Books: Best Books of 2017, Andy Weir, American Airstream contradictions and more

Books Editor

Hello! I’m LA Times books editor Carolyn Kellogg, bringing you the Best Books of the year and more this week.


For the first time since 1931, we have released a list of our Best Books of the Year. See what made the cut to be included in 2017’s best fiction and 2017’s best nonfiction.

In print, both of those lists appear in our special Holiday Books pull-out section, which you’ll find nestled within Sunday’s Arts & Books. The holiday books gift guide includes audiobooks, coffee table books, books for kids and teens and fun books for stocking stuffers — 125 titles in all.


Illustration for the cover of the 2017 Holiday Books tab. Illustration by Sarah Wilkins /For the Tim
Holiday Books 2017
(Sarah Wilkins / For the Times )


Andy Weir was a computer scientist who wanted to be a writer when he first started posting chapters of his novel “The Martian” online. Jennifer Vineyard catches up with the self-effacing novelist on book tour in New York. He discusses his second book, “Artemis,” which is about a smuggler on a moon colony, and the perils of success.

Andy Weir’s new novel is “Artemis”
(Aubrie Pick )



Perfect for the Instagram set, “Living the Airstream Life” by Karen Flett is a beautiful photo book of the classic American trailer on the road. “Nomadland” by journalist Jessica Bruder is a researched report on “workcampers” — people who live out of RVs and vans, traveling from low-paying job to low-paying job, many who can’t afford to retire or whose lives were upended by the 2008 financial crisis. Ellie Robins — who herself lived in an Airstream traveling the U.S. — looks at what these two books say about America.

The collected poetry of Galway Kinnell — who helped define the poetry of the second half of the twentieth century with his work grounded in family and the sense — can be found in a new omnibus. Craig Morgan Teicher has our review.

The slim, strange beloved cult novel “Mrs. Caliban” by Rachel Ingalls is having another moment. Justin Taylor has our review.

Paula L. Woods reviews Val McDermid’s new Tony and Carol crime novel, “Insidious Intent,” and thinks it’s terrific.

Swapna Krishna opens the pod bay doors to a stack of robot sci-fi novels that expand our notions of artificial intelligence.

The far-out coffee table book “Universe: Exploring the Astronomical World” pairs images from space with the ways artists have represented the heavens over hundreds of years; Agatha French looks at how this connects our imaginations with what we seek and find in space.

From “Living the Airstream Life” by Karen Flett
(Karen Flett )


The No. 1 L.A. Times bestseller in fiction this week is the short story collection “Uncommon Type” by Tom Hanks. Yes, that Tom Hanks.

The No. 1 L.A. Times bestseller in nonfiction is “Obama: An Intimate Portrait” by Pete Souza. While it has some text for context, the book is mostly photographs — Souza was the official White House photographer during Barack Obama’s two presidential terms.

See all the books on our bestseller lists here.

President Barack Obama works at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, Oct. 14, 2016. Credit: White H
From “Obama: An Intimate Portrait”: President Barack Obama in the Oval Office
(Pete Souza / White House Photo Office )


British philosopher Simon Critchley has a broad range of interests — he’s written about David Bowie and also suicide — and his new book takes on soccer. He talks to Tyler Malone about what soccer and its fandom mean.

Actress Jenifer Lewis, whose new memoir “The Mother of Black Hollywood” describes her path to playing that role over and over and over, gives Tre’Vell Anderson a pep talk for us all. She’s got three events coming up in Los Angeles this week, if you want to catch her magic.


LOS ANGELES, CA., NOVEMBER 20, 2017--Actress Jenifer Lewis just wrote her memoir “The Mother of Blac
Jenifer Lewis at Eso Won Books in Leimert Park
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times )


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