5 Favorite Books of 2016 and 20 Others That Weren’t

February 6, 2017

I read 25 books in 2016. Ok, maybe I didn’t “read” them – I  listened to them. I really don’t think there is a difference, but my husband insists that I can’t say I “read” a book if I only listened to it. Whatever… read, listen… it’s all the same to me. Here are my top 5 from 2016…

5. Small Great Things: A Novel, Jodi Picoult

Narrated by: Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell, Ari Fliakos
Length: 16 hrs and 15 mins

Publisher’s Summary: Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than 20 years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders, or does she intervene? 

My Take: This is a book that really made me step back and examine my own thoughts on race. Like Kennedy (the white attorney in the story), I realized that there were situations I would simply never have to deal with because I had the privilege of being born white. And, truly, situations that I would never even have imagined anyone would have to encounter or endure.

4. The Company: A Novel of the CIA, Robert Littell

Narrated by: Scott Brick
Length: 41 hrs and 22 mins

Publisher’s Summary: Crisis constantly lurks around the corner, monitored by spies who are always with us. In his career-capping thirteenth novel, master of the espionage thriller Robert Littell has crafted a breathtaking story of the legendary CIA – “The Company” to insiders. At its heart lies a spectacular mole hunt involving the CIA, MI6, KGB and Mossad – a stunningly conceived trip down the rabbit hole to the labyrinthine Alice-in-Wonderland world of espionage, “a wood where things have no names.”

My Take: I don’t usually go in for the spy novel, but I chose this one because it was long and narrated by Scott Brick – my favorite narrator. I ended up really enjoying the story and learning a little bit about U.S. and world history during the Cold War.

3. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

Narrated by: Wil Wheaton

Length: 15 hrs and 46 mins

Publisher’s Summary: At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut – part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

My Take: If you love all things 80s, video games, and virtual reality, you will love this story. It is an entertaining story set in the future where virtual reality takes over reality. It is a fun story for young adults and adults alike, with just a hint of mature content. It’s narrated by Wil Wheaton and set to be turned into a movie within the next year or two.

2. A Little Life: A Novel, Hanya Yanagihara

Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
Length: 32 hrs and 51 mins

Publisher’s Summary: Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize; Long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction. Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the 21st century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow, improbably, breaks through into the light.

My Take: This was the most moving book I’ve read in some time. Every time I listened I ended up in tears. There is a section in the book that details the Alhambra in Spain, where we visited on our trip. It made the story a little more magical and touching for me.

1. The City of Mirrors: The Passage Trilogy, Book Three, Justin Cronin

Narrated by: Scott Brick
Length: 29 hrs and 29 mins

Publisher’s Summary: In The Passage and The Twelve, Justin Cronin brilliantly imagined the fall of civilization and humanity’s desperate fight to survive. Now all is quiet on the horizon – but does silence promise the nightmare’s end or the second coming of unspeakable darkness? At last this best-selling epic races to its breathtaking finale.


My Take: The Passage series is by far one of my favorite series ever. I waited and waited for this third book in the series to wrap up the epic story. Finally, this year, it was released and it did not disappoint. This third book in the series wraps up the story of Amy and Zero with a neat little bow, which is just how I like things! I’ve read some reviews that say the story of Zero, really a story within a story, was far too long. But I disagree, I think the story brought a great deal of humanity to Zero and made us understand what a complex character he really was. Just as I have with the first two books in the series, I will be reading this again and again.

The rest of the rest…

Kept Me Entertained

  • The Girl Before, Rena Olsen
  • If You Find Me, Emily Murdoch
  • The Chemist, Stephenie Meyer
  • The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  • American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  • The Girl on the Train: A Novel, Paula Hawkins
  • The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel, Helene Wecker
  • Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel, Audrey Niffenegger
  • Most Wanted, Lisa Scottoline
  • Speaks the Nightbird, Robert McCammon

Struggled to Finish

  • Devil in the White City, Eric Larson
  • Private Paris, James Patterson, Mark Sullivan
  • American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
  • John Dies at the End, David Wong
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed
  • Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town

Don’t Bother

  • Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of its Own, Doreen Orion
  • The Mirror of Her Dreams: Volume I of Mordant’s Need, Stephen R. Donaldson
  • Pretty Girls, Karin Slaughter
  • Pathfinder: Book 1, Orson Scott Card

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