Yes, finally! Although, I think I'm pretty consistent with waiting a bit into the new year to reflect on everything I've read. Often, one from December makes it onto the list. Probably because it's top of mind, but this year's will stick with me for awhile. It was a banner year for my reading life - probably the most books I've ever read in a single year. Before I get into the details on the favorites, I thought I'd take a deeper dive than my Goodreads overview.
Yes, I got a little geeky with the numbers:
Books written by women: 43 (70%)
Books written by people of color: 10 (16%)
Nonfiction: 5 (8%)
Advanced copies: 11 (18%) 2 of which were debuts (18% of ARCs)
Debut novels: 13 (21%)
Published in 2016: 32 (52%)
Not sure what I'm going to do with this info, perhaps it will inform me on my goals for the year, which I'm still pondering...
The favorites from this year are in no particular order. I also don't strive for a top five or ten so that I don't add more to hit a certain number, nor do I exclude something that was really great to pare down my list. Some I may have rated four stars or five. But they are all indelible in some way, and are books that I find myself recommending the most.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
So, I was wondering why this didn't land on any 'best of' lists this year and I realized that it was a 2015 publication and the only one from my favorites that was not published this year! (Which is interesting because I was nearly 50/50 on new releases vs. backlist titles.) I was close, though, since I read it in January. But it has stayed with me all this year as an incredibly unique and moving story. Plus making Pat Praeger's Peanut Butter Bars was a highlight of the year.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
My first Book of the Month made quite an impression on me! I read this back in August and it's not perfect, but it was one of the few books this year I read in less than 48 hours and it also has remained top of mind. I think it's a story that would appeal to ANY reader and I recommend it often. It has mystery, romance, sci-fi, and, beneath the surface, a philosophical question about what makes you YOU.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I also read this one in August, and I can't fathom a best of 2016 book list where it is absent. How Gyasi managed to make an epic and captivating story in such a succinct way is a marvel. If there's one book on this list that should be required reading, it's Homegoing.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Patchett might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I just love her. I made a conscious decision to mostly request advanced copies of established authors, and authors that I admire (and now that I look at the data, only 2 of eleven advance requests were debuts). This was my most anticipated novel of the year, so perhaps I went in with rose colored glasses. But, it did not disappoint: a family drama of great characters, writing, and emotional heft.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
This was another great Book of the Month pick, which I read in October. It is also a novel that is not lacking on Best of the Year lists, and for good reason. For me, I think held the most highlighted passages of any book I read in 2016. Bennett writes so beautifully, with simple and powerful prose - while also telling a great story.
Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
Like Patchett, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of my favorite authors and this was another advance copy I was so thankful to receive. This whip-smart, and fun, romp of a modern day Austen classic is one that I find myself recommending often.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
As I am susceptible to doing from time to time, I end up putting a December read on my best of list. But! I'm hardly alone, as this one was Goodreads winner for best YA of 2016. I think I sped through this novel faster than any other this year. It was just a wonderfully told story about a subject so fascinating and devastating.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on these, or your favorite books of the year!
Favorite Books of 2015
Favorite Books of 2014
Favorite Books of 2013
Favorite Books of 2012
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