“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.”
December 7, 2016 9:13 PM   Subscribe

100 Notable Books of 2016 [The New York Times] The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. This list represents books reviewed since Dec. 6, 2015, when we published our previous Notables list.

- The 10 Best Books of 2016 [The New York Times]
The year’s best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
- The Best Book Covers of 2016 [The New York Times]
However ornamental book jackets may be, they are also entry points to both the good and bad ideas that illuminate our possible futures. Conventional wisdom holds that an uninteresting book cover should never stop a worthy idea within from taking hold. And yet, so many conventions and so much wisdom were proved wrong this year that during my more histrionic moments, I wonder how many instances exist throughout the course of history in which book covers have worked against the potential human value of the books they’re wrapped around. Here then are 12 reasons to be less fatalistic and more optimistic. These covers are challenging without being impenetrable and playful without being precious — none of which is an easy task for a designer.
- Temples for the Literary Pilgrim [The New York Times]
From Mexico City to Hangzhou, bookstores that are destinations in and of themselves.
- 7 Writers on Their Favorite Bookstores [The New York Times]
Geraldine Brooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Pamela Paul and others in the literary world reveal their favorite bookstores.
- Ann Patchett’s Guide for Bookstore Pilgrims [The New York Times]
If bookstores are a must on your travel itinerary, Ann Patchett has a road map for you.
- A Bookworm’s Travel Plan [The New York Times]
For the writer, a good bookstore in a faraway place is as basic a need as a decent hotel, a hot shower and enough underwear.
- NPR’s Book Concierge [NPR.org]
Our Guide To 2016’s Great Reads: Use the filters below to explore more than 300 titles NPR staff and critics loved this year. (You can also combine filters!) Want even more recommendations? Check out our favorite books from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008
- Best Books of 2016 [Good Reads]
Announcing the winners of the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards, the only major book awards decided by readers. Congratulations to the best books of the year!
- Best Books of 2016 [Amazon.com's Editors Picks]
All year, Amazon.com's editorial team reads with an eye for the Best Books of the Month, plus the best books in popular categories like Cooking, Food & Wine, Literature & Fiction, Children's books, Mystery & Thrillers, Comics & Graphic Novels, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, the best books for teens, and more. We scour reviews and book news for tips on what the earliest readers have loved, share our own copies and tear through as many books as possible.
- The 10 Best Books of 2016 [Vulture]
There were many literary surprises in 2016 — we were forced to learn of Elena Ferrante’s true identity before we wanted to; in an Oprah-coordinated marketing assault we were treated to Colson Whitehead’s new novel a month before we expected it; and in accord with the year’s backwards logic, the runaway best-seller about ethnic identity was by a white guy from Ohio: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. We won’t forget these shocks, but what really mattered in 2016 transpired quietly. A changing of the guard is under way, and most of the year’s best books were debuts or sophomore efforts. I was disappointed by many of the year’s marquee releases (Whitehead’s was a glorious exception), but for every high-profile bomb there were several outstanding books from singular authors emerging on the fringes. These aren’t writers you can group into a movement, they aren’t bound by a narrow, parochial set of themes, but in their variousness they’ve shown that whatever else is wrong with the country, the American novel, story, and essay remain fertile forms.
- Holiday Books 2016 Gift Guide [CBC.ca]
Want to be the best secret Santa on the block this year? Give great books! We've combed through our favourite recent titles and created customized shopping guides for everyone on your list.
- The Globe 100 Best Books of the Year 2016 [The Globe and Mail]
These are the best books of 2016
- The 10 Best Books of 2016 [The Washington Post]
In our annual survey of the best books, you’ll find 10 that we think are exceptionally rewarding and 100 notable titles that you shouldn’t miss. Also, look for our special recommendations for lovers of mysteries, graphic novels, audiobooks, romance, poetry, memoirs, and science fiction and fantasy.
- My Favorite Books of 2016 by Bill Gates [Gates Notes]
Never before have I felt so empowered to learn as I do today. When I was young, there were few options to learn on my own. My parents had a set of World Book Encyclopedias, which I read through in alphabetical order. But there were no online courses, video lectures, or podcasts to introduce me to new ideas and thinkers as we have today. Still, reading books is my favorite way to learn about a new topic. I’ve been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading. If you’re looking for a book to enjoy over the holidays, here are some of my favorites from this year. They cover an eclectic mix of topics—from tennis to tennis shoes, genomics to great leadership. They’re all very well written, and they all dropped me down a rabbit hole of unexpected insights and pleasures.
- Best books of 2016 [The Guardian] [Part 1] [Part 2]
From Zadie Smith’s Swing Time to horror in the Highlands and a brief history of tomorrow, Paula Hawkins reflects on guilt, Jackie Kay seeks hope post-Brexit, and David Nicholls is lured into the lonely city...writers choose their best reads of 2016.
- Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2016 [Tor.com]
Other than action figures, mugs of tea (Earl Grey, hot), and glorious unicorn lamps, the sight most prevalent in our offices rocket ship here at Tor.com are heaps and heaps of books! Between our rereads of everything from Dune to the The Wheel of Time, and our regular bookish columns—Five Books About…, That Was Awesome!, Sleeps with Monsters, our comics Pull List, and Genre in the Mainstream, to name a few—we’re reading books and reviewing books around the clock! So with 2016 coming to a close, we invited some of our regular contributors to choose their three favorite books from the last year, and we’re sharing their responses and recommendations below. Please enjoy this eclectic overview of some of our favorite books from the past year, and be sure to let us know about your own favorites in the comments!
- The Best Books About Science of 2016 [Smithsonian Magazine]
The best writing makes you see the world anew, and science writing is no different. Whether it’s shedding light on worlds beyond us (Hidden Figures) or delving into microbial worlds within (I Contain Multitudes), these standout science books of the year illuminate the phenomena, people and microscopic organisms that shape our existence each day. Here are 10 books that will jettison you to the forefront of human knowledge and make you see your world differently—whether it’s a blade of grass, a forest, or the night sky.
- These Are the Books We're Giving Our Friends This Year [Mother Jones]
Every year, Mother Jones receives hundreds of worthy books, but there are always a handful that truly stand out, the ones we end up foisting on friends and family. Well, friends and family, here you go, in no particular order. Also, be sure and check out the Best Cookbooks post by food and ag writer Tom Philpott, and stay tuned for photo book picks from photo editor Mark Murrmann and the year's best music from critic Jon Young (on Sunday).
- Our Favourite Books of 2016 [Newsweek]
As 2016 comes to a close, Newsweek staff members from New York; Washington, D.C.; London and the Bay Area are sharing some of our favorite books published this year. We loved titles that reimagined stories about the Manson family murders, dragged us on an obstacle-ridden path of escape from a slave plantation and whisked us to a house in the mountains where a controversial cartoonist lives. And we loved nonfiction volumes that revealed new things about familiar topics like the American AIDS crisis, Abraham Lincoln, the Attica prison uprising and the shooting at Columbine High School.
- The Top 50 Books of the Year [The Telegraph]
2016 has been a fantastic year for literature, from tales of post-punk rebellion and fish-out-of-water detectives to politically incorrect satire and secrets from the Hollywood studio system. Here our top critics count down the year's best, from 50 to 1.
- Holiday Books Gift Guide [Los Angeles Times]
Welcome, readers! This year our Holiday Books Gift Guide has more titles than ever before — more than 170 in all, with books for everyone on your list.
- Books of the Year: Authors on Their Favourite Books of 2016 [New Statesman]
From Eimear McBride to Stuart Maconie, The Argonauts to Transit, writers share their picks of the year.
- The Best Fiction Books of 2016 [Chicago Review of Books]
2016 will be remembered for many reasons, one of which—I hope—will be its sheer volume of era-defining fiction. This year, novelists and short story writers confronted climate change, LGBTQ rights, US immigration, the legacy of slavery, and the populist backlash to globalization, among other pressing concerns. These authors aren’t interested in escapism—in the war against complacency, they are the tip of the spear. Here are our favorite fiction books of 2016, including 10 published by independent presses.
- A Year in Reading: 2016 [The Millions]
Stephen Dodson, co-author of Uglier Than a Monkey’s Armpit, proprietor of Languagehat. • Chigozie Obioma, contributing editor at The Millions and author of The Fishermen. • Sofia Samatar, author of A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories. • Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond. • Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens. • Caille Millner, author of The Golden Road: Notes on My Gentrification. • Edan Lepucki, contributing editor at The Millions and author of California. • Matt Seidel, staff writer at The Millions. • Sonya Chung, contributing editor at The Millions and author of The Loved Ones. • Nick Moran, special projects editor at The Millions. • Jacob Lambert, staff writer at The Millions. • Michael Bourne, staff writer at The Millions. • Tess Malone, associate editor at The Millions. • Tana French, author of The Trespasser. • Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, author of The Crown Ain’t Worth Much. • Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Border of Paradise. • Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun. • Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls. • Annie Proulx, author of Barkskins. • Teddy Wayne, author of Loner. • Brandon Shimoda, author of Evening Oracle. • Basma Abdel Aziz, author of The Queue. • Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers.
posted by Fizz (14 comments total) 90 users marked this as a favorite
It's interesting how many of those 12 best book covers are willfully retro, pretending to be books from 1955 or 1965. But the cut-paper type on "Cannibals in Love" looks to me both brand new and amazing.
posted by ejs at 10:06 PM on December 7, 2016

By my count, this year's New York Times Notable Books list includes 77 books from the Big Five, 4 from Norton, 3 from Bloomsbury, 3 university press titles, and 13 from independent publishers.

Languagehat, I'm guessing the author of that Herzen biography is the same Aileen Kelly who wrote a (hostile) intellectual biography of Bakunin in the 1980s.

So many books, so little time.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 11:22 PM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh jeez. I have a love/hate attachment to these lists; love because I love reading, and hate because, even if I quit my job for the next month (which ain't happening) I still wouldn't have time for a tenth of these. It's nice to peruse and dream, though.
posted by zardoz at 1:31 AM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ugh, this just reminds me of all the books I added to my To Read list this year and haven't gotten around to yet (Underground Railroad, I'm looking at you). I finally started The Girls, though, so at least that's something. The NPR list has been my go-to for the last few years, and it hasn't, generally, steered me wrong.

Looking through my list of books I read this year that were actually published this year, the only ones worth reading were Underground Airlines, A Hundred Thousand Worlds, and, probably, We Love You, Charlie Freeman.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:29 AM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I feel like my "to read" list just falls further and further behind, with less and less hope of ever catching up.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:52 AM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have yet to pick out of the NYT's list and be disappointed. Now if I could only learn to fish one-handed I could get through all of those in retirement.....
posted by Malingering Hector at 7:10 AM on December 8, 2016

Aw man. So yesterday I got my copy of Michael Chabon's new book, Moonglow, in the mail, AND it was the last day of class for the last quarter of my associates degree. I was so excited! I have like a week before I need to make some hard decisions about where I'm applying to turn this into a bachelors degree and when I want to start school again, I thought I'd actually make a dent in the staggering to-be-read pile (seriously there are 15 books on my nightstand and that's barely a dent in the overall total).

Then you had to go and make this FPP, Fizz. You rat bastard. You beautiful rat bastard.
posted by palomar at 8:01 AM on December 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:11 AM on December 8, 2016

Palomar, I'm in the same boat - maybe audiobooks are the answer?
posted by benadryl at 9:23 AM on December 8, 2016

I wish, but unfortunately not. Audiobooks, like podcasts, are only workable for me if I'm able to actually pay attention to the words being spoken. I can't listen to something like that and also do other intellectual work, like my job or my studies. I tried listening to podcasts a couple of weeks ago while working, and I ended up having to stop because several minutes would pass and I'd realize that I'd completely tuned out the audio in order to focus on the work I was doing. Then I had to go back and rewind the podcast to where I thought I had stopped actively listening and start listening again. Then I wasn't getting my work done. Lather, rinse, repeat. It was too frustrating -- I can listen to film scores, classical music, anything in a language I don't understand, and I can work to that. But I can't listen to anything that's actually meant to impart information and do other work at the same time and meaningfully concentrate on either.

And honestly, there's not a lot of pleasure in audiobooks for me. I like the physical act of reading.
posted by palomar at 9:39 AM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I read these out of curiosity, not planning on adding to the TBR pile. I am a fool. On the other hand, I now have a new book by Siddhartha Mukherjee to read. So it's a wash.
posted by Hactar at 10:19 AM on December 8, 2016

Boy, that's a lot of books about Hitler, Nazis, and/or the American Right.

posted by rokusan at 2:24 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

My Favorite Books of 2016 by Bill Gates

When I was young, there were few options to learn on my own. My parents had a set of World Book Encyclopedias, which I read through in alphabetical order.

Me too! Oddly, I did not also go on to be the richest man in the world.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:11 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

palomar, yeah I've never been able to listen to audiobooks and do brain work, but they're great if you have a long commute!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:27 AM on December 9, 2016

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