On a personal note...

My Favorite Books of 2016

Well, here we are. Like many others, I can’t believe the year is just about over. It wasn’t a terrible reading year overall, but I did feel like something was missing. Yes, extra leisurely reading time was a challenge for me this year but some I read were memorable. While making this list I didn’t have an overwhelming need to make multiple lists as I have in years past. I was going to try and make two, one for fiction and one for short stories, but after looking over my list of 50 books read this year, I could only come up with one.

These are books that I’m still thinking about in December. They are not the popular books seen on many lists, except maybe one. I added one nonfiction and four are debut short story collections. Titles will link to my reviews or Goodreads and why I picked it.


The Heart – Maylis De Kerangal. I’ve never read anything like this translated work  following an organ from donor to transplant recipient.

Forty Rooms – Olga Grushin. This books struck many feels for me personally. I flagged the heck out of the library copy and then bought my own transferring all the flags. It’s one of those books I will reread over and over.

I Will Send Rain – Rae Meadows. Historical Fiction works best for me when I know nothing about the event in history or it is approached in a new light. This story about a family surviving The Dust Bowl had me looking up photos and watching documentaries like mad.

Commonwealth – Ann Patchett. My first Patchett book and made me an instant fan. I love stories about families but this was more. It was heartfelt, meditative and the writing was beautiful.

The Book of Joy – Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams. Dare I say it brought me joy. I read this slowly and then reread parts I marked. It’s become a bedside table book. That’s a feat alone.

The next four short story collections were fantastic, if that’s your jam.

Dog Run Moon – Callan Wink. A debut collection where the characters jump off the pages. Each and every one is raw, sometimes disturbing, yet oddly funny. The stories that are darker have light mixed in. A real gift of a writer.

You Should Pity Us Instead – Amy Gustine. A debut collection of eleven stories about people and their relationships while coming to a crossroad in their lives. Each story can hold its own and is fully developed. Loved them.

Beasts & Children – Amy Parker. Another debut which made me upset because I couldn’t read anything else by her when I finished. So I bought a copy. Linked stories about two families that intersect unexpectedly. Dark, sometimes disturbing, but I loved every single one. Again, the balance of darkness and light was beautifully done.

Allegheny Front – Matthew Neill Null.  Very gritty stories about lifestyles and terrains I know nothing about. But it exists. So relevant to the great divide of people right now in our country. I didn’t (really want to) see it but it’s there. Lydia Millet’s introduction to the collection sums it up perfectly.

Number 10. Some might feel this is a cop-out move, but it’s my list. I searched my list of 50 books over and over trying to find it. I really feel there was one book I missed this year. You know what kind of book that is, dear reader. That book that causes a major book hangover. Up past your bedtime to get one more chapter in. You contemplate calling in sick to work just to read it. You want to shove it into everyone’s hands. After reading it, you stalk the author online and want to know everything about them. You buy copies for friends. And it’s not a book that maybe everyone has read or agrees with as “that book”. It’s that one that hits all the personal chords. I came very close with several on this list. But I feel it’s still out there and I missed it this year.

What were your favorite reads this year?

Did any short story collections make your favorite’s list?

11 thoughts on “My Favorite Books of 2016

  1. So many of these on my TBR and/or shelves. Dog Run Moon, Beasts & Children, The Heart, Forty Rooms, I Will Send Rain. Makes me wonder if I put them all on my list because of you in the first place! I haven’t even tried to look back yet to see what might be my favorite/s, but if the Nikolas Butler stories were published this year they would certainly be on the top of the list of short story collections.

  2. I didn’t read any short stories this year. Maybe because I wanted/needed books that dragged me in for multiple days.

    I’m adding I Will Send Rain to my list and your love for The Book of Joy has made me determined to try and stick with it. I started it but set it aside.

    And, of course, all the love for Forty Rooms. 😍 And a big hug for you!

  3. I hate that feeling of having missed THE book! Somehow the year feels incomplete without it.

    Looks like I need to check out Forty Rooms, and all the short story collections, which I have really neglected the past few years. There’s no excuse, really.

    I’m happy you loved Commonwealth. That was one of my very favorites this year.

  4. I read books by authors from 26 different countries and my favourite was The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz Bart. No short stories this year but I really want to read The Glass Shore a collection of stories by women writers from the North of Ireland. Read some great memoirs and translations and looking forward to more in 2017. The Heart sounds amazing.

  5. You may have read these, but if you haven’t: The Girls by Emma Cline, The Guineveres, or (my favorite) Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser. For short stories, I also enjoyed Dog Run Moon, and would recommend Goodnight, Beautiful Women. I think you’d like it!

  6. Your list is a great reminder of so many books I’ve been meaning to read! I’m totally with you on this year just feeling *off* in some weird ways and I’m totally hoping next year jumps back on track.

  7. I hear you on Book 10 – there really wasn’t one overwhelming one for me either, but a couple came close. Loved Commonwealth as well – and it sent me down a Patchett rabbit hole – during which I read her essay collection This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and discovered her own childhood loosely inspired Commonwealth (she lived w/ her mother and stepfather and his 4 children from a previous marriage would come visit for long periods of time).

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