I did a LOT of reading this year. As 2016 winds down and we get ready for 2017, I thought I would share my favorite 10 books of 2016. I will immediately qualify this by saying these are 10 OF my favorite books and not all my favorite books. Also I’ll be talking about 3 more of my favorite books on our next podcast. And if you really want to know all my favorite books, go over to my Goodreads and check out what I gave 4 or 5 stars to (heads up: it’s a lot of books).
So, without further qualifiers or ado, let’s get into it!
- You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
- This blew me away. This is the kind of book in which none of the characters are especially likable (many are actually quite infuriating), and yet you get so invested into what is going on that you just can’t stop reading. It’s chilling and competitive and just fantastic.
- The Mothers by Brit Bennett
- I absolutely loved this book. Chapters move from third person narration to a first person narration, and this flow between perspectives is brilliantly done. The mothers (the elderly women of the church) are fantastic narrators who lend complexity and insight into the story. None of the characters are flawless – far from it, actually – but it is their flawed selves that make them so human. Brit Bennett has a beautiful and important voice, and it’s hard to believe this is her first novel.
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- This was an amazing, heart wrenching, spectacular novel. I was so absorbed in Whitehead’s writing and the story of Cora’s escape and journey to a better life. It’s painful, it’s joyful, it’s frustrating and infuriating, yet I could not stop reading. Whitehead has done a marvelous job of creating a full set of characters in a rich landscape, and this is such an important book, especially right now.
- Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
- This is the story of a giant metal body through interviews and case files, and this format totally worked. I loved the voice of Neuvel’s characters and the use of these files and interviews to move through time. Rather than filling in the gaps, the case files and interviews sometimes skip great periods of time and you as the reader get to figure out what happened in the interval. I thought it was so clever and I am thrilled it is the first of what I think will be a series.
- What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
- Helen Oyeyemi brings brilliance and quirk in her collection of short stories, and I was delighted with this collection. Some of the stories were sad, others were angry, and still others were as delightfully complicated as reality…with a magical realistic twist. Some of the stories certainly were not my cup of tea but overall I really enjoyed the stories and some of them captured me so fully that I wanted more.
- Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam
- This is a story of a friendship, the difficulty of growing up, and the complexities of being a woman. Lauren and Sarah were delightfully flawed, Huck and Lulu were huge characters who didn’t take over the story, Dan was ambivalently important, and Rumaan Alam created a world I readily dove in to and loved. The friendship between Lauren and Sarah was really well written and felt really real, like these characters were based on actual women with a complicated best friendship. The elements of setting, story, and character were brought together wonderfully and I could just keep reading and reading about this world.
- The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
- This is a stunning memoir of a young woman’s experience growing up in Iran during the revolution. The art is beautiful and I love the impact of an all black and white palette. Satrapi packs a lot of punch into her drawings, which bring an added depth and perfectly complement the text.
- Perfect Days by Raphael Montes
- So creepy and disturbing and utterly fantastic. I devoured this book and loved the psychological perspective of Teo. I wish Clarice has been a little more appealing and had a little more depth to her, but the story and writing were brilliant.
- The Brotherhood of the Wheel by R.S. Belcher
- I loved this book and thought its story, characters, and setting were quite unique. The way Belcher begins with numerous narratives and weaves them together is so well done, and it feels like you are immersed in the world he has created.
- The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma
- Obioma has such a powerful and beautiful voice, and the story he weaves is just phenomenal. I felt like I knew Ben and Obembe and Boja and Ikenna, knew what it was like in their house, knew their emotions. The story is heartbreaking but so wonderfully constructed.
There you have it – 10 of my favorite books I read in 2016. This is certainly NOT exhaustive and there were so many other books I loved. I would love to hear what some of your top reads of 2016 are! Leave a comment or tweet me @GameandRead.
You can see everything I’ve read and check out my reviews over at my Goodreads, goodreads.com/emurch. If you want more Game & Read, we have videos on Youtube, we post pictures on Instagram, and update our reading lists on Litsy (@GameandRead). You can also listen to our weekly podcast available here on the blog and on iTunes.
Until next time, happy reading!