2016 Reading Year End Review: Top 10 Reads

2 Jan

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.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

15 Responses to “2016 Reading Year End Review: Top 10 Reads”

  1. jabrush1213 January 2, 2017 at 11:01 AM #

    I read The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street last year as well. Actually, I read it twice. It was such a good book and I will probably end up reading it again. I read it based on your recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam January 2, 2017 at 11:52 AM #

      I’m so touched! I really loved the book and I’m glad to hear you liked it as well. It was so well written. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Laurel-Rain Snow January 2, 2017 at 11:26 AM #

    I loved Brooklyn…although it didn’t make my Top Ten this year…there were too many contenders. The Sleepwalker was one of my Top Ten….and here’s my list: https://curlupandread.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/top-ten-favorites-of-2016/


    • Sam January 2, 2017 at 11:53 AM #

      I had a decent number of flops this year but I’m glad I had so many winners. Happy reading!


  3. xxertz (Fiction is My Addiction) January 2, 2017 at 3:12 PM #

    Great list! I loved Stiff when I first read it. I meant to reread it in 2016, but I didn’t quite get there. Carry On is on my TBR too, although it will be my first of her books.

    I hope you have a great 2017


    • Sam January 2, 2017 at 9:10 PM #

      I really recommend reading ‘Fangirl’ before reading ‘Carry On.’ Everyone I know who read ‘Carry On’ first hated it. ‘Fangirl’ gives it the context it needs. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. faithrivens January 2, 2017 at 4:45 PM #

    A Darker Shade of Magic is the only book on your list that I read this year and it was also one of my absolute favourites! Slade House, Brooklyn, and Carry On are on my TBR but I’ll be sure to check out the others as well!
    Hope 2017 brings many more great reads 😀


    • Sam January 2, 2017 at 9:11 PM #

      It was such a great read and I’m regretting not reading the sequel yet! Slade House is perfect around Halloween if you can wait that long to read it. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • faithrivens January 3, 2017 at 8:55 AM #

        Same here. I have AGOS on my February TBR! I think I have enough books to hold me off until then 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads January 2, 2017 at 9:56 PM #

    I read ADSOM this year too and really enjoyed it. I ended up grabbing the sequel a couple of weeks later and actually enjoyed that one a little better, so I hope you like it too! I can’t wait for the last book to come out next month 🙂


    • Sam January 2, 2017 at 9:57 PM #

      So glad to hear you enjoyed the sequel! I’m excited to get to it. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. tumiltuousreads January 3, 2017 at 6:22 PM #

    Brooklyn was on my top ten list this year too!


    • Sam January 3, 2017 at 8:20 PM #

      Awesome! It was a really enjoyable read and I’m glad my book club pushed me to read it. Happy reading in 2017!


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