It was a tremendous reading year for me. I read 163 books in 2016. Of that total, 143 books were books I’d never read before or at least not marked as read in Goodreads.
2016 was the top reading year since I’ve been keeping track of what I read. In 2008, I read 21 books. I’ll attribute some of the increase to taking the train to work 3-5 days a week since 2011. That’s a good 2 hours of uninterrupted reading time each day.
I’ll admit there were some clunkers in last year’s reading list. I’ve gotten better at abandoning books that aren’t working for me, but sometimes I feel committed and keep going. But what were my favorites?
As in years past (2015, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008), the list of favorites isn’t limited to books that came out in 2016. I’ve got a couple older titles on my list this year, including one that came out in 1976.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry was my favorite book of 2016. It started out as one kind of book that was just ok, but then I realized it was a different kind of book altogether and that book was amazing. I ugly-cried at the end. I borrowed this book from Overdrive and had to buy myself a copy 2 days after finishing it. It’s that good.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow came out in 2005 but I didn’t pay it attention until I saw Hamilton on Broadway. While the book made evident any historical inaccuracies from the musical, Chernow did a fantastic job of making history come alive without turning the biography into an historical novel. His Washington biography was also a top read for me this year.
Crisis on Infinite Earths was a re-read for me. I’d read the original series when it was first published. The issues are bagged and boarded and live in a long box in my garage. Crisis was the first game-changing, crossover comic series. When it was published in 1985, the effects of the series were meant to have long-lasting repercussions. Now, DC and Marvel have huge event series every couple of years and the effects aren’t as devastating. My re-read held up though and I still gasped when heroes died.
Another re-read from long ago, Dragonsong was Anne McCaffrey’s first book in the Harper series. I loved this when I was in middle school. It didn’t hold up quite as well as I remembered, but the story of Menolly’s fight to be more than a fishwife pulled me in and I loved it all over again.
I tend to read a lot of white, male authors. They take up most of the publishing lists, and, to be honest, I don’t usually seek out minority authors just to read minority authors. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor was a departure from my norm and I’m very glad I picked this up. It’s a post-apocalyptic story set in Africa, and I don’t want to tell you any more than that lest I spoil the magic of the story for you.
The Portable Veblen is a little odd, a little confusing, and a little amazing. Veblen is a great character and Elizabeth McKenzie has a strong voice. All of her supporting characters were individuals and allowed to have different, valid opinions from and of Veblen. Not all authors manage to pull that off.
Here Comes the Sun tells the story of three women in Jamaica. If you’ve ever stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica (or anywhere else most likely), you should read this book. It looks at what happens outside the resort walls and how resorts influence island life. At the same time, it delves into racism, the power of folklore and superstition, and what family means.
Last on the list was The Walking Dead: Compendium 3. It collects issues 94-144 of the comics. In the interest of saving money, I’m reading the comic series through the compendiums. For fans of the TV series, this collection includes the opening of season 7 (yes, that scene with Lucille is here, if a little different) and covers a lot of what may happen with Negan.
So … those were my favorite reads of 2016. I’ve set myself a goal of 140 books for 2017. Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading at any given moment or join me for the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. I can’t promise that I won’t read trash or won’t hate a literary favorite of yours but let me know what you’re reading and what you loved in 2016.