This week’s Top Ten topic, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is the ten best books of 2016. I like to compile two lists, one for books published in 2016, and one for all books I read in 2016.
I have to say, when I compared my 2015 list to my 2016 list, I think my reading was much better in 2015. Sigh – one more thing about 2016 that was not so great.
From all the books I read in 2016, except for children’s books which are too hard to compare, these were my favorites:
- The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney: this book won the Bailey’s Prize this year, and I can’t say enough good things about it.
- The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie: I don’t normally like “quirky” novels, but with this one I really identified with the characters and their family problems. I know this book didn’t work for everyone but it did for me.
- The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan: an excellent second novel by the writer of The Panopticon. I’ll read everything she writes.
- Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain: a memoir about serving as a nurse in World War I, not an easy read, but everything about this book was fascinating, from Brittain’s fight to go to college to her later work as a political activist.
- The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey: a gripping and at times, disturbing, science fiction novel about the zombie apocalypse, it has a memorable lead character and will be made into a movie in 2017 (I think; it was released in UK in 2016).
- Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg: this book could have been melodramatic but I really got caught up in this story about two women who lose everything in a fire.
- A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson: Atkinson never lets me down, but this story of one man’s life during World War II and afterward is one of her most powerful.
- Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: I loved everything about this moving story of two older adults who form a connection.
I stopped at 8, because while I read a lot of books in 2016 that I really liked, I didn’t have two more that rose to the level of the others on this list.
I did read a lot more newly published books in 2016 than I usually do, and here were my favorite 2016 releases:
- The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie (see above)
- The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan (see above)
- Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart: I love, love, love this series, which combines history, detective fiction, and fantastic female characters.
- The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin: the sequel to The Fifth Season, a complex science fiction series that is beautifully written.
- The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer: a memoir by this comedian/writer/actress that was surprisingly thoughtful.
- Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo: a follow-up to one of my all-time favorite books, and characters. It would have been easy for this to disappoint, but it didn’t.
- All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders: a first novel by this former editor of i09 (a great website) this book combined science fiction and fantasy in an interesting, thoughtful way
- Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave: this book could have been just one more World War II story, but it felt really different to me. I liked the focus on race issues and the sometimes-unlikable main character.
- My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout: I feel like this one ended too quickly, and already demands a re-read.
- Before the Fall by Noah Hawley: I thought this would just be a thriller, but it raised a lot of interesting issues.
- The Longest Night by Andria Williams: a historical novel about an early nuclear plant accident in Idaho Falls, 1959. This book didn’t just tell a true story but really delved into the complicated marriage of its two main characters.
Those were my favorite reads of 2016! A few books that disappointed: The Girls by Emma Cline, which just didn’t grab my attention, and The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, of which I had high expectations based on her previous book, and found it dull and somewhat trite.
For more recommendations, check out my top new-to-me authors in 2016.
What were your favorites? Anything on these lists you disagree with?