I read SO many books in 2016.
That’s really a lot, even for me: especially because I was so very busy this year.
Some of the reading was due to all of the planes, trains, and waiting around of plentiful 2016 jewelry travel: this was as glamorous as lounging on a private terrace at a hotel on the Italian Riveria and as pungent as standing outside the Javitz Convention Center in 96 degree weather waiting to get on a bus from NYC to Baltimore.
2016 also involved two separate Emergency Room stays for me: one horrible, prolonged food poisoning incident and one crazy freak accident that ended in 15 stitches. Both of those necessitated weeks of recovery, not to mention the initial waiting room reading time. I also read in a hospital waiting room while waiting for my adorable leprechaun of a nephew to be born; a much happier hospital visit.
2016 brought another 6 months of physical therapy for my ongoing adventures in Things That Are Wrong With My Feet: that was 40 minutes of icing and heating a week, minimum, plus reading in the podiatrist’s waiting room. I also struggled more than usual with seasonal depression and anxiety this year, both of which which always make me want to burrow into a blanket nest and read forever.
So basically: some of 2016 was great, and I read during the spaces between all of the incredible things I was doing. But also 2016 was really hard, and books make me feel better.
Here are the best books I read in 2016 (in no particular order):
I think Uprooted was the first book I finished in 2016 and it’s still one of the very best. I loved it so much I wrote a full review for you already – and I was delighted when several of you picked up the book on my recommendation and emailed me afterwards to share how much you loved it, too. I think I’ll re-read it soon: it’s worth visiting more than once. (See the full review here.)
This lesbian YA love story is just the right balance of sweet and heartbreaking. It’s about love and identity and friendship and family.
This book is SO weird. One chapter in, I was tilting my head to the side and going “wait, what?” and that feeling lasted through the entirety of the novel…but in a good way. It was unlike anything else I’d ever read, and the writing was so good that I was convinced of all the weirdness and just accepted it as a story. Violent and strange, but utterly captivating. It feels like modern mythology – the story is huge and improbable and dark and fascinating. (See my full review here.)
There’s really nothing in the world like a great YA fantasy story, in my humble opinion. This one is electric: the sophisticated and tightly woven story involves a richly built world and several strong, fierce female characters to admire. It’s the first in a series, and soon to be a movie, I believe. (See my full review here.)
All the Rage is a brutal, heart-wrenchingly perfect answer to the question “What is rape culture and why does it matter?” I read this brilliant, difficult book in one sitting and I was destroyed for the rest of the day: I wandered around my apartment, looking for things to clean or organize so that I could remind myself I’m in control of my own life.
If more people read this book, I think that we as a civilization would be in better shape. Even more important now that the US is about to have a pussy-grabber in chief in the White House. (This may go without saying, but please consider this book to have a big, loud trigger warning for sexual assault.)
This book is a delight. It’s a shining example of the kind of joyful, somewhat silly, excellently written, fully engaging romance novel that was all I wanted to read for a large portion of 2016. Tessa Dare is a treasure and this is her doing what she does best.
The premise for this first book in a series is thus: several Victorian era young adults discover that they all have certain special powers.
I read this book in its entirety the night of the accident I mentioned above, the one that left me with 15 stitches. I was in a lot of pain and I couldn’t sleep. I’d heard this book was good, so I turned to it in hopes it would distract me. As a result, my memories of this novel are incredibly vivid. I was focusing so hard on the story that I have my visualizations of what was happening burned into my mind so clearly that they feel more like scenes I saw in a movie.
The latest book in Sarah MacLean’s latest series!! I generally love all of MacLean’s books, but this series didn’t start off as quite strongly as I’d hoped it would. However, this second book MORE than makes up for that. A Scot in the Dark was published in 2016 and I’ve already read this three times.
This is a gorgeous, all-encompassing YA love story. Nicola Yoon had a book on my best books of the year list in 2015, too – she’s on a roll. Be sure to read this one before it becomes a movie and you miss out on the chance to imagine the characters for yourself.
I’ve been aware of Bitch Planet for years – the fiercely feminist comic book series with a vociferous following – but I hadn’t read until this November. It was November, 9th, to be exact: the day after Donald Trump won the Presidential election. I read every edition of Bitch Planet in one sitting, and when I got up I felt like I had the strength to go on, because I knew I wasn’t alone in the bewilderment and rage of being a feminist in 2016 (and now 2017).
This book was described to me as a novel about a woman who is so busy taking care of other people that she doesn’t realize she’s having a heart attack. This book is thoughtful and deep and real and explores an important area of modern womanhood that doesn’t often get much attention: how much of ourselves we lose while leaning in and trying to “have it all.” I was expecting a tearjerker, having read Forman’s YA novels, Leave Me is more subtle than that.
It might sound weird to take a successful romance novel series into the second generation…but I’m seriously loving Eloisa James’ tales about the adult children of her famous Desperate Duchesses characters. This novel follows the adult Eugenia Strange, who unexpectedly meets a man who makes her reconsider what she thought she knew about love and how she’s spending her widowhood.
The jewelry on the book cover is wildly anachronistic, but what can you do?
This book is dark and the premise is heartbreaking but it’s exquisitely written and ultimately leads the reader to feel hopeful about the depths of brokenness that the human soul is capable of overcoming. (See my full review here.)
Three young women – born sisters, but separated as young children – are preparing for the ceremonial year in which they must all vie for the right to be Queen. They each have their own unique gift; a talent with potion, a connection to the elements, or a connection to the natural world. One of them will win, and there’s only one path to victory: be the last sister left alive. A fierce, engaging book with unique, badass female characters.
There you have it! Now tell me: what are the best books YOU read in 2016??
You can also find my full Index of Book Reviews here or at the top of the page anytime.
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