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January 11, 2017 / Leslie

Favorite Books of 2016

I know, this is a bit late. I intended to post this the last week of December, and then life got in the way.

I read only 52 books this year, down a bit from previous years. Blogging was also down. My additional roles at the bird shelter have taken up a chunk of my previously “free” time. In addition to working on the adoption committee, I am also the Treasurer and administrator of our Facebook page. (Feel free to like and follow us. We encourage people to adopt, not shop!)

Two Favorites That Stood Out

I usually don’t rank my favorites but rather just list them. This year two stood out as especially memorable: The Never Open Desert Diner and Dark Matter.

Never-Open-Desert Diner3DarkMatter

The Never Open Desert Diner by James Anderson.
A surprise hit for me; a literary noir mystery with the desert as a main character. This is an original, well-plotted tale, both haunting and beautiful, that left me thinking about it long after I’d finished the book.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
I had a feeling I would like this book before I even started it, and I was right. I loved it. It’s a fascinating journey through alternate realities that becomes more and more complex as our protagonist attempts to make his way back to his own timeline. Yes, there is science and physics involved, but the author does a wonderful job of making it understandable. Even if one is not into the science, there is a great mystery and adventure story here.

Three More Favorites

versioncontrol-printgoodmorningmidnight-printAtomic Weight of Love

Version Control by Dexter Palmer.
This is a time travel story but not the action-adventure type. I would call it literary science fiction. There is character development and a complex plot. The device causing the time travel isn’t even referred to as a time machine — it’s a causality violation device. It’s set about 10 years in the future, but it’s very relatable to the present day with our technology and social media. I listened to this in audio, and there were a few times I had to back up to be clear on the details — events keep changing as we travel back in time — but it was worth the extra work.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton.
An aging astronomer and an astronaut tell their stories in alternating viewpoints after an unknown catastrophic event causes all communications on earth to shut down. I enjoyed the parallel stories of these two scientists that gave up their families for the work they loved. A thoughtful, haunting, and at times beautiful look at what the end of the world as we know it might feel like.

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church.
In the 1940s, one woman’s dreams of becoming an ornithologist are interrupted when she falls in love with a physicist working on the atomic bomb. From the cover of the book one would think it is about birds — it’s not, although they do play a role in the story and those who enjoy reading about birds will find the references interesting. What I enjoyed about the story was the beautiful writing and the way it captured the essence of mid-century America and women’s roles, expectations, and evolution.

Non-Fiction Favorites

Both of my non-fiction favorites were books chosen by my book club.


Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.
I had not heard of this book until it was chosen for my book club. It is a memoir by a young, idealistic lawyer who founded a legal practice dedicated to defending the unjustly convicted and those most desperate and in need. This is a chilling account of just how broken our justice system is and the difference one person can make in the lives of so many.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.
This is a thoroughly researched, fascinating history of the Lusitania. While filled with facts and details, there is nothing dry or boring here. The book is written like a novel and is narrative non-fiction at its finest. You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy it. This is a story that many of us think we know but we really don’t.

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Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Jan 11 2017 4:13 pm

    My wish list just surged – I haven’t read any of those books.


  2. candidkay / Jan 11 2017 4:16 pm

    I’m going to check out The Atomic Weight of Love–sounds good!


  3. Mary / Jan 11 2017 4:16 pm

    I think Dead Wake sounds really interesting so I’m adding it to my Audible wish list.


    • Leslie / Jan 11 2017 4:55 pm

      I have the book and the audio, and I preferred listening to reading. Scott Brick is the narrator and does a wonderful job.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yvo / Jan 11 2017 7:38 pm

    Great list! Dark Matter was one of my favorites last year as well.


  5. Tea Time with Marce / Jan 11 2017 8:05 pm

    I enjoyed Dark Matter also, it was a different read for me. Glad to see your list. Happy 2017


  6. techeditor / Jan 12 2017 10:05 am

    DARK MATTER was one of my favorites of 2016, too, because it is a book that I didn’t want to put down, that kept me up at night. I’m not normally a science fiction fan, either.

    This excellent novel presents happily married Jason who has a son and a job as a professor at a small college. He sometimes wonders what his life would have been like if he had taken a different path 15 years ago when he married his wife, Daniela. Jason got multiple answers to that question.

    DARK MATTER is Stephen Kingish. Some of his books do not have monsters or clowns but are about normal people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. DARK MATTER is like those.

    Or maybe Crouch should not be compared to King. Crouch is not a new author. He wrote the WAYWARD PINES trilogy, the basis for the TV series of the same name. But I did not read it; Crouch was new to me, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked DARK MATTER.


  7. techeditor / Jan 12 2017 10:14 am

    I also read DEAD WAKE and agree that it’s a good book, although it isn’t one of my favorites of 2016.

    I was glad I read all of this and didn’t skip, even when I suspected that some paragraphs existed simply because Larson didn’t want to waste a single bit of the research he did for DEAD WAKE. My suspicions were wrong. I didn’t skip.

    I was ashamed to say but no longer am because Larson, himself, admits the same: I always thought that the U.S. entered World War I immediately after the Germans torpedoed and sank the “Lusitania.” Larson lays out the truth, beginning with background. That can form the basis for educated guesses about what happened later and why.

    For me, the biggest mysteries of this story are what the English knew ahead of time, why they didn’t notify the captain of the “Lusitania” when they knew it, and why they continued to lie about it. Was this an effort to involve the U.S. in this war in Europe? Or were the English trying to mislead the Germans?

    I came to a conclusion. But I won’t tell.


  8. Laura @ Library of Clean Reads / Jan 12 2017 10:16 pm

    I haven’t read any of these, but they all sound so good. You did some great reading last year. It’s not the quantity but the good experience of reading good books that makes a great reading year for me.


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