In 2016 I read some phenomenal books. These books made it to the Best reads of 2016 posts. But, I also read some very good books that almost made it to the list as well! Therefore, this post is about the books that did not make it to that list.
Here are some books that I think you should not miss out on.
Goodreads summary: Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
This book was one of my early 2016 reads. But it stuck through till the end of the year! I loved the writing and the way the suspense was built. If you enjoy drama with a slight thriller component and interesting, real relationship dynamics, this one is for you.
Goodreads summary: Dan and a group of his friends enjoy a Sunday lunch together on a perfect summer’s day. They’re pleased to welcome their glamorous new neighbour and novelist, Ellie, who has rented a house in the village to work on her book. She likes to place herself in the centre of her plots, she says, although it’s hard to see what she’ll find to write about in a quiet country backwater. As Ellie slots effortlessly into the village social scene, Dan’s wife begins to feel increasingly alienated from her friends and isolated from her family, but, for the life of her, she can’t fathom why…
This book is about gaslighting. Enough said? One of the best thrillers I have read in a long time.
Goodreads summary: In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City’s Lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research. Subjected to X-ray treatments that leave her disfigured, Rachel suffers years of cruel harassment from the other orphans. But when she turns fifteen, she runs away to Colorado hoping to find the brother she lost and discovers a family she never knew she had. Though Rachel believes she’s shut out her painful childhood memories, years later she is confronted with her dark past when she becomes a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home and her patient is none other than the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon. Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon acknowledge, and pay for, her wrongdoing. But each passing hour Rachel spends with the old doctor reveals to Rachel the complexities of her own nature. She realizes that a person’s fate—to be one who inflicts harm or one who heals—is not always set in stone.
This one will pull at your heartstrings. It is a story that deals with the choice between mercy and revenge. What will Rachel choose? And what do you think of her final act? Is it revenge? Or is it mercy?
Goodreads summary: Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
I read Fangirl during a period when I desperately needed a light read. Maybe that is why I enjoyed it so much. This one is a fun coming-of-age story with heavy influences to the great magical world of Hogwarts. Is it any wonder that I liked it?!
Goodreads summary: Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.
I must admit, I have not really watched much of Tina Fey’s work. But, I have read Bossypants and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I found myself laughing through a lot of points in the book. And as a bonus, she totally owns being bossy and being a feminist! If you want a good laugh with some great writing, pick this one up.
Goodreads summary: In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele — Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles — as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. Kaysen’s memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a “parallel universe” set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.
I read this book in one sitting. That is how captivating it was to me. If you enjoy reading about mental health (and in my opinion you should), pick this one up. It is a memoir that will stay with you because of its sheer honesty.
Goodreads summary: We all know the headiness and excitement of the early days of love. But what comes after? In Edinburgh, a couple, Rabih and Kirsten, fall in love. They get married, they have children—but no long-term relationship is as simple as “happily ever after.” The Course of Love is a novel that explores what happens after the birth of love, what it takes to maintain love, and what happens to our original ideals under the pressures of an average existence. You experience, along with Rabih and Kirsten, the first flush of infatuation, the effortlessness of falling into romantic love, and the course of life thereafter. Interwoven with their story and its challenges is an overlay of philosophy—an annotation and a guide to what we are reading. This is a romantic novel in the true sense, one interested in exploring how love can survive and thrive in the long term. The result is a sensory experience—fictional, philosophical, psychological—that urges us to identify deeply with these characters, and to reflect on his and her own experiences in love.
I stay away from romantic novels. I believe that they generally give you a warped sense of what love and romance should be like. But, when a friend recommended this book to me and I read the plotline on Goodreads, I couldn’t resist it! I think it is an important book for anyone looking to get married! It is an honest, brutal portrayal of what marriage is all about.
Goodreads summary: At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Grief can make us do crazy things. Sometimes these crazy things destroy us. Sometimes these crazy things become life lessons. Wild is a tale that talks about both. It also talks about survival and getting to the basic root of what being you is all about. When you’re feeling lost or alone or just want some company in your life, pick up Wild. (I read it as part of a book club).
Goodreads summary: A sinister Countess is driven mad by a dark secret. An innocent woman is made the instrument of retribution. A murdered man’s fury reaches from beyond the grave. When Countess Narona marries Agnes Lockwood’s fiance and takes him to live in a rundown Venetian palace, strange things start happenings – a servant mysteriously vanishes and the husband dies a recluse. But the dead won’t rest. When the palace is transformed into a hotel the two women are drawn through the murky streets of Venice to its chambers, where a force stronger than death is waiting to wreak its vengeance.
I have always enjoyed reading Wilkie Collins. I have read The Moonstone as well as The Woman in White and I love the gothic, mysterious texture that his stories have. The Haunted Hotel is similar. Read this one to get your fill of a gothic tale!
Goodreads summary: Miss Emily “Fido” Faithfull is a “woman of business” and a spinster pioneer in the British women’s movement, independent of mind but naively trusting of heart. Distracted from her cause by the sudden return of her once-dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen’s failing marriage and obsessive affair with a young army officer. What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into a courtroom drama that rivals the Clinton affair –complete with stained clothing, accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious letter that could destroy more than one life.
This is the only Emma Donoghue book that I have read. Her book, Room, has been sitting on my shelf for a while and I am hoping to get to it this year. On a whim, I picked this book up at a bookstore and immediately read it. The story is based on true events. The narrative has been so well woven by Donoghue, that it is very difficult to put this book down! If you love scandals, this one is for you.
So here are my 10 Good reads of 2016. When you finish the 20 best reads of 2016, give these a go!