Our top ten books of 2016
2016 was a great year for literature. Book Worm and I both read lots of wonderful books and wanted to share our top ten list for books published in 2016. Keep reading to find out which books make our lists and why. Let us know which books made your list!
Jen’s Top Ten: I read 34 books published in 2016 and these were my top 10, in no particular order (links will take you to our reviews when available or to Amazon if reviews have not been posted):
- News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Beautifully written and interesting book.
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing: Ambitious, beautifully written, and touching. I wanted it to win the Man Booker.
- Homegoing by Ya’a Gyasi. Wonderful debut novel. I felt like it had some flaws but overall a really strong and powerful book and worth reading.
- Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves. This one surprised me. From the synopsis it sounded rather boring and not a book I would typically enjoy but I underestimated it. It was engaging, beautifully written, and tackled some important themes.
- Hot Milk by Deborah Levy. A book that I think will appeal more to women. Poetic and lyrical, this book will stay with me for its beautiful symbolism and rich, warm writing.
- Hystopia by David Means. I didn’t find this book particularly enjoyable to read. It was violent, confusing, and intense. It was also amazingly brilliant.
- The Many by Wyl Menmuir. Unsettling book that merits multiple readings. One of the best I read this year in terms of creating a sense atmosphere. This is the perfect book to read for a book club because it warrants discussion afterwards.
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This made it onto lots of lists but I was somewhat conflicted about adding this one onto my list. It probably wouldn’t be at the top of my top ten list, but I do think it is a book worth reading.
- The Nix by Nathan Hill. I loved this book. It was funny, thoroughly entertaining and ultimately uplifting. I also met the author at book expo this year and he was everything I imagined he would be from reading this book (how often does that happen?). This was an ambitious book that spanned decades. Review to follow in the next few weeks.
- What is Yours is not yours by Helen Oyeyemi. I keep saying that I don’t love short stories but this year two short stories collections made my list. I’d never read anything by Oyeyemi and I loved this quirky and unsettling collection.
In sum, many of my top 10 were also nominees for the Man Booker prize, so I clearly agreed with judges this year. The Tsar of Love and Techno didn’t make it onto the Booker list which is bordering on criminal. It was my favorite book of the year and one that I’d recommend to everyone. I’m currently reading Moonglow which has the potential to bump out The Underground Railroad (the book that only barely made it onto my list) but I’m only a short ways into the book.
Book Worm’s Top Ten list: I read 37 books published in 2016 and I was impressed with most of them. In fact only 1 was a real let down. Here are my top 10, in no particular order although the top 3 are 5 star reads and the rest are 4 star reads:
- Swing Time by Zadie Smith – this is a brilliant book about friendship, jealously and growing up as a mixed race child in 80’s London.
- The Power by Naomi Alderman – My favourite read of the year, amazing dystopian fiction that questions whether a world run by women would be a better place or not.
- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – A troubling look at race relations in America and how prejudice can be a case of life and death.
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madelaine Thien – A sprawling family epic following a Chinese family through the important events that impact their country and how they come to terms with them.
- Nashville by Heart – pure fun cowboy romance.
- Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves – An interesting look at the introduction of electricity in America and the break down of a marriage.
- Hot Milk by Deborah Levy – Still not sure why I loved this so much.
- Zero K by Don DeLillo – A scary look into the future of cryogenics and what it means for humanity.
- All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda – Interesting thriller told in reverse.
- Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J Church – A marriage viewed against the back drop of the development of the nuclear bomb.
I didn’t read too many that were published this year. But one of my top five reads of the years was published this year and worth mentioning: The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux. It was very dense and non-linear so it may not appeal to some – but completely my taste.
Sadly this is the only work translated by this author. I was unable to find other English novels by this author.
Wow, what a great year 2016 was for books! Too bad it took so many amazing musicians, actors and authors. (Always, Alan Rickman.)
I actually read over 20 books from this year, and have way too many on my shelf and iPad left to read.
Here is my list of top 10 (plus one) for 2016, but I’m starting The Nix after I’m done typing this, so…
5 star reads: 1. Christmas Days by Winterson
2. LaRose by Erdrich
3. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Thien
4.5 stars: 4. The Vegetarian by Han
5. Barkskins by Proulx
6. Angel of History by Alameddine
7. Underground Railroad by Whitehead
8. Work Like Any Other by Reeves
9. Homegoing by Gyasi
10. What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Oyemi
and, my other 4.5 star read from the books published this year (just so it doesn’t feel lonely):
11. The Little Red Chairs by O’Brien
LikeLiked by 1 person
Great list! I plan to get to a few of those soon.
I may have to treat myself to Christmas Days I love Winterson
I loved Swing Time too and can’t wait to read The Power!
Two of these would be on my list too. The Many and Do not say we Have Nothing. I am keen to read The Homegoing, hope someone buys it for me
LikeLiked by 1 person
Here are my favourite books read in 2016 but not published in 2016:
The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison
Life After Life Kate Atkinson
Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl
Dictionary of Mutual Understanding Jackie Copleton
Excited to see Hot Milk on both of your lists. Loved that book beyond all reasonable measure – – and I learned about it here!
Still want to get to Do Not Say We Have Nothing and Homegoing . . .
LikeLiked by 1 person
I liked Swing Time for the childhood scenes, which made me think this was going to be one of the best things I’d ever read, but was so disappointed by the later scenes with the pop star. They were OK, but by comparison, Smith’s portrayal lacked the authenticity of the childhood scenes. I am steeling myself to read the Thien, which makes both your lists! I do find it difficult to read things set in China because of my family being caught up in the revolution events.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I want to read The Power, Homegoing and Work Like Any Other. I’m supposed to be clearing my TBR this year, but I got a book token among my Christmas stash, so I might treat myself!