Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Year in Review: Best Books of 2016

It's the last week of the year, so it's time for my annual "best books" post! I have to say that it was a bit more of a struggle to pick my 10 best books for the year. As of today, I've 74 books this years, so I certainly had a lot of books to pick from. But I feel like I gave out a lot of 3 star ratings which is the equivalent of ok or pretty good. Don't get me wrong - I did read some great books this year. It just feels like there weren't as many 5-star reads as years past.

I'll do a recap of my 2016 reading in the new year with average ratings and such next week, but in the meantime, here are the 10 best books I read in 2016!

Best Book of the year = Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Without a doubt, the best book I read this year was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Check out this blog post to see how this book made me think about what I eat and how I source my food. I've heard that the audio book is great as well!

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant - In this graphic memoir, the author tells the story of the decline and eventual passing of her parents. It's a raw and very honest account of what it is like to lose a parent, especially one with which you have a complicated relationship. The use of comics to tell the story is so effective as it really brings the story to life in a way that solely using words wouldn't or couldn't.

Wonder This is such a sweet and heart-warming book. It's written for middle-grade readers but I think adults would enjoy it and get something out of reading it. It's about a little boy with a combination of genetic mutations that causes extreme facial deformations. The boy covers his first year of going to school with other kids. It will definitely tug at your heart strings.

Winter of the World - This is the 2nd book in Follett's Century Trilogy and it covers the WWII era. I recommend reading all 3 books close together as each book covers a different generation of the families we meet in the first book. These books are lengthy - over 800 pages - but worth the time commitment as the author does a great job of weaving historical events with interesting character plotlines.

Steve Jobs - This is another long book (571 pages), but well worth the time commitment. Steve Jobs was a total and complete a-hole, but he was also a genius. I would like to think he could have been as successful while being more kind and less demeaning, though. It was fascinating to read about all the technology he had a hand in creating or inspiring, from helping Pixar become the best creator of animated films to developing the iPod, iPad and iPhone. He'll definitely go down as one of the best innovators.

Come Away with Me - This novel is told from the perspective of a young girl in her 20s whose life changes in the blink of an eye due to a devastating car accident. To deal with her grief, her husband encourages them to take a 6 week vacation and visit 3 places they had put in their 'jar of spontaneity' (i.e. their bucket list). She writes about each destination so vividly and while this is fiction, her contemplations about grief and loss reads like non-fiction.

I Let You Go It's too difficult to provide a synopsis without spoiling any of the twists, so suffice it to say that it's a gripping page turner! I recommend it to anyone who wants to get sucked into a good book.

The Ramblers  - It tells the story of 3 30-somethings that went to college together at Yale. The title comes from an area of Central Park which is called "The Ramble." It's a densely wooded area with winding paths where one can find themselves unsure of where they are, where they are going, and how to get to their intended destination. The Ramble serves as a metaphor for how each of the character is feeling. They are all a little bit heart broken and lost. The novel covers a one week period that includes Thanksgiving, the wedding of one of the characters siblings, and a final visit to a childhood home for another character.

To Kill a Mockingbird - I read this book when I was in the 8th grade, so it was a re-read, but I think I loved it even more as an adult. In fact, I think this should be required reading for all adults as I think there are many lessons to learn and/or be reminded of in this book pertaining to race and equality. Given the state of our nation these days, I think these are lessons that many, if not all, people need to be reminded of. The plot of this novel is excellent, but the character development is even better as the author really makes you fall in love with each character. 

The Edge of Eternity - This is the final book in the Century Trilogy. I didn't love this book as much as the first 2 but it was still an excellent book. It covers the 1950's through 1980's which is era that got little to no attention on the history classes I took in high school, so I learned a lot by reading this book.

What are some of the best books you read in 2016?


Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I always love your book lists! I have only read one of the books on this list and, of course, in left wishing I could read faster and read ALL the adult novels and ALL the middle grade "kids" books.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I love these lists! I really enjoyed the 2nd Ken Follett book too and in fact, I read it as an audio book. It got me through a drive to Oregon and back, as well as through many miles of running! It was LONG but good. I also just read I Let You Go and really liked it; in fact I am not sure why I did not give it 5 stars now that I am thinking back... You have given me quite a few to add to my to read list as well!

Charbelle said...

I read a lot down at the lake this summer but I was re-reading favorites. We keep paper backs down there and I revisited Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Nora Roberts. I can't read my kindle on the dock. I'm going to have to check a few of these out!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I love your book lists! I was just looking at my favorites from the year too and I also did not have many 5 star books this year! Hopefully next year I'll have more!

Jeanie said...

Thanks for the info on the Follett -- I gave up on him with Pillars of the Earth but I love the WWII period and might have to give it a try. I have "I Let You Go" on my pile. And I remember you mentioning wonder.

I'll be doing a book post soon. Probably a bit after the first of the year!


Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

WOW! I cannot believe you read 74 books this year; that's crazy girl! Nice work! I have a couple Chapters gift cards, so I'm looking forward to picking up a couple new books on sale this week, and then taking them on vacation.

Stephany said...

I've only read The Ramblers and To Kill a Mockingbird from this list - two books I wholly loved!

I'll be posting my top 10 books later this week, but The Hating Game was far and away my favorite book of the year. It was SUCH a fun read! I'm planning on re-reading it soon.

katielookingforward said...

I hope to write book posts in 2017, I can't remember a clear favorite of 2016, most of my reading was easy, as its usually before bed when i'm super tired.

Gracie said...

I always get good book recommendations from you, so I added a few to my list. My favorite book this year was God's Hotel, a book written by a doctor in the last alms house in America. It was a wonderful read about old school medicine and how healthcare has changed.

Linda said...

From your list I only read Wonder and To Kill a Mockingbird. Excited to have more to check out! I also appreciated your emails with recommendations!

One of my favorites this year is Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Course of Love.

Amber said...

I just shared my 6 favourite books on the blog today and Animal Vegetable Miracle and Come Away with Me were also on my list! I Let you Go got an honourary mention. Since we have such similar taste in books I definitely need to add the rest of the ones from your list onto my To Read list. I think I will re-read To Kill A Mockingbird this year as my "re-read" in the 2017 Read Harder challenge. I am attempting to do the challenge again this year with my brother.

74 books is so many!!

San said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I started Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a couple of days ago and love it so far!