Best books of 2016

Published 10:37 am Thursday, January 19, 2017

There are a million different lists touting the “best books of 2016” and I love to scour them and find more titles to add to my impossibly long “to read” list on Goodreads. Need some more books to add to your pile? Here are my favorites from 2016.


Jodi Picoult has an impressive 24 novels under her belt and I’ve read most of them. Some I’ve loved (“Nineteen Minutes,” “Change of Heart”) and some were disappointing (“Harvesting the Heart”), but her 2016 novel “Small Great Things” was added to the “loved” category. Ruth Jefferson, an African American nurse, is fired and sued after hesitating to perform CPR on the baby of a white supremacist, whom she was ordered not to touch. While the story sounds like something from the 1950s, it is set in modern day and is an interesting take on racism and privilege. And, like all of Picoult’s novels, there’s a great twist at the end!

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“The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo,” comedian Amy Schumer’s memoir, was hilarious but also surprisingly touching. If you know Schumer’s comedy, you either love or hate her, and I think she’s refreshingly real and funny. In this collection of personal essays, she explores various views on love and dating and while most will have you laughing, a few were more somber and made me think of her in a new light. If you’re a fan, definitely check her book out! I found it similar to Mindy Kaling and Chelsea Handler’s memoirs, which I adore, but with more of a serious tone at times.


Curtis Sittenfeld is the author who made me want to become a librarian, thanks to her fictional account of Laura Bush’s life, “American Wife.” (Bush was a librarian if you didn’t know.) Her 2016 book “Eligible” is a modern retelling of “Pride and Prejudice,” a book I have never read as I don’t typically enjoy the writing style of classics. However, I found “Eligible” and the story of the Bennet sisters charming and entertaining. This is probably the most “fun” read on this list if you’re looking for something lighter!


“The Woman in Cabin 10,” Ruth Ware’s second psychological thriller, was an instant New York Times bestseller and an intriguing read (even though it couldn’t quite top her debut novel “In a Dark, Dark Wood”). Lo Blacklock is a journalist with a dream assignment aboard a luxury cruise ship in Europe. Dreamy at least until she starts to hear and see disturbing things, and no one will believe her … Very suspenseful and intense, if you like that kind of thing. (I do!)


Liane Moriarty is another one of my favorite authors (see a theme here?) and I am super excited for the HBO version of her book “Big Little Lies” to premiere next month. Like Picoult, Moriarty loves to surprise readers with a fun twist at the end of her novels. Her latest, “Truly Madly Guilty,” jumps back and forth from the present to a backyard cookout between friends and neighbors that happened two months ago. And what exactly happened at that fateful barbeque is what we are left wondering throughout most of the book, as unexpected details are slowly revealed.


2016 was a great year for books and I have faith that 2017 will deliver as well! I’m most eagerly anticipating “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins, “Say You Love Me” by Sherman Alexie, and “Her Every Fear” by Peter Swanson. What about you?


Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian at Polk County Public Library. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call 828894-8721.