Top 10 Fiction of 2016

I read 158 books in 2016 and have a few favorites. Here’s a look at the best fiction.


  1. Freeman by Leonard Pitts Jr. – Exploring freedom and humanity in the aftermath of the Civil War.
  2. Roots by Alex Haley – Following multiple generations from freedom in Africa through the harrows of slavery to eventual freedom. This is the story of America.
  3. Copper Sun by Sharon Draper – Much like Roots, this book tells the story of slavery from Africa to America, but instead of generations it follows one girl. I read it one night.
  4. Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past by Diane Wilson – This book mixes memoir with fiction as the author explores her family’s native roots and ties to the Dakota War.
  5. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – I’m not usually a fan of fantasy, especially when it’s not very clear what’s happening, but I rolled with it on this one and really enjoyed this story of a persecuted group of misfits with the power to control seismic activity.
  6. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – This is fan fiction for a fictional universe created for another fictional story. Follow all that? Plus, it’s a lovely homage to Harry Potter.
  7. Frindle by Andrew Clements – Read this to my kids and we all loved it. It’s about how words come to be.
  8. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate – Another outloud book for the kids and another 5-star book from Katherine Applegate. This story mixes the power of imagination and a child’s perspective on being homeless.
  9. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff – This story of a girl in search of a family is a quick read, but touching.
  10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – This is a sad, but I think ultimately hopeful story. It’s probably my favorite book club book of the year.

Honorable Mentions:

General fiction:

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – This is a wonderful companion to Roots, as it tells the same multi-generational story of slavery, but this one tells the story on both sides of the Atlantic. My only disappointment was that the many generations of characters on both sides became a little hard to follow.
  • Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older – I’m not usually a fan of ghost stories, but this was a fun, action-filled adventure romp.
  • Brothers of the Buffalo: A Novel of the Red River War by Joseph Bruchac – I’ve never read a story of the Indian wars from a perspective like this—intertwined stories from a Native American and a black Buffalo soldier.
  • Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – His stories continue to have such a wonderful voice, which makes this difficult story worth getting through.

Teen love:

I read a lot of YA fiction, and it often centers on the depths of adolescent anguish surrounding love. That can get a little tiring, though this trio of stories brought new life to love:

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth – Love seems a bit trifling when your entire being is questioned and challenged by everyone.
  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan – Forbidden love in Iran is a matter of life and death.
  • Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu – Rather than romantic love, this is a story about family; about a girl in an extremely religious household who needs to find her own way.

Children’s books:

  • Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan – The musical nature of this story makes the audiobook absolutely essential.
  • Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass – This story is worth a mention because its focus on the solar eclipse has me making plans for the next solar eclipse in August 2017.
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds – I’m continually amazed at how Jason Reynolds cranks out the books. This was his second book of 2016 and fifth in three years.

More Reading

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

You can also check out more of my reading favorites for some suggestions.

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