2016 was a five-star year for books!
Welllll, technically every year is a great year for books. They’re pretty great.
Here’s a list of my highest-rated, five-star favorites I read in 2016.* I’m going to try my very best not to include spoilers in this roundup (But it’s difficult! Read these books right away so we can talk about them, pretty please!).
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Magical, wondrous, and sparkling with spark and snark and heart, The Night Circus is wonderful! It’s the kind of book that makes me want to stand at the top of the stairs and declare, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! Ummmm…I mean magic. Yeah magic. And it lives and lives and lives!”
For this group, magic isn’t so much trickery; it’s wonder (imagine I just said “wonder” with panache and jazz hands).
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my mind a lot lately.
Authors create intricate worlds in these dystopian novels, worlds that seem so distant and foreign. Handmaid’s world isn’t so distant, though; it’s not too too far from the realm of possibility.
It scares the crap out of me, and for that, I give it five stars!
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
It Ends with Us is eye-opening. It presents a reaction and solution to a difficult situation that I wouldn’t have even fathomed.
I imagine my reaction would be quite different from the main character’s, but the point is to show the limits of my imagination, and the imaginations of everyone else who hasn’t been in that situation and thinks they can armchair-quarterback her every move.
You’d have to be there to truly understand. I’ve never been there, but thanks to Colleen Hoover, I have a lot more empathy now for those who have.
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Oh, how I love Joe Hill!
The Fireman is all about this hunky fireman who fights fires in his spare time, when he’s not busy posing for hunk-of-the-month calendars. The only thing that can tame him? The love of a woman. And there just happens to be a new spunky spitfire in town. Might we see sparks between the two?
I fibbed. That’s not the actual plot of The Fireman. He’s actually an evil overlord who scorches all of the candy and TVs in the land to make the children cry.
Yeah, I’m lying again. How do I even describe this book? I don’t wanna, because I don’t want to give away the wonderfully unexpected quirkiness of this world and its characters. I’ll just let you fall into it on your own.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I regard Dark Matter as a quantum-physical, Dickensian odyssey through the main character’s formerly wonderful life.
Dark Matter is gripping and un-put-downable. I caught bits of it during breaks, during red lights, during TV shows even. TV shows!! That’s saying a lot.
This book comes highly recommended on Goodreads and several other best-of lists. It’s no fluke. This is a solid book, and the twists and turns are genuine and organic; not devices to artificially make the plot seem more exciting than it is.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
I love this book, and was visualizing it vividly throughout. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one becomes a movie in the not-too-distant future.
One-minute-later update: I’m curious, so I Googled movie plans, and turns out it is in development to become a movie with Reese Witherspoon’s production company. Can’t wait to watch it! (Side plea: Please let them remain British. Must we Americanize everything?)
In a Dark, Dark Wood has made me a big fan of Ruth Ware. The growing isolation and desperation in this book is captivating.
That’s it! My 2016 Five-Star Faves is a pretty slim list – I don’t give my five-star reviews to just anyone. Cheers to reading even more in 2017. Bring on the books!
*Listed in no particular order, and not necessarily published in 2016.