The 15 Best Books I Read in 2016
Happy belated ChristmaHanuKwanzmas! I hope you had a wonderful holiday (or are still having it). The holidays aren't the only reason the last week of the year is a jolly good time. For the last post of the year, I always do a Best Of roundup---something I look forward to all year. So sit back and get out all those bookstore gift cards you got for the holidays because you're going to need them.
Since I read a mix of back list, new releases, and yet-to-be-released books, the titles that make my annual Best Of list aren't all books that came out in 2016. I judge books based only on the ones I've read in the past year, so there are likely other fantastic books that I simply didn't get around to. This list is a subjective compilation based on my personal reading experience, but you're here because you like my opinions, so here goes...
Out of the 76 books I read in 2016, here are my favorites in the order in which I read them.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
The Girls by Emma Cline
Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live by Peter Orner
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
If I had to pick my absolute favorite book of year, Homegoing is it. Homegoing is a standout book because the space between it and my second favorite book of the year is a massive gap. This is one you don't want to sleep on.
Learn more on Goodreads.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
The Vine That Ate the South by J.D. Wilkes
This one doesn't come out until March 2017, but, trust me, you're going to want to preorder it. I'll post a review for you closer to the release date and in the meantime you can learn more on Goodreads.
As with any year in review list, I learned some things about myself and how my reading preferences are shifting.
For example, 9 out of the 15 picks were by women and 8 out of the 15 were by people of color. I have obviously read books by white men this past year---some of whom made this list---but the fact that only 4 out of my 15 favorite books of the year were by white men tells me that I'm getting bored with their stories. This makes sense because they've dominated the publishing industry and a lot of their stories have been told---therefore it's getting harder for them to grab my attention. And I imagine I'm not the only reader who feels this way.
It's also interesting to note that 4 out of my 15 favorites are nonfiction and 2 out of the 15 are poetry. In the past my Best Of lists have been dominated by fiction, so this shows that I'm learning to enjoy other genres. Considering how I started writing creative nonfiction myself this year, this is a trend I anticipate continuing in my reading life.
I'm technically not finished reading for the year. I'm reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead now and I've got I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson on deck. If I finish these two before the year is out and adore them, I may update this post to reflect that.