Friday, December 30, 2016

What I Read: Top 10 of 2016

2016 sucked in a lot of ways, but my reading list didn't take a hit.

You can, of course, check out my previous years in review for comparison:  2013, 2014, and 2015.

I read 117 books this year, not as much as last year's 135, and you know what?  I wouldn't have even made it that high were it not for audio books.  No audiobook made my list, though, except for parts of some of the Ferrante books.  This is not a fault of the medium, but it does have to do with the library service I use-- it is SO HARD to get new books.

Ok.  So.  The TOP TEN ( there are actually more than 10 books on this list, so sue me).  And!  These are all books from 2016 (or, if we are talking about two books or even 4 books in a series-- shut up, I told you were were dealing with more than 10 books here-- then the LAST BOOK was published this (terrible, terrible) year or at the very end of 2015-- see?  Everything I say is a LIE, but that's because we live in a POST TRUTH WORLD).

10.  Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee and Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye:  Ok, so, these books have NOTHING to do with each other except that they are period novels with amazingly badass women lead characters and lots of gore.  More than that, they both create complete, perfect other worlds for readers, and this is something I really, really, really love.  I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so they tie for 10th.

9.  End of Watch by Stephen King:  I love this book as the last one in the Bill Hodges trilogy, and you should go ahead and read the other 2, although this one is the best.  It's everything King does well, the plotting, the characters, the dialogue.  His leading men have gotten SO MUCH BETTER as he has gotten older, and Bill Hodges is my very favorite King character, which is saying a lot because I have been with King since the Carrie days when I started reading him in 5th grade and loved almost every book since, minus The Tommyknockers.

8.  You/Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes:  These are both so good and so, so, so creepy.  I think there are going to be more?  I mean, I hope no more murders in soundproof chambers because HOW OFTEN DO THOSE COME ALONG? But more books about my favorite psychopath.

7.  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue: This story of immigrants is even more poignant in the face of Muslim registries and walls and the politics of hate.  Read it and weep.  Literally.

6.  Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond:  Another book made more tragic by Trump's goon squad.  This book is brilliant, and so is its author-- a fascinating and important read about poverty and policy and humanity.

5.  Commonwealth by Ann Patchett:  Reading a new Patchett novel is a singular pleasure, and this one does not disappoint.  I loved it and was hooked from the very first paragraph.

4.  Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet:  My Brilliant Friend came out in 2012.  Next came The Story of a New Name in 2013, followed by Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay in 2014 and 2015's The Story of the Lost Child.  I almost didn't include these books on my list because they are not 2016 books, but I spent a huge part of my 2016 reading or listening to them, and they're really good, so here they are.  Indulge yourself with them in 2017 and STOP WATCHING THE NEWS.  Also, HRC read them, making them awesomer.

3.  When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi:  I mean.  This book.  READ IT.

2.  A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara:  Gah.  I can cry just thinking about this book-- which, you should know, has been roundly trounced by critics and by own smart friends.  There.  I warned you.

1.  Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo:  Everything I like about every Russo book in one.  It's no Straight Man (my favorite book ever written ever), but it's pretty darn close.

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