January 1, 2017

2016 in Books: What I Read This Year

Before you read this post, I'm going to put out a disclaimer: I tend to go for more unconventional books. My favorite novels are the ones found on the "original fiction" table or hidden between the big bestsellers in the historical fiction section. So, if you're looking for reviews on what everyone else read this year, you won't find that here.

I love to wander through bookstores and read the back cover/inside flap on any book that looks interesting. Anyone else? My reading goal for the year was 14 books, and I read six (plus half of the one I'm currently reading), which isn't terrible. I want to reach my reading goal of 14 books in 2017, though. If you want to connect on Goodreads, here I am. And the six books I read in 2016 are:

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

My rating: 3/5 stars
This book is about a strategic mail-in game. The game's creator, Sean, corresponds with players via snail mail, and they exchange moves and outcomes. Two teens acted the game out in real life, and... I can't remember most of the book or how it ended. I recall that Sean is likable to an extent, but the tone of the book is overall quite dark.  The only reason it received three stars is because the plot was original, and the book was structured and varied well; on plot alone, I'd give it a two out of five. Probably would not recommend.

Shriver by Chris Belden

My rating: 5/5 stars
I remember hunting down this book like it was my job. I couldn't find it anywhere for some reason, so when I spotted it on the shelf in B&N's flagship store in Union Square in March, I grabbed it without hesitation. The plot line played out as uniquely as I'd hoped it would. Essentially, a man by the last name of Shriver is "mistaken" for a famous author by the same name and is invited to speak at a conference held at a small liberal arts college halfway across the country. Why the quotes around the word mistaken? You'll have to read the book to find out.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Mureil Barbery

My rating: 4/5 stars
This book was bittersweet. The story takes place in Paris and is told from the viewpoint of several characters. The plot is more the daily goings-on of the residents of an apartment building and their concierge than any one big, overarching event.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

My rating: 3/5 stars
This book is weird. I'm not sure how much else I can say without giving away the bizarre ending that will you leave you confused and unsure of your interpretation. The narrator, Rose, grows up as the story goes on, and the writing style itself is a little unconventional. Rose can taste emotion in food, and this "gift" manifests itself on the eve of her ninth birthday, when she tastes her seemingly cheerful, creative mother's despair and depression in a freshly baked, chocolate-frosted lemon birthday cake.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

My rating: 4/5 stars
Who doesn't love a good John Green novel? If you raised your hand, you're lying to yourself. As a preteen and young teen, I loved YA fiction (and that might have been how both of my novels-in-progress have joined that genre without my conscious consent). Sarah Dessen, anyone? This book was a light, sweet read, unlike The Fault in Our Stars, and no tears were shed. Before starting college, a young man sets off on a road trip with his best friend to find himself and, of course, finds a girl along the way.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman 

My rating: 4/5 stars
This book was both odd and tragic (and at times, graphically so, so if descriptions of tragic events offend you, you might not want to read it), but I really enjoyed it. It takes place in turn-of-the-century Manhattan and Brooklyn and is told from several different perspectives: the two protagonists in the first person, and the two protagonists in the third person. Ultimately, the paths of two different people — a Manhattan-based photographer, estranged from his Orthodox father; and a young woman forced by her father to perform in his Coney Island museum as an oddity— cross, and their lives are forever changed.

What did you read in 2016? What's your favorite genre(s) to read?

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