2016 had some good books and some bad ones — Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, anyone? My top five books of the year were ones I personally thought were fantastic, but also books that influenced the wider world outside of the book-lover communities. Each of these books came across my radar from people and places I don’t normally look for book recommendations from, because they were so impactful, everyone was talking about them.
1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
When Breath Becomes Air is bone-chillingly beautiful. The story is desperate, hopeless and powerful all at once. When Kalanithi was diagnosed with terminal cancer just as he was finishing his neurosurgery training, he decided to write this memoir. In it, he asks what makes life worth living as his life is ending. Kalanithi lives on in his memoirs, which makes his death all the more stunning to read. It’s not a light read, but it’s one of the best ones to come out of 2016.
2. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Take the most dysfunctional family you can think of, multiply that dysfunctionality about two hundred times, and then you have an idea of what the Plumb family is like. There’s a trust fund, a kid fresh out of rehab and a whole host of other issues the family faces while trying to figure out how they can use the trust fund to fix their lives. They’re also understanding how to deal with old betrayals, new friendships and the effect money has on their familial bond. It’s a book based in reality, if not necessarily a happy one and definitely worth reading.
3. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Just because you think you’re not a real adult yet, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some good young adult fiction. Lady Midnight is the first novel in The Dark Artifices series, which takes place in Cassandra Clare’s ‘Shadowhunters’ universe — her most popular series, The Mortal Instruments first introduces this universe. Fans of Clare will recognize her hilarious and quick-paced writing. If we’re talking about an author who has made an impact on pop culture, Clare is definitely one to consider and that alone makes this book worth reading. It’s also a fantastic story if you’re looking for a light read that pulls you in right from the start.
4. Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
If you’re on Tumblr, I guarantee that a Sarah Andersen — also known as Sarah’s Scribbles — comic has passed you by. Andersen’s collection of comics is for the everyday person. Are you the person who spends their day in their pyjamas? Anderson has a comic for you. Are you the person who forgets to buy groceries for three weeks? Your dilemma is in her drawings. As a university student who’s pretty high-key a mess, it’s great to see that there’s a comic for me.
5. Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen and Adeena Sussman
Who would have thought that a cookbook would make a top book list? But seriously, Chrissy Teigen has a well-documented love of food and that translates into this amazing cookbook. Personally, I burn water, but her easy-to-follow instructions and an attitude as fun and spicy as her recipes make for great cooking. And if we’re talking about making an impact on pop culture … who doesn’t know about Chrissy Teigen’s love of food?
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