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2017 Books for the Holidays: Diverse Books Reading List

The US is filled with distinct stories and perspectives, and below are some of our favorite books from 2017 that focus on different aspects of American identity. These books will give you a deeper understanding of another’s or your own experience.

Check out all our 2017 holiday lists here.

  1. Lucky Boy Book Cover Picture
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    Lucky Boy

    Solimar Castro-Valdez embarks on a perilous journey across the Mexican border. Kavya Reddy has created a beautiful life in Berkeley, but she can’t get pregnant. When Soli is placed in immigrant detention and Soli’s son comes under Kavya’s care, Kavya finally can be the kind of mother she dreamed of being. Lucky Boy gives voice to two mothers bound together by their love for one boy. His destiny and that of his two mothers teeters between two worlds as Soli fights to get back to him.

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  2. Meddling Kids Book Cover Picture
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    Meddling Kids

    With raucous humor and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Meddling Kids subverts teen detective archetypes like the Hardy Boys, the Famous Five, and Scooby-Doo, and delivers an exuberant and wickedly entertaining celebration of horror, love, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn. A nostalgic and subversive trip rife with sly nods to H. P. Lovecraft and pop culture, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids is strikingly original and dazzling.

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  3. A House Among the Trees Book Cover Picture
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    A House Among the Trees

    Julia Glass gives us the story of an unusual bond between a world-famous writer and his assistant—a richly plotted novel of friendship and love, artistic ambition, the perils of celebrity, and the power of an unexpected legacy.

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  4. We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture
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    We Were Eight Years in Power

    We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates’s iconic essays first published inThe Atlantic along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development. He explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the most recent presidential election.

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  5. New People Book Cover Picture
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    New People

    Maria and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, their skin is the same shade of beige, and they live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn. Yet Maria can’t stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows.  As fantasy escalates to fixation, it dredges up secrets from the past and threatens to unravel not only Maria’s perfect new life but her very persona.

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  6. White Tears Book Cover Picture
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    White Tears

    When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it’s a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say the record is actually real, the two young white men spiral down into envy, greed, and exploitation. White Tears is a ghost story, a terrifying murder mystery, a timely meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music and Delta Mississippi Blues.

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  7. Boy Erased Book Cover Picture
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    Boy Erased

    When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.

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  8. Chemistry Book Cover Picture
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    Chemistry

    Three years into her graduate studies, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. This winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas for a different kind of chemistry–one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart.

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  9. The Lauras Book Cover Picture
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    The Lauras

    After a fight with Alex’s father, Ma takes Alex on a pilgrimage of self-discovery through her own enthralling past. Slowly, Alex begins to realizes that the road trip is not a string of arbitrary stops, but a journey whose destination is perhaps Ma’s biggest secret of all. Told from the perspective of Alex, a teenager who equates gender identification with unwillingly choosing a side in a war, and written with a stunningly assured lyricism, The Lauras is a fearless study of identity.

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  10. Love and Other Consolation Prizes Book Cover Picture
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    Love and Other Consolation Prizes

    Ernest Young, a half-Chinese orphan, is astounded to learn he will be raffled off at the World’s Fair. The winning ticket belongs to the flamboyant madam of a high-class brothel, famous for educating her girls. But as the grande dame succumbs to an occupational hazard and their world of finery begins to crumble, all three must grapple with hope, ambition, and first love. Fifty years later, in the shadow of Seattle’s second World’s Fair, Ernest struggles to help his ailing wife reconcile who she once was with who she wanted to be, while trying to keep family secrets hidden from their grown-up daughters.

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  11. Green Island Book Cover Picture
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    Green Island

    Taipei, February 28, 1947: As an uprising rocks Taiwan, a young doctor is taken from his newborn daughter by Chinese Nationalists, on charges of speaking out against the government. Although he eventually returns to his family, his arrival is marked by alienation. Years later, this troubled past follows his youngest daughter to America, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family. A stunningly lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival.

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  12. The King Is Always Above the People Book Cover Picture
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    The King Is Always Above the People

    An urgent, essential collection of stories about immigration, broken dreams, Los Angeles gang members, Latin American families, and other tales of high stakes journeys. Richly drawn, full of unforgettable characters,The King is Always Above the People reveals experiences both unsettling and unknown, and yet eerily familiar in this new world.

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  13. Sour Heart Book Cover Picture
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    Sour Heart

    This debut story collection  conjures the experience of adolescence through the eyes of Chinese American girls growing up in New York City.  Jenny Zhang’s stories cut across generations and continents, moving from the fraught halls of a public school in Flushing, Queens, to the tumultuous streets of Shanghai, China, during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. A darkly funny and intimate rendering of girlhood, Sour Heart examines what it means to belong to a family, to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.

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  14. New Boy Book Cover Picture
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    New Boy

    Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship and decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers.

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  15. Called to Rise Book Cover Picture
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    Called to Rise

    On July 7, 2016, protesters marched in the streets of Dallas to demonstrate against the killings of unarmed black men by the police. As the peaceful event drew to a close, a sniper opened fire, targeting white cops and killing five of them. Into this charged situation stepped Dallas police chief David O. Brown, who, with a historic new tactical approach, quickly ended the gunman’s siege and calmed his community and the nation. Called to Rise explores the keys to that dialogue that have made Brown a leader on the front lines of social change.

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