Good morning, lovelies! Did everyone get what they wanted from Santa? If what you got is bookstore gift cards, then this post will help you spend them. It’s the end of 2016 and I’m back with my favorite books of the year. (Each title links to my review of the book)
In previous years this has been two posts: Favorites and Favorite Debuts because I simply had too many book loves. This year was different. Very different. It started out strong but by fall, reality took over my mental space and even my love of reading didn’t provide an escape. It’s been difficult for the blog because more often than not lately, I feel as if I can’t latch onto what I’m reading. As a result I only have ten books that I loved enough to rate 4.5 or 5 stars—which is my unscientific criteria for “favorite.
Keeping that in mind, I did have two books that stood out from the rest. Books I loved so much I’m already contemplating re-reading them. They are:
Wildly different, both of these books took over my heart and my mind. Forty Rooms did not get a lot of attention in the book world and I can see how for some it might be a bit out there, but for this woman it spoke to the journeys of all women. Deeply, wonderfully complex and profound. A Gentleman in Moscow is an easier pick. A lovely, intelligent tale with a hint of Eloise even though it’s about a man who is sentenced to house arrest in a Moscow hotel. For the rest of his life.
My other four favorite turned out to be a bit disparate which may be why they worked for me:
Melanie Benjamin does an outstanding job combining fact with fiction in The Swans of Fifth Avenue. The title refers to the wealthy Manhattan women who socialized with Truman Capote and who he later betrayed in his obsession for fame. This book qualifies as what my blogging buddy, Sarah calls Brain Candy—books that are light and yummy, but still smart.
Before the Wind is about the lives of family of racing sailors who live in Seattle. One of those novels that is quirky and funny, but gets to the heart of things.
Anna Quindlen is one of my go-to authors. I may not love everything she writes but at her worst it’s still deep like. Set in an economically depressed area constantly threatened by unethical big business Miller’s Valley ended up feeling timely and put faces to both sides of the story.
A smaller novel about a girl born with a genetic deformity that leaves her unable to live a normal life in 1915 Mississippi. Miss Jane is a somber novel, but ultimately beautiful in its portrayal of dignity. A concept that seems to be in very short supply these days which may be why the novel struck a chord.
My favorite debuts:
Tuesday Nights in 1980 is one of those hyper-kinetic novels that sweeps you up and in. A lot of components and they all work together to make an electrifying novel.
Coming-of-age in the restaurant world. The main character both finds herself and loses herself in Sweetbitter.
Another novel that felt relevant to the times. Aside from a clunky title (which makes perfect sense if you read the book), Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is an adrenaline rush of a novel centered around the World Trade Organization riots in Seattle in 1999.
WOW. I can honestly say a non-fiction title has never in the history of this blog made onto my favorite books list! In the same way that the podcast Serial was addictive, Adnan’s Story is compulsive reading. Rabia Chaudry knows the case inside and out and manages to take an enormous amount of facts and legalese and turn it into intense reading.
What were your favorite books this year?