2016 Reading List
This is just about everything I read in 2016. I read 52 books! That's approximately a book week. I'm going to try to keep this up in 2017 (and I'm off to a great start!)
Each author and book title is listed below. I also included a review, memory, or thought for each title.
Also, I included some of the publisher information, but not all; if you have any questions about where I got a book or which versions I used, just let me know.
Adler-Olsen, Jussi. The Hanging Girl: A Department Q Novel. Penguin Audio, 2015.
- If you've read any of my reading lists, you know that I love Jussi Adler-Oslen and Department Q. This doesn't disappoint at all. Carl Morck is is wonderful self, Rose is a quirky as usual, and Assad is still messing up idioms.
- Also, the first two movies for this series are available on Netflix. Just sayin'.
Alexander, Elizabeth. The Light of the World: A Memoir. Grand Central Publishing, 2016.
- I know I should have expected it, but Alexander's writing is amazing. I like the way she combines poetry and prose, and the absolute beauty of the mundane. This book is a hard read as it's a memoir about losing her husband unexpectedly; there were a few places that I had to put it down because it was so achingly difficult and true.
Backman, Fredrik. Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel. Simon and Schuster Audio, 2016.
- Backman had a great, popular year in the US. His fiction basically invaded our bookshelves. Britt-Maris happens to be the first Backman book I picked up. I love the fustiness of Britt-Marie, her determination, and how she finds herself.
.... A Man Called Ove.
- I bought this one in an airport. I don't remember were I was flying home from, but I desperately needed a book to warm my soul. It did just that. I actually started with the print version of this and finished with the audio version. I specifically remember sobbing in my car in front of the pool finishing this. It was so good.
Baume, Sara. Spill Simmer Falter Wither. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
- This was my pick for our book club. I love it. It was a lyric novel about an old man and his one-eyed dog. It was hard though and depressing. Baume actually just released her second book. I'm definitely picking up a copy.
Bloom, Amy. Lucky Us. Random House Paper Tradebooks, 2015.
- I loved Lucky Us. Bloom does a great job of mixing narratives and telling a post-Depression and World War II era story that we haven't heard before. And I got to meet Amy Bloom (who is amazing)!
.... Where the God of Love Hangs Out. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2011.
- Did I mention I got to meet Amy Bloom? These short stories are wonderful, but I'm not quite sure I've ever been so tongue-tied in the presence of a great author as I was in front of Amy Bloom.
Beasley, Sandra. Count the Waves.
- I just love this collection of poetry. This, among other collections, has really helped me developed my own voice in my poetry.
Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel. Simon and Schuster Audio, 2014.
- I love everything about this, but I have to rave about the details. This was an intricately composed narrative. Doerr also tells a "new" World War II story, one that is much less expected but equally compelling.
Donoghue, Emma. The Wonder.
- Oh! I forgot I read this until I started making this list. About a girl who was being investigated as being about to live without food because of her faith, this book took a really different twist. And I really liked the ending.
Etter, Carrie. Divining for Starters.
.... Imagined Sons.
.... The Tethers.
- So it turns out that Carrie Etter is my half-sister. I know! Right!? She was gracious enough to send me her collections of poetry, which I immediately devoured! Of all the collections, Carrie sent me, I think Imagined Sons is my favorite.
Ferrante, Elena. My Brilliant Friend: The Neapolitan Novels, Book 1.
- Don't start My Brilliant Friend unless you're not planning on reading any other books until you finish the whole series. Really. You will fall into the world of these characters. And the frame is so thoughtful that you won't be able to stop reading.
.... The Story of the Lost Child: The Neapolitan Novels, Book 4. Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2015.
- I mean, I just couldn't stop reading these. :)
.... The Story of a New Name: The Neapolitan Novels, Book 2. Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2015.
- Right now, as I write this, this is my favorite of the Neapolitan Novels. I think I'll give to much away if I give to many details, but this plot seems so true to Naples and to Italy at the time.
.... Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay: he Story of a New Name: The Neapolitan Novels, Book 3. Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2015.
- The speaker, Elena, really develops here, as does the frame. The story and its characters continue to be magical, but the author's prowess is really evident, too.
Eugenides, Jeffery. The Marriage Plot. Picador, 2012.
- I actually reread this for book club, and I loved it again. It really is an English major's book, so meta. I will admit that this time when I read the book I had absolutely not sympathy for Leonard, not at all.
French, Nicci. Blue Monday: Frieda Klein, Book 1. Penguin Audio, 2012.
- This is a fun psychological thriller! It was difficult to put down, and it wasn't predictable at all. I look forward to reading more in this series.
French, Tana. In the Woods.
.... The Likeness.
.... The Trespasser.
- I'm not going to lie... this year, my obsession with Scandinavian murder-mysteries has been *almost* usurped by Irish murder-mysteries, and it's all Tana French's fault. This is a great series because each book focuses on a different detective, in the same murder squad. When I need a good mystery, I turned to French this year.
Gilbert, Elizabeth. Big Magic.
- OMG. I loved this book. I love Elizabeth Gilbert. I actually find myself quoting her all of the time. She is just brilliant.
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
Hannah, Kristin. The Nightingale.
- I read this during my summer World War II kick. This was a wonderful story, but I'm not sure I was as impressed with it as I was with the other WWII fiction I read.
Heaberlin, Julia. Black-Eyed Susans: A Novel of Suspense.
- This book was a lot of fun. I went on a thriller kick recently, and this one was excellent. Unsolved serial murders and all!
Hoffman, Alice. The Marriage of Opposites. Simon and Schuster Audio, 2015.
- I love this book! This might be my favorite book so far this year (as of June). This is historical fiction about Camille Pissarro (the impressionist), but it starts a generation before him, and tells the magical tale of a Jewish family in St. Thomas. Both the world and the culture were interesting, new to me, and spellbinding. I really enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it.
Horn, J. D. The Line: Witching Savannah, Book 1.
.... The Source, Witching Savannah, Book 2.
- Horn's series is just plan fun. I think it was on sale on Audible, but it was so fun to read. The witch world is complete and interesting, even if the plots are a little predictable.
Jiles, Paulette. The News of the World. William Morrow, 2016.
- This was a bookclub book, too! I liked it. It was about a post-Civil War "news reader," who had the chore of returning a girl who grew up with Native Americans to her real family. This might have been the book with the happiest ending, out of all the ones we read for book club.
Johansen, Erika. The Queen of the Tearling: A Novel. HarperAudio, 2014.
- I read this because Emma Watson read this, and she's smart. It's a great YA novel/series. As far as series go, I didn't immediately read the next one like I did with the Neapolitan Novels, but I do look forward to getting back into it.
Johnson, Adam. The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel of North Korea. Random House Audio, 2012.
- I reread The Orphan Master's Son for book club, and long and complex as it is, I really enjoyed it. I picked up on more themes, including the film noir theme, that I missed during my first reading.
Kelly, Erin Entrada. The Land of Forgotten Girls. HarperAudio, 2016,
- I've known Erin Entrada Kelly since she interviewed me for a piece on McNeese's creative writing MFA. Her work is wonderful. This YA novel is fun and interesting. Not only does it show the complexities of friendship, it shows the struggle of being an immigrant child. What I particularly like is the dedication of the sisters to themselves and their identities.
Kinsella, Sophie. Finding Audrey.
- This is a great YA book featuring a girl with severe anxiety. I like the way it portrays her anxiety and its effects on her whole family.
Konar, Affinity. Mischling.
- Okay, of all the Holocaust lit. books I read this year, this one is it. It's the elegantly told story of two twins who were stuck in Auschwitz with Mengele. It's horrifying, but their resilience is beautiful.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Lowland. Vintage, 2014.
- So I think I liked this book. It was well-written and the story was interesting. The problem is that the characters aren't lovable, however authentic they are. It also showcases a cultural style of communication that is so different from my own heritage that I was frequently frustrated that the family didn't just start yelling at each other.
Mackintosh, Clare. I Let You Go.
- This is a crazy-ass thriller. I read it because it's supposed to be "the next Girl on a Train." It's not really, but it is equally horrifying and told is a similar, limited perspective.
Marcus, Ben. The Age of Wire and String. Dalkey Archive Press, 1995.
- Ben Marcus is great! He came to Sensoria this year (CPCC's arts festival). He is such a master of the short story.
Moriarty, Liane. Truly Madly Guilty.
- Okay, so admittedly this isn't my favorite Liane Moriarty book, but I'm always in for one, so of course I read it. Interestingly, it's slow to start, but my mom finished it before I did; she called me, and was like, "Keep reading! It gets so good!" And she was right.
Morris, Amelia. Bon Appetempt: A Coming-of-Age Story (with recipes! ). Grand Central Publishing, 2015.
- This book is so much fun. It's really authentic, and does a great job of examining family dynamics through memoir and recipes. And it was written by my colleague's sister.
Morris, Keith Lee. Travelers Rest: A Novel. Hachette Audio, 2016.
- This book is crazy! It will completely mess with you. Okay, I've known Keith Lee Morris since 2003, really. I've always thought of him as an inherently Southern writer, but this is not what I expected. It's very Gothic and reminds me of some of Stephen King's best bo
Moyes, Jojo. After You.
- Me Before You came out on film this year, and I just love it. I basically love Lou and want to be her. So after the movie came out, I indulged in the sequel. Totally worth it.
.... Silver Bay. Penguin Audio, 2014.
- I liked this Moyes book, but it wasn't my favorite. The characters in Silver Bay (place and book) are inherently charming. One Plus One is just so good that I'm not sure anything will ever surpass it.
Murakami, Haruki. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. Vintage Books, 2015.
- I know I'm supposed to rave about this and tell you how great it was, but I wasn't into it. In fact, I didn't finish it, but I don't think I will. I'm just not a Murakami fan. I like the content and ideas, but it's not for me.
Patchett, Anne. Commonwealth.
- I love Anne Patchett. Commonwealth does a great job of pulling the reader into a different time, place, and even family dynamic.
Picoult, Jodi. Leaving Time.
- Okay, this was amazing, but it hit a little close to home. There kidnapping and alcoholism and abuse and estranged parents, and it was just a little too much like my life. I'm just going to keep holding onto this one, in case I decide I want to try to understand those parts of my life.
.... The Storyteller. Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 2013.
- I really enjoyed this! In fact, after taking a holocaust lit. class in undergrad and reading Primo Levi Se Questo e un Uomo (published as Survival in Auschwitz in English) in Italian, I've stayed away from holocaust books. I mean, who can beat Levi? Anyway, this was pleasantly surprising in its intertwining of stories. More to come on this one!
Rowell, Rainbow. Fangirl
- I love Rainbow Rowell! Actually, one of my creative writing students introduced me to this author. I read Fangirl because a student recommended it, and it sounded like fun. It's really YA lit about a fangirl who writes fan fiction about a Harry Potter-like character. She can't quite keep it together though when she starts college. Her life complications are real, and how she copes with them is true to what I see in my students. However, what I like best is how much this book helped me understand my students who write fan fiction, something I have just never been into.
.... Attachments: A Novel. Plume, 2001.
- After Fangirl, I read this, and really, it is laugh out loud funny. It's not YA, but chic-lit. Anyway, read it.
Saunders, George. The Tenth of December.
- So George Saunders came to Sensoria in 2017 (more posts about this!). In preparation, I had to read this collection. It blew me away, especially the title story.
Semple, Maria. Today Will Be Different.
- Okay, honestly, I didn't love this as much as Semple's first book: Where'd You Go Bernadette? It does put us in the quirky mind of a woman trying to be a mother, an artist, and dealing with a mental disorder.
Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Broadway Books, 2011.
- Oh! So good! I feel like I read this one late, but who cares? I actually read it with a high school student that I tutor. She wants to be a scientist, so it was a good fit. AND HBO is turning it into a miniseries!
Sweeney, Cynthia D'Aprix. The Nest.
- Need a break from your own screwed up family and money? Read The Nest.
Quick, Matthew. The Good Luck of Right Now.
- This book is weird and quirky and amazing. Just read it. Trust me.
“When something bad happens to us, something good happens - often to someone else. And that's The Good Luck of Right Now. We must believe it. We must. We must. We must.”
― Matthew Quick, The Good Luck of Right Now
Walker, Sarai. Dietland. HighBridge Company, 2015.
- Okay, this is like a crazy feminist manifesto of our times. If you enjoyed Myra Breckinridge or The Great American Belly Dance, you would like this book. I'm really happy that someone is publishing fiction like this.
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind. Penguin Books, 2005.
- This was a book club book, too, and I'm happy I read it because this wouldn't have been something I picked up on my own. The story was fun, about book lovers, and romance, and ghosts. It was always raining though.