I’m back for a third year with my top 10 books of 2016! If I was more organized, I’d do this before Christmas as a buying guide suggestion, but let’s be honest and admit that will never happen. I also squeeze a lot of books in during December so we’d miss a lot of good material.
10. The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose. I love a good memoir and this was a great one. It was part investigatory journalism by someone who was mentored by the amazing A.J. Jacobs which made it all the better. Roose had a great voice and he was very open-minded about his project which made him a great test subject for the experiment. I recommend this book for people over 16, especially those with an interest in Christianity and evangelism.
9. Stiff by Mary Roach. (I feel bad all of the non-fiction is at this end of the list, but oh well.) Stiff was creepy and awesome at the same time. Roach approached the subject of human cadavers in a way that was both funny and respectful, a delicate balance (though some in my book club didn’t agree with me here). This book would be best for someone over 18 and might be enjoyed more by those in the medical field.
8. Slade House by David Mitchell. I think I’m more surprised than anyone to see Mitchell on this list after the debacle that is Cloud Atlas in December of last year. I was blown away by how fun this book was and how much I was sucked into the terrifying world. I’m almost tempted to read The Bone Clocks, almost. This is a great book to read around Halloween to add a new level of ‘creep’ to the fall. I recommend this book for anyone 16 and up.
7. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I hope I’m still going to agree with this when I read the sequel, which I plan to do next year. It’s been a while since I was sucked into a fantasy world as quickly as Schwab grabbed me. I’m vested in these characters and there were a few times I got excited because I think I figured out what happens in the next books. I recommend this book for fans of YA, ideally 14-19 plus adults who enjoy the genre.
6. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. This was a great book with a slow build-up and a great reward for enjoying it thoroughly. I thought there were some rich characters and Eillis’s struggle really hit me. The awesome movie helped, I’m sure. I think the historical setting helped me enjoy it even more. I think this book would appeal most to women 16 and older.
5. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. This is the third year out of three years that Rowell has made the list. I didn’t realize she was one of my favorite authors! I was super skeptical of this book at first. I thought it would be too much like Harry Potter and it would be so unoriginal that I couldn’t enjoy it. But then I got hooked. It was a lot of Rowell’s amazing writing style but it was also some good plot structure that I really got into. I recommend this book for primarily women ages 16-30. I HIGHLY recommend reading Fangirl first because the two are closely tied.
4. Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller. I really enjoyed this contemporary work, more than I normally do. Sheldon was a bit unreliable, but only enough that you weren’t sure if you could trust him, which was great. I thought Miller did a great job of making Sheldon the villain and the hero at the same time and I loved the adventures they went on. I recommend this book for readers over 16.
3. Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. Maybe I have a recency bias with this title, but I really enjoyed the story of Margo living on the river. I was a bit put off by the ending, but I could live with it because the story and the characters won me over. It helps that this story took place in my home state and that I love the area where Margo lived. I recommend this book for women 18 and older.
2. Bellwether by Connie Willis. This was my type of Science Fiction. It was fiction about scientists in a lab in the 1990s (contemporary at its time). Sandra had an amazing voice to narrate this book which kept it fun and teasing. It was great to look at the fads Sandra studied and I’m not sure how she kept from laughing at her coworkers all the time. I recommend this book for women 18 and up.
And #1 is…….
1. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. Talk about a great voice! The voice of Lillian was amazing and I loved how she called the readers ‘Darling’ like Lillian was telling the story on her fun-house show. The setting of this one won me over again and I think Gilman did a great job of using the time periods to make her characters and story come alive. I can’t remember who recommended this one to me, but thank you to whoever that was. This book is great for women over 16.
What were your favorite books of 2016? Are you surprised by anything on my list? I hope to find an equally good crop in 2017 to fill out another great list. If you want to check out last year’s list, click here and click here for 2015’s list. Have a great year and happy reading!
Until next time, write on.