Best Books, Best Year-End, Fiction & Literature, Nonfiction

The ‘Best Books Of 2016 …So Far’ – A Midyear List Aggregation

Half way through the year lists! The midpoint between the “Most Anticipated” lists at the beginning of the year and the actual “Top Books” at the end of the year. Year-End lists are pretty much required by web-law, so every site that has ever mentioned the word “book” makes one. A lot fewer websites commit to the mid-year lists, but we were able to find enough to make one of our aggregated “Best Books” list. As you can see below, the lists we used to aggregate the books almost all felt the need to insert the words “so far” into the title (we did as well).

In the 12 lists we used, over 230 different books were listed, with 43 titles appearing on more than a single list. We included blurbs and pictures for the top 43 books and you can find the other 192 at the bottom of the page.

It will be interesting to see how this list compares to the ones at the end of the year.

Happy Scrolling!

 



The 45th – 19th Best Books of 2016 (So Far)
(All appear on two lists)



13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Powells

Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl?…

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A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows Final
Lists It Appears On:

  • Best Fantasy Books
  • The Book Smugglers

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port…

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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • The Book Smugglers

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages…

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At the Existentialist Cafe; Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell

At the Existentialist Cafe; Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails
Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Telegraph

Featuring not only philosophers, but also playwrights, anthropologists, convicts, and revolutionaries, At the Existentialist Café follows the existentialists’ story, from the first rebellious spark through the Second World War, to its role in postwar liberation movements such as anticolonialism, feminism, and gay rights. Interweaving biography and philosophy, it is the epic account of passionate encounters—fights, love affairs, mentorships, rebellions, and long partnerships—and a vital investigation into what the existentialists have to offer us today, at a moment when we are once again confronting the major questions of freedom, global responsibility, and human authenticity in a fractious and technology-driven world…

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Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Chicago Public Library

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family…

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Bucky F*cking Dent by David Duchovny

Bucky F*cking Dent by David Duchovny
Lists It Appears On:

  • Powells
  • Washington Post

David Duchovny’s richly drawn Bucky F*cking Dent explores the bonds between fathers and sons and the age-old rivalry between Yankee fans and the Fenway faithful, and grapples with our urgent need to persevere―and risk everything―in the name of love. Culminating in that fateful moment in October of ’78 when the mighty Bucky Dent hit his way into baseball history with the unlikeliest of home runs, this tender, insightful, and hilarious novel demonstrates how life truly belongs to the losers, and that the long shots are the ones worth betting on…

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Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russso

Everybody's Fool (Sully #2) by Richard Russo
Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Washington PostE

The irresistible Sully, who in the intervening years has come by some unexpected good fortune, is staring down a VA cardiologist’s estimate that he has only a year or two left, and it’s hard work trying to keep this news from the most important people in his life: Ruth, the married woman he carried on with for years . . . the ultra-hapless Rub Squeers, who worries that he and Sully aren’t still best friends . . . Sully’s son and grandson, for whom he was mostly an absentee figure (and now a regretful one). We also enjoy the company of Doug Raymer, the chief of police who’s obsessing primarily over the identity of the man his wife might’ve been about to run off with, before dying in a freak accident . . . Bath’s mayor, the former academic Gus Moynihan, whose wife problems are, if anything, even more pressing . . . and then there’s Carl Roebuck, whose lifelong run of failing upward might now come to ruin. And finally, there’s Charice Bond—a light at the end of the tunnel that is Chief Raymer’s office—as well as her brother, Jerome, who might well be the train barreling into the station…

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Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
Lists It Appears On:

  • Omnivoracious
  • Powells

Set in London during the years of 1939–1942, when citizens had slim hope of survival, much less victory; and on the strategic island of Malta, which was daily devastated by the Axis barrage,Everyone Brave is Forgiven features little-known history and a perfect wartime love story inspired by the real-life love letters between Chris Cleave’s grandparents. This dazzling novel dares us to understand that, against the great theater of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs that change us most…

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Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams

Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams
Lists It Appears On:

  • Powells
  • Vulture

Not a single moment here is what you might expect. While there is immense pleasure to be found in Williams’s spot-on observations about how we behave in our highest and lowest moments, the heart of the drama beats in the language of American short fiction’s grand master, whose originality, precision, and power bring the familiar into startling and enchanted relief…

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Grunt by Mary Roach
Grunt- The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Chicago Public Library

Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier’s most challenging adversaries―panic, exhaustion, heat, noise―and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee. She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again…

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Chicago Public Library

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation…

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Powells

In this smart, suspenseful, and intense literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go…

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Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Time

When Margaret’s fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. At the heart of it is their eldest son, Michael, a brilliant, anxious music fanatic who makes sense of the world through parody. Over the span of decades, his younger siblings — the savvy and responsible Celia and the ambitious and tightly controlled Alec — struggle along with their mother to care for Michael’s increasingly troubled and precarious existence…

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Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for… by James McBride

Kill 'Em and Leave- Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Time

Kill ’Em and Leave is more than a book about James Brown. Brown’s rough-and-tumble life, through McBride’s lens, is an unsettling metaphor for American life: the tension between North and South, black and white, rich and poor. McBride’s travels take him to forgotten corners of Brown’s never-before-revealed history: the country town where Brown’s family and thousands of others were displaced by America’s largest nuclear power bomb-making facility; a South Carolina field where a long-forgotten cousin recounts, in the dead of night, a fuller history of Brown’s sharecropping childhood, which until now has been a mystery. McBride seeks out the American expatriate in England who co-created the James Brown sound, visits the trusted right-hand manager who worked with Brown for forty-one years, and interviews Brown’s most influential nonmusical creation, his “adopted son,” the Reverend Al Sharpton. He describes the stirring visit of Michael Jackson to the Augusta, Georgia, funeral home where the King of Pop sat up all night with the body of his musical godfather, spends hours talking with Brown’s first wife, and lays bare the Dickensian legal contest over James Brown’s estate, a fight that has consumed careers; prevented any money from reaching the poor schoolchildren in Georgia and South Carolina, as instructed in his will; cost Brown’s estate millions in legal fees; and left James Brown’s body to lie for more than eight years in a gilded coffin in his daughter’s yard in South Carolina…

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Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Powells

Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth’s niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who — or what — has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road?..

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My Struggle: Book Five by Karl Ove Knausgaard

My Struggle- Book Five (Min kamp #5) by Karl Ove Knausgård, Don Bartlett (Translation)
Lists It Appears On:

  • Powells
  • Time

The fifth book of Knausgaard’s powerful My Struggle series is written with tremendous force and sincerity. As a nineteen-year-old, Karl Ove moves to Bergen and invests all of himself in his writing. But his efforts get the opposite effect – he wants it so much that he gets writer’s block. At the same time, he sees his friends, one-by-one, publish their debuts. He suspects that he will never get anything published. Book Five is also a book about strong new friendships and a shattering love affair. Then one day Karl Ove reaches two crucial points in his life: his father dies, and shortly thereafter, he completes his first novel…

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Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

Secondhand Time- The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich, Bela Shayevich (Translator)
Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Time

In Secondhand Time, Alexievich chronicles the demise of communism. Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake. Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the propaganda and contrived media accounts, giving us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians who still carry memories of oppression, terror, famine, massacres—but also of pride in their country, hope for the future, and a belief that everyone was working and fighting together to bring about a utopia. Here is an account of life in the aftermath of an idea so powerful it once dominated a third of the world…

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The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
Lists It Appears On:

  • Time
  • Vulture

When brothers Tushar and Nakul Khurana, two Delhi schoolboys, pick up their family’s television set at a repair shop with their friend Mansoor Ahmed one day in 1996, disaster strikes without warning. A bomb—one of the many “small” bombs that go off seemingly unheralded across the world—detonates in the Delhi marketplace, instantly claiming the lives of the Khurana boys, to the devastation of their parents. Mansoor survives, bearing the physical and psychological effects of the bomb. After a brief stint at university in America, Mansoor returns to Delhi, where his life becomes entangled with the mysterious and charismatic Ayub, a fearless young activist whose own allegiances and beliefs are more malleable than Mansoor could imagine. Woven among the story of the Khuranas and the Ahmeds is the gripping tale of Shockie, a Kashmiri bomb maker who has forsaken his own life for the independence of his homeland…

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The Bad-ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu- And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer
Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Washington Post

In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers…

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The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

Last Painting_Layout 1-2.indd
Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Omnivoracious

Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it…

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The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Washington Post

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems…

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The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Lonesome Reader

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. ..

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Powells

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore…

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The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Romanovs- 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Lists It Appears On:

  • Telegraph
  • Washington Post

This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Lenin…

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The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar

The Winged Histories (Olondria) by Sofia Samatar
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • The Book Smugglers

Four women — a soldier, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite — are caught up on opposing sides of a violent rebellion. As war erupts and their loyalties and agendas and ideologies come into conflict, the four fear their lives may pass unrecorded. Using the sword and the pen, the body and the voice, they struggle not just to survive, but to make history…

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What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell

What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell
Lists It Appears On:

  • Telegraph
  • Vulture

On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, drawn by hunger and loneliness and risk, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship in which lust leads to mutual predation, and tenderness can transform into violence. As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he’s forced to grapple with his own fraught history, the world of his southern childhood where to be queer was to be a pariah. There are unnerving similarities between his past and the foreign country he finds himself in, a country whose geography and griefs he discovers as he learns more of Mitko’s own narrative, his private history of illness, exploitation, and want…

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Zero K by Don DeLillo

Zero K by Don DeLillo
Lists It Appears On:

  • Powells
  • Vulture

Jeffrey Lockhart’s father, Ross, is a billionaire in his sixties, with a younger wife, Artis Martineau, whose health is failing. Ross is the primary investor in a remote and secret compound where death is exquisitely controlled and bodies are preserved until a future time when biomedical advances and new technologies can return them to a life of transcendent promise. Jeff joins Ross and Artis at the compound to say “an uncertain farewell” to her as she surrenders her body…

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The 18th – 9th Best Books of 2016 (So Far)
(All appear on three lists)



Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
Lists It Appears On:

  • Best Fantasy Books
  • Book Riot
  • Powells

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy…

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Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Evicted- Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Washington Post

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind…

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Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown
Lists It Appears On:

  • Best Fantasy Books
  • Chicago Public Library
  • The Book Smugglers

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star…

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My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Time
  • Washington Post

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable…

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Shrill by Lindy West

Shrill- Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Washington Post

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea…

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The Fireman: A Novel by Joe Hill

The Fireman- A Novel by Joe Hill
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Time

lague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe…

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The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

The Lonely City- Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
Lists It Appears On:

  • Lonesome Reader
  • Powells
  • Telegraph

Humane, provocative and deeply moving, The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It’s a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive…

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The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Powells
  • Telegraph

In 1936, Shostakovich, just thirty, fears for his livelihood and his life. Stalin, hitherto a distant figure, has taken a sudden interest in his work and denounced his latest opera. Now, certain he will be exiled to Siberia (or, more likely, executed on the spot), Shostakovich reflects on his predicament, his personal history, his parents, various women and wives, his children—and all who are still alive themselves hang in the balance of his fate. And though a stroke of luck prevents him from becoming yet another casualty of the Great Terror, for decades to come he will be held fast under the thumb of despotism: made to represent Soviet values at a cultural conference in New York City, forced into joining the Party and compelled, constantly, to weigh appeasing those in power against the integrity of his music. Barnes elegantly guides us through the trajectory of Shostakovich’s career, at the same time illuminating the tumultuous evolution of the Soviet Union. The result is both a stunning portrait of a relentlessly fascinating man and a brilliant exploration of the meaning of art and its place in society…

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Deborah Smith
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Time

Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself…

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Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Omnivoracious
  • Time

Grief-stricken after his mother’s death and three years of wandering the world, Victor is longing for a family and a sense of purpose. He believes he’s found both when he returns home to Seattle only to be swept up in a massive protest. With young, biracial Victor o one side of the barricades and his estranged father–the white chief of police–on the opposite, the day descends into chaos, capturing in its confusion the activists, police, bystanders, and citizens from all around the world who’d arrived that day brimming with hope. By the day’s end, they have all committed acts they never thought possible…

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The 8th – 5th Best Books of 2016 (So Far)
(All appear on four lists)



Barkskins: A Novel by Annie Proulx

Barkskins by Annie Proulx
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Omnivoracious
  • Washington Post

In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters—barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years—their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions—the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse…

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The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Gene- An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Time
  • Washington Post

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?..

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The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Powells
  • Washington Post

TESXT SUMMARY OF BOOK..

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Abraham Verghese

When Breath Becomes Air
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Book Riot
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Washington Post

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality…

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The 4th – 2nd Best Books of 2016 (So Far)
(All appear on five lists)



Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Book Riot
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Time
  • Washington Post

Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work…

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LaRose: A Novel by Louise Erdrich

LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Book Riot
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Powells
  • Washington Post

North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich…

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What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Lonesome Reader
  • Time
  • Vulture
  • Washington Post

Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason)…

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And
The “Best Book (So Far) of 2016”
Is…



The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls by Emma Cline
Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Book Riot
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Powells
  • Vulture
  • Washington Post

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence…

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192 Books Appearing On A Single List Each



 

1956: The World in RevoltSimon Hall(Telegraph)
A Fierce and Subtle PoisonSamantha Mabry(Book Riot)
A Girl in ExileIsmail Kadare(Telegraph)
A Guide to BerlinGail Jones(Telegraph)
A Hero of FranceALAN FURST(Washington Post)
A Mother’s ReckoningSUE KLEBOLD(Washington Post)
A Quiet LifeNatasha Walter(Lonesome Reader)
Age of Myth: Book One of The Legends of the First EmpireMichael J. Sullivan(Best Fantasy Books)
All Behind You, WinstonRoger Hermiston(Telegraph)
All the Single LadiesTraister, Rebecca(Chicago Public Library)
American Housewife: StoriesHelen Ellis(Book Riot)
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?Waal, F. B. M. de(Chicago Public Library)
Asylum: a Survivor’s Flight from Nazi-Occupied Vienna through Wartime FranceMoriz Scheyer, trans by PN Singer(Telegraph)
Bands Of MourningBrandon Sanderson(Best Fantasy Books)
Because of Miss BridgertonQuinn, Julia(Chicago Public Library)
Beethoven for a Later AgeEdward Dusinberre(Telegraph)
Black DeutschlandDarryl Pinckney(Time)
Black Dragon River: a Journey Down the Amur River at the Borderlands of EmpiresDominic Ziegler(Telegraph)
BloodlineClaudia Gray(The Book Smugglers)
BookedKwame Alexander(Book Riot)
BrightonHarvey, Michael T(Chicago Public Library)
Broken and BetrayedJayne Senior(Telegraph)
Bullies: A FriendshipAlex Abramovich(Vulture)
BurnedBenedict Jacka(Best Fantasy Books)
CalamityBrandon Sanderson(Powells)
Castles in Spain: 25 Years of Spanish Fantasy and Science FictionElia Barceló(Book Riot)
Chains Of The HereticJeff Salyards(Best Fantasy Books)
Chase MeLaura Florand(Book Riot)
ChicagoDoyle, Brian(Chicago Public Library)
City Of BladesRobert Jackson Bennett(Best Fantasy Books)
City of the LostKelley Armstrong(Powells)
Comrade Corbyn : A Very Unlikely CoupRosa Prince(Telegraph)
Consequence: A MemoirEric Fair(Book Riot)
CureJo Marchant(Powells)
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: the Astounding Interconnectedness of the UniverseLisa Randall(Telegraph)
Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical RightJane Mayer(Book Riot)
Dinosaurs on Other PlanetsDanielle McLaughlin(Lonesome Reader)
Dog GonePauls Toutonghi(Powells)
DrakePeter McLean(Best Fantasy Books)
EileenOttessa Moshfegh(Telegraph)
EligibleCurtis Sittenfeld(Powells)
End of WatchSTEPHEN KING(Washington Post)
Engines of LibertyDAVID COLE(Washington Post)
Even Dogs in the WildRankin, Ian(Chicago Public Library)
Exit RightDANIEL OPPENHEIMER(Washington Post)
Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949David Cesarani(Telegraph)
First Bite: How We Learn to EatBee Wilson(Telegraph)
FixersMICHAEL M. THOMAS(Washington Post)
Free SpeechTimothy Garton Ash(Powells)
Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin AmericaIoan Grillo(Telegraph)
Gena/FinnHannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson(Book Riot)
Girls & Sex: Navigating the…Peggy Orenstein(Amazon)
Girls and SexPeggy Orenstein(Book Riot)
Gone With the MindMark Leyner(Time)
Good on PaperRachel Cantor(Book Riot)
Heat & LightJENNIFER HAIGH(Washington Post)
Hitler: The Ascent (1889-1939)Volker Ullrich, trans Jefferson Chase(Telegraph)
Hot MilkDeborah Levy(Lonesome Reader)
How Not to FallEmily Foster(Book Riot)
Human ActsHan Kang, trans by Deborah Smith(Telegraph)
HystopiaDavid Means(Vulture)
I Let You GoMackintosh, Clare(Chicago Public Library)
In GratitudeJenny Diski(Vulture)
Incarnations: India in 50 LivesSunil Khilnan(Telegraph)
InfomocracyMalka Older(Book Riot)
Inherited DisordersAdam Ehrlich Sachs(Powells)
Jane SteeleLyndsay Faye(Book Riot)
Jonathan UnleashedMeg Rosoff(Telegraph)
Josephine Tey: A LifeJennifer Morag Henderson(Telegraph)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock’n’Roll UnderworldKeiron Pim(Telegraph)
KnitlandiaCLARA PARKES(Washington Post)
LiarRob Roberge(Powells)
Madonna in a Fur CoatSabahattin Ali(Book Riot)
Magic and LossVirginia Heffernan(Book Riot)
Marrow IslandAlexis M. Smith(Powells)
Megg and Mogg in Amsterdam (and Other Stories)Simon Hanselmann(Powells)
Menagerie: The History of Exotic Animals in EnglandCaroline Grigson(Telegraph)
Midnight Taxi TangoDaniel José Older(The Book Smugglers)
Missing Man: The American Spy Who Vanished in IranBarry Meier(Time)
Modern LoversEMMA STRAUB(Washington Post)
MongrelsStephen Graham Jones(Book Riot)
Narconomics: How to Run a Drug CartelTom Wainwright(Amazon)
Ninefox GambitYoon Ha Lee(The Book Smugglers)
Old Age: A Beginner’s GuideMichael Kinsley(Time)
On the EdgeRafael Chirbes(Powells)
On the Edge of GoneCorinne Duyvis(Powells)
On the Edge of GoneCorinne Duyvis(The Book Smugglers)
OneSarah Crossan(Book Riot)
One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical ExperimentMei Fong(Telegraph)
One in a BillionMARK JOHNSON AND KATHLEEN GALLAGHER(Washington Post)
Party Animals: My Family and Other CommunistsDavid Aaronovitch(Telegraph)
Poison or ProtectGail Carriger(Book Riot)
Power UpKate Leth and Matt Cummings(Powells)
Private CitizensTony Tulathimutte(Vulture)
ProxiesBrian Blanchfield(Powells)
Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s StoryMatti Friedman(Amazon)
Republic of SpinDAVID GREENBERG(Washington Post)
Salt to the SeaRuta Sepetys(Powells)
Saving Montgomery SoleMariko Tamaki(Book Riot)
Seeing RedLina Meruane. Translated by Megan McDowell(Book Riot)
Seven Brief Lessons on PhysicsRovelli, Carlo(Chicago Public Library)
Seven Ways We LieRiley Redgate(Book Riot)
Sex with Shakespeare: Here’s Much To Do With Pain, but More with LoveJillian Keenan(Book Riot)
Shylock Is My NameHoward Jacobson(Telegraph)
Sleeping GiantsSylvain Neuvel(Best Fantasy Books)
So Sad TodayMelissa Broder(Book Riot)
Some Kind of HappinessClaire Legrand(Powells)
Spain in Our HeartsHochschild, Adam(Chicago Public Library)
Stamped from the BeginningIBRAM KENDI(Washington Post)
Stop the Clocks: Thoughts on What I Leave BehindJoan Bakewell(Telegraph)
Swarm TheoryChristine Rice(Powells)
SweetbitterStephanie Danler(Time)
Switched OnJOHN ELDER ROBISON(Washington Post)
The ArmPassan, Jeff(Chicago Public Library)
The Arrival of the MissivesAliya Whiteley(Book Riot)
The Best Worst ThingKathleen Lane(Powells)
The Bitter Taste of Victory: In the Ruins of the ReichLara Feigel(Telegraph)
The Book of HarlanBERNICE L. MCFADDEN(Washington Post)
The Border of ParadiseEsmé Weijun Wang(Powells)
The Caped CrusadeGLEN WELDON(Washington Post)
The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976Frank Dikötter(Telegraph)
The End of AlchemyMervyn King(Telegraph)
The Firebrand and the First LadyPATRICIA BELL-SCOTT(Washington Post)
The Genius of BirdsJennifer Ackerman(Telegraph)
The Gilded YearsKarin Tanabe(Book Riot)
The Girl from EverywhereHeidi Heilig(Book Riot)
The Girl in the Red CoatKate Hamer(Amazon)
The Glorious HeresiesLisa McInerney(Lonesome Reader)
The Great Soul of SiberiaSooyong Park, trans by Jamie Chang(Telegraph)
The Gunning of AmericaPAMELA HAAG(Washington Post)
The Gustav SonataRose Tremain(Lonesome Reader)
The High Mountains of PortugalYann Martel(Telegraph)
The Highest Glass CeilingELLEN FITZPATRICK(Washington Post)
The Holy Roman EmpirePeter H Wilson(Telegraph)
The Hour of LandTerry Tempest Williams(Book Riot)
The Keeper of the MistRachel Neumeier(The Book Smugglers)
The Last Mortal BondBrian Staveley(Best Fantasy Books)
The Life of ElvesMuriel Barbery(Powells)
The Longest Night: A NovelAndria Williams(Amazon)
The Madwoman UpstairsCatherine Lowell(Powells)
The MalicePeter Newman(Best Fantasy Books)
The Man Who Snapped His FingersFariba Hachtroudi(Book Riot)
The Man Without a ShadowJoyce Carol Oates(Lonesome Reader)
The Maverick Mountaineer: The Remarkable Life of George Ingle FinchRobert Wainwright(Telegraph)
The Memory of LightFrancisco X Stork(Book Riot)
The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial KillerSkip Hollandsworth(Book Riot)
The Naked Shore of the North SeaTom Blass(Telegraph)
The Narrow DoorPaul Lisicky(Powells)
The Nordic Theory of EverythingAnu Partanen(Powells)
The Only Rule Is It Has to WorkLindbergh, Ben(Chicago Public Library)
The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des MartyrsElaine Sciolino(Telegraph)
The OutrunAmy Liptrot(Telegraph)
The Paper MenagerieKen Liu(Book Riot)
The PastTessa Hadley(Time)
The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918DJ Taylor(Telegraph)
The QueueBasma Abdel, Translated by Elisabeth Jaquett(Book Riot)
The Regional Office is Under Attack!Manuel Gonzalez(Book Riot)
The RemnantsRobert Hill(Powells)
The Rise, the Fall, and the RiseBrix Smith Start(Telegraph)
The Road to Little DribblingBill Bryson(Book Riot)
The Smell of Other People’s HousesBonnie–Sue Hitchcock(Book Riot)
The Sound of GravelRuth Wariner(Powells)
The South SideMoore, Natalie Y(Chicago Public Library)
The Spider’s WarDaniel Abraham(Best Fantasy Books)
The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling StonesRICH COHEN(Washington Post)
The Unfortunate EnglishmanJohn Lawton(Book Riot)
The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of VelazquezLaura Cumming(Telegraph)
The Veins of the OceanPatricia Engel(Book Riot)
The View from the Cheap SeatsNeil Gaiman(Powells)
The Waking FireAnthony Ryan(Best Fantasy Books)
The Wheel of OsheimMark Lawrence(Best Fantasy Books)
THe Wild RobotPeter Brown(The Book Smugglers)
The Wise King: Christian Prince, Muslim Spain and the Birth of the RenaissanceSimon Doubleday(Telegraph)
The Year of the RunawaysSUNJEEV SAHOTA(Washington Post)
This Census TakerChina Miéville(Telegraph)
This Is LondonBen Judah(Telegraph)
This is Where it EndsMarieke Nijkamp(Book Riot)
This Orient IsleJerry Brotton(Telegraph)
Those BelowDaniel Polansky(Best Fantasy Books)
Thunder Boy Jr.Sherman Alexie and Yuyi Morales(Powells)
TruthwitchSusan Dennard(Book Riot)
Tuesday Nights in 1980Prentiss, Molly(Chicago Public Library)
UnbecomingJenny Downham(Book Riot)
Under the Udala TreesChinelo Okparanta(Lonesome Reader)
Valiant Ambition: George Washington…Nathaniel Philbrick(Amazon)
Version ControlDexter Palmer(Book Riot)
We Are the AntsShaun David Hutchinson(Powells)
West of EdenJean Stein(Telegraph)
What Happened, Miss Simone?Alan Light(Telegraph)
When We CollidedEmery Lord(Book Riot)
White SandsGeoff Dyer(Powells)
Wilde LakeLAURA LIPPMAN(Washington Post)
Women I’ve UndressedOrry-Kelly(Telegraph)


The 12 “Best Books of the First Half of 2016” Lists Consulted



SourceArticle
AmazonTop 20 picks for the best books of the year so far
Best Fantasy BooksBest Fantasy Books of 2016 (So Far)
Book RiotTHE BEST BOOKS OF 2016, SO FAR
Chicago Public LibraryThe Best Books of 2016…So Far
Lonesome ReaderBest Books of 2016 so far & Book Giveaway
OmnivoraciousBest Books of the Year So Far: Literature and Fiction
Powell’sBest Books of 2016 So Far
The Book SmugglersThe Half-Year Mark: The Best Books of 2016 (So Far)
The TelegraphThe best books of 2016
TimeHere Are the Best Books of 2016 So Far
VultureThe Best Books of 2016 (So Far)
Washington Post37 Books We’ve Loved So Far In 2016

 

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