Hello, friends! Hope you’re all doing well and I hope you’re all reading something great!
The time has come for me to list and discuss my top twelve books of 2016. I know my opinions on these books most likely won’t be shared by others, but that’s what makes a readers’ experience with their books so wonderful! Everyone views and consumes their books in a unique way; and sees things within the pages that another reader may not.
To begin, these are books that have caused me to think about them long after turning the final pages and closing their covers. These are books I’ve lost myself in. They are not perfect; what book is? The characters aren’t perfect. Some are even problematic, which I think if a reader can go into a story with an open mind and read it while also recognizing the flaws and, if it occurs, the problematic elements within them, then that makes you an open-minded reader. It also make you a decent human being if you can take note and recognize those issues, if and whatever they may be.
- Starting off the list at #12: ‘The Mistletoe Promise’ by Richard Paul Evans
I read this at the end of November into the beginning of the Christmas season and it was the perfect remedy for the post-election/Christmastime blues. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE Christmas. LOVE IT. However, I’d be lying not only to you guys but also to myself, if I didn’t say that even someone who loves Christmas can be depressed by it as well. This was the second RPE (Richard Paul Evans) book I picked up this year and it was my favorite. I went into it knowing it would be Hallmark-y and a bit cheesy, but sometimes you just need that. The romance was sweet and it just made me feel warm.
*I will also note that Hallmark did in fact adapt this story for a movie and it was awful and nothing like the book and I stopped watching 10 minutes in.
- #11: ‘It Ends With Us’ by Colleen Hoover
This one was a personal novel for Colleen Hoover to write being that the subject matter deals with relationship and domestic abuse, which she drew from her personal experience with the abuse her mother suffered by her father growing up. This book was both eye-opening for me one of the first books I read regarding this subject matter. I think CH executed it very well and from the standpoint of someone like me, who hasn’t experienced it personally. This was tough to read and digest, but it was important.
- #10: ‘Maybe Someday’ by Colleen Hoover
This is a new adult romantic contemporary that was a nice, easy read for the start of the new year. The characters were relatable for the most part and I loved that the story focused on the blooming relationship between a musician living and coping with complete hearing loss and a girl that loves to sing. Despite it’s sometimes overly convenient and predictable elements and plot points, I devoured and enjoyed it all the way through.
- #9: ‘Night Owls’ AKA ‘The Anatomical Shape of a Heart’ by Jenn Bennett
This was a sweet YA romance about a girl who dreams of illustrating human bodies and decides to enter into a scholarship program, much to her mother’s dismay, by drawing cadavers at a local medical school. One night she meets one of San Francisco’s notorious, young graffiti artists on the midnight Metro bus. From there her summer goes differently than she had planned.
- #8 ”The Deal’ by Elle Kennedy
This one was suggested to me by my co-workers and friends and I loved it. It’s about a girl who agreed to tutor one of the star players on her college’s hockey team and obviously they don’t study too much. The series which focuses on one member from a group of hockey players on a college team. This wasn’t the greatest book ever written or that I read, but it was a new adult romance that let me pretend I had a love life for a while.
- #7 ‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart
This book was twisted and takes the reader back and forth in time between different summers remembered (or not) by a girl who recovers from an accident and tries to make sense of what led to her accident in the first place.
#6 ‘Brooklyn’ by Colm Toibin
I saw the movie first and LOVED it so much that I wanted to read the book as well. There really wasn’t too much that was missing in the movie, but if I had to choose, I enjoyed the movie more. The book although very true to the film, was slower paced, but as it was a book, it made sense. The romance between Ellis and Tony just makes me beam because it’s sweet and innocent and nostalgic.
- #5 ‘Everything, Everything’ by Nicola Yoon
From the cute drawings amidst the pages to the sweet romance between a girl who is deemed allergic to everything and the cute new neighbor boy who lives next door, this book was one of my most favorites. The story gets a little crazy by the end and definitely left me with a lot of questions. While reading this I couldn’t stop picturing Amandla Stenberg as the main character and not long after I finished it was announced that she would in fact be playing the main character in the film adaptation. The chapters were short and sweet but filled with nuance.
- #4 ‘And I Darken’ by Kiersten White
This was a very interesting gender reversal retelling of Vlad Dracul (or Vlad the Impaler which the story is loosely based on) Instead the story focuses on Lada Dragwyla who along with her younger brother Radu, is sent to leave her country of Wallachia and live in the Ottoman empire after being deposed. Lada is a stealthy princess and warrior who enjoys fighting mre than being a lady of the court. Lada decides it is up to her to claim the Wallachian throne for herself and take back her country, even if it means sacrificing her friendship with the future king and Ottoman heir. There is so much intrigue and badassery in this that I devoured it and even preordered the sequel.
- #3 ‘Shatter Me’ series by Tahereh Mafi
This series was heavily recommended to me by my dear friend and co-worker Michallynn and I decided to check it out. This dystopian story centers on a girl named Juliette who is kept in an asylum because her touch is very lethal. Soon Juliette is visited by the leader of the Reestablishment named Warner who has a keen interest in her, even though she despises him. Warner won’t tell Juliette why he took her from the asylum, only conveying that they could be “great together”. Soon she meets a soldier named Adam who she realizes can touch her without dying. However, Juliette soon discovers so can Warner…
- #2 ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’
I read ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ and loved it so much and fell for Tamlin like an idiot and then I read ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’ and realized that Rhysand was the shining light all along. This is the story of a girl named Feyre who accidentally kills a wolf in the woods near her home. When a beast-like stranger arrives at her family’s cottage, demanding an explanation, she’s given the choice of dying along with her family for her crime, or agreeing to live with the beast instead. After agreeing to go with the beast, she discovers he is actually a fae ruler. Despite these books being problematic in parts, this was my favorite series of 2016. It was, and still is a little hard for me to get used to the whole fae with wings aspect, but it’s just so good and I’m too sucked in an devoted to this series to abandon it now.
- #1 ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I bought the audiobook on audible shortly after discovering Hamilton and when I realized (it honestly took me a while) that the one and only Lin-Manuel Miranda narrated it a few years back, I was even more excited to read it. And oh my gosh, this book. This was only the second LGBTQ book that I read (the first being ‘The Danish Girl’ by David Ebershoff), but it was the first LGBTQ story that I read written about and by a person of color. This story captured my heart. I dragged it out because I just loved the story and I would have loved it all the same even if Lin hadn’t narrated the audiobook, but because he did I loved it that much more and it’s just so sweet. This is the story about a teenage boy name Aristotle or Ari who makes friends one summer with a boy named Dante at the public swimming pool in his hometown. They become fast, best friends. And although Ari is perfectly happy spending time alone, he realizes how much clearer and happier his life is with Dante in it. This book also made me realize how important these love stories are for our generation. It made me feel giddy and excited at the prospect of a character discovering love just by being who they are.
That’s my list! I’m even more excited for next year’s list, I already have a few favorites and it’s only three weeks into the new year!