Hot reads for cold days: the best books of 2017 — including those with a Calgary connection

Cold winds howling outside make for the perfect time to curl up by the fire with a good book. So the Calgary Eyeopener talked with CBC Books about some of the year's best literary picks.

List includes some of year's most-celebrated books and award-winners but also some you've never heard of

Eden Robinson is the author of the young adult novel Son of a Trickster. (Chris Young/Knopf Canada)

Cold winds howling outside make for the perfect time to curl up by the fire with a good book. 

CBC Books compiled a list of the best books of 2017, with everything from non-fiction to graphic novels. 

Doug Dirks chatted with Ryan Patrick, a producer at CBC Books and one of the people who compiled this year's list, on The Homestretch to find out some of his top picks.

This interview has been condensed and edited for web.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about how this year's best books list came together?

A: They're comprised of recommendations that came from within the books team — some of our favourite reads — but also from producers and folks across the CBC.

The end result is a comprehensive list that includes some of the year's most-celebrated books, award-winners, best reads, but there are also some titles that you might not have heard before.

Q: What were some of the year's best reads for young people?

A: You might have heard of this book, it's called The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. This is a story about a group of Indigenous youth fighting for survival in a dystopian world.

It's a compelling read — to use the cliche, I definitely couldn't put this book down.

Cherie Dimaline is the author of The Marrow Thieves. (Cormorant Books / Dancing Cat Books Publishers (DCB))

For younger readers, Coyote Tales by Thomas King definitely won't disappoint. It's geared for Grades 1-4 and you have his trademark humour and storytelling skills on display. It's a brilliant book.

Q: How about the picture book When We Were Alone?

A: This book by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett is incredible — it won this year's Governor General's Literary Award: Young People's Literature. It's a beautiful and tender look at a serious issue from our past, Canada's residential school history, framed in a way that's completely appropriate for young viewers. 

An illustration by Julie Flett, in the book, When We Were Alone, by David A. Robertson. (HighWater Press/CBC)

Q: You've also published lists of best poetry and best graphica. What stands out for you there? 

A: Let's start with poetry. Voodoo Hypothesis is a poetry collection by Canisia Lubrin. This book pulls from pop culture, science, pseudoscience, news stories to look at race and blackness using language in a beautiful way that draws on Creole and Caribbean Patois. It's an incredible read.

Roughneck by the great Jeff Lemire makes our list of graphica and it's definitely worth checking out. Jeff is the best-selling illustrator behind Essex County, and he also illustrated the graphic novel The Secret Path by the late Gord Downie. This is the story about a pair of siblings grappling with a violent path and fighting to leave behind a family history of self-destruction.

Q: How about fiction? What do this year's best books offer there?

A: This is a book you've probably already heard of, Eden Robinson's Son of a Trickster. A beautiful coming-of-age-story about an Indigenous boy named Jared — very darkly funny, some spicy language, some magic involved.

Q: And non-fiction?

A: Tabatha Southey's Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies shares lessons learned throughout her decade of column writing. It uses her trademark biting wit to talk about pop culture, the issues of the day like living under Trump's America.

Best books of 2017 with a Calgary connection:

With files from The Homestretch