,”I’m sharing a list of my favorite books that I read in 2016!!
This is one of my favorite posts to write every year!!
If you follow my monthly reading lists, you know that I do a ton of reading! I’ve always been a book lover and my tastes run all over the place — YA, thrillers, historical fiction — I don’t really have a particular “genre.” This really comes in handy when choosing books every month because I’m normally able to choose a fun variety that has something for everyone.
If you weren’t able to read most of the books on my lists last year, you’re in luck. This post contains my very most favorite of the year. These are the books that I recommend for one reason or another without hesitation. I’m never one to slog through a book that isn’t grabbing me, so if I recommend it, I truly enjoyed it from beginning to end!
Here are the books that made the cut:
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
Gosh, this was a difficult book to read. Not because it wasn’t interesting, but because it was incredibly emotional. The grief this mother continues to feel is palpable — both for the victims of the Columbine shooting and her son who killed himself after his rampage through the high school. Despite the difficult subject matter, I do believe that this is an IMPORTANT book that contributes something unique to the conversation regarding school shootings and how well we know our children. The regret this woman lives with is unimaginable and I have so much respect for the strength it must have required to write this book.
Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh
This subject matter of this book is what first caught my eye — fracking. I’ve heard a lot about “fracking,” a controversial way of extracting oil or gas from the earth, but my knowledge was minimal at best. This book, while explaining the process, also explored the effects of fracking as told through the fictional stories of several families in a small town. Don’t expect to get weighed down or confused by details – this book is well written and engaging with interesting and relatable characters. While I wouldn’t describe it as a “page-turner,” it’s definitely one of those books that I loved curling up with and reading for long stretches of time.
Faithful by Alice Hoffman
This book about a young woman who survives a car crash that left her best friend paralyzed is sad but also incredibly hopeful. The central character, while complex and unlikeable at times, slowly undergoes a transformation that leaves you rooting for her despite her previous mistakes. The last quarter of the book had me in tears, both sad and happy. This is a beautifully written book with an ending that will leave you satisfied.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
New York City is one of my favorite places in the world and I loved this book for it’s ability to transport me to the glamour of New York in the 30’s. I’m not normally a fan of books that are “descriptive” (read: wordy, flowery), but I really, really enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting, the storyline just emotionally complex enough, and the time and place element was sheer perfection.
Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce
This novel was described as “psychologically complex” and I’d have to agree. Chizuru Akitani, an overweight and miserable 12 year old living in Japan, murders her classroom bully with a letter opener in a blind fit of rage following the suicide of her white mother. Her dad, a famous violinist known in Japan as their “National Treasure,” essentially abandons her while she spends the rest of her childhood in an institution, eventually being released to the United States where she changes her name, pursues a college degree, and gets married. Only when a mysterious package from Japan arrives in the mail is she forced to return to Japan and face her childhood, as well as decide whether or not to tell her family the truth about her past. This is a really REALLY great book that I loved from beginning to end. The details about Japan are so interesting and it’s just a really great story. I love books that bring something different to the table, and this definitely accomplishes that.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I love a smart YA romance! This book, following two New York teenagers who meet and spend one day together, features two complex characters and tons of witty dialogue that I really enjoyed. Natasha, a Jamaican immigrant who is fighting deportation after her dad is arrested for drunk driving and Daniel, the son of two South Korean immigrants who want him to pursue a future that his heart isn’t in, have an instant connection that can only be explained by fate. Or so Daniel believes, as he spends the day trying to convince Natasha that they are meant to be. This isn’t anything earth shattering, but it’s fun, romantic, and sad in all the right places.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington
This book kind of reminded me of Stand by Me in that it’s a coming of age story set in a simpler time with a murder thrown in to complicate things. It’s equal parts charming, nostalgic, and cozy — just really fun to read and the kind of book that it’s hard to go wrong with.
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
This book was an absolute page-turner for me — I could hardly put it down! It’s beachy and easy to read but at the same time has just enough intrigue and drama to make it worth digging into.
The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
This book, that begins in 1947 Brooklyn, revolves around a massive secret. Although this secret isn’t exactly confirmed until late in the book, it’s pretty obvious to the reader. Although stressful (UGH! when will people find OUT!!), it also kept me turning the pages to see how it ended.
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
Having grown up in a highly dysfunctional and emotionally unhealthy family, I am always drawn to books like this one. The central character Cassie, who upon first impression is mentally unstable at best, spend the course of the book unraveling her complicated and abusive relationship with her mother. It’s raw and beautifully written, while at the same time incredibly easy to read and immerse yourself in. I loved the character Cassie and really enjoyed her journey.
Leave Me by Gayle Forman
This book about a mom who packs a bag and leaves her family was instantly relatable to me. Not because I want to leave my family, but because I think we’ve all been there — feeling unloved, unappreciated, and frustrated. What mom hasn’t fantasized about just walking out at least once? Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective which is what the woman in this book discovers. Not everything is always as bad as it seems, especially when you take the time to look at the situation from another point of view. This book isn’t anything particularly life-changing, but I really enjoyed it and could definitely relate to some of the struggles.
What books were YOUR favorites of 2016? I’m always looking for new ones to add to my list!