I read 172 books read as of December 31, 2016. My monthly totals ranged between a high of 21 in April to a low of 4 in July. Of the total 26 (15%) were nonfiction and 44 (25%) were by women authors and 16 books were translated into English.
The best of each category are listed below with links to my reviews. These are not in any order. Also, if the book was a reread from a prior year it didn’t count in the “best of” list.
by Susan Barker
Dense, mystical, exquisite historical fiction of China – this took me two readings in the same month.
by Don DeLillo
Bleeding edge technology about what it means to “live” in a state of suspended animation via a cyrogenics lab. 9.25
The Tsar of Love and Techno
by Anthony Marra
A Siberian mixtape of love and loss and technology during the time of Stalin and forward.
A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles
Great fun – one of the last of the aristocrats has been sentenced by the Bolsheviks to house arrest in the International Hotel of Moscow. He’s there a long, long time.
by Viet Thanh Nguyen
An amazing novel of a divided man from a divided country. It won numerous awards and deserved them all.
by Marlene van Nierkerk
An older work by a South African writer – the life and times of an Afrikaner woman and her maid from through all of apartheid and beyond.
by Ian McEwan
Clever spin on Hamlet as told by the unborn child. It works! LOL!
The Mathematician’s Shiva (for fun)
by Stuart Rojstaczer
Totally fun book about a man whose mother was a world-class mathematician before she died. After she died everyone wanted to get to her shiva.
Near to the Wild Heart (1943)
by Clarice Lispector –
Brazilian author of some renown – protagonist wants to be free but can’t find her inner self. She’s seeking an authenticity and cohesion regarding her physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.
Mrs Eckdorf in O’Neill’s Hotel (1969)
by William Trevor (Ireland)
An assortment of curious residents live quietly in a deteriorating hotel in London until Mrs Eckdorf shows up.
by Charles Dickens
Life in a mill town is very hard in Victorian England – this book shows it more than any of Dickens’ other works. There’s still a story but socio-economic theme strikes harder.
Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
by Svetlana Alexievich
Oral history by a really brilliant journalist – (Nobel prize 2015)
Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America
by Ari Berman
What happened to the Voting Rights Act of 1965? – Why is it essentially gone and what has happened since? Berman tells us.
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets
by Svetlana Alexievich
Oral history of the end of the Soviet Union.
Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women
by Sarah Helm –
Very detailed and thorough history of Ravensbruk – the author hunted up survivors and delved though archival material for this.
The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia
by Andrei Lankov
Very impressive – it’s kept my fascination with North Korea going. Lankov has 1st hand knowledge and uses a lot of resources.
White Trash: The 400-year Untold History of Class in America
by Nancy Isenbert
Where did the White Trash come from and are they really discriminated against? – This goes back to the earliest days of settlement in the British colonies up to today with a brief touch on Donald Trump toward the end.
by J.D. Vance
Basically a memoir of growing up dependent on an absent father, an addict/alocholic mother and hillbilly grandparents in Cincinnati, Ohio, but Vance includes some psycho-socio-political input, also.
The Hot Countries
by Tim Hallinan
Latest of the Poke Rafferty series – they get better with every book.
The Strangler Vine
by M.J. Carter
Historical crime focuses on the 19th century East India Company in and around Calcutta. It’s historically accurate, intelligently written with an intriguing plot line.
The Jealous Kind
by James Lee Burke
Stand-alone crime novel and coming of age story takes place in Houston, Texas circa 1952. Burke is a master.
by Tana French
Sixth in the Dublin Murder Squad series. They stand alone nicely as each focuses on a different detective. In this case a woman has been murdered and a suspect questioned but did he or didn’t he? – This is a rough one.
The Three-Body Problem (trilogy)
by Liu Cixin
Brilliant old-fashioned sci-fi trilogy only the science and technology are all up-to-date. Huge scope –