The 20 Best Books of 2017, and Our 4 Award Winners

Dear BookBrowsers,

It's hard to believe that another year has gone by filled with great literature. The number of books we fit into our daily lives and the ones we add to our to-read pile has us endlessly lament "too many books, too little time."

BookBrowse's annual Best of the Year awards are an excellent barometer of great reading. The awards are particularly noteworthy because voting is only open to BookBrowse subscribers - so no vote stuffing by rabid fan bases; and instead of just voting for a book (which favors the most widely read books) subscribers rate each book they've read that is on the shortlist, and the winners are the books with the highest overall rating. Such considered selection results in truly outstanding books being feted every year. 2017 is no different in that regard. Over 7,000 votes were cast on 67 books (12 nonfiction, 51 fiction and 4 YA).

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What is The Bardo?

Lincoln in The BardoYesterday, George Saunders won the Man Booker Prize for Lincoln in The Bardo. So you might be wondering what the bardo is! Find out in our "beyond the book" article. You can also read our review and browse an excerpt.

The word bardo comes from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and means "in-between." It refers to a transitional state when one's awareness of the physical world is suspended. According to Spiritualtravel.org the concept is an "umbrella term which includes the transitional states of birth, death, dream, transmigration or afterlife, meditation, and spiritual luminosity...for the dying individual, the bardo is the period of the afterlife that lies in between two different incarnations." Most of the characters in Lincoln in the Bardo are in this latter state throughout the novel, stuck between life and whatever awaits them beyond.

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6 Books That Help You Talk About Death and End-of-Life Care

Healthcare is a global hot-button issue and recent political discussions in the United States have brought the topic front and center in the national dialog. A whole slew of books have looked at the complex issues surrounding mortality and care: when to intervene, when to not, what does quality of life mean, and the importance of a life well lived without prolonging suffering. The ones we feature in this blog will give you plenty of food for thought, and angles to discuss if you're part of a book club. The topic of health might often be weighty but how better to address it than with your friends and family as part of a broader life discussion and through the accessible avenue of books!

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7 Books on The Civil War for Book Clubs

Historical fiction lovers have it good: they can travel to distant places and times, and learn by immersion. The American Civil War is one piece of history that is filled with treats for fans of the form -- high drama, hazy battle lines between good and bad, black and white; and the sights and sounds of a nascent America still struggling to forge its identity. There are plenty of good books in this category, March by Geraldine Brooks and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier being two classics. Here are some others worth checking out. Please fee free to add your own suggestions at the bottom.

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Page-Turners to Pack - and to Discuss in Your Book Club!

Dear BookBrowsers,

It's a booklover's midsummer dream: to spend a whole day at the beach or in your backyard hammock, reading. Summer's necessary indulgences include chugging through a fast-paced novel or two, so we have included an entire lineup of gripping books that you simply won't be able to put down. Even better, they make for great discussion and come with reading guides, so you can be confident recommending them to your book club as well. Make sure to pack a couple of these in your beach bag. After all, every lazy day deserves page-turning action!

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Middle East Must-Reads

Summer might not seem like the time to visit desert sands, and sure, there's more than just desert in the Middle East. But the subject is always topical.

To make sense of the geopolitics, it helps to be steeped in a place, to try to understand the people and their motivations. These books won't make you an expert but maybe they will clarify the murk somewhat, allowing you to see varying parts of the Middle East through the eyes of people who live there.

Best of all, they are great to read for their own sake and also well suited for discussion. If you're ready for some armchair travel to a region of the world that's often terribly misunderstood, buckle your seat-belts and join us for the ride!

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