The Surefire Bestsellers Coming in 2017

One thing is certain: 2016 will be remembered, for a variety of reasons, as a Year of the Unexpected. From politics to entertainment, no one saw much of it coming when we woke up on January 1st eleven months ago. After a year filled with tragic losses of beloved celebrities, an unpleasant and unpredictable presidential campaign, and a few unexpected triumphs, it’s easy to forget we had a pretty great year in terms of literary events. In other words, some truly remarkable books hit the bestseller lists this year.

The list of notable books is pretty long, including not one but two Harry Potter books, a new classic from John Grisham, incredible memoirs from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Trevor Noah, and literary works like The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and Moonglow by Michael Chabon. When you look back at the books that came out this year, it’s obvious this is one area of 2016 that was undeniably a success. Which, thank goodness; we need as many bright spots to cling to as possible.

Of course, there’s no reason to think 2016 was some sort of aberration. 2015 was a pretty great year for books as well, and 2017 is shaping up to be just as surprising and exciting. While you can never precisely predict what will happen in the tumultuous world of book publishing, there are a few sure bets we can make. If you’re looking to start populating that New Year’s resolution “read more” list, here are five books coming in 2017 that we can safely predict will not only be amazing reads, but will be on the bestseller lists as well.

Roth, bestselling author of the Divergent book series (which has seen some less-than-stellar press due to the stumble of the film series adapted from the books) announced this new duology last year, and the first book in the series, Carve the Mark is dropping first thing in 2017. Roth’s fanbase if huge, so there is little doubt this one will shoot straight to the top even though we don’t know a whole lot about it aside from the fact that Roth—a brilliantly entertaining writer—is the author.

What do we know? Well, it’s been compared to Star Wars, which many will agree can only be a good sign. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid, set in an alien galaxy. Everyone develops what’s known as a “currentgift,” a power that is unique to them. Most people’s currentgifts are beneficial to them, but an unlucky few develop powers that actually put them at the mercy of their fellow citizens. The story centers on two such unlucky souls. Cyra is the sister to a ruthless dictator who uses her currentgift as a tool of torture and vengeance. Akos is a member of a peaceful race on the planet of Thuve; when he and his brother are captured he desperately works to free both. The stories, of course, intertwine.

So, let’s see: Galaxy far, far away, pseudo-magic powers, tragic storylines, evil empires—yep, sounds like Roth has cooked up a winner. Since Roth is one of the most popular authors working today there’s little doubt no expense will be spared for this launch. Expect your local bookstores to be Veronica Roth Central for a few weeks in January. And if you’re looking for a good book to add to your resolution list, you can’t go wrong.

The Girl on the Train was one of the biggest books of 2015 and 2016, selling about 15 million copies worldwide and inspiring the hit film starring Emily Blunt. It propelled Hawkins into the stratosphere of literary success so many authors dream about—and which can be a bit paralyzing. After all, when your humble little thriller about an unreliably alcoholic woman who thinks she sees a murder becomes the pop culture Moment everyone is talking about, how do you follow that up?

Hawkins doesn’t seem to have lost a step, with Into the Water hitting bookshelves in May of 2017. Details are still a bit scarce, but the story involves two bodies found in the river near a small town—a woman and a young girl. Found days apart, the investigation into their deaths uncovers a growing list of connections between the two. The Girl on the Train played with the unreliability of perception, crafting a heroine that we knew we couldn’t rely on even as we rooted for her to discover the truth. Hawkins has made it clear this new novel will explore similar themes, specifically the “slipperiness of truth.” No one plays games with perception and assumption like Hawkins, so this ought to be a humdinger of a thriller. Plus, she’s playing with themes of witchcraft and the witch trials that swept Scotland much the same way they swept the American colonies centuries ago. Add it all up and you have what just might be the most anticipated sure-fire bestseller of 2017.

Even if Into the Water turns out to be a disappointment—and there’s no reason to think it will be—the sheer momentum of The Girl on the Train’s success will likely keep it on the bestseller lists for a long time in 2017.

Silvera hit it big with his debut, More Happy Than Not, which made him a bona-fide star in the Young Adult category. His new one, History is All You Left Me, is out in January 2017 and is sure to hit the bestseller lists, and hit them hard. Early reviews have been strong, and Silvera has a robust fan base, so there’s little doubt the book will make a splash.

The story is told by Griffin, a young man suffering from both OCD and the sudden death of Theo, his first boyfriend and his true love. Griffin flips back and forth between the past and the present as he puzzles over Theo’s death, Theo’s new boyfriend from college, Jackson, and Griffin’s own issues. The puzzle is glorious, Griffin is a wonderfully shaded character, and slowly the reality of Theo comes to supplant the fantasy Griffin had of him. We all idolize our first loves to a certain extent, seeing something pure and perfect where there was likely just hormones, excitement, and loneliness. But Silvera finds a depth in Griffin’s story that is remarkable.

He’s also one of the best young authors dealing with issues like sexuality, depression, mental health, and the complex and often confusing relationship rules of Millennials and younger generations. He may be categorized as YA, but Silvera is a writer well worth reading no matter your age.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of epic fantasy or if you’ve ever watched the HBO series Game of Thrones, you’ve probably heard about this book. The sixth installment in Martin’s epic series may or may not actually publish in 2017—rumors are flying fast and furious, but Martin has slowed his output considerably since Game of Thrones became a runaway success. Whether it’s writer’s block or disinterest in working when the money is rolling in, fans have been agitated for years now as Martin's release dates continue to slip as a result of his busy travel and press schedule. 

Now, of course, the TV series has outpaced the books, meaning the whole viewing experience is a giant spoiler for anyone waiting on the book. The showrunners have been briefed in detail about Martin’s plans for the conclusion of the story, but plenty of readers want to read the books first and watch the show later, as they’ve been able to do up to this point (more or less).

Not that concerns over spoilers will stop anyone from buying this the moment it ships. It seems pretty likely that Winds will drop in 2017 at some point, and when it does, expect it to rocket to the top of the bestseller lists.

This might seem like an unlikely bestseller for 2017, but it’s one of the most-anticipated books out there for anyone who love Neil Gaiman (whose American Gods is also being adapted for television in 2017), old myths, comic books, or, you know, excellent writing.

Gaiman is also a perfect choice for the material, which is basically a re-telling of the ancient Norse Myths (think Thor and Loki, but with less superhero). The book’s taking a novelistic approach, telling the stories in a modern and exciting style without sacrificing the accuracy of the old legends. Gaiman has been a huge fan since childhood, when old comic books featuring Thor (one of the Avengers, of course) inspired him to delve a bit deeper into the real history of the characters and the stories. He was approached by one of his editors, who thought a modern re-examination and re-interpretation would do well. Gaiman was inspired by the idea and tackled the project gleefully.

The end result is a new book by the author of the Sandman comics, Anansi Boys, American Gods, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, among many others. Gaiman’s name alone guarantees this to be a bestseller in 2017, but the unusual subject matter and modern treatment don’t hurt its chances, either.

Here's to 2017!

While there isn’t much that can be safely predicted for 2017, one thing is certain: It’s going to be another great year for great books. Which means, of course, that as the bestseller lists get longer you’re going to have to read a little faster to keep up.