Favorite Books for 2016


If you believe the early research showing the most empathetic, thoughtful people are also readers, at least of fiction, then reading for recreation must therefore be germaine to being a successful person. With that mental stretch to this blog, here’s my book list of personal favorites for 2016. Of course, I have my biases in what I choose to read and I can’t get through everything I buy, much less everything I think looks good. And this year I had more of a tendency than usual to backtrack and read things written years earlier, so these are not exclusively 2016 releases. (Insatiable readers know that books are the ultimate internet-like rathole—one book leads you to another by that author, or in that period, or loved by that character—and no one knows where you’ll end up hours, days, months later.)

For those who want an objective, broad-ranging 2016 list, here’s the New York Times list of Notable Books. NPR has an excellent app they release in January (2015 is here) and The Guardian also does a terrific end of year list (part one 2016 is here).

Books that Stayed with Me
Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
The Nix, Nathan Hill
Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
City on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg
Some Luck, Early Warning, and Golden Age (Last Hundred Years trilogy), Jane Smiley

Books that are Obviously Going to be Movies Someday
Before the Fall, Noah Hawley
Underground Airlines, Ben Winters

Books that Compel You to Consider How You Live
My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout
When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
Being Mortal, Atul Gawande
The Last Policeman, Ben Winters

Books that Made Me Laugh
You’ll Grow Out of It, Jessi Klein
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson
The Portable Veblen, Elizabeth McKenzie
The Sellout, Paul Beatty
Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld

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