Between starting a whole new career, moving to a new state, and the presidential election, 2016 was a crazy year of ups and downs! I didn’t get to read as many books as I would have liked, but I still enjoyed many of the ones I did.
These are just some of the books I read in 2016 (though they may not have been published in 2016). It’s also a mishmash of genres… Looking back, it was definitely the year of Asimov for me. I set a goal to read all his books, so there will probably be a lot of his books on here.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my top 10 reads of 2016!
So I was introduced to this book through a Goodreads group I joined last year. The story centers around 4 siblings coming together to decide what to do with their grandparent’s old house. Hadley writes beautifully, and so many of her characters felt fleshed out and real. The sensuality of every moment was so precisely calibrated, it was just great to read for its craft. In hindsight, I’m going back and forth on one character (one of the only characters of color in the book) but overall, I still enjoyed it.
9. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This book was recommended to me by a colleague. He was teaching it to his class and wondered if I would want to teach it too, which I did. I will say, in hindsight, it probably is more suitable for middle school aged kids, but I did enjoy reading it just for myself. Conor, the MC, is trying to deal with his mother’s cancer and gets help from an unexpected figure. A movie came out in January and I didn’t get to see it in theaters! So I’m waiting till it’s out on Netflix or something.
8. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Speaking of books I’ve taught, this is another one. Also a great read! Before I decided to use this in my classroom, I read it as a recommendation from the same colleague mentioned above. I loved this book! I literally couldn’t put it down and read it all in one sitting (staying up on a school night to finish it, lol). The story follows the tapes left by Hannah Baker, a girl who had committed suicide. It fostered a lot of great discussion in my classes, which was amazing to see. Also, my students who hate reading would come into class and ask, “can we just read today?” So that’s always a great sign.
7. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Oh, this book. I’m still having trouble writing my review for it… It chronicles the expansion out to the American west by settlers and debunks the myths of the frontier. The stories of what happened to different Native tribes at the hands of the U.S. government haunt me. I wanted to know more about this history and picked the book up on a whim (as a Christmas gift for the hubby in 2015) and didn’t realize this was a very famous book. I think Brown does a good job of creating a descriptive, narrative flow of all the historical events. I’m still trying to piece together the words, but it definitely has a place on my Must Reads shelf. You will look at the US differently after reading this if you’re unfamiliar with the history.
Gahh, this book! Not only does this book contain so many important messages and give insight into the power that is systemic racism in the US, it is just beautiful! Rankine has a way with words that is enviable. It is also one of my Must Reads. #BlackLivesMatter
5. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
I will start this off by saying Asimov’s writing style is not for everyone. I read a lot of the 1950s-60s literature, so their styles and conventions aren’t very jarring for me. Also, the subtle (or sometimes overt) sexism and racism are things to consider when reading any literature from that era. But, bearing that in mind, I freaking love Asimov! The worlds he creates are fantastic, and his characters have stayed with me. The fact that all his books exist in the same universe as a chronological history is amazing! The Caves of Steel should be read after I, Robot, as it follows an Earth detective, Elijah Baley, who must solve a murder with the help of a sophisticated android, R. Daneel Olivaw. Like many of Sci-Fi’s early work, robots or aliens usually take the place of PoC and their plights. Robots are generally discriminated against. So there’s that. But man, could he create a world or what?!
4. Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov
The last book in the Robot Novels, and one of my favorites, follows Daneel and another robot as they try to solve a case that could seal the fate of Earth. I’m not mentioning the other robot because I don’t want to spoil anything in the series. This takes place long after Baley passed away, and the way Daneel remembers him is so sweet. Also, it’s nice to see the robots doing things on their own for once.
3. The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov
I’m going to start this off by saying this book contains some peak sexism. Baley gets super leery around this one spacer woman… *cringe* Overlooking that, the mystery is great. I love having Elijah and Daneel together again! And that twist at the end is AMAZING! Again, trying not to spoil it, but ahhh, I could talk about it for days.
2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This book sucked me in completely. I read the entire series in a short amount of time, but only the first book is making my list. Sci-Fi, YA, Sailor Moon-ish, re-telling of a classic fairytale? Hell yes! I loved the world building, I loved the layering of conflicts, and I loved Cinder and Iko! Also, Prince Kaito was a great love interest, even if it did smack of instalove. As far as the series goes, I wish it was just Cinder, Iko, and Carswell Thorne on the adventure. The other characters and their stories didn’t really hold me. And I really, really, really, wanted–no I needed!–Cress to just die.
And finally, my number one read of 2016! This book is number 1 for a lot of reasons. First off, it is a great story that had me in tears, and enraged, and all over the place. Naila’s situation is all too real for many girls and women all over the world. It’s not something I’ve ever gone through, but I know it happens. The second reason I love this book, this is an #ownvoices book with a Pakistani Muslim protagonist. It is also the first American novel I’ve ever read that was both #ownvoices and featured a Pakistani Muslim protagonist. The fact that that detail hit me so hard continually shows me why representation matters. And finally the third reason, this is the book that made me want to get my crap together and actually be more involved in the book community. I got my twitter & blog fixed up and met other awesome book bloggers, as well as the We Need Diverse Books campaign and the #diversebookbloggers crowd all because I wanted to share how much I loved this book.
There it is, my top 10 reads of 2016! Here’s to 2017 being a year of more reading and more loving books. What were your favorite books of 2016?