Top Reads of 2016

It’s crazy to think 2016 came to a close just last week. As we make new year resolutions and plans to accomplish over the next twelve months, I’m setting a goal to read 25 books in 2017. Between audiobooks and hard copies, I read 16 books this past year. Four of those (and one audiobook) were my absolute favorites of the year.

The 25th Hour by David Benioff – I’m not a type of reader who is strongly opposed to reading a book before seeing the film adaptation. Typically I can appreciate both as separate entities, even if I do prefer one over the other. I stumbled upon the film, The 25th Hour, on HBO Go (I’m a huge Edward Norton fan) and absolutely loved it.

I wasn’t familiar with the book or film prior to seeing it, but the following weekend, I found the book when visiting Kramers in DuPont Circle. I read it in a day, which is indicative of how much I loved the novel. In less than 24 hours, it quickly entered the ranks of my top 5 favorite books of all time.

The 25th Hour tells the story of Montgomery Brogan, a convicted drug dealer, the day before he leaves for prison. A seemingly cliche or plot driven story line, it’s anything but. The characters are deep, well developed, and raw. The dialog and prose is fantastically written by author, David Benioff (who Game of Thrones fans might know as the show runner of the TV series). Highly recommend to anyone who loves a gritty New York story.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub – I originally heard of Emma Straub after reading a blog post by Carly Heitlinger of The College Prepster on Straub’s latest novel, Modern Lovers (which I actually listened to via Audible over the Summer). I bought this to read on my flight to and from Nashville.

Fittingly enough, this novel is a perfect read for the Summer or any vacation getaway. It takes place over a two week period and tells the story of a New York family who travels to Majorca, Spain for Summer vacation. Emma Straub always seems to capture the voice and family dynamic of her characters extremely well.

While the book isn’t as much of a chick lit as the cover might make it seem, it’s definitely more light hearted than The 25th Hour. I highly recommend!

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – It seems like just about everything you can buy using a subscription service. After becoming OBSESSED with BookTube videos this year, I learned of Book of the Month, a book subscription service. In my first month, I selected Eligible, a modern take on the novel, Pride and Prejudice. 

I read a few of Curtis Sittenfeld’s earlier novels in high school and really enjoyed them. The novel is extremely witty and captures what I believe Mr. Darcy and Liz Bennet’s relationship would be like in the present day.

For Austen fans, you’ll absolutely LOVE this book. Despite it being over 500 pages, I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it in a single weekend.

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin – It’s safe to say that Emily Giffin is my all time favorite author. I met her at her book signing in Georgetown for her 2012 novel, Where We Belong, and she was lovely! Emily consistently explores relationship dynamics between friends, sisters, spouses, etc. in her novels.

This time, she told the story of two thirty-something sisters who continue to cope with the loss of their brother while dealing with their own personal struggles (Josie, a single woman, wants a child and Meredith feels dissatisfied with her picturesque life).

This novel made me laugh, cry, and empathize with both characters and the situation at hand. I wasn’t a huge fan of her last book, The One and Only, but First Comes Love was absolutely brilliant.

Pride and Prejudice (Audiobook) recording by Rosamund Pike – If Eligible didn’t give it away, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. I loved the novel and was a fan of both the BBC miniseries and the 2005 film adaptation starring Keira Knightley. Pride and Prejudice was the first audiobook I purchased on Audible and Rosamund Pike’s recording of the story was fantastic.

I loved how soothing her narration was and yet how animated she was when doing the voices of some of the supporting characters. If you’ll remember, Rosamund Pike played Jane Bennet in the 2005 film adaptation, which was kind of a cool homage to her role.

I listened to it a lot in the car when driving to and from work. Definitely worth a listen!