procrastinator’s picks – best books of 2016

I keep saying I wanted to read more so this year when the opportunity arose I joined a new book club! I was a little hesitant about the commitment and a little hesitant about the book selection but all in all I rate the year a success. Below is the list of what we read this year, plus a couple of additional vacation selections, in order of reading.

  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty – This was a unique and amusingly satirical take on race that was well worth a read and a think, great fodder for my first book club attendance.
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James – Super long and super challenging with the multiple POV entailing lots of Jamaican dialect, and while I appreciated it more than I enjoyed this fictional look surrounding politics and days of Bob Marley for an interesting read.
  • Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem – I am typically a big Lethem fan but there was something about this book that just never quite engaged me with the look at multi-generational dissidents who were interesting if not endearing.
  • The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson – I’m going to label this my favorite book of last year, as we move with the titles character through his unbelievable journey through North Korea, as fantastical as his story is the very real research grounded it.
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang – This surreal and poetic mix of three points of view in a tale of a woman taking a turn in her life starting with visions of food, fell more on the appreciation than enjoyment side of the fence.
  • The Girls by Emma Cline – We picked this one for something a little lighter, in readability though not subject matter, I was entertained by if not totally brought on board with the psychology and situation around at a young girl who falls in with a cult-ish group.
  • Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi – Although very readable the loose riff on Snow White never quite hits trying to do a myriad of styles and stories feeling like it’s not quite covering too many bases.
  • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann – This had been sitting on my shelf for ages so jumped at the chance to get this in the rotation and pleasantly surprised as the weaving together of various people’s stories brings a greater appreciation for each as well as their place in the time and NYC.
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen – This book may have suffered in my opinion by the fact that it was the one I didn’t finish on time and therefore was relegated to finishing in dribs and drabs, but while the communist double agent protagonist kept me interested in his trips from early Vietnam to the US and back again and yet not totally engrossed.
  • Funny Girl by Nick Hornby – This was the first of my vacation books, I’m a big Hornby fan in general always readable and amusing if not always amazing, this one that was a look at an early English comedienne was definitely enjoyable.
  • The Pesthouse by Jim Crace – I started into the backlog after reading Being Dead and this was an interesting look at this peculiar slice of remote world and people thrown together but not my fave.
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – This was the talk of the town for a bit and though I was left a little less glowing of the simplistic character and slightly overly coincidental series of events in the end I was won over by Ove and the people who won him over.
  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith – I’m realizing that I’m actually up to date on Smith having gone back to the backlog after favorite On Beauty, and though for me nothing else has matched that I enjoyed this journey with our unnamed and somewhat distant protagonist as she journeys through family, friends, work, romance, and politics.

A little tardy with my end of year lists, I’m also taking a pass on doing the critic roundups. Trying to find any good compilations but you can find a full rundown of all the year-end lists (which is a little overwhelming to be honest) at Largehearted Boy. And stay tuned for tv and movie picks!

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