Reader Friday: Best Book You Read Last Year?

What is the best (or most interesting) book you read in 2016? Please share,

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15 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Best Book You Read Last Year?

  1. Thankfully I keep a spreadsheet of the books I read so I can remind myself of books I liked most & why (so I can refer back to them). I typically make note of the title/author, if it was recommended to me & why, and my notes on what I thought of the read (or if I ended up finishing it). So this morning I was looking at my comments to see which elicited the most excitable response from me & the 2016 winner was:

    Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.
    Part of my comment was: “Read cover to cover in one sitting and felt positively zen-like after.”

    Other reads that grabbed me last year include:

    Open: An Autobiography (Andre Agassi)
    Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (bought 2 copies)
    Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity & Poverty
    Twelve Years a Slave
    Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
    Blood & Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson & the Conquest of the American West
    Lamplighter, The (novel written in 1850’s)
    Some People Are Dead
    Wonder (novel)

    Can’t wait to see what books grab me in 2017! I’m off to a slow start. I just finished reading—mostly skimming “Peak: The New Science of Expertise” which has GREAT concepts I feel everyone should read but the important concepts are lost in an ocean of excessive wordiness. Wish it had been presented much more succinctly.

    • I keep a spreadsheet, too, with notes on what I thought of each book.
      My favorite was Brooklyn by Colm Tobin, which I read before I saw the movie. (I have a thing for Irish writers.) I also really liked Glitz by Elmore Leonard, and Norwegian Night by Derek B. Miller.

  2. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Published in 1997. Hands down the most unusual, fascinating book I can ever remember reading. I heard about it from a friend who said that it had a brief spurt of buzz a few years ago. She was at a writer’s conference with 8 other people at her table and the moderator asked them to share the best book they read that year. 7 of the 8 said The Sparrow. Part space travel, part theology, part cultural anthropology, part “family” saga, and some of the rawest writing on what trauma can do to a person ever written.

  3. Melville in Love: The Secret Life of Herman Melville and the Muse of Moby-Dick by Michael Sheldon. Biographical fiction, which I love. Michael Sheldon brings the reader through Melville’s private adventures and is so vivid with Melville’s emotional life. Not a single page gets tedious.

    At the moment I am rereading The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald. Yeah, I read it in high school, and in college, but I didn’t really appreciate then. I’m rereading it now more analytically as a writer, exploring Fitzgerald’s writing mechanics and execution. Wow, his sentences and images are amazing!

  4. Mae Clair’s Point Pleasant series: A Thousand Yesteryears and A Cold Tomorrow. She’s finishing the series this year, and I can’t wait to see what happens.

  5. I was fascinated by Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. A truly interesting take on Apartheid. Educational without being dry or prone to chewing of the scenery. Lots of humor which I appreciate.
    I also read King of Lies by John Hart. Good strong thriller. I much prefer genre fiction, and this offered a writing style that was deeper than my usual escapist stuff. It really appealed to me. The one I’m reading now is the same: Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.
    I hate to say that I forget titles almost as soon as I read them, and I have no hope of remembering what year I read it in. So it was probably the year before last that I read Copperhead Road by my high school friend Roger Canaff. It was a very well written and moving book that has stuck with me. Among many things I did not know at the time was that he was a gifted writer. Here I thought I was the one who would become an author.

    • Synchronicity alert: The Trevor Noah book was 53-across in the NYTimes crossword this morning!

  6. Currently reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Stieg Larsson’s ability to build suspense is a thing of beauty. I’m always looking for that spark, be it voice, character, concept, plot, structure, etc., which lends what I think of as ‘velocity’ to a story. That is, the desire to keep turning pages.

  7. Jim Harrison’s “The Beast God Forgot to Invent.” My first by him and won’t be my last. Makes me want to be a better writer

    Also got a kick out of “The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think.” But it never explained why my mutt Phoebe drags one of my old flip-flops to bed every night.

  8. Each year I have a mix of nonfiction, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and re-reads of favorites

    My favorite re-read was Louis Bayard’s ” Mr Timothy” – it’s my favorite book by my favorite author, and I usually revisit it every 2-3 years

    My favorite new fiction read and author was Laura McHugh and her debut,”Weight of Blood” – followed up w/ her second, “Arrowood,” early this year – which I thought was even better

    In nonfiction, I was on a Middle Ages kick, and read several good books by Dan Jones

  9. Still reading it: The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth. I was hooked at the first paragraph:

    The man in grey decided to take the Glen suite of diamonds at midnight. Provided they were still in the apartment safe and the occupants away. This he needed to know. So he watched and he waited. At half past seven he was rewarded.

    I’ve taken to reading older books that have stood the test of time to study technique. Works.

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