The Best Books I Read In 2016

According to Goodreads, I read 91 books in 2016 – well above my goal of 75 books. I had started the year with a goal of 50 but quickly realized that I’d surpass that number easily after I started my book blog. 2016 was my best reading year yet! I almost tripled the number of books I read in my previous highest reading years. But 2016 wasn’t a great year for me just in the number of books read, but also in the quality of the books I read.

In this list, you’ll find 12 of my favorite books of 2016. They’re not ranked in any order because asking book lovers to rank their favorite books from “loved” to “loved the most” is a cruel way to torture us. Some of them you have seen in previous blog posts, others I have rarely mentioned and are in this list to bring more attention to them. Not all of them were published in 2016, in fact, one of them hasn’t even been published yet! But I do recommend them all. 

All book titles are linked to their Goodreads page. I have reviewed several of these books; click on the appropriate link to see the full review.


Best Books I Read In 2016




The Mothers – by Brit Bennett

I adored this vibrant, slow-burning, sad and beautiful book. What a stunning debut! The characters will surprise and fascinate you in their complexity and the nuance with which they were written. I will auto-buy anything else Brit Bennett writes. Full review coming soon!




The Book Of Unknown Americans – by Cristina Henriquez

This book swept me off my feet and took my breath away. Yes, I’m going to be cliché here because I adored Maribel and her family’s story. It felt so rooted in authenticity that I could not help but connect with the characters and the immigrant experience depicted in the pages. Read my review




Not A Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu – by Yi Shun Lai

A must-read for fans of epistolary novels or for those looking to read a story that will make you laugh in one chapter and make your heart ache in the next. Marty’s voice is unforgettable and her self-deprecating humor and wisdom will make you like her despite her flaws. Read my review




And The Mountains Echoed – by Khaled Hosseini

I adore anything Khaled Hosseini writes and his latest novel was no exception. While it does not top the masterpiece that was A Thousand Splendid Suns, his characters are endearing and believable. You will fall in love with them, your heart will break, and you will probably cry. At least, I did. Read my review



The Education Of Margot Sanchez – by Lilliam Rivera

I can’t wait for this book to officially release on February 21st, 2017! It’s a fast-paced contemporary YA with a strong focus on family relationships. There’s a soft romance subplot alongside exploration of more serious subject. Spanish-speakers will also appreciate the code-switching present throughout the book! Read my review



The Book Of Negroes – by Lawrence Hill

If you follow my blog regularly, you have probably seen this book a lot. That’s because I love it so much. It may even be my favorite book of the year? It’s hard to decide, but I think yes. I dare say it edges out even Homegoing in greatness! Fans of historical fiction and slave narratives must read Lawrence Hill’s masterpiece. Read my review




Homegoing – by Yaa Gyasi

Are you at all surprised that this book made the list? You shouldn’t be at all. I will never stop recommending this book to people. I want it to become a huge success and a modern classic that will be read for generations. Help me make that happen by reading this book and recommending it to all! Read my review



The Fifth Season – by N.K. Jemisin

This book made me an instant fan of N.K. Jemisin. Wow! I’ve never read an epic fantasy quite like this. The magic system, the politics and history of the world, the characters — there’s so much to like about this book! Fantasy lovers must read it. I’ll be publishing the review for the sequel, The Obelisk Gate, later this week. For now, read my review for The Fifth Season.



MonstresssMonstress, Volume 1: Awakening – by Marjorie Liu

One of the best graphic novels I read this year! If you like dark Fantasy, Monstress is a must-read. The world is rich and full of history, the characters are fascinating, and the art is gorgeous. I cannot recommend it enough. Go buy it now! The first volume is very cheap.



Jerkbait – by Mia Siegert

I fell in love with this book because of the characters. Robbie and Tristan stole my heart. The story can get dark at times and it does explore serious subjects such as depression and suicide. Your heart may be shattered at some point, but there’s also hope and empathy to be learned from the experience. Read my review



Shelter –  by Jung Yun

Another brilliant 2016 debut! Shelter is a fast-paced thriller that reads like a family drama, mystery novel, and literary fiction all at once. The family dynamics in particular are depicted brilliantly and steal the show. Jung Yun is an author we should all be watching. Read my review



Juliet Takes A Breath – by Gabby Rivera

A gorgeous coming-of-age story that will resonate with young Queer people of color in particular, but can be enjoyed by all. Juliet is not perfect, but in her exploration of gender and Queer politics, she will learn much and grow exponentially over the course of one summer. Read my review





Have you read any of these? What were your top three books of 2016?

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92 thoughts on “The Best Books I Read In 2016

  1. Those all sound really great! Our lists only share Monstress, haha, but that’s probably because I don’t read enough contemporary haha. Great list and great post! 😀

      1. Yesss it was so good! And I don’t know about Volume 2, but I know that the next chapter was recently (late last year) released on Amazon in e-book format 🙂 Also, you made me look into it again, and it appears as if some more chapters were released, and the complete 2nd volume comes out June 6th! 😀

  2. My top 3 in 2016: A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter (memoir); To the Bright Edge of the World (fiction) by Eowyn Ivey; and tied in third place, News of the World (fiction) by Paulette Jiles and Lab Girl (memoir) by Hope Jahren. Best author new to me: Sonja Livingston (memoir and personal essays).

  3. Every time I read one of your posts my TBR gets longer. I love fantasy and graphic novels – when you say Monstress is dark fantasy, how much to the horror side does it lean? Horror is the only genre I won’t read. For example, I’ll read a book about zombies if the focus is on the reanimation magic or how the world responds to a devastating plague, but not if there’s creepy descriptions of dismemberment.

  4. Oh, my TBR! I’ve only read THE MOTHERS and JULIET off this list, but I think you’ve sold me on HOMEGOING! I’ve also already got lots of these on my TBR (I’m especially excited about FIFTH SEASON and BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS).

  5. I need to read basically all of these! The only one I read was Homegoing, thanks to your recommendation! A lot of these are already on my TBR. I’m glad you had such a great reading year, and that I could share it with you!

  6. I haven’t read any of these, but almost all of them were already on my to-read list on GR and now, thanks to your post, they all are! Going to go and read a couple of your reviews for these to see which ones I should be making a lil more urgent haha, but I’m looking forward to all of them at some point.

  7. These all sound like amazing books Naz. I haven’t read any of these myself but I have Homegoing on my to-read list, largely in part to seeing quite a few people raving about it on WordPress, and The Education of Margot Sanchez as well, due to the amazing review I saw on your blog for this book.
    I can’t wait to get around to both and I’ll definitely be checking out more of the books on your list as well! 😀

    1. I hope you give Homegoing a chance! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. 🙂 Thank you for reading, Beth. Hope you’re starting off the new year with some great books! Oh, and reminder – the anthology I told you about from We Need Diverse Book titled Flying Lessons? It’s officially out!! 😀

      1. I hope so too, I’ve definitely seen some amazing reviews for it so I have high hopes now.
        Year’s going well for me so far, I hope it is for you.
        And yep I have Flying Lessons on my to-read list. I’ll have to see if I can get a copy during my next book haul! 😀

  8. You read all the best books! Going through your list I realized there are a few books that I need to add to my cart. Also yes to Homegoing. I need more people to read that one.

  9. Monstress was on my list of Graphic Novels to take out.Hoopla Digital has it in their catalog. Glad to hear you really liked it. Hadn’t seen anyone talk about it before.

  10. Juliet Takes a Breath is on my to-read, and this makes me even more excited for it. I also love the cover artist, Cristy C. Road, so much. (She also did the cover of Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, a fave of mine.)

  11. I’ve added so many of these to my TBR because of seeing you rave about them, haha. I actually bought The Book of Negroes (although my copy is under its other title, Someone Knows My Name) and I’m planning on reading that sometime this year – hopefully pretty soon 🙂

    1. It’s interesting how the book title was changed in other countries. It was published in Canada as The Book Of Negroes, which references a very specific book that was actually a thing (it’s explained in the novel, obviously), but it was changed to Someone Knows My Name in other countries due to the controversial nature of the word “Negroes,” I suppose. Totally understandable. Anyway, I hope you like it! Most reviews are glowing, and for good reason. 🙂

  12. I’m so glad I read Homegoing. I wish it would become required reading because I just want everyone in the entire world to read it haha. It was so beautiful! I really enjoyed Monstress too. I’m currently reading Juliet Takes A Breath and am loving it!! Great list, Naz 😀

  13. 2016 had such excellent books! Yay for Juliet and Fifth Season 🙌 You must read the Inheritance trilogy when you next have a vacation, you’ll want to read all 3😁
    Hating on my library a little, you made especially The Mothers sound amazing, but they don’t have it grrr! Hope I get to read more of your 2016 faves this year!!

  14. I’m bookmarking this post so I can look these up when I have more time. I’m already on a waiting list for Homegoing and The Mothers. I’ve also seen some reviews of Shelter that made me curious about it.

  15. What a list! I remember reading your reviews for most of these books, and most of them are on my own list now because of it! Homegoing was also a favourite for me this year. The Mothers might have been, too, except I haven’t read it yet. Still sitting here on my shelf, staring at me. And, as you know, The Book of Negroes is one of my all-time faves. I’m *still* so happy that you loved it so much! 🙂 I think I’ll go share your review of it with the world right now…

  16. I’m so glad you liked Marty Wu and hope you read more books from Shade Mountain Press. They are on Twitter and very friendly to book bloggers. It’s a small press that publishes only women, and those women are diverse among themselves, too.

  17. I read four of these—Homegoing, Shelter, Monstress, and Juliet Takes a Breath—and all four are on my favorites list for the year, too! Such great books.

  18. Shelter was too upsetting for me, and I couldn’t finish it. But I loved the others of these books that I’ve read! I have been intending to read Monstress for approximately 10000 years, and my library finally got the trade paperback, so that’s going to happen as soon as possible.

  19. I cannot wait to read The Mothers and Shelter, I’ve not heard a bad word about either of them. Also I COMPLETELY agree with you on Homegoing – I finished it weeks ago and had to immediately go online to order my own hardback copy. It literally hasn’t left me, I keep recommending it to all of my friends and I just can’t believe how good it was?? Amazing book, I hope it has as great a success in the UK as it has done in the US

    1. The UK has a gorgeous edition of Homegoing, so I may get myself that edition one day. But yes, I do hope it finds success there as well!
      Ah, I’m glad you want to read The Mothers and Shelter. The latter especially needs more attention.

  20. This is a WONDERFUL list! I can’t wait to read Not A Self-Help book (epistolary novels are my JAM) and Homegoing. There are quite a few books on here I haven’t heard much about from the blogoverse, which means I should probably read them and spread the good word. I’m super excited.

          1. That’s a really good point, Naz! I have been judging it against my own frequency of interactions with these books, but that’s a terrible measure. Hence my concern. I’ll have to pay closer attention to the number of Goodreads reviews listed for the books I’ve read.

  21. Amazing list- so many on my TBR! I don’t know why I haven’t added The Book of Negroes to it yet but I will right now! We share Homegoing as a top book of the year. I’m reading The Mothers right now- not that far into it, but I like it so far!

  22. Fantastic list Naz! I recognize many of these and remember your reviews for them. There are a few that I didn’t have on my radar, but obviously I need to check them out.

    I will be looking forward to your review of The Mothers! ((No pressure))

    You must have read and reviewed The Book of Negroes before I started following you because I think I would have remembered it. Rushing over to add it to the TBR and read your review…

    I have all of Khaled Hosseini’s books on my shelves right now because I know I am going to love them, but just haven’t gotten around to them yet. Shame on me! So I am assuming A Thousand Splendid Suns is your favorite? Have you read The Kite Runner? Just curious at which one I should start with…

    1. My review for The Mothers was written several weeks ago by now! Haha but since I only review one book a week, it’s taken a while before I actually publish it. 😆

      I’ve read all of Hosseini’s books! A Thousand Splendid Suns is definitely my favorite, but I think you should start with The Kite Runner because it’s still an incredible book, a 5-star read. If you read it first, then you’ll be blown away again by a Thousand Splendid Suns!

          1. I literally just posted today about how I need to have a back log of posts and stop being a “post as I go” blogger!

            So I just found out Brit Bennett is coming to Ohio in February!!! I cannot wait to meet her and get a signed copy of The Mothers!

  23. Some great picks there, many of which are on my TBR. Glad to see Monstress there as well. It’s such an intriguing read with such beautiful illustrations!

  24. This post is basically you celebrating the damage done to my TBR this year ;D – I’m so glad you read Monstress, it’s amazing!!!!!! One of the few books I can confidently say I given 5 stars to on systems which won’t let you avoid star ratings (Goodreads, Amazon) (I want to adopt the fox girl) (Like, seriously) (She’s adorable)

  25. So glad to see Shelter on this list!! I loved the book I find it to be pretty underrated (or rather, less spoken about among bloggers) amongst 2016 debuts..

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