What was your favorite read this year?
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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
If you’d asked me this question a couple of months ago my answer might have been different. But then I ended up picking up a copy of Neil Gaiman’s 1996 novel Neverwhere. This isn’t just the best book I’ve read this year. It’s the best book I’ve read in about the last ten years. It’s beautifully written with great characters and a compelling story. A regular guy gets in way over his head in the dark places beneath London, ending up in a quest that challenges everything he’s ever thought about himself and the world. Door is one of the most awesome female characters ever, and the story has a lot to say about courage, and tenacity, and the power of friendship in the face of adversity. For added joy, listen to the audiobook version (read by the author himself) and prepare to be carried away.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The best book I read in 2016 was Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. I think I may have read it once before as a kid, but I got a new perspective of Montgomery's work after spending time on Prince Edward Island myself earlier this year. Anne is really one of the most charming characters in children's literature and it's no wonder Montgomery's series continues to delight readers of all ages to this day.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
I read a lot of good books this year, but the one that will likely stick with me longer than any other is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, which for reasons unknown somehow eluded me until this year. It is the heartrending tale of Amir, who seeks redemption for regrettable actions taken after the turmoil of Soviet invasion and Taliban rule disrupts his childhood in Afghanistan. What I appreciated most is the portrait the book paints of the Afghani people and their culture, which too often is sidelined by discussions of terrorism and the Taliban.
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
To anyone on the outside, Jack and Grace have the perfect marriage. Jack is handsome and wealthy and Grace is a homemaker with beautiful clothes and a knack for throwing lavish dinner parties. But, why does Grace always cancel plans with friends at the last minute? Why is she never seen outside the house without Jack by her side? Is this really the perfect marriage, or is the relationship between Jack and Grace very different behind closed doors? Behind Closed Doors was not only the best book I read in 2016, it was also the scariest despite having very little violence. I recommend this for anyone looking for a true psychological thriller that will keep you reading way past your bedtime.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
So you've heard about the life of Hamilton, but how about Notorious RBG? My favorite book of this year was Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was one of my earliest reads of the year, and quite frankly everything kind of seemed like a letdown after it. Inspired by the tumblr blog of the same name, Notorious RBG celebrates the life and career of The Queen Supreme, Justice Ginsberg. She never took no for an answer and spent her whole life fighting for gender equality and civil rights while being an amazing mother and devoted wife. After finishing the book I felt as though I haven't accomplished enough as a woman and was letting Justice Ginsberg down. Clearly I needed to go fight for gender equality while getting into shape. By far the best parts of the book were the annotated excerpts of her world famous dissents. After all, you can't spell truth without Ruth!
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
By far my favorite book I read in the last year was The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. Is this a new book? No. Not even close. The book was released about eight years ago. Sometimes I take awhile to get a book off of my to-read list. Anyway, this magical realism book really gripped me. Josey lives with her mother, hiding her secrets in her closet, dreaming of talking to her attractive mailman. One day an unexpected, unwanted visitor appears and forces her into taking chances. The book has the same fairy tale quality Allen is known for, and is just a feel-good story to me.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
My favorite read of the year was Uprooted by Naomi Novik. A young girl is "sacrificed" and forced to go live with the wizard protecting her town and valley from the evil surrounding it. Based on a Polish fairy tale, this story was engaging, intriguing, and not something I had read before. This stand-alone novel is one of my all time favorites.
First Rider's Call by Kristen Britain
Karigan G’ladheon, now a full member of the Green Riders, gives up her merchant lifestyle to return to Sacor City in service to the king. Times grow perilous as dark magic from Blackveil Forest begins to seep through the now-damaged D’Yer Wall, bringing disturbances to both the land and the magic of the Green Riders themselves. With Captain Mapstone entering self-imposed exile because of how the dark magic has affected her own magic, Karigan and others lead the Green Riders as best they can. But what they do not yet know is that the enemy isn’t only within Blackveil Forest; the enemy also lives and works among them. This was my favorite for this year because, having previously read the first book in the series, it was fun to revisit old “friends” and also watch as Kristen Britain added new character developments and also dropped hints about dangers still to come.
The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky
The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky is a novel about a writer with a day job named Leah who inherits a red sports car from her dead former boss, and after finishing the novel she has been working on for years takes a short break from her unfulfilling real life to go pick it up. Leah's problem is that she's been living an artistic, somewhat bohemian existence, and awakened in her thirties to find out she has less to show for her life than most of her contemporaries--the kind of stultifying part-time office job that is available to people with advanced degrees and little ambition for conventional careers, an apartment in Queens, an empty checking account, and a clingy husband named Hans who is dependent on their marital arrangement for his Green Card and chokes Leah almost to death in a disturbing but allegorical early scene. The plot is full of reminders from Leah's past that a different kind of life is possible, but is it too late for Leah to change course? Told in dream-like prose, featuring an absurdist plot and sentences that ripple with romance and humor, The Red Car was my favorite read of 2016.