2016 was a pretty good reading year. I read 100 books–40 more than my goal of 60. Whoo. And, for the most part, I’m pretty happy with what I read. I can’t wait to dive into the books I know I want to get to in 2017.
Before we get into the favorites, here are some honourable mentions: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the Mistborn novels that I read this year that I loved–some of which were five stars, but didn’t equal the five stars from the books I have listed below, Harrow County–a great new comic book series, Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Fireman by Joe Hill, The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Bluets by Maggie Nelson, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (would be on my best books, but I’m certain I read it before about ten years ago), and Sula by Toni Morrison.
[Disclaimer: these books are in no particular order, save for my ultimate favorite of the year, and they were not necessarily published in 2016. I just read them this year. I’ve ordered them in terms of when I read them. ]
Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich
I adored this poetry collection. It’s beautiful, and heartbreaking, and one to keep with you throughout the years. It’s the first thing I read in 2016, and it sure set the mood for the rest of the year.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
This is a beautiful, atmospheric story. I absolutely loved the characters and how Wecker portrayed New York City at the turn-of-the-century. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy character books that are a slow burn.
By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente
A beautiful collection of short stories, with just the right amount of magical realism and atmosphere.
Today Means Amen by Sierra DeMulder
DeMulder is one of the best slam poets I’ve come across, and her new book did not disappoint. There’s a great mixture of powerful and poignant poems in this collection; it’s one to re-read over and over again.
Shrill by Lindy West
Lindy West made me laugh and cry more than once in her essay collection Shrill. It’s wonderful, and West’s voice throughout the book is just fantastic. Highly recommend.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this collection, but it ended up blowing me away. Nelson has such a beautiful and raw way of writing. I throughly enjoyed this book.
The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay
This poetry collection is equal parts haunting, beautiful, touching, and heartbreaking. It’s one of the best poetry collections I’ve read in some time. Highly recommend.
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins
I loved this collection of short stories. I loved the way that Collins captured both the environment and the characters. I loved the way she incorporated filmmaking into some of her stories. I just loved it.
And my favorite of the best? It’s, of course, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. This novel absolutely astounded me. The characters, the writing, the atmosphere, everything. James earned a spot among my favorite authors with this novel, and I also really loved his debut novel, John Crow’s Devil–which I read this summer. If you haven’t read A Brief History because you’re intimidated by its size, I recommend the audiobook. I went back and forth between the audiobook and the print novel, and I fully believe the audiobook is a tour-de-force unto itself. It’s fantastic.
How was your 2016 reading year? What were some of your favorites?
Until next time, happy reading!