The Best Books I Read in 2016

As I have for the past few years, I kept track of the books (only the books, not magazines!) I read in 2016. I read slightly more than my average of two books per week this year, partly because I am doing a lot of "work" reading. So out of 106 books here are my Top 11 (in the order I read them), complete with the little review I wrote on my "Reading List" section. Note this is dominated by fiction (only two non-fiction), and female authors (seven women). 1.Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead– Definitely my favorite book of 2016 thus far. So captures the angst of relationships in middle school and budding romance, fused with modern technology. Tackles complicated issues while giving the kids agency and complexity, which I love. Highly recommend for adult and young readers! And, and, and.

2.Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly– I’ve been clear about my Veronica Mars love, and this book (what will clearly be a series) is very reminiscent of the TV series, movie, and book series. But it’s also different– a male “Veronica,” no Logan, etc. But a town with lots and lots of secrets, a class divide, an enduring mysterious crime, and kids who are too smart by half. It’s a quick, witty read with teenage angst and romance thrown in for good measure. Don’t miss it. [I love mystery series.]

3. This Side of Providence by Rachel M. Harper– A haunting, lyrical, multi-faceted look at poverty, addiction, immigration, education, and more. Hit home for me in many ways, especially with the Providence location and my volunteer CASA work. It’s also written by a Wheeler grad (where my son is at school), but I would love this book anyway. I am still thinking about it.

4. Dark Road Home by Anna Carlisle– The first in a new series. The bed news is that it just came out this week and I read it in less than 12 hours, and now I likely have to wait a bit for the next installment! Interesting characters, setting, motivation. I’m excited to see where it will go. If you had any interest in the TV series “The Family,” note you will really enjoy this. Compelling stuff. [I also liked latest installments in Kate Burkholder, Cork O'Corcoran, and Joe Guenther series this year, but didn't include them on this list.]

5. The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs Brumberg– It is an actual shanda that I had never before read this amazing history (based on girls’ diaries) of girls and their bodies. I love the organization of this book, its focus on everyday life, and it’s insights that resonate today. Would love to know Brumberg’s take on the role of social media now– both as a cultural mirror AND as a diary– in young girls’ lives today.

6. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy– Wow, I LOVED this book. I had to stay up late to finish it after I began it that day. It’s been a long time since I have done that. About loving yourself, body, complicated role of pageants in small towns. But it’s also the story of friendship, romance, and more. Highly recommend.

7.  The Black Widow by Dan Silva– Gulped it down in less than 24 hours. A big move toward new action and possibilities– and eerie with real world ramifications. If only we had real life Allons, which I hope we actually do. Had to wait awhile to start a new book after because I was still lost in this novel.

8. The Dread Line by Bruce DeSilva– So good. Gobbled it down so quickly. So many different, interesting threads. Movement forward in all directions. Can’t wait for next Liam Mulligan novel!

9. Sweetbitter by Stephani Danler– Wow. This novel engaged all my senses. I wish I had read it sooner– believe the hype. It is such a specific moment in time and in age.

10. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond– This book is the real deal– well-researched, compelling writing, important issue. I love the last lines in the Prologue: “Not everyone living in a distressed neighborhood is associated with gang members, parole officers, employers, social workers, or pastors. But nearly all of them have a landlord.” (5) It is a little depressing (though by all means this should NOT deter you from reading and facing the subject), and at times the chronology feels off, but it is an important book. I will continue to think about stable poverty vs. grinding poverty.

11. Livia Lone by Barry Eisler– A more than worthy successor to the Rain series– loved this new character and the Then-Now technique. Very much looking forward to the follow-up and seeing what becomes of some old friends.

I ended the year with some great books, which was very nice. I just bought this necklace (on my other addiction, Zulily) that captures how I have always, and continue to feel, about reading.

"She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live."

My older son just started reading his first chapter book and I just get so excited for him knowing the worlds he will see through reading...