Best Books I Read in 2016


I hadn’t realized until I was compiling this list that out of the unimpressive 12 books I managed to finish this year, only two I rated below four stars. That says a great deal about the quality of the books I finished. The following is a compilation of the books I liked best in 2016.

The Fist of God by Frederick Forsyth (♦♦♦♦): is not a crash course, but a full immersion in the 1st Gulf War complete with army acronyms, rogue hero pilots, and top notch espionage. Taut, dense, and brimming with useful (and likely) insider's information, it took me ages to absorb it all, and what a ride that was.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (♦♦♦♦): reads like those appetizing stories in contemporary celebrity magazines like Star and Us Weekly that few people confess to reading, or liking. I read them and like them, so I enjoyed The Swans... a great deal.

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley (♦♦♦♦): I had a great time reading this book. In it, Susanna Kearsley weaves Celtic legends and myths to create a story that, though contemporary, recreates a time of forgotten heroes and prophesied greatness, bringing to the fore the vastness and richness of Welsh and Celtic traditions.

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (♦♦♦♦): Kearsley never disappoints me; her writing style is effortless, flowy, and as familiar and comforting as apple pie, or a warm summer afternoon. I can't pinpoint where her style secret resides, I just surrender to the experience. As is always the case, her research is impeccable, despite taking creative licenses that she admits to, both with characters and situations.

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (♦♦♦♦): is a multi-layered story on several fronts. The de Vos’ paintings being carefully built (when painted) or deconstructed (when forged) from the ground layers up made me visualize the processes as if they had been unfolding in front of my own eyes.

A Perfumer's Secret by Adria J. Cimino (♦♦♦♦): If you marvel at the color of sunrise or the smell of jasmine in a summer afternoon, then you should read A Perfumer's Secret… Gorgeously described, this novel details the quest of a woman to find her sense of self and belonging in the world.

Avenger by Frederick Forsyth (♦♦♦♦): I never stop marveling at Forsyth's talent for spinning a great story, particularly one which does both, entertain and inform the reader at the same time. Forsyth talks about conflagrations the world over and several countries' political intricacies with the depth of a master.

The Black Widow by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦♦♦): is a page turner of the highest order, a combination of great sense of humor, with more laugh out loud moments than ever before, but it also details the most chaotic and lethal deeds that terrorists may be able to conceive and carry out.

The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, A Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery that Fed the World, but Fueled the Rise of Hitler by Thomas Hager (♦♦♦♦♦): is chock-full with valuable historical information. I read the book twice, back-to-back, to grasp its scope and to try summarizing it as best as I could.

Comments

  1. That's an interesting and diverse list. I've been trying to compile my own. Not easy. I've read a lot of great books this year.

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    1. Yes, it helps that there weren't that many.

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  2. What a great list! I love Susanna Kearsley - I enjoyed Named of the Dragon and have a copy of A Desperate Fortune which I'm hoping to read next year. I'm also interested in reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue as I've read and liked all of Melanie Benjamin's other books.

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    1. Thanks, Helen! I always enjoy Susanna Kearsley; she has been a fixture on my "Year's Best" since I started reading her. I think you will enjoy The Swans of Fifth Avenue. It is deliciously gossipy.

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  3. I also enjoyed Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley this year :-)

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    1. It was your review that made me want to read it.

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  4. It appears you pick very well and know your own tastes in books. I think I would like to read a Kearsley novel. I have not tried her yet. Also the spy thrillers are fun, page-turning reads. These are excellent.

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    1. Yes, Susan. I know my own tastes in books. I strongly recommend Kearsley, but keep in mind that she writes outside the genres you usually pick. Spy thrillers always manage to bring me back from a book burnout.

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  5. You know, the best thing is how much you enjoyed what you did read. I also admired The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. Because of you, Helen and Jessica, I will be reading Kearsley soon! Happy reading in 2017!!

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    1. I hope you enjoy Kearsley. Happy reading in 2017 to you as well!

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  6. Hello Carmen I got here through the "keep the wisdom" blog. It's a good idea to make a list of the books you most liked. A difficult task for me to do because I loved each book I read.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, TRT. I make a list every year, and I usually stick to books I rate four stars or higher, which wasn't so difficult to do this time around because I only finished 12 books.

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