Favorite Reads 2016 – The Long List

imageThis is quite a long list.   Here I was thinking I didn’t read many books that I liked this year.  Guess I was wrong.

I choose my list based on how likely I am to read the book again.  There are many books I’ve enjoyed and admired, but found I got basically all there was to get from them by reading them once.  This is true for some of my favorite authors like Georges Simenon.  Once you’ve read one Maigret novel, there’s really no reason to read it again.  He wrote 75 of them and they’re all basically the same.  That’s why we like them, those of us who like them, they always deliver the goods.

So here is my 201 long list in reverse chronological order with some commentary. The links will take you to my review.

  • The Lonely City by Olivia Lang A wonderful non-fiction meditation on living alone in the big city, Chicago and New York. Ms. Lang provides fascinating biographical information on the artists she writes about, men who lived and work largely alone, but it’s the lyrical writing that won me over.  The Lonely City contains some of the best writing I read all year.
  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles A shoo-in for my top ten list. I loved this account of an old man trying to take a seven-year-old girl, raised by Indians, home to her white family across several hundred miles of post Civil War Texas.
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey An entertaining space opera and the basis for the SyFy channel’s new series The Expanse.  Both are very good and different enough to warrant both watching and reading.
  • Please Look After Mom by Kyun-sook Shin This one is sure to make my top ten list.  I have been somewhat haunted by this story of a South Korean family looking for their vanished mother since I read it last summer.
  • The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher M.F.K. Fisher invented writing about food.  Maybe not, maybe someone did it before she did, but no one every loved food as much as she did.  The opening section on her first oyster is not to be missed. More excellent non-fiction writing.

Some of these, I know will not make the short list, in spite of how much I liked them.  I’ll stick to my re-read rule so books the more plot driven stuff is not likely to make the cut.  Still, there may be some very difficult choices if I do a top ten this year.  I’ve a feeling it will all be Korean literature and non-fiction.

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3 Comments

  1. bybeebooks says:

    I really liked Please Look After Mom except for the last chapter, which felt a bit contrived. The rest was stunning, heartbreaking. Mom=Old Korea.

  2. Rob says:

    Great list! A bunch of these are on my reading wishlist because of you. The Vegetarian is the only novel of the bunch I’ve actually read, which I thought was great, so looking forward to checking out some of these others.

  3. Bellezza says:

    My class and I adored El Deafo, and then we found a video clip of her speaking. We loved her even more, Did you know she married Tom Angleberger, of Origami Yoda fame?

    I thought I’d had a singularly unhappy reading year myself, but I see two more on your list which strike me as similar to mine (when I write it): Elena Feeeante’s and The Vegetarian. Maybe we need some time to mull over what we’ve read before comprising a list. Or, at least I do.

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