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The 14 Best Books of 2016

by Vandana Hiranand

As 2016 draws to a close, here is our roundup of the best books to hit the shelves this year! If you haven’t been able to begin reading these yet, take some time out this holiday season to read a book or two.

  1. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

Winner of the 2016 National Book Awards, Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors black people faced in the pre-Civil era. It is an exciting adventure tale of one woman’s powerful will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering powerful meditation on history. Whitehead’s novel tops every list for 2016’s best books!

  1. The Wolf Road – Beth Lewis

This is a debut novel and mystery thriller about a young girl who learns that the solitary hunter who took her under his wing is a murderer, and sets out on a journey determined to find her true parents. Forced to confront memories of her past, Lewis has crafted exceptional characters and a well-written book.

  1. The Association of Small Bombs

Mahajan’s novel was named a Best Book of 2006 by: Esquire, Time magazine, and Vulture.com. It was further nominated for the 2016 National Book Awards and it has been longlisted for the FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices and is a New York Times Editors’ Choice novel. Exploring the lives of those affected in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in India, Mahajan has received immense praise for his work.

  1. The North Water – Ian McGuire

The North Water is the tale of an opium-addicted, 19th Century Irish surgeon who encounters a vicious psychopath on board an arctic-bound whaling ship. A witty, savage, and brilliant tale of humanity, it relates the confrontation between the two men fighting to survive. McGuire has received acclaim from the New York Times and been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

  1. The Vegetarian – Han Kang

The Vegetarian is a three-part novel told from different perspectives. It revolves around a seemingly ordinary housewife who abruptly decides to give up eating meat and become a vegetarian. In modern day South Korea, this is a shocking act of subversion. The novel is a winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

  1. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

This novel is an unforgettable New York Times bestseller, which explores the world of slavery and is traced through generations down the line. The novel further delves into the legacy of slavery within light of the present day.

  1. Swing Time – Zadie Smith

Swing Time is the story of two black girls who develop a close friendship through their mural passion for dancing, yet are abruptly separated due to their family situations and unequal talents. Smith has created a well-acclaimed story about friendship, music and race.

  1. Before the Fall – Noah Hawley

From the award-winning creator of the TV show ‘Fargo’, this novel tells the story of an airplane crash and its survivors. Hawley’s novel is a New York Times Bestseller which examines the circumstances which bring together unlikely and influential characters and the fragile relationships and ties that are formed.

  1. Another Brooklyn – Jacqueline Woodson

This New York Times Bestseller novel has received much critical acclaim. It retells the flashbacks of the lives of girls living in 1970’s Brooklyn, a dangerous place filled with terrifying events. This story explores the themes of hope and friendship in the unlikeliest of places. Another Brooklyn was nominated for the 2016 National Book Awards as well.

  1. The Nix – Nathan Hill

A capturing novel about family, relationships, politics, and revolution, Nathan Hill has crafted a New York Times Bestseller. The Nix gives an insight into a fictional America, and the political, news media, and entertainment industries.

  1. Mischling – Affinity Konar

A beautiful story about twin sisters fighting to survive the evils of World War II. Konar has delved into one of the darkest moments in human history and has crafted the painstaking story of the challenges faced by the characters in order to survive. ‘Mischling’ has been named the Best Book of the Year by notable entities, such as the New York Times and Publishers Weekly.

  1. Lab Girl – Hope Jahren

‘The Lab Girl’ is a memoir about an acclaimed scientist who has built three laboratories in which she studies trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. The book encompasses Jahren’s life through her childhood, passion, and relationships, describing her adventure across many areas of the world. The memoir has received much acclaim from critics.

  1. When Breath Becomes Air –Paul Kalanithi and Abraham Verghese

Another moving memoir about a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis and has to confront his own mortality. The authors have crafted a New York Times Bestseller. ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

  1. The Sellout – Paul Beatty

The Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction and the 2016 Man Booker Prize, The Sellout is a bold tale about race in America, and a young man’s isolated upbringing and race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. It was further listed in the top 10 books of 2015 by The New York Times Book Review.