2016 books and more

by Grace aka costofcollege

Get ideas and give us your take on your 2016 reading.

Who Read What in 2016
Steph Curry, Dava Sobel, Mike Lee, Yaa Gyasi, Abby Wambach, Jeff Bewkes and 44 more of our friends name their favorite books of 2016.

Here’s another from Vox.

The best books we read in 2016

What did you read this year?  What were your favorites and your not-so-favorites?

Here are some listening ideas.

The 50 Best Podcasts of 2016
From politics shows to horror series, highlights from a year of listening

Do you read free books and magazines from Amazon?  (I missed this announcement when it came out in October.)

Introducing Prime Reading – The Newest Benefit for Prime Members
Prime members are now able to read as much as they like from a selection of over a thousand top Kindle books, magazines, short works, comic books, children’s books and more – all at no additional cost.

What about 2016 TV shows, movies, music, and other media?  Give us your reviews.  What are you looking forward to in 2017?


24 thoughts on “2016 books and more

  1. Ooooh, I am first.
    This year I tried to read more fiction, and found myself sorely disappointed. Almost all of the fiction I read was not worth the time I invested. I did really love Good Omens, which is an older book, a satirical look at the apocalypse. Here is a list of some of what I read with some reviews

    1. The President’s Book of Secrets https://www.amazon.com/Presidents-Book-Secrets-Intelligence-Briefings/dp/1610395956/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482770290&sr=8-1&keywords=presidents+book+of+secrets
    This book was fantastic. It sounds like such a dry topic, but there were so many insights on the characters and habits of all of these presidents. It focuses on the book, which is the real product – the idea of an oral briefing came late in the process and was mainly favored by the Bushes. Some of the tidbits – they had to make the sentences short for LBJ because he wasn’t a good reader. They added video to the book for Reagan because he preferred to watch rather than read. George HW Bush was totally into the book and the daily brief since he was an ex CIA director. Nixon wanted no part of it because he hated the CIA. Obama preferred to read it on a special secure tablet. The most fun part is that a lot of this has been cropping up in the news lateley

    2. Cold Fire: Kennedy’s Northern Front https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Fire-Kennedys-Northern-Front/dp/0345808932/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1482770520&sr=8-9&keywords=Cold+Fire
    Another great one because of all of its gossipy tidbits about the Canadian leaders and Kennedy

    3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Horrible, horrible, icky, horrible. It either was tediously reciting the lunches of the protaganist (boy they eat a lot of lamb there), or expressing shock at a counterculture girl who seems pretty dull and average to me (spike hair and tattoos, quel horreur) or slashing up victims in some kind of Swedish torture porn. Ick.

    4. Before the Fall. https://www.amazon.com/Before-Fall-Noah-Hawley/dp/1455561789/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482770756&sr=8-1&keywords=Before+the+fall
    This was part of my attempt to read “real fiction”. Here is a review I wrote of it shortly after finishing it
    Boring reworking of a Germanwings-style suicide crash. This book shows why nonfiction is usually more interesting than fiction. In the Germanwings crash, there is no moral to be found – it just was. The ambiguity made it all the more horrifying. But this novel, like most, has to have a moral, which appears to be “Never Assume You Know WHo the Culprit Is”, or perhaps “Entitled Young Men WIth Anger Issues Should Not Be Pilots”. The book can’t decide whether it wants to be a suspense novel or a meditation on the fleetingness of life, so it ends up curiously passionless about both aims – and as a result, I found myself really not caring who had done the bad deed. The best aspect of the book was its portrait of the artist, who reminded me so much of those 70’s era painters, bearded and in big workboots, who descended on Soho, hoping for their one man show at the Whitney. In this novel, it is clearly many years past that era, and our disillusioned artist has ended up on Martha’s Vinyard living in obscurity.

    Remember Me Like THis https://www.amazon.com/Remember-Me-Like-This-Novel/dp/0812971884/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482770926&sr=8-1&keywords=remember+me+like+this
    I actually made it to the end, but I am not sure why. Lots of wallowing in feelings without answering or even tackling the gorilla in the room: why did the kid not leave the kidnapper? He saw the missing kid signs, he was able to go to stores by himself while in captivity, he had a freakin’ girlfriend – so why didn’t he tell someone? There are lots of good reasons but the book just IGNORED the issue.

    Do Not Say We Have Nothing https://www.amazon.com/Do-Not-Say-Have-Nothing/dp/039360988X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482771129&sr=1-1&keywords=do+not+say+we+have+nothing
    ANother attempt at Serious Fiction, but I gave up. The topic seemed interesting but the writing was just, I don’t know, silly. It got in the way.

    Under a Painted Sky https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0399168036/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0399168036&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2
    I gave up on this one too. Lots of cowboy dialog, but it wasn’t clicking

    The Water Knife https://www.amazon.com/Water-Knife-Paolo-Bacigalupi/dp/080417153X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482771307&sr=1-1&keywords=water+knife
    I am reading this right now. Pretty horrific and dystopian, but the premise is interesting and I think I will make it to the end

  2. Most of my books are fiction; nothing too heavy. I enjoyed A Man called Ove, Big Little Lies, and others I can’t think of right now! I have on my shelf (but haven’t yet read) The Underground Railroad and A Gentleman in Moscow.

    I also have been reading Louise Penny’s mysteries (Inspector Gamache is the Surete detective in southern Quebec) one after another, and I only have one left!

  3. What did I read this year? (This is when goodreads starts to look like a good idea…) I read all the books I could find by Judith Merkle Riley. Historical fiction, which I like, and the main character is a capable, powerful (for the time) woman. Also blasted through all 6 of the “Clifton Chronicles” by Jeffrey Archer – great candy. And “Eligible”, which was OK but not as good as I had been led to believe. I read “A Spool of Blue Thread” (Anne Tyler), which I didn’t like at all but still made it all the way through. Can’t remember the rest!

    For nonfiction I read “Hillbilly Elegy” and also got my parents into it. I still want to read “When Breath Becomes Air” (the author was a law school classmate’s brother-in-law).

  4. Ha! Great reviews, Mooshi. We should be Goodreads friends.

    While traveling, I’m reading Carrie Fisher’s latest, which has extra poignancy since her heart attack. Uh, I finally finished Six Frigates, which is really good. I’ll remember some more shortly.

  5. @ssk – I have been reading & enjoying the Louise Penny novels too. I am not going through them super quickly though as I always have to wait awhile for the next one from the library. Seems like there are always quite a few people in line for the hold.

  6. Mooshi, I am going to reserve the President’s Book of Secrets. I am really interested in that kind of stuff.

    I really liked Untethered, and I read some other good books this summer thanks to recommendations that I found by following the author on Twitter. These included Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, and The Year We Turned 40. I tend to stay away from fiction that requires a lot of concentration when I am traveling, and a good book that I enjoyed this year was the Two Family House by Loigma.

    I bought the Springsteen book for my husband, but I read the book and I liked reading about his life.

    The book that really touched me was When Breath Becomes Air, but it was a tough read and I know some people that don’t want to read this book.

  7. Ivy – Except for the first one, Still Life, I have been buying them to read on my phone, so I always have “something good” ready to read anywhere and anytime. I hadn’t realized that her books had won so many awards, or were so highly rated on Amazon.

  8. The President’s Book of Secrets does sound good. I noticed that one of the versions offered is an eTextbook, which features “Highlight, take notes, and search in the book”. I don’t see how that’s difference from a regular e book.

    I’m enjoying the WaPo Presidential podcasts, recommended here a few months ago. I’m slowly going through them in order, starting with Washington. They started to broadcast early this year and it’s interesting to hear the commentary as the experts relate past presidents to this year’s race. It seems to me that their commentary betrays a slight tone of derision when they refer to Trump and his antics, surely never in a million years expecting him to win and become our next president.

  9. I am another Louise Penny fan! Unfortunately I’ve now read all of her books. I could use another mystery series. I read a pretty wide variety of books.

    Four non-fiction books I liked this year are:
    -Dispatches from the Pluto by Richard Grant – by a writer who is from England and ends up living in the Missisippi Delta. Fascinating portrayal of this part of the country. No easy answers about racism or the complex and intertwined relationships between blacks and whites.
    -Lab Girl by Hope Jahren – part memoir, part musings on science
    -Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant
    -Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford

    Four fiction books I liked this year are:
    -One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood
    -A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
    -The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
    -Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

    If you want a good suspense mystery, “Fool Me Once” by Harlan Coben is a definite page-turner).

  10. Movies – it can be a challenge finding movies that DH, DD (almost 17) and DS (11) all like. Two that we all liked were “Arrival” (it made for a good discussion at dinner afterwards) and “Queen of Katwe” (probably on DVD now – true story about a girl from Uganda who becomes a chess champion).

    DH, DS and I all liked “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” – set in New Zealand and stars Sam Neill. DD found it a little slow.

    Over break, I want to see “Moana” (I think I’ve talked both kids into seeing it with me – DD was iffy but then one of her best friends said she really liked it) and “La La Land” (I love musicals).

  11. This year I was sort of news-obsessed so did not read as many books as I used to. I did get through What the Dog Saw, which is one if Gladwell’s earlier books, and have just picked up Hillbilly Elegy and Michael Lewis’ new book.

    On the fiction side, I really liked Big Little Lies, so picked up The Husband’s Secret also by Liane Moriarty. I enjoyed that as well. I tried to read Eligible, because it was on all sorts of recommended book lists, but I never got caught up in it and ended up abandoning it. I buy most of my books at the clearance table at B&N, so read a lot of not-new books by Vince Flynn, Baldacci, and others of that Secret Service/CIA- hero genre. For mysteries I read a couple by Lisa Scottoline. I particularly enjoyed these because they are all set in Philadelphia, and she is the only person I have ever heard refer to someone as “a smacked ass” other than my dad, so it endeared her to me.

    I am off for another week and have 6 books piled up, so am hoping to get through a couple more before I go back. And I am excited to hear that I can get free online books through Prime. I hate trying to find space for them after I’ve read them.

  12. We went to see Arrival and found it a bit tedious. Sorry! There were parts that could have been good, but when it morphed into the time paradoxes, I just went to sleep. And couldn’t they have found some better lighting? It was so dark that I couldn’t see the characters half the time.
    We all really liked Queen of Katwe, though.

    Just got back from Rogue One. Meh. It felt more like a video game than a movie.My kids explained it is filler – they needed something to tie the prequel to the first movie George Lucas made. It was weird how at the end, characters from that movie started appearing. But the biggest problem with Rogue One was that the actors were boring. The main female lead looked too cute and perky to be believable, and was just kind of bland. The main male lead was bland too. Only the blind Jedi wannabe, and the imperial pilot defector, showed any spark

  13. My kids explained it is filler – they needed something to tie the prequel to the first movie George Lucas made.

    Now that Disney owns the franchise, they are going to milk it for all it’s worth. So the plan is to do a movie every year. For now, they are alternating the sequels with stand-alone stories. Next year will be episode 8 in the main story. I think the next stand-alone will be Han Solo’s origin story.

  14. Agree with tedious parts about HWDT. Then gratuitous violence and sex get tedious quickly. I really skipped over those parts. Even more tedious than that were the Outlander books. I just got bored eventually and gave up though I bought the whole set. I think many authors can learn a thing or two from pulp fiction books. There is lot wrong going on under the effort to build characters and create atmosphere. I read a few good books early on in the year. Have to go back through my list to see which ones I liked.

  15. Lauren – I really enoyed Two House Family – I think you’d recommended it earlier this year which was what inspired me to pick it up.

    And I’m another fan of Untethered :-)

  16. Recapping the books I read this year is making me realize that should make more effort to read. I spend too much time watching House Hunters International and Island Life right before bed.

    Of course I read Untethered. Also read Lilac Girls, which was very interesting and did not make me cry, although it is about a concentration camp. I started reading The Summer Before the War, but didn’t finish it. I’m currently reading The Girl in the Spider’s Web (a continuation of the Lizbeth Salander) and do like it.

    For nonfiction I read and enjoyed both The War for Late Night and Astoria. How Astoria, OR was settled is quite a story.

  17. SSM, I am glad that you enjoyed it. I read several books this year that I didn’t like such as Eligible and The Girls. I used to try to finish books even if I didn’t like the book, but now I just return it to the library. I still buy books, but I am usually in no rush to buy something if I can just wait for it to appear in my reserve queue in the library. I like reading hard copies of books unless I am going away. I love loading up my kindle with stuff to read before a trip.

  18. I always used to prefer reading real books until age caught up with my eyes. I cannot stand wearing reading glasses – they always get little flecks and scratches on them no matter how hard I try to keep them nice – so the answer for me has been my Kindle Paperwhite. I do not like to read on a Fire or any other tablet, and I especially cannot read on a phone (so cramped). I am petrified that the Paperwhite will disappear, just as the big iPod that held all my music disappeared. It seems that whenever a device appears that is perfectly designed for its task, the manufacturer has to get rid of it.

  19. Tying back to the getting old thread, that was the trigger for me to get my Kindle too. I like to read the paper while using a cardio machine, and reading glasses aren’t compatible with sweaty activities like that.

    As an added bonus, I downgraded my subscription to a digital one that costs less than a hard copy subscription. That savings has more than covered the cost of the Kindle.

  20. 2016 books-

    Also read Untethered :)


    The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner about the son of a Pentecostal minister (his dad is in prison)

    Still Life with Tornado by AS King

    If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – story of a Trans Girl in a rural southern high school (author is a trans woman and the cover is a trans model)

    Finishing up Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer about several generations of an American Jewish family (very good!)

  21. Favorite picture books:

    Be A Friend by Salina Yoon
    Horrible Bear by Ame Dyckman
    Worm Loves Worm by JJ Austrian

  22. Middle Grade:

    Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (note this was originally written for adults, about an 11 year old girl, historical fiction WWII in PA, some intense bullying) it is being compared to To Kill A Mockingbird

    Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

    Pax by Sara Pennypacker with gorgeous illustrations by Jon Klassen about a boy and his fox during war

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