Thursday, December 29, 2016

16 Best Books of 2016

Forget new annual resolutions to make myself a better human being in the new year.  I would be satisfied if I could only re-discover some of my old good habits that have fallen by the wayside.  With this post, I attempt to reclaim one.

Every year, for many years, I would spend a few days in late December looking at various 'Best books' posts by magazines and newspapers I respect, to get a sense of the best books published in the year.  This would form a good part of my reading list in the year after.  After a couple of years of hiatus, I decided to take it up again this week.  The results follow.

There are many publications I admire for their book reviews and recommendations.  Top of the list is The New York Times Book Review.  Their annual Notable Books list is always a key source of inspiration.  Then comes The Washington Post, with their Best 10 Books of 2016 list, the Notable Fiction list, and the Notable Non-Fiction list.  The two other sources I have relied on this year have been The Economist Books of the Year 2016, and the Financial Times Best Books of 2016 list.

After reading the reviews, and considering the type of books I have a personal bias for, here are two lists I have culled out for my reading next year:

16 Best Books of 2016 - Fiction


  1. The Association of Small Bombs:  Karan Mahajan
  2. The Vegetarian: Han Kang
  3. Here I am: Jonathan Safran Foer
  4. Today will be different: Maria Semple
  5. Fixers: Michael M Thomas
  6. Heat and Light: Jennifer Haigh
  7. The Mandibles - A family, 2029-2047: Lionel Shriver
  8. Modern Lovers: Emma Straub 
  9. The nutshell: Ian McEwan
  10. The people in the castle - Selected Strange stories: Joan Aiken
  11. What's not yours is not yours: Helen Oyeyemi
  12. Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist: Sunil Yapa
  13. Zero K: Don deLillo
  14. Commonwealth: Ann Patchett
  15. The trespasser: Tana French
  16. Selection Day: Aravind Adiga
16 Best Books of 2016 - Non-Fiction

  1. All the single ladies - Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation: Rebecca Traister
  2. The Gene - An Intimate History: Siddhartha Mukherjee
  3. I contain Multitudes - The microbes within us and a grander view of life: Ed Yong
  4. Pretentiousness - Why it matters: Dan Fox
  5. The Rise and Fall of American Growth - The US Standard of Living since the Civil War: Robert J Gordon
  6. Weapons of Math Destruction - How Big Data increases inequality and threatens democracy: Cathy O Neill
  7. When breathe becomes air: Paul Kananithi
  8. You'll grow out of it: Jessi Klein
  9. Evicted: Matthew Desmond
  10. Secondhand Time - The last of the soviets: Svetlana Alexievich
  11. China's Future: David Shambaugh
  12. The Euro and the battle of Ideas: Marcus Brunnermeier
  13. Half-lion - How PVNarasimha Rao transformed India: Vinay Sitapati
  14. Alibaba - The house that Jack Ma built: Duncan Clark
  15. Progress - Ten reasons to look forward to the future: Johan Norberg 
  16. Hillbilly Elegy: JD Vance
There it is, then.  Looking forward to a solid year in reading, 2017!

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