese, but by nine gateway cheeses which guide the reader based on taste.

Read Mandy's review. 


Revolution Song 

by Russell Shorto

With fascinating details, Shorto gives us a deep understanding of the society that the revolution played out in. 

Read Gail's review.



The Saboteur 

by Paul Kix

For the WWII lover, this account is of a young man who, by the age of 21, has survived the Nazi’s toughest torture. The opening scene will shock you!

- Jamie



American Wolf 

by Nate Blakeslee

One of the most thrilling, affecting books I’ve ever read. O-Six and her family are besieged on all sides in Yellowstone National Park, and yet the alpha female, seemingly invincible, endures. 

Read Brian's review.

A Note from Jamie, RJ Julia's Kids' and Young Adult Book Buyer:

Best selling books in the Kids' department always include old favorites, but it's fun to see what has squeezed onto our shelves and into our hearts, snuggling in with those classics.

Here is a short list of what your kids loved this past year. We loved them too, and hope that you find your own favorites, and maybe something new, below. 

Kids' and Young Adult Fiction

Ages 0 - 3

Little Wolf's Song

by Britta Teckentrup

A perfect winter's day read for you and your little one. I adore Teckentrup's sweet illustrations and story about finding your voice in your own time.

- Susan


Opposite Surprise 

by Agnese Baruzzi

What a wonderful, interactive book! So much fun to read with your two-year-old! 



Ages 3 - 5

Little Excavator 

by Anna Dewdney

Is Little Excavator too small to help the big rigs? Active rhymes and engaging pictures help this book earn its RJ bestseller status! 

- Laura


There Might be Lobsters 

by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Laurel Molk

With the help of his toy monkey and friend Eleanor, Suki the dog finds that facing your fears can be wonderful and confidence building. 




Ages 6 - 8

Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella 

by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson

Join Harper on her mission to find her cat Midnight, and the rest of the cats from the city of clouds, when they suddenly vanish!

- Bella




Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows 

by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay

Zoey wears her Thinking Goggles on top of her head so they are closer to her brain! Adorable, educational, and fun! 

- Lindsey


Ages 8 - 12

Beyond the Bright Sea 

by Lauren Wolk

Told in an intimate and determined voice, Crow's search to find her roots rocks her fragile world and endangers those around her. Profound yet utterly relatable.

- Jamie




Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway

by Jeff Kinney

Fasten your seat-belt and prepare to laugh (and maybe shed a few tears of agony) when you go on holiday with Greg and his frazzled family.

- Susan



Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead

by Rick Riordan

The final book of Magnus Chase does not disappoint! Riordan is true to form with well-paced action and - my favorite - spot on humor!

- Susan



Real Friends 

by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

A great reminder for us all, but especially kids in middle school, to stay true to themselves. The talented Shannon Hale really knows and understands the age group she writes for.

- Susan


Ages 12+

Genius: The Game 

by Leopoldo Gout

"Trust no one."  A collection of diverse hackers are brought together for a competition devised by a rising-star CEO. But is it just a competition? Or is something more going on? 

- Susan



Akata Witch 

by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny was born and raised in the U.S., but her family has moved to Nigeria. She is an albino, but there is so much more that makes her special. When a serial killer strikes close to home, she must master her powers and herself. 

Read Jamie's review.


A Study in Charlotte

by Brittany Cavallaro

A thrilling mystery that must be solved by none-other-than the great, great, great grandson of John Watson and the great, great, great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. 

- Susan



Turtles All the Way Down 

by John Green

A book about friendship and love and trying to truly understand your best friend. It’s about anxiety and fighting your demons, and giving in to them sometimes. It’s about mental illness. It’s about grief.  Possibly the best John Green book. 

Read Lindsey's review.

Kids' and Young Adult Non-Fiction

Ages 4 - 8

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

A book to uplift and encourage children to never give up, this is one you'll go back to again and again.

- Susan


Ages 8 - 12 

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 

by Elena Favilla and Francesca Cavallo

This collection of personal stories has taken the country by storm! This book does not shy away from the broader global reality of being a girl.

- Jamie


Ages 10+ 

The Playbook by Kwame Alexander, photos by Thai Neave

This one is for our sons and daughters.  Read a chapter every day - they're short, but powerful, and will set a positive, uplifting tone for the day.

- Susan



Ages 12+ 

Strong is the New Pretty 

by Kate T. Parker

Filled with captivating photos that inspire, a must have for daughters and granddaughters. 

- Susan


A Solution to Your New Year's Resolution

Do you have a kitchen drawer absolutely over flowing with plastic bags? 
Well then we have a solution for you:
make it your New Year's Resolution to only use reusable bags! 

Blu Bags from rockflowerpaper are the perfect size to stuff in your purse or pocket,
can hold up to 50lbs and come in a variety of colorful patterns!

They are easily washable and a donation is made by rockflowerpaper
to Ocean Conservancy for every bag sold!

We're delighted to host a gathering of booklovers on a weekly basis and our book clubs are always excited to welcome new members! Learn more about book clubs here and see what they are reading this month!