These are my ten favorite books published in 2016. Not in any particular order, or with any specific criteria other than they made an impression on me.
Ocean Animals from Head to Tail / Stacey Roderick, Kwanchai Moriya
A non-fiction book that also works as a read-aloud? Sign me up. The illustrations are captivating and the text is simple but also informative.
The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition / Reyna Grande
I picked this ARC up at ALA Annual, and after reading it immediately handed it off to a teen. While reading it, I could think of so many teens I wanted to hand it to. A moving story about a young immigrant and her struggle to find herself, balancing her past and her future.
Ada Twist, Scientist / Andrea Beaty, David Roberts
I loved Rosie Revere, Engineer. But a book from the same team featuring a little girl with developmental delay, brown skin, and pouf-ball hairdo? GOLDEN. My favorite part of the book is that because of her delay in speech, Ada becomes a keen observer. Read this book aloud to every kid you know.
Hiccups / Holly Sterling
This book made the list because it was by far the 2016-pubbed book I read aloud the most this year. I read this to babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners. The best rendition being the one where a two-year old said “bless you” to me after every, single time I hiccuped (which happens several times per page.) A simple story that kids of all ages can relate to – how do you get rid of the hiccups? This book has great cadence and rhythm and a wonderful ending that leaves everyone with a smile.
The Underground Railroad / Colson Whitehead
I love books that follow a character through a long span of their lifetime, and I got totally and completely lost in this story. If you haven’t heard of it (if that’s the case, where have you been?) it is historical fiction with a dash of fantasy. The fantasy is so intertwined that I completely forgot it wasn’t actual history.
Another Brooklyn / Jacqueline Woodson
I was so excited that Woodson had written a book for an adult audience, a bildungsroman no less, and it did not disappoint. This book was as close to perfect as it gets.
Eligible / Curtis Sittenfeld
A friend told me to read this book, but not just read it, listen to the audio – and she was so right. I was laughing out loud in my car, on the train, in the lunch room. I’m not even a Jane Austen fan, and I was delighted by this book the entire way through. The premise is Pride and Prejudice set in modern day Ohio, with a reality-tv twist. Brilliant.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child / JK Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
I was nervous to read this; nervous that it might ruin something that was so wonderful. I shouldn’t have doubted JK. I was immediately, blissfully sucked back into the HP world for a few hundred pages. I enjoyed it immensely and was really quite sad when it was over. I’d like some more, please?
Salt to the Sea / Ruta Sepetys
I guess I didn’t read that much YA this year, but this was by far my favorite YA that I read. I’m rarely drawn to YA historical fiction, and in general feel like I’ve read far too much that is set in WWII, but this book was really unique. A familiar time frame, but a totally new setting and fresh characters. The switching narrative between characters was well done and kept the story moving in an interesting way. Bring your tissues.
These are favorite books that I read this year, but were not published in 2016.
Just Mercy / Bryan Stevenson
Without a doubt, the best book I read this year. Mind-blowing, life-changing. Essential reading for all humans, but especially fans of Serial and Making a Murderer who want to take it one step further.
The Jumbies / Tracey Baptiste
This book has gone lost/missing from my library 3x since I booktalked it. (If you’re a librarian you know that means it’s good.) A creepy, Caribbean fairy-tale complete with possessed plants, father-stealing-witches, and a rag-tag bunch of kids who save the day.