1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (review) This book was absolutely phenomenal. Not only was it a spectacular work of fiction with a creative but totally effective format, it was extremely timely considering the call for diversity that swept the book community this year and the ongoing conversation about race in our country. It was unlike any book I've read before and I highly, highly recommend it. Gyasi is a master storyteller.
2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (review) I adored "A Gentleman in Moscow," a character-driven novel about a young Russian count who is sentenced to live out his days in a grand Moscow hotel during the Bolshevik Revolution. It was charming, it was funny, it was poignant... it was probably the most pleasurable reading experience I had this year. It also made me want to read more books set in Russia!
3. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (review) I love books set in Alaska, and this epistolary historical fiction novel is about a late-1800s expedition into uncharted Alaskan wilderness. It's told mostly in journal entries by Lt. Col. Allen Forrester and his wife, Sophie, who stays behind in Washington Territory and has adventures all her own. I loved the twinge of magical realism and Native American mythology, the setting -- which became a character all its own -- and the format, which included journal entries, letters and even illustrations and photos.
4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik I never got around to reviewing this book, which I discovered browsing best-of lists this time last year, but it was an absolute joy to read. It's a fantasy novel, but even non-fantasy fans will love it. The writing was superb and the story was utterly enchanting. Not to mention I devoured this over-400-page story in just over two days!
5. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (review) This "Jane Eyre" re-telling is a must-read. The bare bones of the original Jane are there, but Faye has given the story fantastic new life in this unique tale, which includes the very telling line, "Reader, I murdered him." I loved it!
6. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (review) I finally read this ubiquitous WWII story in 2016 and let me tell you, it deserves every iota of praise and hype. The writing was absolutely stunning and the story was beautiful.
7. The Fireman by Joe Hill (review) "The Fireman" was a bit of a departure from Joe Hill's previous work -- it was more apocalyptic thriller than horror -- but I liked it even better! It's about a plague that causes victims to spontaneously burst into flames, but it's also about human nature (the good parts and the bad) and finding hope in the worst of times. This was another long book that I absolutely could not put down -- the story totally enthralled me!
8. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (review) "The Wolf Road" is hugely underrated -- it only has 1,500 ratings on Goodreads -- and I'd love to see this post-apocalyptic thriller/adventure story/character study get the recognition it deserves. Seventeen-year-old Elka has been raised by a man she knows only as Trapper, and after the stunning revelation that Trapper may very well be a serial killer, Elka must run for her life and navigate this dangerous post-apocalyptic world, which in some ways resembles the Wild West. Readers are guaranteed to fall in love with Elka!
9. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (review) At just 36 Dr. Paul Kalanithi, a brilliant neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. His memoir is a poignant, inspiring and heartbreaking treatise on death, medicine and finding purpose in life. It was a beautiful, courageous book and I think everyone would benefit from reading it.
10. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (review) What a breathtaking book this was. I loved the glimpse into Icelandic history and culture, the rugged starkness of the setting, the haunting story and the gorgeous writing! Plus the story is based on a real person, which makes it even more impactful.
-The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church (review)
-Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (review)
-Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (review)
-The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (review)
-Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey (I never managed to review this WWII/present day dual narrative, but it was SO good. I happily awarded it 5 stars!)
-Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid (review)
-Written in Red by Anne Bishop (The Others #1) (review)
-June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (review)
-The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (review)