In honor of New Year’s Eve, I am posting a list of my favorite books of the year. Since I read books published in 2016 as well as many, many books written in previous years, I decided my list will include any book I finished (and loved) this year, irregardless of when it was published. I have also included two books I read last year, but re-read this year so I feel like they are fair game for a “best of” list.
Here they are…
All the Light You Cannot See (Anthony Doerr) A true masterpiece and one of the best books I have ever read, All the Light is a story of war, loss, and survival for two children during World War II. Written with some of the most magical, enchanting language I have ever come across. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/all-the-light-we-cannot-see/
Career Of Evil (Robert Galbraith) This is book three in the incomparable murder mystery collection, the Comoran Strike series, told by a master storyteller. A fiercely intelligent, funny, and honest book with two main characters that are impossible not to love and a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/career-of-evil/
Carry On (Rainbow Rowell)…and Landline, and Attachments, and Eleanor & Park, and Fan Girl! I discovered and read every single word Rainbow Rowell has ever published this year and I loved every last one of them! In Carry On, Rowell has crafted a YA fantasy that is magical, funny, modern, and lovely. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/carry-on-by-rainbow-rowell-2015/
The Revenant (Michael Punke) A gripping, fast-paced historical novel about the rugged, dangerous lives of the men who were working to create a home for themselves in the wilderness of the upper Midwest in the mid-1800’s. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2015/12/21/the-revenant/
Journey to Munich (Jacqueline Winspear) The most recent installment of Winspear’s wonderful series which are set in early 20th century England and focus on “psychological investigator” Maisie Dobbs. All of the books in the series are intellectual mysteries told in stunning historical detail. This one is her best yet: https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/journeytomunich/
Monsters of Templeton (Lauren Groff) This novel was unlike any book I read this year: a story about a young woman, her family, and her hometown that is told using stories both past and present about the main character as well her relatives and neighbors. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/the-monsters-of-templeton/
Euphoria (Lily King) A slim novel documenting the experiences of three brilliant anthropologists living and conducting research among the native peoples of Papua New Guinea in the 1930’s. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/euphoria-by-lily-king-2014/
Prodigal Summer (Barbara Kingslover) In one of Kingsolver’s most gorgeous books, readers will find a story of about the magic that comes alive in the (human and animal) world during the heady months of summer. An epic piece of writing about our intimate connection to the world around us and the other people who inhabit it along-side us. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/prodigal-summer-by-barbara-kingsolver-2000/
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Rachel Joyce) This book tells the story of an aging British man who breaks with years of routine to set off on a walk across England to visit a dying friend. Along the way he sheds years of grief and pain and becomes a new version of himself. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/the-unlikely-pilgrimage-of-harold-fry/
Blindsighted (Karin Slaughter) Although this singular book is not exceptional on its own, I am including it because discovering Karin Slaughter’s two intertwining series of murder mystery books (the Grant County and Will Trent series) this past year meant that I was given hours upon hours of wonderful (if a bit gruesome) reading material from this talented and prolific author. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/blindsighted-by-karin-slaughter-2002/
As a side-note to those of you who have children or love to read children’s literature, my sons thought I should mention some of the books we read as a family and really loved this year.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (Books 1-4). These four delightful books follow the lives of the spirited, loving, independent Penderwick sisters and tell of their many adventures. A review of book four can be found here: https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/the-penderwicks-in-spring/
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (Chris Grabenstein) This wonderfully inventive story tells of a group of children who must work together using clues from their favorite books to find a way to escape from the new town library, built by a wacky gamemaker named Mr. Lemoncello.
Illustrated Versions of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets These editions take our family’s most beloved books and give them new energy and a renewed sense of magic. Jim Kay’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous. https://ivejustfinishedreading.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-by-jk-rowling/