2016 was generally a rough year, and the 27 books I read this year are unimpressive compared to last year’s 48. I only reached 27 thanks to four comic books. Then again, I took two graduate classes and had a job the whole year, versus 2015’s five months of fellowship and four months of employment. So in between pleasure reading, there were hours of chapters on archival document management and capitalism. I’ve applied to a graduate program, and if that goes well, there will be many more hours of reading capitalism in 2017.
Looking back at last year’s post, I did accomplish my goals of reading The Education of Henry Adams and Sula. There was a stark lack of LBJ in 2016, so my only reading goal for next year is to finish book three in the Years of Lyndon Johnson series, Master of the Senate. I’ve also got both Persepolis books on my night stand and an ever-growing list of books to read on Goodreads.
What were some of your favorite books this year? What’s on your list for 2017?
Here are the 27 books I read in 2016, with stars for the ones I really loved and recommend:
- White Teeth, Zadie Smith**
- The Education of Henry Adams, Henry Adams - this one is interesting for the history. I started reading it in 2015 for Jamaica Kincaid's Autobiography and Memoir class. She pointed out that Adams writes his life story without once mentioning his wife, Marian "Clover" Hooper Adams, who committed suicide by drinking photo chemicals. He makes one allusion to her death when he mentions going to the Washington cemetery "known as Rock Creek, to see the bronze figure which St. Gaudens had made for him in his absence." One reference in 505 pages.
- The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
- Kehinde Wiley: New Republic, various authors
- Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Sarah Vowell ** - I recommend this so much I wrote a blog post about it. It pairs especially well with lots of Hamilton soundtrack.
- On My Own, Diane Rehm** - definitely recommended for Diane Rehm fans. Maybe not recommended if you’ve lost someone recently and might cry on the bus on your way to work as you read it. Or perhaps it’s just what you need?
- Growing Up Brown: Memoirs of a Filipino American, Peter Jamero
- Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage, Michael R. Veach
- Sula, Toni Morrison**
- H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald** - there were times I had to stop reading this because it was so heartbreakingly sad.
- Au revoir, les enfants, Louis Malle - read to get ready for France!
- My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, Ruth Reichl
- Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay**
- The Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee
- The Abundance, Annie Dillard** - this, like H is for Hawk, made me think, “I will never write this well.” Beautiful.
- Driving Hungry, Layne Mosler
- East Along the Equator, Helen Winternitz
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
- Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan
- Black Panther, Ta-Nehesi Coates
- Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie** - I loved this book. It might be my favorite of the ones I read last year.
- The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, Andrea Wulf**
- The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72, Molly Peacock**
- Lumberjanes vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen
- Lumberjanes vol 2: Friendship to the Max, Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen
- Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: 16 Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, ed Meghan Daum
- French Milk, Lucy Knisley