In March of 2015, I was promoted at work and my hours changed from 55 a week to a mere 40, and I was able to devote much more time to my old love: books. It really had been years (probably since high school) since I was really able to make a list of books I had an itch to read and knock them down one by one.
I sadly didn’t reach my goal of 50 books for 2015, but I did get close at 34. That put the pressure on for 2016 (because, yes, I’m really that competitive with myself), and about two months ago, I had actually surpassed my goal! Some of the books were amazing, others noteworthy, and some were a waste of my time (I’ll need to plan better next year and really do my research so as not to read anything too terrible).
Here’s a list of my ten favorite books I read in 2016. Some of these books are old news, some of them are more obscure, but if any of you fellow bibliophiles out there are looking for your next read, I would highly recommend any of the following books.
10) Kiss Me First by Lottie Maggach
Kiss me First is a novel centered on two women: one beautiful, confident, yet off-balance and unstable; the other homely, antisocial, awkward, but brilliant.
The two are connected by one thread: The desire of one to commit suicide with the help of the other. This is not just some sad story about the Right to Die though. Things get so twisted and complicated in the most interesting ways.
This story had really great characterization and solid narration. The storyline is unique and carries the reader along at a quick pace. You’ll breeze through this book and the ending will be quite unexpected.
9) Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
This is not just another post-apocalyptic trilogy, I promise. Oryx & Crake is first in the trilogy known as MaddAddam, and tells the story of Jimmy, Oryx, and Crake and how their actions led to the mass extermination of the human race.
Set in a dystopian future dominated by corrupt bioengineering companies, the story takes us from Jimmy’s early childhood through to his survival of the virus that wiped out most of humanity.
I really enjoyed the creativity and edginess in Atwood’s choices for this story. Of course, there are so many post-apocalyptic stories out there, but this one has been one of my favorites. And of course, you have to read the second and third in the series.
8) The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
If you’ve ever read a novel by Murakami, you know how delightfully weird his stories can be. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is no different.
The story follows Toru Okada, a young man whose wife and cat disappear (not simultaneously, though). In his quest to find both, Okada discovers a netherworld under Tokyo.
The magical realism that Murakami is so well-known for is aplenty in this story. The characters, including an impulsive, yet wiser-than-her-years teenager, psychic prostitute, an evil politician, and an elderly World War II Veteran, add to the strange and dreamlike story with their odd actions and words.
If you like weird (like me) you’ll love this book.
7) Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
I know, this one is a given. Anything by J.K. Rowling is absolutely always going to be fabulously well-written, even if it is under the pen name she’s designated for her hard-boiled detective novel series.
Career of Evil is the third in the wonderful Cormoran Strike series, and does not disappoint.
In the aftermath of having solved two very public cases, Strike and his assistant Robin have been receiving lots of publicity and attention, both positive and negative. Their next case begins when Robin receives a woman’s severed leg in the mail, which turns out (not surprisingly) to belong to a murdered young woman.
The case becomes increasingly personal to Strike as he investigates several men from his past who have violent enough tendencies to carry out such a crime. We get to see a deeper side of main character Strike, who has a past riddled with trials and difficulties of all sorts.
The story turns even more complicated as Strike’s and Robin’s professional relationship blurs into a more personal one. You’ll love the twists and turns that this novel takes, and the masterful description and narration of Galbraith (Rowling).
6) Everything Matters! By Ron Currie Jr.
Everything Matters! is a coming-of-age tale about a young kid, Junior, who, at a very young age was imparted with knowledge about the end of the world, which will happen in 36 years.
This knowledge impacts every part of Junior at each stage of his life. Why should he care about anything if the world is just going to end? Why do anything at all?
This book takes us through each period of Junior’s short but incredible life, as he comes to terms with the knowledge he never asked for but nevertheless possesses.
I loved how this book’s creative storyline. I felt deeply every emotion that Junior endured: the apathy, the despair, the longing for more, and ultimately, the choice of finding joy of life itself despite the fact that you’re finite and powerless.
5) The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
This. Book. Is. Crazy.
Jim Severson is a young, wealthy man, who is unhappily married to a woman he believes is cheating on him. While on a transatlantic flight, he meets Lily Kintner, and they spend the long flight in deep conversation. He confides in Lily about his worries, and jokingly states that he wishes he could just kill his wife. She, shockingly, replies that she can help.
From there, it’s a whirlwind of a tale that has more twists and turns than you can imagine. There are lies, deception, double-crossing, and of course, murder.
This book is a crazy ride from start to finish. You’ll love The Kind Worth Killing if you enjoyed Gone Girl.
4) Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Another coming-of-age tale, Tell the Wolves I’m Home takes us through the close bond between teenaged June and her uncle Finn.
It’s not until after Finn’s early death, however, that June comes to realize that there was much she didn’t know about her uncle. The story takes us through June’s grief and her coming to terms with the new discoveries she makes about who her uncle was.
This story was incredibly heart-wrenching and gave me misty eyes and all the feels.
3) The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The friend who first recommended this trilogy to me (thanks, Dave!) described them as “Harry Potter for adults.” And yes, they are about a hidden-in-plain-sight magical community and a magical school, but they are much, much edgier.
Quentin Coldwater grew up, just as millions of other children, reading a fantasy series that centers around a magical world called Fillory, where five siblings end up after walking through the door of a grandfather clock (sound familiar? It’s a caricature of Narnia). Quentin wished more than anything else that worlds such as Fillory existed in reality.
At what was supposed to be his Princeton admission interview, Quentin is instead drawn into what turns out to be the entrance exam for a magical school called Breakbills.
The Magicians, the first book in the trilogy, is incredibly witty and fun to read. I loved getting wrapped up in the enchanting world that Grossman creates.
2) Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff
Fates & Furies is a chronicle of the relationship between a husband and wife, and the events that led to their union.
The first section of the book is told from the perspective of Lotto, the husband, who is a charming and charismatic actor-turned-playwright. Lotto and Mathilde meet in college, fall madly in love, and marry young.
Mathilde’s side is the second section of the book, and it’s in this section that details told from Lotto’s perspective clarify and come sharply into focus.
In this epic, we see the sacrifices made and the lies told in marriage, often to stitch together that which would otherwise fall apart.
There is a big twist at the end… one that I did not see coming. Hope you love this book as much as I do!
1) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
…drumroll please… My FAVORITE book I read in 2016 was *hands down* The Night Circus. A story of wonder, discovery, and magic, The Night Circus focuses on a competition between two young illusionists, enacted through the channels of oneupsmanship in the creation of beautiful and mesmerizing circus attractions.
The two illusionists, Marco and Celia, create an enchanting traveling circus that appears without warning in cities across the world, then disappears again a few days later. The circus is a lovely demonstration of the magic of each illusionist, but trouble arises when Marco and Celia begin to fall in love.
The descriptions in this story are incredible. You will imagine yourself walking along the winding paths of Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams), between the black and white tents, standing awash in the glowing lights and breathing in the scent of caramel apples and bonfires.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves losing themselves in a fabulous world and cries when the book ends.
I hope you find at least one book on this list that you haven’t read yet and enjoy it as much as I did. What have been your favorite books you’ve read this year?? Let me know by replying in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
The Little Localista