December is a list-lover’s favorite time of year! Here’s the first of many where we reminisce about the places we’ve gone and people we’ve met over the last twelve months.

OMG, guys–I just pictured a world* where you could only read a book in the year it was published. Can you imagine the wonderfulness we would lose if these books went poof when the clock struck midnight on January 1st? Perish the thought.

*Dystopian, naturally.

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Sarah’s Picks

Cover for Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Title: Once and For All
Author: Sarah Dessen

At this point, I don’t even need to read a new Sarah Dessen book to tell you that it’s one of my favorites of the year, but obviously I devoured this novel like a delicious slice of wedding cake (washed down with champers, natch). Dessen delivers her signature moves: a strong and empathetic heroine, an irrepressibly charming boy, snappy dialogue and a story that feeds the soul. Heeding the advice of the great Beyoncé, when it comes to this book, I’m putting a ring on it.

Title: Ramona Blue
Author: Julie Murphy

Ramona Leroux stole my heart, and I never want her to give it back. The dynamic star of Julie Murphy’s engaging and complex exploration of identity and sexuality is like no other, and she’s surrounded by a colorful cast of characters that exude honesty, insight and Southern sass. Just like the Quimby of the same name, Ramona has achieved permanent status on my literary BFF list, and I pray that Murphy gives us a chance to reunite again. (Girl, write a sequel, is what I’m saying.)

Title: Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart

The less I tell you about this book, the better, so just trust me when I say that E. Lockhart has crafted a masterful labyrinth of jealousy and deceit that will leave your mind reeling and your head bowing down to her dark and fearsome genius.

Mandy W’s Picks

Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3)
Author: Jenny Han 
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Sigh, MY HEART. A bittersweet and perfect goodbye to a beloved series and its wonderful characters.

Seconded: Stephanie

Cover of THE HATE U GIVE: illustration of a Black girl holds up a large white sign with the title text, against a white background

Title: The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give #1)
Author: Angie Thomas
Series: The Hate U Give

THIS. BOOK. Hard to believe it was only released this year, due to the cultural impact it’s already made. (And you know we’ve got it bad for a book when we rush to make it an FYA Book Club pick ASAP!) The hype is real, y’all.

Seconded: Stephanie, Rosemary, Mandy C., Brian

Cover LITTLE & LION: Black background with line drawings of a palm tree, magazine, flower, beverage cup, book, underneath large colourful title text

Title: Little & Lion
Author: Brandy Colbert

Once in a while, you enter a world filled with characters whom you never want to leave behind. Well, sign me up for revisiting Little and Lion in Los Angeles anytime.

Title: Me and Marvin Gardens
Author: A.S. (Amy Sarig) King

I’m ride-or-die for A.S. King, who never ceases to surprise or amaze with her skill and versatility — here, in a delightful middle grade tale of friendship and environmentalism.

Mandy C’s Picks

A girl in a princess costume leans against a food truck while texting.

Title: Geekerella (Once Upon a Con #1)
Author: Ashley Poston
Series: Once Upon a Con

I’ve read the majority of “geek” books that have come out over the past few years, and none of them resonated with the geek in me nearly as much as Geekerella did. Poston knows what it is to be a geek, and to be a part of fandom, and that truth shines in this novel.

Cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses, featuring a woman in a black dress holding a sword in front of a green background

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas 
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Y’all, if Prythian was a real place, I’d move there in a hot second. And while I didn’t love A Court of Wings and Ruin as much as A Court of Mist and Fury—but really, that book is The Best—I loved being able to follow along as Feyre and Rhys’ story came to a conclusion. I’m also super glad we haven’t seen the end of the this world yet.

Cover of The Nowhere Girls, with the title splashed in yellow in front of a still life of flowers, and the "No" in "Nowhere" is written in pink

Title: The Nowhere Girls 
Author: Amy Reed

The Nowhere Girls is a brutal, powerful read that, unfortunately, is all too timely in our current political and social climate. It’s not an easy read, but the characters are the kinds of heroes we need in YA these days.

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

I love how McLemore mixes magic and culture in their novels, and sincerely appreciate how they include non-binary, non-straight characters without turning them into tropes. Reading Wild Beauty felt a little like getting lost in a dream, and I hated waking up at the end.

Cover of Defy the Stars, featuring the shining title surrounded by a circle breaking into rubble in front of a field of stars.

Title: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1)
Author: Claudia Gray 
Series: Constellation

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray has an amazing gift for mixing swoon into adventurous science fiction, and Defy the Stars features both in spades.

Rosemary’s Picks

Cover of Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennet

Title: Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett

After The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, we all knew Jenn Bennett was Capable-with-a-capital-C of writing a sexy book, and now we know she’s Capable of writing two sexy books. This You’ve Got Mail retelling was a beachy read that packed an emotional wallop and exploded with swoon.

Seconded: Stephanie

Title: Love and Other Alien Experiences
Author: Kerry Winfrey

A fun and swoony contemporary billed as You’ve Got Mail meets The X-Files means this book was, like, tailor made for me. It was an adorable debut, and I didn’t want to let the characters go when I finished it. 

Yellow cover with pieces of pink bubble gum

Title: How To Break a Boy
Author: Laurie Devore

I came for mean girls; I stayed for characters so complex, they made my eyelid twitch while simultaneously making me want to hug them. Plus, I’m always here for the fake boyfriend trope.

Seconded: Stephanie

White girl cringing as confetti falls down on her

Title: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index
Author: Julie Israel

Found objects, lists, and Mysterious Loner Dudes – be still my heart. Julie Israel’s debut contemporary hit that sweet spot between light-hearted and heavy-hitting. It was an irreverent, quirky and sometimes awkward look at grief and love with characters that were lovable and flawed.

Orange spiral with the words "Turtles all the way down John Green"

Title: Turtles All The Way Down
Author: John Green

Green’s heart-wrenching examination of mental illness was certainly one of my hardest reads of 2017. But his ability to take the reader down a dark road they’d never want to go down, and continually bring them out the other side feeling glad they went, is the hallmark of a John Green novel.

Stephanie’s Picks

Title: Midnight at the Electric
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

I described this as a “quiet” book to everyone I could foist it upon (and that was quite a few this year, believe me) and I waffle on whether or not that is a flattering descriptor, because I know for some quiet = boring. Maybe let’s go with “character-driven”, because this book is all about the people and their inner and outer relationships with their environment and the people who love them. I laughed, I cried, I highlighted the shizz out of multiple passages. Definitely one of my 2017 favorites.

Cover of Letters to the Lost: A bouquet of flowers made out of paper

Title: Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Letters to the Lost

The heartache the two main characters go through made me want to wrap them in blankets until the world spontaneously becomes a better, more deserving place for them to live. In spite of the sad parts, this was quite a swoony book with excellent chemistry and a You’ve Got Mail adjacent plot, plus bonus awesome adults. I thought about it long after I finished it.

Cover Dark Days Pact: Girl in 1800s men's clothing holding a glowing blue sword

Title: The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)
Author: Alison Goodman
Series: Lady Helen

It’s not often that a follow-up book surpasses the first, but I devoured the expanded magical world, the sexy and tragic romance between Lady Helen and Lord Carlston, and the dialed-it-up-to-11 twists and turns. This book left me with major TEABS and, NO, the third book has been pushed back to mid-2018–whyyyy, God, WHY? (Well, I do know why, and the reasons are valid, but waiting sucks.)

Cover Jane Unlimited: A metallic looking background with the book title across it

Title: Jane, Unlimited
Author: Kristin Cashore

Unique in both tone and a choose-your-own-adventure-esque layout, this book is one that stuck with me long after I was finished. It won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay. It was weird, ambitious, beautiful, and sometimes confusing, but I was fascinated with the Gothic world of Tu Reviens. This is one of those places I wish I could visit IRL.  

Cover of Far From the Tree: Multi colored leaves in a burst pattern from the center of the book.

Title: Far From The Tree
Author: Robin Benway

If grocery store commercials about being with loved ones during the holidays or videos of elephants and dogs being best friends can make you tear up, then do yourself a favor and keep a tissue box close by while you read this book. The sibling love is strong, the power of forgiveness is, uh, powerful, and the hope will make your heart hurt in the best possible way.

Brian’s Pick’s

Cover of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. A handsome man in 18th century clothes

Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Series: Montague Siblings

Bromance, LGBTQ, treasure hunt, road trip, and pirates. What the hell else could you want?

Cover of Wrecked by Maria Padian. A white board almost totally filled in with pink marker

Title: Wrecked
Author: Maria Padian

It seems that the world is no longer as safe for perpetrators of sexual assault/harassment (which is a wonderful thing), but it’s still not always easy for the victim.


Title: Setting Free the Kites
Author: Alex George

A nice, wistful look at coming of age, set in the early 1980s.

Cover of The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli. The outline of a girl in a bird cage, releasing birds to freedom

Title: The Warden’s Daughter
Author: Jerry Spinelli

Nice tale of family life at a prison, set in the 1950s.

Cover of Deacon Locke Went to Prom, with a blue bowtie on a white wooden background

Title: Deacon Locke Went to Prom
Author: Brian Katcher

I have to say, I liked this one. But the author is a friend of mine.

Britt’s Picks

Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Strange the Dreamer

I’m a sucker for dreamy librarians, mythical, lost cities, spy moths, and angsty blue godspawn women who still have faith in humanity even though people actually want to kill them. #notallhumans

The title surrounded by swirly silver starbeams and red scrollwork on a black background

Title: Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval

Enchantment, vivid descriptions, mystery, darkness, intriguing characters, and a plot to boot – basically, this is the book I wished The Night Circus could have been.

Title: Wayfarer (Passenger #2)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger

This was a solid follow-up to Passenger. So many time travel tales (yes, even Doctor Who) completely ignore race and privilege when a modern character is suddenly plopped into the past, because god forbid white people be made to feel uncomfortable. I love, love, LOVE that this book and its precursor do not shy away from the main character, a 21st-century white woman with the hots for a black man from the past who had to “earn” his freedom from enslavement, being hit smack-dab in the face with the reality that they can’t even look at each other in certain eras without raising suspicion and blowing their cover.

Title: American Street
Author: Ibi Zoboi

First of all, THAT COVER. Heart eyes for days, son. I don’t usually ride for magical realism, but this book – in which a Haitian immigrant is unexpectedly thrust into the care of family she barely knows, tries to hold on to her her culture while figuring out the American Dream, and essentially is forced to sink or swim – blew my mind.

Did we include all of your 2017 favorites? Which books make your own personal “best of” list? Let us know in the comments!


Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.