Best Paperbacks of 2017 So Far

May 25, 2017
Ideas
Sarah Begley is a staff writer for TIME.

For those of us who read for a living, paperback releases provide an opportunity to catch up on some of the best books that came out last year, too. Our favorite paperback releases of 2017 (so far) include a Pulitzer Prize winner (Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City) and a Pulitzer finalist (C.E. Morgan, The Sport of Kings), as well as an original book of poetry.

Witness to the Revolution, Clara Bingham

The journalist’s oral history of 1969 and 1970 includes interviews with movers and shakers of the day (Bill Ayers, Daniel Ellsberg, Robin Morgan) as well as lesser known figures who played a role in key events, like an FBI agent tasked with keeping tabs on the leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society. The book is a rich tapestry of a volatile period in American history.

Buy it now

MORE:Best Non-Fiction Books of 2017 So Far

Evicted, Matthew Desmond

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book examines the plague of eviction, following eight Milwaukee families who struggle to stay in their homes in the face of a rigged system. With compassion and an expert understanding of the many obstacles to a solution, Desmond illustrates the ways that eviction serves to exacerbate the traumatic cycle of poverty.

Buy it now

Sudden Death, Álvaro Enrigue

In the Mexican author’s first novel to be translated into English, Enrigue playfully weaves together an imagined tennis match in Rome between two giants of the Baroque period, Caravaggio and Francisco de Quevedo, and the very real destruction of the Aztec world happening across the Atlantic Ocean.

Buy it now

The Nix, Nathan Hill

In an expansive debut novel that covers the upheaval of the 1960s, the Iraq War, the Occupy Wall Street movement and many other political moments and locales of the past six decades, Hill proves his chops as both a wry social commentator and an affecting portrait artist.

Buy it now

The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan

Morgan uses horse breeding as a lens through which to explore questions of race, heritage, family and the legacy of slavery in this lyrical, provocative novel about a contemporary black groom and the white family that employs him.

Buy it now

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, Morgan Parker

In this paperback original, Parker’s poems brings heat to the art of Mickalene Thomas, the racial politics of Barack Obama’s presidency, the body politics of Beyoncé and the danger of moving through America in a black body: “I walk into a bar. / I drink a lot of wine and kiss a Black man on his beard. / I do whatever I want because I could die any minute. / I don’t mean YOLO I mean they are hunting me.”

Buy it now

MORE:Best Fiction Books of 2017 So Far

Mothering Sunday, Graham Swift

A young maid in 1920s England marks Mothering Sunday — an annual day off for domestic workers to visit their moms — with a final rendezvous with her lover, a gentleman engaged to a woman of his own class. Decades later, she looks back on the day as the moment she became a writer. The book’s emotional heft far outweighs its slim size.

Buy it now

(Read TIME’s affiliate link policy.)


Ideas
TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.
TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.