2016: The Year in Books, Part 2

I had every intention of composing an eloquent post about my seven favorite books of 2016 and why you should read them. However, right before Christmas I landed a part-time temp job, and between online training, last-minute shifts, and mustering the courage to cold-call clients without ducking under a desk and crying, I haven’t had the willpower to write. Plus, my self-esteem these days is crap, so motivating myself to write a bunch of words that maybe 20 people will read hasn’t been on my list of priorities.

But then I came across Roxane Gay’s “2016 in Reading,” and thought, well hey, that seems simple enough; I’ll write the post tonight, publish it tomorrow, and my conscience can stop feeling guilty.


So here you go — Shelby’s top 7 books of 2016, as pitched in the style of Roxane Gay.

The book that I’ve already talked about on this blog but am going to talk about again because it’s so damn good

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

The Indian-American immigrant story that became the 7th book in 22 years to make me cry

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The book of essays that became my post-grad lifeline and sent me on a pilgrimage that shaped my entire summer and quite a bit of my to-read list, too

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

The food memoir that sucked me in so thoroughly that I took it on vacation and drove my family nuts with “did-you-knows” about asparagus, purple potatoes, and the mating rituals of turkey hens

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

The year’s best piece of fiction that will probably win the Pulitzer because it’s just that good

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The 477-page novel that taught me more about race and racism in one chapter about cornrows than 16 years of schooling ever did

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The book of revelations that stopped my faith crisis, drained my anger, and made me fall in love with a 14th-century mystic nun

Revelation of Love by Julian of Norwich (trans. by John Skinner)



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