Sunday, January 1, 2017

Top Ten of Twenty Sixteen

Welcome Twenty Seventeen!

This year, I read 55 books. That's actually quite a bit less than I read last year, so I'm taking some time to reflect on what worked (and what didn't) as I plan my reading resolutions for 2017. You can read more about those on the blog next week!

As always, these are some of my most highly-rated books, and come to you in no particular order. 
I'd love to hear some of your top picks from 2016 in the comments if you'd like to share!

You know a book is good when you cannot stop talking about it. I've raved about The Year of Living Danishly to anyone willing to listen, and even talked a few of my coworkers into reading it too. Now we all gush about the Danish way of life. I am the type of person who thinks a lot about quality of life and how to improve my own, and this book actually gave me a few great ideas for finding that balance between work and personal life (spoiler: teachers rarely find that balance). Not to mention, I'd jump at the chance to relocate to Denmark, where quality of life is the driving focus for the entire population. You can read more of my thoughts here.

If you like mysteries and have not yet started Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache novels, then all I have to say to you is "What are you waiting for?!?"

The Beautiful Mystery is the eighth in the series and I think it's the best of them all, though I want to be clear in saying that this is the best mystery series I have ever (ever) read, so all of the books are great in their own right. I started this series over the summer and have been raving about it since. Even if you aren't a mystery lover, I would still recommend it to you. Worth a try, I promise.

I didn't read many classics this year (oops), but this 1938 gothic novel was one of the best books I read and continue to think about. I'm sure there are other reviewers who could put it into words better than I can, but it's haunting and mysterious and the character of Mrs. Danvers is unforgettable.

I have yet to speak with a reader who read Outlander and didn't love it. The only intimidation of it is the size of each book in the series. I flew through this first one in just a few days over the summer (when reading for five hours at the beach was possible) and went immediately to the bookstore to pick up the next two. These are books that you want to be fully immersed in, and I find the mix between historical fiction and fantasy to be perfectly captivating.

I read this in two days with no interruptions, thanks to a seaside vacation. It was beautifully written. Definitely a reading experience that I highly recommend, if you're interested in more serious historical fiction or stories from WWII.

This is a new-to-me series that I fell in love with this year. The vibrant cover is what first caught my eye at the library, but the story inside was just as mesmerizing. I'm looking forward to reading the second in the series in 2017.

How interesting is it that I have been a reader for twenty years and had not yet read Anne of Green Gables until this year? Looking back on it, I'm sad for all of those years I spent without the influence of Anne Shirley. I love this book so much that I read it twice just this year (once in paperback, once through audible -- I highly recommend the Rachel McAdams narration) and loved it equally both times. Tears were shed, giggles escaped, and I can't help but dream of my own little Green Gables.

Though I read this in childhood, I rediscovered it this year in an effort to read more children's classics. This is another one that I both read and listened to through audible. I love the level of writing in it -- sophisticated, and with the best closing line in all of literature (well, maybe except for Ulysses) -- and my students loved Templeton's character ("He's so rude!"). We celebrated finishing the book by watching the 1973 animated film and I loved how closely the film stuck to the dialogue of the book. 

I don't read a lot of young adult literature (something I'm attempting to branch out in next year), but this was a really fascinating read that mixed mystery and sci-fi with a classic villain character. Highly recommended for those who enjoy Marvel-esque stories. I'm looking forward to reading more of Schwab's work in 2017.

I'm doing something unprecedented here -- I'm adding a book to my top ten for the second year in a row. The Tale of Despereaux easily holds a spot in my top three books of all time, and I swear it doesn't feel like a children's book when I'm reading it. The theme of dark and light, or chiaroscuro, has stayed with me and has had a profound impact on the way that I both interpret characters by other authors and try to write my own. If you haven't read this yet, put it at the top of your list for 2017. 


What made it to the top of your list in 2016?

You can find my top ten lists from past years here:

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Madeleine. I enjoyed your "visit" with Anne on WSIRN. You have a beautiful instagram account and I've enjoyed reading your book thoughts on your blog.

    I read The Year of Living Danishly recently and really enjoyed it! I have Louise Penny on my TBR list and plan to read her soon. The Seven Sisters is now on my TBR list, too - thanks for the tip! Unfortunately, Outlander was a book I could not finish.

    My top 3 favorites of 2016 were The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, and Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. My blog post ( has more about what I read last year.

    I look forward to following your reads!