Books: best of 2016

by anneMoore on December 20, 2016

A very satisfying year in books. Below, my favorite reads.

The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan

Characters linked by the devastation of a bomb set in a crowded marketplace. They grow up and old in surprising, unsettling ways.



Christodora, by Tim Murphy

A sprawling read set in lower Manhattan, 1970’s to the near future. AIDS, class, subzero winters, art and artists, drug addiction. Dark and moving.



Eccentric Orbits, by John Bloom

Jaw-dropping story of Motorola’s development, and abandonment, of the Iridium satellite system and the retired airline executive who saved it. My favorite non fiction of the year.


Heroes of the Frontier, Dave Eggers

I’m an Eggers fan; this one’s another misanthropic pleaser. The story of a woman escaping her life for Alaska with her small children in tow.




High Dive, by Jonathan Lee

Fact-based fiction: three people forever changed by the 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England.




Mr. Monkey, by Francine Prose

From a musical that never goes out of style — Mister Monkey — we enter the lives of actors, the director, the author, a man and his grandson in the audience. A delightful web.


The Nix, by Nathan Hill

Mostly set in and around contemporary Chicago, this is a coming of age story, a love story, a satire, a terrifying on-the-ground retelling of the 1968 Chicago riots.



They May not Mean to, But they Do, by Cathleen Schine

Funny, sweet, real, heartbreaking. The family Bergman: the decline and death of Aaron, wife Joy’s grief and aging.




When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

A seamless memoir of a young neurosurgeon’s last year of life.




The Year of the Runaways, by Sunjeev Sahota

Via four characters, we experience an India each must leave and the England where they learn to survive. Beautifully told, harrowing.




Let us honor the life and work of Shirley Hazzard (1931 – 2016) a worldly author, both nonfiction and fiction. Her novel The Transit of Venus (1980) is one of my favorite reads, about orphaned Australian sisters who make new lives for themselves in post-war England, entangled with three men. Thematically Hazzard is in company with Henry James but I find her writing more beautiful and accessible.


Finally, the folks at Artsy asked me to post a link to their site. I agreed because I’m a fan of their mission, to make all the world’s art accessible via the Internet. For example, their Mark Rothko offering.


Happy New Year, thanks for reading.

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