Let’s face it: for many, 2016 was a less-than-stellar year, and a lot of people are excited to kiss it goodbye. Yet, in this time of reflection and transition to 2017, it’s impossible to look at the year’s negatives without also looking at its positives.
2016 was a good reading year for me. I read 77 new books this year (not counting duplicate editions, short stories, and rereads) and discovered some wonderful writers, and some fantastic books.
Here, in no particular order, are my top 16 favorite 2016 reads. (Please note: Most of these are books I read in 2016, but that doesn’t mean they were published in 2016.)
1. Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
A series about heists and cons, featuring a very diverse and lovable cast of characters, all of whom are strong and capable in their own ways. The Dregs are my favorite book squad (besides the Golden Trio, of course), and I love them all so very, very much. The world-building is vivid and beyond amazing, and the twists are mischievously clever. Two of my most favorite reads this year.
2. A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
I liked ACOTAR, but Sarah J. Maas took things to astronomic heights in this novel. Between Feyre’s spectacular character growth, Rhysand’s fantastic development (and fantastic everything, really, let’s be honest here), the wonderful way their relationship blossomed, and the introduction of some great new characters, I’m pumped for ACOWAR. A very pleasant—and welcome—surprise.
I read Illuminae earlier this year on a plane ride and adored it, and Gemina was a wonderful sequel. These books are so different and wonderful and stressful, and you should read them if you haven’t already. Another one of my most favorite series/2016 reads. All the feels here.
4. Dracula by Bram Stoker
Though it took some perseverance on my end, I really enjoyed this book, which I read as research for my own book. Vampires are some of my favorite supernatural creatures, and it was fun to read one of the biggest names of the genre—and like it. Classics are usually a hit or miss for me, but this one left me smiling—and ripping through all 600 pages to find out what happens at the end. If you like vampires, read this. It’s clever and dark and sophisticated, as well as a great throwback to the Gothic writing age.
5. An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1) by Sabaa Tahir
I read this book early on in 2016, and I. Was. Blown. Away. This book was so, so good. Great world-building, thrilling stakes, believable characters, clever twists—this book had them all. I saw so much of myself reflected in Laia, and I connected fiercely to Elias. I haven’t read Torch yet (though I have a copy), but I plan to in 2017, and I can’t wait. Definitely in my Top 5, and the most pleasant surprise this year. Well done, Sabaa Tahir. Well done.
6. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (The Twilight Saga, #3.5) by Stephenie Meyer
I picked this up because I was curious, and…I actually ended up really enjoying it. If Meyer had written the entire Twilight Saga this way, I probably would have been able to finish the series. Fun, short, and gripping, Bree Tanner portrays vampires the way they should be written: bloodthirsty and dangerous. I loved it.
7. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
This book contains such important mental health messages, and they were delivered so well. I also loved the writing, the drawings in the book, and the way the two narratives connected at the end. For anyone wanting to better understand what mental illness is like to experience, this is a must-read. (My review is here.)
8. Reign of Shadows (Reign of Shadows, #1) by Sophie Jordan
I was very surprised by this book, which contains fascinating world-building and relatable characters. I want more of Relhok, the kingdom without sunlight. Rise of Fire needs to get here quickly. (Review is here.)
9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Beautiful, heartfelt, and perfectly-written, this is a fantastic tribute to first love. Please read it. (Review is here.)
10. Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1) by Melina Marchetta
This book was one of the best fantasies I’ve read this year, with fantastic world-building, believable character development, a twist I didn’t see coming, and a satisfying end. How this series doesn’t have more hype is beyond me. I plan on reading the rest of the series, for sure.
11. A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1) by Brittany Cavallaro
I loved the original Sherlock Holmes, so I was ecstatic for this retelling, and it totally delivered. This book contains an enticing plot, well-written characters, and plenty of homage to Sir Conan Doyle’s original series. A wonderful book. I finished it in one day. 🙂
12. Rot & Ruin (Rot & Ruin, #1) by Jonathan Maberry
A zombie book that’s not really about zombies. I loved the humor in this book and the sibling relationship between Tom and Benny. It was well-written and believable. I’m definitely planning on reading the next books in the series.
13. This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1) by Victoria Schwab
Everything about this book is magical: the writing, the world, the characters. I’m fascinated, and I want more.
14. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
I loved The Book Thief (my first book of his, even though he wrote this one first, I think), and Zusak did it again with this book. It’s quirky and fun and well-written and heartfelt, a wonderful story about what it means to be kind to others and how you make your future. I was grinning by the end.
15. Reawakened (Reawakened, #1) by Colleen Houck
Humor and adorable love interests, mixed in with Egyptian mythology and The Mummy’s charm. I was disappointed by the second book, but I loved this one; it was fun, fluffy, and sweet.
16. Into the Wild by John Krakauer
This is a well-written account of the events surrounding Chris McCandless’s sojourn into the Alaskan wilderness, focusing on the events prior to entering Alaska, the people Chris impacted through his journey, and several of the author’s personal experience with the wilderness. Maybe Chris McCandless was just a man. Maybe he was an enigma. We’ll never really know. But this book does an excellent job at portraying McCandless in a well-rounded, realistic lens, presenting facts and some conjectures, but ultimately allowing the reader to form their own conclusions. This book gave me wanderlust.
So there you have it: some of my favorite 2016 reads. What were some of your favorite 2016 reads?