Thursday, December 29, 2016

Best of 2016: Fiction

It seems that book bloggers across the world find a need to look back at their reading year.  Sometimes I've done this a bit more throughout the year, but this year, I haven't really looked back through my book journal very often.  At this point, I've read 264 books in 2016.  A nice big number that sort of surprised me.  So, because I've read so many books, I can't give you just a measly little list of 10 best books to read.  Instead, I've divided my "best" recommendations into three categories: fiction, non-fiction, and children's. 

Today, I'm focusing on best fiction books of 2016.  Keep in mind, I haven't read every book out there, so this list is composed of what I've read this past year and enjoyed.

1.  The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald- this is a happy book for book lovers out there. Set in a small Iowa town, Sara who has come from Sweden, can see little to love about this dreary town that's seen better days. But slowly she comes to know and love the residents of this little town she would like to call home.

2.  The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin- I recommended this one to lots of people this year including the book club I'm in.  There is plenty to think about and discuss. Single mom Janie believes her son Noah is extraordinary in many ways.  He has a great deal of knowledge about so much that he has never learned or experienced in his few short years of life.  As Noah develops a phobia of water far beyond the norm, the question of whether he has lived another life prior to being born to Janie arises.

3. All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage - this is a mystery/psychological thriller that I enjoyed every page of.  When George Clare returns home from his job one day he finds his wife murdered in their bedroom and his young daughter playing in her room, unable to explain what has happened. Although he is the suspect and a detective investigating the case is relentless in proving Clare's guilt, more than twenty years pass before the crime is solved.  I loved the writing in this novel and am still thinking about it months later.

4.  Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - this is the last ARC I picked up at BEA in May and the first book I read - finishing it off in one sitting on the car ride home.  Although I don't normally pick up the fantasy genre, this is very Michael Crichton-esque and readable by people who wouldn't normally consider themselves fantasy readers.  Jason Dessen is attacked on a walk home from a bar where he went to help an old friend and colleage celebrate his latest accomplishment.  From the moment he awakens Jason spends every waking moment trying to return to his life, that it turns out made him very happy.

5.  Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in Ghana.  Their stories unfold, dramatically different from each other. One sister is sold into slavery. The other sister is married off to a well-off British man.  Each chapter shares the story of the next generation of the descendants of these women who never knew each other.  Although I'm oversimplifying, it's a bit like Roots, only considerably shorter.

6.  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue - an immigrant story I fell in love with.  Jende is a Cameroonian immigrant trying to make it in America.  He ends up working as a chauffeur for a wealthy businessman, Clark Edwards.  Edwards' wife eventually offers Jende's wife, Neni, a job, and the two couples lives are intertwined. However, the economy is shaky and Edwards' job in jeopardy which shows Jende and Neni some of their employers' faults.  As things become desperate for everyone, Jende and Neni must make some impossible decisions.

7.  Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld- I've never read a Sittenfeld book I haven't liked.  This is no exception.  A modern take on Pride and Prejudice, I loved the five sisters and their over the top behavior.  

8.  The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close- a novel set in Washington, D.C. featuring two couples who have political aspirations. What's not to love?  Beth is upset about leaving New York City and feels lonely and bored in D.C. Then she meets Ashleigh.  Ashleigh's husband, Jimmy works with Beth's husband Matt. The two husbands are up and comers in the political scene and the four of them are inseparable. However, both Matt and Jimmy have ambitions which lead to some problems for their friendship.

9.  Lost Girls by Heather Young- this is a first novel for Young that I hope is just one of many.  A mystery of sorts, this novel moves between 1935 when six year old Emily vanishes and the present when Justine, a single mother brings her children to the lake house where she once vacationed. Justine's daughter comes across a journal that Emily's sister, Lucy, wrote detailing what happened the devastating summer of her sister's disappearance.

10.  The Mothers by Brit Bennett- another ARC I picked up at BEA. This has received a lot of buzz that is well worth it.  Nadia is still grieving her mother's death when she begins to "date" the pastor's son.  An unexpected pregnancy and the way the two deal with it will continue to impact them for the rest of their lives. 

And, even though I intended to pick my top ten fiction, as I was finishing up getting the photo collage done, I couldn't help but think that Bethany Chase's book, Results May Vary should be included in this list.


11.  Results May Vary by Bethany Chase - a romance of sorts - when Caroline discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man it rocks her world. She thought they had a great marriage. This revelation turns her world upside downs as she tries to navigate being separated from her husband who just happens to be her best friend- and move forward alone.


Anne Bennett said...

I haven't read a single one of these books. How can that be? Gulp! I want to read Homegoing at the recommendation of my niece. I will check out the others, too. Thanks.

Marce said...

Nice variety. I read Dark Matter, a different read for me but nice to know what everyone is talking about.