Thursday, December 29, 2016

Favorite Fiction of 2016: Thursday's Reflection

Even as I reflect on my favorites of 2016, a pile for 2017 is growing. I am currently reading for our January book group discussion, Believer, My Forty Years in Politics by David Axelrod, and I am surprised by how much I am enjoying it. Not only is it well-written and satisfyingly readable, it reminds me of other times of turmoil in this country, times I remember well. And we not only survived, but good things, good people flourished. Reading this restores some hope.

I am eager to read some new fiction, too, however. In my pile is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and The Nix by Nathan Hill. 

But before I get ahead of myself, here are my fiction favorites for 2016--another splendid year of reading. 

Top Favorites
1. Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf. While this book can almost be read in one sitting, the theme and characters will remain with you for a long time. This is Haruf's last book, for he died soon after finishing it, and what a lovely legacy it is. Don't miss his earlier books, Plainsong, Eventide, Benediction, and others.
2. Commonwealth, Ann Patchett. Yes, I know there are lots of characters, and it may be hard to keep them straight, but get over it. And yes, I know Bel Canto is one of your favorite books of all time (mine, too), and nothing else is quite as good, but take a deep breath and dive into this all too real story of merged families and the toll it takes on the children. Some laugh out loud moments, too. Wonderful, just wonderful.
3. These Granite Islands, Sarah Stonich. A couple years ago I read her book Vacationland, a book of related short stories, and loved it, as did the rest of our book group. I also really enjoyed her memoir, Shelter. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to read her first novel, These Granite Islands, but it was just what I needed on these cold winter nights. Set in northern Minnesota for the most part, it is a story of marriage and friendship, and a strong woman, and old age, and memory. Wonderful descriptions along with deep character development. I have not yet read her novel, The Ice Chorus, and I think that needs to be on my 2017 list. Please, Sarah, I hope you have something new in the works. 

The Rest of My Favorite Novels of 2017--in no particular order.
1. Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, Faith Sullivan (author of the wonderful The Cape Ann)
2. The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber (a surprise selection for me--give it a try.)
3. Abide with Me, Elizabeth Strout 
4. My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout. (I must admit I like the earlier title, Abide with Me, more than this most recent title.)
5. A Banquet of Consequence, Elizabeth George
6. The Marriage of Opposites, Alice Hoffman (I am behind in my Hoffman reading--haven't read her newest one, Faithful, yet.)
7. The Dust That Falls From Dreams, Louis de Bernieres
8. Journey to Munich, Jacqueline Winspear (latest in the Maisie Dobbs series)
9. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman ( a book most everyone loves)
10. LaRose, Louise Erdrich (almost one of my Top Favorites)
11. Two by William Boyd, Restless and Any Human Heart
12. The Orchardist, Amanda Coplin (another one almost on the Top Favorites list)
13. Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks (Avoided it because it was about the plague, but thought it was excellent. Liked it better than her newest, The Secret Chord)
14. The Excellent Lombards, Jane Hamilton
15. The Cork O'Connor mysteries by William Kent Krueger. I am late to reading these. I read the first four this year and am so pleased there are many more ahead of me.)
16. A Great Reckoning, Louise Penny (Of course!!!! Love, love the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series set in wondrous Three Pines)
17. The Mothers, Brit Bennett

Overrated or Disappointing (In my opinion)
1. The Nest, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
2. Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld 
3. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante. Now I know there is an ongoing love fest about this book, but I just don't get it, and I won't be reading the next two books in the trilogy. 

An Invitation
What are your Top Favorites of the year? I would love to know.

Note: If you missed my post about my favorite nonfiction books of 2016, go  here.

A Collection of Christmas Books


  1. A man called Ove and A Great Reckoning—the only one's on your list that I have read, both quite wonderful!

  2. Just finished reading Year of Wonders. Loved it!

    Best fiction of 2016: "Wintering" by Peter Geye.


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