Mind you, this list includes only those books that were published in 2016 that I’ve already read and can recommend. Of course, whether or not you’ll enjoy them depends on your mood and what you’re looking for. Beware, some of these are pretttttty dark. My list of 2016 books yet to read is brighter, but it’s also five times longer. Must get going before the next batch of new releases!
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation – Rebecca Traister
What the LA Times said: “a singularly triumphant work of women presented in beautiful formation.”
What I say: As shown earlier this month, we women have a long way to go. This book offers lots of food for thought.
A quote from the book: In 1877, the never-married suffragist, abolitionist, and labor activist Susan B. Anthony … prophesied that the journey toward gender equality would necessarily include a period in which women stopped marrying. “In woman’s transition from the position of subject to sovereign, there must needs be an era of self-sustained, self-supported, homes.”
Before the Fall – Noah Hawley
What Publishers Weekly said: “a masterly blend of mystery, suspense, tragedy, and shameful media hype.”
What I say: The mystery of what happened isn’t nearly as interesting as the commentary on wealth and media elites, including the parodies of Bill Cunningham and Roger Ailes.
A quote from the book: In the same way a man’s nose and ears become exaggerated as he ages, so do the psychological issues that define him. We all become caricatures of ourselves, if we live long enough.
LaRose – Louise Erdrich
What Powell’s City of Books said: Erdrich’s “most compelling novel yet.”
What I say: What’s not to love? The voice, the broken families, the tragedy, the themes…One of my favorites of all books I read this year, not just those published in 2016.
A quote from the book: He always had trouble opening his heart. Tonight it was stuck again. It was a wooden chest secured by locked iron bands. An army duffel, rusted zipper. Kitchen cupboards glued shut.
My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
What the Washington Post said: the work of a mature writer “scaling new heights.”
What I say: A beautifully written story about a daughter’s unrequited (and possibly undeserving) love for her mother.
A quote from the book: One can be ready to give up the children one always wanted, one can be ready to withstand remarks about one’s past, or one’s clothes, but then–a tiny remark and the soul deflates and says: Oh.
Truly Madly Guilty — Liane Moriarty
From a prolific NYT best-selling author, the story of 6 adults, 3 kids, a grumpy old neighbor and a dog, and how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, including the relationship with self.
What USA Today said: a “big tease” and not quite the guilty pleasure you’d hoped for.
What I say: Regardless of literary flaws, this novel depicts those realistic truths about relationships among friends, spouses, families, and neighbors that we pretend to ignore.
A quote from the book: No one warned you that having children reduced you right down to some smaller, rudimentary, primitive version of yourself, where your talents and your education and your achievements meant nothing.
The Vegetarian – Han Kang
What Slate said: an eerie universality that gets under your skin and stays put irrespective of nation or gender
What I say: Totally weird. Can’t explain it. Still, unforgettable. You should read it just because.
A quote from the book: I am not an animal anymore.
The Widow – Fiona Barton
What NPR said: the deliberate work of a professional observer who knows that the lies we tell ourselves can be more devastating than those we tell others.
What I say: If you want a book about a seriously, eerily, chillingly flawed couple, read this.
A quote from the book: I remember looking at him lying there in a small pool of blood and thinking ‘oh well, that’s the end of his nonsense.’
Weighing the Truth – Christine Z. Mason
What Kirkus Reviews said: An insightful exploration of love and loss that will have suspense fans turning pages until the very end.
What I say: an undiscovered gem!
A quote from the book: Recently, sex had seemed to her like something that existed in a different realm, something for people with more time and energy, and less grief.
What newly published books did you read this year? I’d love to hear from you.