Picture by me edited with VSCO.
2016 was my first full year in college. I figured out my future plans and goals and built up to getting straight A’s in my most recent semester. Since I am in my second year, most of the classes I’ve been taking have been gen-ed courses. That means that I’ve had a lot of reading, but not the kind I love to do. During 2016, I only really had time for leisure reading during summer break and winter break. I am on winter break currently and I’ve been eating up so many books over the past week or so, a couple that I’ll have reviews up for (hopefully) this week.
I thought it would be a great idea for one of my first blog posts to be a list of my favorite books I read in 2016. Although I didn’t have as much reading time as I have in the past and anticipate having in the future, I did get some really great reads in–and discovered some new favorite books and even a new genre!
Without further ado, let’s get into the list.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.”
Why I picked it:
I will NEVER stop singing the praises of this book. It is exactly what I love in a story: a contemporary story about a country I was previously unfamiliar with, told in such gorgeous and masterful prose. Adichie is an absolute master of language. Her characters are so fully fleshed out. The perspective shifts back and forth through time, but it is done with a grace that makes everything just make sense. I was never confused or taken out of the story.
My favorite thing of this novel is easily the writing style. Adichie is just a brilliant writer. Her descriptions are never overwrought, but just the perfect usage of words to bring place and character to life. Reading this book was like drinking a big glass of perfect ice water on a super hot day. It was indulgent. I recommend this to everyone in the world, honestly.
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
“Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.
The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.”
Why I picked it:
I do. not. read fantasy. Ever. I mean it. I know so many people love it so much, but I’ve just never been into it. But Game of Thrones is different.
These books came to me this year through my roommate. When we were vacationing in Florida over summer break, she got me to start watching the show. I loved it. I was very very shocked. But, being the type of person I am, I immediately wanted to stop watching the show and read the book.
Best idea I have ever had. The A Song of Ice and Fire series is just so good. If you have seen the show and enjoy it, please give the books a try. This is a new obsession and there is just so much of it left for me to enjoy. I am thrilled to keep reading these books. I received the second book as a Christmas present this past week and I am just over half way through. The best praise I can give to this book is that it single handedly made me love a genre that I’ve always hated. That’s the power of these books.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
“Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.”
Why I picked it:
I just read this book. It was the first one I picked up at the start of my winter break. It’s actually a logical follow up to my last pick on this list, since Game of Thrones was the drive behind my reading this little novel.
Emilia Clarke, as some might know, plays my favorite character (Dany) on Game of Thrones, and she also starred in the movie adaptation of Me Before You. I knew I really wanted to see that movie after watching the previews, but as a rule I don’t see a movie until reading the book first. This has been on my TBR since the semester began, and I was so excited to dive into it.
I’m not going to go to deeply into my feelings about this book because I want to put a review up for it sometime this week where you can read me gushing and singing praises for a whole post. I’ll just leave it at this: I loved this book. One of my most favorite books I’ve ever read. I was expecting a contemporary romance and got SO so much more.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
“Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.
Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.”
Why I picked it:
Ok, it’s starting to dawn on me that I’m going against my whole “I don’t like fantasy” thing a lot more than I thought I was. Yes, this is a fantasy book. It is an Alice in Wonderland prequel, essentially. It has talking animals and magic and stuff. Stuff I’m not traditionally into. But I LOVED this book.
On top of being fantasy, it is also a YA novel. I don’t think I’ve read any YA (besides The Fault in Our Stars) since middle school. Seriously. But, I thought, it’s winter break. I should be able to take a break from all these serious intellectual monster books and read something fun! And fun this book definitely was.
This is another book that I’m planning to post a review of this week, so again, I won’t go into detail. I’ll just say that this book surprised me in so many great ways. I loved our main character; she’s actually one of my favorite protagonists I’ve ever read. Everything was so clever and whimsical but also totally dark and emotional. It was a GREAT pick up for me and I’d like to thank pretty much everyone on Booktube and Bookstagram who wouldn’t stop talking about it!
Alright, that’s all folks! I realize this isn’t a ton of books and lots of other bloggers have way more favorites on their list, but this is my first blog post after all, and like I said, I haven’t had a ton of time to read lots of books for fun. As promised, I will get those two reviews up on this blog at some point in the coming week, so if you liked this first post look out for those.
Thanks for reading!