Best Book You Read in 2016
On January 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Indie Bookstore Finder

This week, we polled our reviewers: What was the best book you read in 2016?

The book didn’t necessarily even have come from us. The overwhelming response I received was “How can you make me choose? That’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite?” Unfair, we know. So we let some of them slip in more than one “best book.”

You may be surprised to find some self-published titles on the list, too, proving that not all good books come from the big publishing houses. So remember to give indie books a shot as your looking for something to read.

So, here we go with our list of the best books of 2016:

Indie Bookstore Finder

Reviewer: Glenn Dallas

burglars_guide

A Burglar’s Guide to the City
By Geoff Manaugh

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “‘A Burglar’s Guide to the City’, is one of those rare books that makes you look at the everyday in a new way, restoring a little bit of mystery to the world. To examine your home, your workplace, and the places you go from the eyes of a burglar is a mental exercise in stepping outside yourself, and it’s a thoroughly engaging one. As a puzzle guy and a crime novel fan, it was genuinely neat to look at crimes big and small and see how they were committed, and then go back and imagine how the crooks concocted that plan in the first place.”

 

Reviewer: Karen Collins

lab_girl

Lab Girl
By Hope Jahren

Why I chose this book as my favorite: Lab Girl made a strong impact because of her authentic telling of her life’s work. The book is instructive because of her extensive education and background in geobiology, geochemistry, soil science, and other scientific subject areas in which she has conducted researched. Considering the long list of awards she has accumulated over the years, it would be easy to imagine she breezed through training into research success. Her book, however, presents a different picture. She unabashedly admits failures and mistakes, setbacks and struggles, yet is quick to give credit where due, especially to her lab partner, Bill. Lab Girl is an inspiring book that provides an inside look at how hard work and dedication really can lead to success.”

 

Reviewer: George Erdosh

crash_detectives

The Crash Detectives
By Christine Negroni

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “A seasoned aviation journalist, Negroni’s writing is superb, and it truly reads like a good fiction—a page-turner, rare for a non-fiction writer. Her investigative research is equally good. All in all, this is a fascinating reading material.”

 

Reviewer: Randy-Lynne Wach

visual_intelligence

Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life
By Amy E. Herman

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “It’s one of very few workshops-turned-books that I actually took the time to stop and do all of the exercises. Then I kept up practicing close observation of art prints with my kids for months afterward. So much fun to see the details that we each would notice (and miss!) and the improvements over just a short time.”

 

Reviewer: Karen Collins

my_lost_brothers

My Lost Brothers
By Brendan McDonough, With Stephan Talty

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “Because of the tragic subject matter, My Lost Brothers may be difficult to imagine as a favorite book. However, it is a sensitively constructed account of the lives of firefighters who invest an amazing amount of time and energy in order to serve their communities. It also presents an opportunity to learn of needed improvements in worker safety that have yet to be fulfilled, but which Brendan McDonough continues to pursue. Whenever I see a news account of a wild fire on TV, I think of My Lost Brothers and remember the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who didn’t make it home on June 30, 2013. The book is a tribute to them.”

 

Reviewer: Tammy McCartney

trevor-noah-book-born-a-crime

Born a Crime
By Trevor Noah

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “I enjoyed the book because it brought history to life. I think of apartheid as happening long, long ago, but my contemporaries lived it. Plus Trevor Noah is hilarious, and his mom is an amazing character.”

 

Reviewer: Joseph Arellano

big_rewind

The Big Rewind
By Libby Cudmore

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “Yes, rock lovers, this is your book. Libby Cudmore has passed the audition. As John Lennon might have said, ‘It’s good!'”

 

Reviewer: David Sutton

cultural_lives

The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins
By Hal Whithead & Luke Rendall

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “Significant research, quiet global following, and a depth of thought that deserves serious regard.”

 

Reviewer: Anita Lock

Pages_in_the_Wind

Pages In the Wind
By Sally Saylor De Smet

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “An all-time top psychological thriller.”

 

Reviewer: Karen Collins

farthest_house

Farthest House
By Margaret Lukas

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “It spans several generations of a family that has many secrets that are slowly and skillfully revealed. I could not put it down!”

 

Reviewer: Mandy Nevius

another_brooklyn

Another Brooklyn
By Jacqueline Woodson

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “In this beautifully wrought coming-of-age story told through powerful vignettes, Woodson uses exquisite and lyrical prose to bring 1970s Brooklyn to life. While exploring themes including hope, fear, friendship, grief, and memory, Another Brooklyn reminded me that there is something to be treasured even in the most despairing of situations. Woodson is a truly gifted narrator, and I’m so thankful that I took time this year to pore over her newest book.”

 

Reviewer Alex C. Telander

not_dead_yet

Not Dead Yet
By Phil Collins

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “You may think you know all about Phil’s success and stardom, but in his autobiography, he holds nothing back as you experience his extreme highs and extreme lows. Plus, the audiobook is read by the great man himself!”

 

Reviewer: Susan Roberts

how_to_cheer_up_dad

How To Cheer Up Dad
By Fred Koehler

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “Author/illustrator Fred Koehler absolutely captures the emotions—and irony—of the dance between father and son. I tell all my young parents about this books. It’s hilarious.”

 

Reviewer:

Beast_of_Cretacea

The Beast of Cretacea
By Todd Strasser

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “An awesome retelling of Moby Dick with a very surprising twist at the end.”

 

Reviewer: Michelle Baker

land_of_stories

The Land of Stories series
By Chris Colfer

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “They tell the story of twins Alex and Conner who fall into their grandmother’s storybook and their adventures whilst there. This series of books uses age old fairy tales but with stories of after the usual story is finished. For example, it is a land where Goldilocks is a wanted thief and Queen Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom. Although these books are aimed at middle school ages, they are great for all ages, even grandparents! These books are full of adventure, love, intrigue, deception, wit and laughter.” They tell the story of twins Alex and Conner who fall into their grandmother’s storybook and their adventures whilst there. This series of books uses age old fairy tales, but with stories of after the usual story is finished. For example, it is a land where Goldilocks is a wanted thief and Queen Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom. Although these books are aimed at middle school ages, they are great for all ages, even grandparents! These books are full of adventure, love, intrigue, deception, wit and laughter.”

 

Reviewer: J. Aislynn d’Merricksson

after_war

The After War
By Brandon Zenner

Why I chose this book as my favorite: Zenner did a great job blending different post-apocalyptic themes. I am looking forward to a sequel!”

 

Reviewer: Susan Miller

away_with_the_fishes

Away With the Fishes
By Stephanie Sciarz

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “It was just magical, with great prose and a riveting Caribbean story. It was just magical, with great prose and a riveting Caribbean story.”

 

Reviewer: Tamara Benson

discovery_of_witches

A Discovery of Witches
By Deborah Harkness

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “It’s part of her All Souls Trilogy (all three are fabulous!). Her characters are enchanting and the fact that it is about a medieval manuscript is probably what caught my eye the first time I picked it up. It is my go to, feel good, read over and over, series.” It’s part of her All Souls Trilogy (all three are fabulous!). Her characters are enchanting and the fact that it is about a medieval manuscript is probably what caught my eye the first time I picked it up. It is my go to, feel good, read over and over, series.”

 

Reviewer: J. Aislynn d’Merricksson

murder_of_mary_russell

The Murder of Mary Russell
By Laurie R. King

Why I chose this book as my favorite: ” Being a Sherlockian, I love this series. The focus is more on Mary, but Sherlock is a prominent figure. I find Mary to be a very strong female lead.”

 

Reviewer: Briana Wagner

girl_who_drank_the_moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
By Kelly Barnhill

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “With beautifully lyrical prose, this novel shows how lives can unexpectedly intersect and influence each other. A focus on friendship and family make it a stand-out.”

 

Reviewer: Caryn Shaffer

promise_of_fire

A Promise of Fire
By Amanda Bouchet

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “It had all of the usual romance novel tropes with the added bonus of a fun adventure story, political intrigue and blood feuds! It didn’t take itself too seriously, too. There was a healthy dose of humor, and the heroine was smart and independent. Since I work for a newspaper, I spend more than enough of my day reading about murders and real life. Romance novels transport me to another world with happy endings.”

 

Reviewer: Owen Hamill

white_noise

White Noise
By Don Delillo

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “Obsessed with an off-the-market drug called Dylar that will supposedly cure him of his fear of death, Jack Gladney, a professor of Hitler Studies, never stops to consider that overcoming his fear of death won’t help him overcome death itself. With a surreal sense of humor, “White Noise” explores what it means to live (and to die) in the modern age.”

 

Reviewer: Super Book Boy

eragon

Eragon
By Christopher Paolini

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “I loved it because the story was a mix of mythology, ancient times, and dragons.”

 

Reviewer: Molly Culbertson

commonwealth

Commonwealth: A Novel
By Ann Patchett

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “Four parents, six children, five decades, all pulled together with exquisite, luminous storytelling. Simply breathtaking.”

 

Reviewer: Rosi Hollinbeck

all_rise

All Rise For the Nonorable Perry T. Cook
By Leslie Connor

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “The characters are rich and complex, the setting is unusual, and the writing is superb and the storytelling is terrific.”

 

Reviewer: Jane Manaster

roald_dahl

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Medicine
By Tom Solomon

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “I felt invited to share a friendship and at the same time pick up unfamiliar medical information from an author who obviously enjoyed the tale he told.”

 

Reviewer: Sarah Guller

wait_for_me

Wait for Me
By Caroline Leech

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “The author did a great job applying a timeless theme and setting to such a unique and distinct plot. The characters were very lovable as well.”

 

Reviewer: Ross Rojek

hotel_bruce

Hotel Bruce
By Ryan T. Higgins

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “How many times have you shoved a book in front of your house guests and said ‘Here, you have to read this!’? That what happens with this book in my house. A brilliantly funny story for both kids and adults.”

 

Reviewer: Gretchen Wagner

Time_Travel

Time Travel
By James Gleick

Why I chose this book as my favorite:  “A fun romp through an idea’s history, lighthearted and far-ranging, written by an author who is a personal favorite for his accessible and entertaining science writing.”

 

Reviewer: Glenn Dallas

security

Security
By Glenn Dallas

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “‘Security’ was a book I plucked off the new books shelf at the library, and it instantly felt like something fresh and unexpected. The setting is a high-end hotel that’s going to open soon, and our narrator is aware of everything going on, but we don’t know who he is yet. He sees the stressed woman micromanaging every detail, he sees the staff working diligently (or less diligently), as the case may be, and he sees a killer stalking the halls.”

 

Reviewer: my Shane

unexpected_everything

Unexpected Everything
By Morgan Matson

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “For summer, I took a chance and strayed from my normal genre and tried a contemporary read. ‘The Unexpected Everything,’ was engaging, relatable, and current for this generation. I unexpectedly flew through the large book, not even wanting to come up for air. Morgan Matson knows her audience and her characters, which completely changed my view on contemporary young adult and, in turn, was my most memorable read of 2016.”

 

Reviewer: Heidi Komlofske-Rojek

midwife_a_journey

Midwife: A Journey
By Peggy Vincent

Why I chose this book as my favorite: “As someone who probably missed her calling, reading Vincent’s third memoir about her long career as a midwife is this reviewer’s feel-good, cozy-up-with-a-blanket read. Vincent has a way of recalling decades of stories that are never boring.”

 

Reviewer: Rebecca Williams

lifeboat

The Lifeboat Clique
By Kathy Parks

Why I chose this book as my favorite: The witty dialogue, unexpected twists, and natural disaster made for the best memorable book of 2016.

 

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! No doubt we’ve recommended some new reading material for you in 2017. Go pick up one that interests you from your local bookstore. Support the independent book sellers.

What was your favorite book of 2016?

 

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