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Top Five Books of 2016

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Edited: Dec 20, 2016, 4:42pm Top

Continuing one of my favorite LT traditions, I asked the staff to come list their top books they read in the past year, and the results are in! Check them out over on the blog.

What were your top five reads for 2016? Tell us all about it here, or add yours to the list!

Dec 20, 2016, 5:11pm Top

Well, 2016 isn't over quite yet :) Nevertheless, I've whittled my list down to:

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. I can't imagine ever re-reading this, but it really made an impression.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. A post-apocalyptic future that left me with a bit of hope.
Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. Girl power team up!
Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine. Space opera: plucky heroine masquerades as a boy to travel to Mars to save her brother's life.
Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay. Just beautiful writing, and a wonderful story.

There were quite a few others that I enjoyed very much. Some got eliminated as they were the most recent entries in long-running series.

Dec 20, 2016, 5:29pm Top

>2 tardis: Ooh, those are some excellent choices. Your top two are on my TBR pile already :)

Dec 20, 2016, 5:50pm Top

>3 lorannen: I see Lagoon is on your list - I really liked that, too. It didn't make my final five because I didn't like it as much as one of her previous books, Akata Witch, which I read a year or two ago because bluesalamanders raved about it.

Dec 20, 2016, 7:18pm Top

>4 tardis: Thanks for the recommendation! I'll have to check that one out—I'm definitely on the lookout for her other work.

Dec 20, 2016, 9:30pm Top

Including rereads:

1) Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
2) Planetary (comics series) - Warren Ellis and John Cassaday
3) The Shining - Stephen King. This is, I think, my third time reading King's classic horror novel. If anything, it becomes more disturbing each time I read it.
4) The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
5) The Iron Dream - Norman Spinrad. Not a particularly enjoyable novel (not that it's intended to be), this one still makes it into my top five for its conceptual audacity and timeliness.

Honorable mention:

Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark - Brian Kellow

Edited: Dec 21, 2016, 6:05am Top

I have over 50 book that I read this year with either 5 or 4 1/2 stars. suppose I leave out the rereads (Shute),
the hard core Theology and Needlework books (Construing the Cross, Old Testament Theology, 18th Century Embroidery Techniques, Gottes Lob : Kirchliche Textilien aus der Zeit Maria Theresias),
the books that worked really well with my elementary classes, and perhaps
even the books only available in German (Rabenschwarze Intelligenz : was wir von Krähen lernen können, Die Teufelsbraut zu Aachen ...)

I'm still left with too many to really choose just 5.

A few that seem to really stand out are

Dragonflight : in search of Britain's dragonflies and damselflies
The marrying of Chani Kaufman
The man who made things out of trees
Hitman Anders and the meaning of it all
Grow for Flavour: Tips & tricks to supercharge the flavour of homegrown harvests
The oyster catcher

And I'm sure the ones listed in the first group were at least as interesting to me as those in the second group.

Edited: Dec 21, 2016, 7:03am Top

Stories from World War 2 crowd my list of bests this year.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
The only exception is Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai *And because the Vietnamese language features in the story just a bit, I highly recommend listening to the audio version.)

Honorable mentions include The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Edited: Dec 22, 2016, 5:55am Top

It's been a really good reading year for me! Quite difficult to pick just five, but...

1) A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - I don't think a book has ever made me as emotional as this one.
2) The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - Probably one of the best sci-fi novels I've ever read!
3) Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb - Because I LOVE Fitz and the Fool, and this series is shaping up to be the best yet.
4) The Good immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla - A particularly timely, thought-provoking and very often funny collection of essays about the immigrant experience in the UK.
5) Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I can't believe this is only the second Adichie novel I've read. She's so, so good.

Dec 21, 2016, 10:45am Top

>11 mooingzelda: Incorrect touchstone for A little life.

Edited: Dec 23, 2016, 5:23pm Top

All of these got 5 stars from me in 2016:

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. A searing look at the racial biases in the American criminal justice system.
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally. A beautifully written story about two sisters from Australia who serve as nurses in World War I.
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks. A fictionalization of the life of Israel's King David. Like David's harp, Brooks' writing sings.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A contemporary black man's point of view about race relations in America. Some deeply uncomfortable truths for white Americans here, but so necessary to acknowledge and absorb.
A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. Historical fiction about ordinary Italians coming together to shelter the Jews among them in the death throes of the Nazi occupation.

Dec 21, 2016, 11:16am Top

I love looking at the list and seeing the diversity! There are books on it that I would never in a million years read (The Orenda), and old favourites that I'm thrilled someone else has just discovered (The Curse of Chalion), and books I loved and should have included, but somehow didn't (Every Heart A Doorway), and books I didn't like (The Children of Hurin). Not to mention quite a few that I will be adding to my hold list at the public library.

Thanks to all contributors!

Dec 21, 2016, 11:30am Top

>1 lorannen: I'll need to think about my five, but did Tim give all of the LT staff copies of The Stolen Child, or what? :-)

Dec 21, 2016, 11:32am Top

I got mine because I was office-sitting for Lisa when the first batch arrived :D Loranne hasn't even gotten a copy yet, but I'm not parting with mine. Sorry, L!

Dec 21, 2016, 2:26pm Top

I added 5 books to the list earlier today, including comments "explaining my choices". I just revisited the list to see new additions, and my list has disappeared. A browser refresh didn't change it.

Did I add my 5 titles to a different list?
Were my selections deleted somehow? Or never properly added? (I thought they were, after all the link to show my 5 books appeared, and after adding the titles I was able to select each book to add a comment about why I chose the book.)

Edited: Dec 21, 2016, 5:10pm Top

My top 5 were:

1. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay -- a really unusual horror story that pays homage to a lot of horror classics
2. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende -- just an enthralling work of historical fiction
3. Four Ways to Forgiveness by Ursula K. Le Guin -- honestly, can she write a bad book? this one took my breath away
4. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin -- a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to his literary vampire-apocalypse trilogy
5. Descent by Tim Johnston -- not your typical thriller, this novel about a father's search for his missing daughter reminded me a lot of Cormac McCarthy

Honorable mentions go to:
* Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, edited by Sarah Weinman, a well-curated collection of 20th-century noir stories by women writers
* Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins -- a surreal novel about a climate-changed southwestern US
* Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut -- still appropriate for these times we live in
* Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout -- perhaps not a likable character, but a very relatable one, at least for me
* Dracula by Bram Stoker -- a reread that, while often purple in prose, still holds up

Edited: Dec 21, 2016, 7:30pm Top

In no particular order, the five books i expect to still be recommending years from now are:

* The song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
* The quest for Corvo: An experiment in biography by A. J. A. Symons
* Euphoria by Lily King
* Paris stories by Mavis Gallant (her writing is almost distractingly good!)
* Traumnovelle (a.k.a Dream Story) by Arthur Schnitzler

Edit: wildly inaccurate touchstones

Dec 21, 2016, 11:40pm Top

Delighted to have found this list as it gives me great suggestions for future reading. Now I'll try to narrow my faves to five....

Edited: Dec 22, 2016, 5:55am Top

>12 anglemark: Thanks - I have no idea why it was going to Twilight, so I've just removed the link!

Dec 22, 2016, 7:05am Top

My only 5* reads this year were re-reads - Terry Pratchett, janny wurts and CJ Cherryh

thud, and hat full of sky, master of whitestorm and peacemaker

Generally it's been a poor year for me, only tagging 80 book so far, and a lot of 3* ish. It was pleasing that some of the ER titles made it into 4 and 4.5*

Dec 22, 2016, 8:11am Top

>23 reading_fox:, wow, that's too bad. :(

>24 LibraryPerilous:, hurrah for Umberto Eco; was that read prompted by his death? I'll be reading him this year for that reason.

Edited: Dec 22, 2016, 3:55pm Top

>25 Cecrow: I did bump him up Mt. TBR after his death. I'd only read Baudolino, many years ago. I hope you enjoy your year of reading Eco. I plan to tackle Foucault's Pendulum and The Island of the Day Before soon.

Edited: post reference #

Dec 22, 2016, 12:56pm Top

Top 5:
South Riding, Winifred Holtby
Hell's Bottom, Colorado, Laura Pritchett
Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger
Crow Lake, Mary Lawson
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi


**QUESTION: when I made my own Best of 2016 List, the cover that showed up for South Riding was NOT my cover of choice, but I was not able to change it. Any ideas?*

Dec 22, 2016, 2:22pm Top

>27 lit_chick:

See my response to your post on Bug Collectors.

Dec 22, 2016, 2:25pm Top

In no particular order:

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Necessity by Jo Walton
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

Dec 22, 2016, 2:58pm Top

I clearly need to do a better job choosing books for myself in 2017, because I had a hard time coming up with my top 5 of 2016 list. Here's what I settled on:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 1 by Natalie Reiss
Invader by C.J. Cherryh
The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Volume 1 by Izumi Tsubaki

Including a graphic novel and a manga volume felt like cheating, but I didn't have any other options I felt good about including on the list. If I abandoned my personal "don't include any rereads" rule, my list would look like this:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind by Fuyumi Ono
Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

Dec 22, 2016, 3:09pm Top

>31 Familiar_Diversions: Why would Graphic novels and manga not be eligible for best of the year? :)

Dec 22, 2016, 3:13pm Top

>32 AnnieMod: Ha, good question! Too many people over the years telling me that they don't count as reading, I guess. :)

Dec 22, 2016, 3:13pm Top

My top books this year were

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Dec 22, 2016, 3:16pm Top

>32 AnnieMod: and >33 Familiar_Diversions: There's always at least one on my best of—I read too many for there not to be!

Dec 22, 2016, 3:19pm Top

Loved Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, also Saving Sophie by Ronald Balsom and Killing A King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

Dec 22, 2016, 3:40pm Top

>30 lorax: Ancillary Mercy! I loved that book. It made it to my Top Five list last year. :)

Dec 22, 2016, 3:57pm Top

>33 Familiar_Diversions: Those people are entitled to their opinions even when those opinions make them narrow-minded individuals. :) For all I care, a book with no words can be the best book of the year (Shaun Tan's The Arrival for example... ).

Dec 22, 2016, 11:11pm Top

5 Best-Loved Books of 2016 Are. . .

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe by Dawn Tripp lyrical, passionate, powerful, and undefeated -- just like her art is the woman and the writing

A Mercy by Toni Morrison the true cost of slavery is that it enslaves and demeans us all, whether owned or owner

Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris Cicero -- a mind, a politician, a Roman, a man. . .wish he were alive today

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver transformative, timely, not to be ignored

People Die: A Novel by Kevin Wignall utterly original thriller, shocking, humane, poetic. . .can Good ever come out of Evil?

Lagniappe: The Mortifications: A Novel by Derek Palacio sweeping and devastating, destined to be a modern classic of the Cuban immigrant experience. . .lovers of Junot Diaz will throw themselves at the feet of Derek Palacio instead

Dec 23, 2016, 3:01am Top

>33 Familiar_Diversions: One of my five this year was a graphic novel.

Dec 23, 2016, 10:44am Top

I have an 8 month old baby, so I have seriously less reading time now. I decided to tackle some 1001 books because usually I enjoy them a little less than the regular books I normally choose. I don't want to be frustrated by wanting to read the books I'm really into and not having the time. I'll save those for when she goes to school :-) So I read a lot less books than I normally do and I enjoyed them a little less (still enjoyed most of them though and I'm clearing up MTB very nicely in the process). So my top 5 reads for this year are:

1. The King by J.R. Ward
2. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
3. At Winter's End by Robert Silverberg
4. Grey by E.L. James
5. One Bite with a Stranger by Christine Warren

Already looking forward to all the great books I'm going to read once I have more time again :-)

Edited: Dec 23, 2016, 1:57pm Top

>40 anglemark: Hearing that other people have graphic novels on their lists makes me feel better.

>38 AnnieMod: I need to tape this to my monitor! :D

Dec 23, 2016, 5:09pm Top

This is SUCH an impossible question, I read a whole lot of amazing books this year, argh! *skims the list* Of the 79 I've finished as yet, I would count 14 of them as "best"! Pfffff.

Demons - Fyodor Dostoevsky - Just exquisite. Dostoevsky was amazing, and this book... All the things he grasped, and was able to express in this story... just stunning, and still completely relevant.
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston - Brilliant evocative writing of a woman's search for happiness, and herself.
Brighton Rock - Graham Greene - My favorite Greene yet; still feels like him but Ida brings a different vibe to the story than his usual.
Rob Roy - Walter Scott - I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this rousing vaguely-authentically biographical/historical tale.
Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens - Slow at first but really amusing tale, with your usual Dickensness pointing out the plight of the poor.

So then, honorable mentions:
The Compass Rose - Ursula K Le Guin - Really really wonderful thought-provoking stories. Le Guin is fabulous!!
Human Acts - Han Kang - Wonderfully touching (LTER) book about the horrors committed during the uprising in South Korea.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë - Great important story dealing with the way women were treated virtually as property in England.
Resolution - Denise Mina - The last book of a great trilogy, probably the best ending to a series ever, it was just perfect.

Edited: Dec 23, 2016, 6:59pm Top

These were my top five. It was great to read something from Stoker other than Dracula, Loved Slapstick vintage Vonnegut, And as a (late to the party) Murakami fan it was very cool to read his first books in english. To see where the style started knowing where it is now.

The Lair Of The White Worm by Bram Stoker
The Buried Giant by Kazoo Ishiguro
Franny And Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Slapstick Or Lonesome No More by Kurt Vonnegut
PinBall / Wind by Haruki Murakami

Biggest disappointment this year was The Vorrh by B. Catling. It had so much that was interesting inside of it and yet it did so little with it.

Edited: Dec 24, 2016, 10:53pm Top

Some good picks upthread! I personally can attest that The Sunne in Splendour is brilliant, and I also enjoyed the Ancillary trilogy which, if we were rating series, would be on my list of top five.

It was so hard to choose just five, but here are my top pics for 2016 (which don't include any rereads):

This Thing of Darkness by Harry Bingham. Mystery thriller. 4th in Fiona Griffith series.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly. Latest Bosch.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Scifi/Thriller

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Audio. Nonfiction.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. Literature.

At the end of each quarter, I choose 2-4 books that I enjoyed the most during that quarter and track them here, just in case anyone is interested in seeing what the rest of my favorites for the year are.

Edited: Dec 26, 2016, 7:14am Top

I appreciate "best of" threads. I find many books due to them. Storeetllr, Angle of Repose is one of my 2016 favorites too. Here are my top five:

The Warded Man by Peter Brent science fiction This book was recommended via LibraryThing. This is very readable and I think a cool plot. This is one of a five book series and I plan on reading the rest of them.

The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron thriller This book uses my home state, Maine, as its setting.

Joyland by Stephen King horror Looking back at my previous "best of" lists, Stephen King is usually there.

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton thrillers Another favorite author of mine.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner historical fiction Another book LibraryThing thought I would like, and I did.

Dec 29, 2016, 7:43am Top

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Believer: My Forty Years in Politics by David Axelrod

Growing a Farmer by Kurt Timmermeister

Edited: Dec 29, 2016, 5:42pm Top

This was hard but I added to the list just now -

The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge
Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton - I read lots of his scifi this year, but this is a stand-alone - note that John Lee is a wonderful narrator
The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime by Toshio Ban - a graphic biography of an amazing creative genuis
Asking for it by Louise O'Neil - impressive YA
The Eternaut by H. G. Oesterheld & Francisco Solano López - Graphic Novel - classic scifi from author who along with his family became part of Argentina's Disappeared

I held back from adding series books, more YA and graphic novels, but honorable mentions to:
Two Brothers by Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon - graphic novel, based on book The Brothers by Brazilian writer, Milton Hatoum.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - children's book

Dec 29, 2016, 9:06pm Top

Haven't thought about my top 5 yet but have noticed something a bit weird in the listings. A book by Michelle Hauck has been listed as 3 people's favourites, but only one copy is catalogued on LibraryThing by someone different. When I looked at the members who've listed it, they've also listed several books by each other.

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 11:02am Top

My Top Five:
Some of them are German and not yet translated
I read a lot of good books this year, but these are the ones that kept me thinking for a long time.

Auerhaus by Bov Bjerg
Ach, diese Lücke, diese entsetzliche Lücke by Joachim Meyerhoff
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 6:37pm Top

Shadow Rites by Faith Hunter
Urban Fantasy. Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock books are a must read. Fast and action packed.

Staked by Kevin Hearne
Urban Fantasy. The Iron Druid is another great series to read.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Young Adult Fantasy. Ya. Better than some urban fantasy books I've read. Really good reading in this series.
You can really get into the main character and feel for her.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Fantasy. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. Very fluid writing.

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Fantasy. Butcher's newest series and as usual action packed.

Jan 1, 2017, 11:10am Top

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

My Real Children by Jo Walton

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (this was a tough choice as I also loved A Monster Calls)

Temeraire by Naomi Novak (I really need to get the rest of this series and I'm not entirely sure why I left it so long before I did get around to reading it)

The Pesthouse by Jim Crace

Edited: Jan 1, 2017, 10:39pm Top

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay - a vaudeville story!
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson - The war is WWI and the story may be a bit familiar but the writing is exquisite.
The War That Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker - a YA book for all ages. Fabulous audiobook.
The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora - excellent debut short story collection
The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer - hilariously clever

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wiklkerson - my fave of the year. EVERYONE should read this book.
The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg - female resistance to repressive societies results in sobering solutions.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald - much of the power of this book came from listening to the author narrate it.
We Are Market Basket by Daniel Korshun - rare loyalty between an owner of a supermarket chain and his employees results in a win for both.
The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge - a look at the genius and wit of a very private author.

Jan 7, 2017, 8:15pm Top

Thank you to the previous posters for sharing these! I have noted more than a dozen books to check out in 2017.

My favorites this year:

Aitmatov, Chingiz. The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years.
Dick, Philip K. The Man in the High Castle.
Hannaham, James. Delicious Foods.
Levine, Sara. Treasure Island!!!
Wharton, Edith. The Age of Innocence.

Casey, Susan. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean.
Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.
Knight, Sarah. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.
Malcolm, Janet. Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial.
Zambreno, Kate. Heroines.

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