My Favorite Books of 2016

It’s been quite a year!  …that may be the understatement of the year.  Luckily I’ve read some amazing books to see me through these tough times.  Here are my ten favorites, linked to reviews and in reverse alpha order by title.  Just because.

25607518Why God is a Woman by Nin Andrews

This was my first prose poetry collection and I fell so hard.  Deep and funny and skewering in turns, Andrews uses satire to show how binary gender norms are arbitrary and absurd.  If you’re not a poetry buff fear not, this is accessible and beautiful like no other.

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman25067884

It won the Best Translated Book Award for a reason – the writing is both light and deep, and Dillman does an awesome job with the translation.  Short and powerful, I’ll be coming back to it in the years to come.

25330335Seeing Red by Lina Meruane, translated by Megan McDowell

This book clawed into my brain and never left.  The image of blood gushing into her eye, robbing her of sight, and her journey as an “apprentice blind woman” are relentless, haunting, and real.

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente3973532

The Night Circus-sized hole in my heart has finally been filled.  A novel of image and character more than plot, Palimpsest is a place to get lost in, marvel at, and be horrified by.

9780062363596_b2357Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Women and minorities regularly get left out of our histories, but here they’re finally front and center – the black women “computers” who calculated our path to the stars.  It’s inspiring and fascinating, a natural fit for the silver screen.

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins25760151

My favorite Jenkins novel so far. Fascinating subject matter, firmly set in time and place, and the love story is oh so sweet. I learned a ton and the research tidbits at the end are delightful.

2635587Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang

A wide-ranging, deep, and humanizing look at life in modern China.  Chang’s prose is beautiful, and her own family’s story adds nuance to an already deep story.

The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers by Fouad Laroui, translated by27135621 Emma Ramadan

Finally, a short story collection I love!  Laroui plays with language while exploring what it means to be foreign. Add in some absurdity and laugh-out-loud lines and it’s the new Kazen catnip.

26633749The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction by M.A. Orthofer

This year I got into translated fiction and Orthofer is a wise and learned guide.  Whenever I’m in a rut I flip through it and find something I just have to read – great stuff.

Committed by Dinah Miller and Annette Hanson29955558

A thorough and thoughtful look at involuntary commitment.  Miller and Hanson talk to all sides (including a Scientologist!) and cover the issue from many issues and viewpoints.  Fascinating.

Honorable mentions: The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, and Columbine by Dave Cullen.