Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event sponsored by the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there’s a different theme for a Top 10 list (or more or less if you can’t think of enough or have too many). I haven’t been as consistent lately, but I’m trying to get back on track for the New Year! This week’s theme is the Top 10 Best Books of 2016 (which is going to be tricky!) For my list, I’m choosing from all the books I read this year, instead of books published this year. I started with 19 and whittled it down to 15. Some of my highest rated books on Goodreads didn’t make this list…and I think that’s because I’ve mainly included the books I remember most fondly, and most of my ratings are done in the moment after I finish a book…and memory is a tricky thing. I read many other wonderful books this year, but I wanted to keep the list short. Anywho, here goes!
1. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes (audio)
A wonderful way to commemorate my love for one of my favorite movies, this audiobook was amazingly fun. It not only was read by Elwes (Wesley, swoon!), but included clips and snippets read by Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, and others involved in the movie. It made me want to watch the movie every day. Highly recommend for ANY fans of The Princess Bride. It was highlighted in my Top 10 Tuesday: Audiobooks post, too.
2. All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
I really didn’t want to read this series. Honest. I really thought I wouldn’t like it, but my aunt kept insisting I read it, to the point where she bought me the second book in the series. I couldn’t start there, so I bought myself the first one, and I inhaled the whole trilogy very quickly. (I pretty much read at least 2 of them in 1 day..and they’re not short!). I fell in love with the world Harkness had created, including Diana Bishop, Matthew Clairmont and their romance. These books gave me all the feels. I’m looking forward to the next novel featuring the characters of All Souls: The Serpent’s Mirror (due in July of next year). You can catch my original review of the trilogy here.
3. Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab
This was hands down my FAVORITE fantasy series I read this year. I LOVED Kell, and Delilah, and Rhys, and the magical worlds they inherit. These books are dark and funny and romantic and there’s even pirates. Not to mention that the second book left off in a less than ideal place. February can’t come soon enough! I never officially reviewed the books on here, but they have been featured in multiple of my Top 10 Tuesday lists (here, here, and here) and I featured the last book in Waiting on Wednesday here.
4. March, Books 1 & 2 by John Lewis
The first of 2 comic/graphic novel series featured on this list, March is John Lewis’s graphic memoir about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. The first volume starts in Nashville, TN, where I currently live, so it was interesting to know more about the Civil Rights struggle there. It’s drawn in black and white, which just adds to the telling of the story. I haven’t gotten my hands on volume 3 yet, but I’m looking forward to it!
5. Saga, Volumes 1-5 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
The second graphic novel series on my list, Saga is the story of a family fleeing a war. It follows two lovers of different alien races who have recently had a child. The problem is their races are at war and no one wants the child to exist, so they are forced to run all across the galaxy. The story also follows the various people who are hired to find (and kill) them. I loved the first 5 collections. Volume 6 is out already, so I’m going to pick it up quick in the New Year! I reviewed the first 5 volumes here.
6. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
What I loved most about Illuminae was the characters and the unique format that the story was delivered in. I loved reading transcripts of videos, emails, and rants from a rogue AI. It was such a good book, and despite its size, was a quick read that was hard to put down. I also enjoyed its sequel Gemina, though somewhat less than the first book. I think I missed Kady & Ezra too much. You can find my review of Illuminae here and my review of Gemina here.
7. The Reader by Traci Chee
This book was marvelous. Set in a world where reading and books are forbidden magic, it follows Sefia, an orphan who loses the only family she has left when her guardian Nan is kidnapped by mysterious people. Sefia knows it must be related to the large rectangular object she secreted away from her childhood home on the day her father was murdered. As she tries to find Nan and figure out why this book is so important, she falls in with an assortment of folks (including perhaps pirates). As she discovers more about the magic of words, we also learn about another group of people pursuing the book, and trying to piece everything together is a huge part of the fun. I think the sequel is coming next year..I can only hope!
8. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I really loved Americanah by Adichie when I read it last year. This year, I made a point of reading this novel, written prior to Americanah. The writing here is magical as the story follows Kambili and her family. Her father is an important man in their community, but is also abusive behind closed doors. When Kambili and her brother get permission to visit her aunt in a different village during a military coup, they find a life much different than the one they have known. This book made me smile at times, but also brought me to tears. I absolutely loved it.
9. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels ever. This rendition of a similar story was interestingly done. It follows Jane Steele, an orphan who adores the story of Jane Eyre, but is less content to suffer than her favored heroine. She likewise suffers from an evil relation and an abusive schoolmaster. Unlike the other Jane, though, people tend to die when Jane Steele flees for her life. I knew going in that Jane killed people, but this book was not what I expected at all. Instead, this Jane agonizes about whether she is wicked, when I, as the reader, knew all along that she really wasn’t. As Jane ages, the rest of the story also bears striking similarities to her favored novel, including a gothically romantic love story with the mysterious Mr. Thornfield. If you love Jane Eyre, you really need to check this one out. I reviewed it here.
10. The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
This book stuck with me this year more than I thought it would. The story of a young black boy who comes to a town after the lawyer there has asked the devil to come. The arrival of the boy, and his acceptance by the lawyer’s family, especially his young sun, along with an intense heat wave, drive the action of this difficult, heartbreaking read. Not for the faint of heart, but an important book for everyone to read nonetheless. I reviewed it here.
11. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Another huge favorite of mine this year, Homegoing is a historical saga that follows the descendants of two African half-sisters, one married to a white man who sells slaves, and one sold into slavery. Each chapter tells the story of a new generation and a different side of the family. It’s devastating and powerful. I reviewed it here. I also got to meet the author this year at the Southern Festival of Books. Great experience!
12. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
I’ve discussed this book many times on the blog this year. I read it as part of the Read Harder 2016 challenge and I’m so glad I did. A Regency fantasy, it tells the story of Zacharias, a freed slave and the contested Sorcerer Royal of the most respected magical organization in an alternate Victorian Britain. As he struggles with racism and performing his duties, he manages to also acquire help in the form of a very intrepid young witch. Their story is delightful and whimsical and adventurous. The sequel may be coming in 2017. I reviewed it here. I also featured it in Book Traveling Thursday here.
13. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
A dark fantasy that I got the chance to read from Netgalley. It doesn’t release until February, so my review will be posted closer to then. It follows Tea, whose magical abilities make her a necromancer, destined to be both celebrated and feared by her society. When her abilities are discovered, she is whisked away from her family and set into a household where she will be trained as a bone witch and an asha (a sorceress who can wield elemental magic). This volume mainly details her training and some adventure, though the real treat for me came in the framing of the story as a flashback. I really really want to know how she gets from her training to where she is in the present. I’m sure I’ll be waiting awhile for a sequel though.
14. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Another dark fantasy, Three Dark Crowns was not what I expected, yet I loved it so much. Set on a magical island that is always ruled by a queen, the story is about three queens, who are raised separately and who each have a different elemental gift. According to island traditions, once the girls come of age, they are destined to try and kill each other. The last queen left standing is the one who will rule until she has triplets of her own. This novel is fantastical and suspenseful at times, but also very political and takes great care in building the world and society the girls have been raised in with a lot of detail. The end is a real humdinger, though, and sets up the next volume beautifully. If you like meticulous world building, character development, and political machinations with a little bit of magic, this book is for you. I reviewed it here.
15. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (audio)
Last, but definitely not least, comes my most recent audio memoir. Leah Remini is an actress I’ve known of since she was on Saved by the Bell and then King of Queens. I never had a particular affinity for her, but I was deeply interested in what she had to say about Scientology so I thought I’d give this a whirl. Her criticisms of Scientology come from a place of having been raised in the church since she was a child, lending her some additional credibility beyond “celebrity member”. It was interesting, and she is a strong woman who is hard to ignore. I reviewed it here.
Did any of these books make your Top 10? Or getting added to your TBR? Let me know in the comments below (and feel free to link to your Top 10, too!)