Holiday Reading List: Top 5 Books of 2016

If you’re looking for a good book to read this winter/holiday break, I’ve rounded up my favorite books that I read this year. I always like doing these year in review posts for myself as well, to look back at some of my favorite books of the year and what I would read again, gift to other people, and recommend to my lovely readers! So here it is, my top 5 books (of about 35) that I read in 2016:

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  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

(full review)

By one of my favorite authors, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was the first book I read in 2016. It’s about an older man who returns to his small hometown for some unnamed tragic event and happens upon a family he used to know when he was a boy. He remembers being friends with the younger daughter, a girl who used to say that the pond on her property was an ocean. As he walks the property again, he’s flooded with childhood memories about a fantastical, terrifying, and life-changing adventure he had with the girl when he was a child. It’s a book about growing up, adulthood, fantasy, and finding your place, and it was as incredible as I expected it would be.

Buy it here on Amazon.

  1. The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride

(full review)

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Ay, one of the most challenging books I’ve ever read, and one of the most rewarding by far. The Lesser Bohemians is by the same author who wrote A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, and it’s written entirely in confusing, stream-of-consciousness style prose with little to no punctuation, dialogue markers, or language conventions. I thought I would hate it, instead I finished the book thinking every book should be written like this! No filter, no fluff. It was also a riveting, at times gross, at other times poignant and lovely, story about a love affair between an 18-year-old girl and a man twenty years older than her. Seems cliché or whatever, but it’s actually incredible, and made me fall in love with this unconventional book.

Buy it here on Amazon.

  1. The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler

(full review)

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This is the most recent book I’ve reviewed here, one that I bought as a birthday present for myself! I loved this book—about circuses, the magic of books, curses, and mermaids! The long story is about a man living in contemporary Long Island who is sent a very old circus log by a book collector. The collector bought the book at speculation and found the family of a woman whose name is in the book, thinking it would be an interesting item to hand off to the woman’s descendants. The man who receives the book about his ancestors instead finds an ancient curse on his family, one that is immediately threatening to his younger sister, a woman who works in a circus like generations of her ancestors have before her. There’s magic and history and flashbacks, and it’s gloriously told.

Buy it here on Amazon.

  1. New York, Edward Rutherfurd

This was the last book I read in 2016, and my third novel by Edward Rutherfurd. A native New Yorker, I absolutely fell in love with his epic history of the city I love. His books, for the most part, follow the same pattern: he picks a location (like Paris, England, Ireland, etc.) and tells the history of the place from its beginnings to present-day by telling stories of half a dozen or so fictional families and their descendants throughout the centuries. It’s an absolutely captivating way to learn history, politics, and culture of a place. New York was a perfect tribute to my favorite city.

Buy it here on Amazon.

  1. London, Edward Rutherfurd

(full review)

By the same author and the same formula as New York (and another I read last year, Paris), but this 1200-page novel took first because of its breadth, scope, and magical qualities. I also read half of this book before my own New Year’s holiday in London, and the second half afterward, making it the perfect bookend for a perfect trip. London is my favorite city juuuuust after New York, and this book is an absolute must read for anyone. 11/10 stars. 😉

Buy it here on Amazon.

So that’s all! I feel like any of these books would be perfect to read during the long winter months, and as for me, I’m looking forward to another great year of reading.

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  • I read “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” (I believe on your recommendation) and really enjoyed it. It was very imaginative and very different than I first thought it would be like.