As we say adieu to 2016 (which many people are relieved about), I thought we could recap on some of the best books of the year- at least, according to myself and some of my well-read friends.
The new year is certainly a time for new beginnings, a refresh and restart for everyone. Perhaps you’ve worked it into your resolutions to read or write more! Regardless, there’s no better time to crack open a new book, and if you need some suggestions, you’ve come to the right place.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Lots of my friends have recommended this one, and it’s on the top of my list at the moment. A little life is a tragic, beautiful story about the friendship between four men. According to my sources, A Little Life is “…devastating and brilliant.” It “f*cked [a friend of mine] up,” and another friend said it’s his top because he “enjoys feeling miserable. But really, read it.” Bixby Elliot, a playwright I look up to, said it’s in his top 10 books of all time. Based on these reviews alone, I am totally intrigued. The New York Times calls it “a big, emotional, trauma-packed read with a voluptuous prose style that wavers between the exquisite and the overdone.” For those of you as voracious about reading as myself, this definitely seems like it cannot be missed.
The Neapolitan Series Elena Ferrante
This has quickly become one of the most talked about series of the decade. The Neapolitan Series consists of four books about two best friends and the different paths their lives take. The language is rich and vibrant, the stories addictive, and the characters entirely imaginative and memorable. I have many friends who swear by the series- one friend told me that every woman on the planet will be able to relate to these books. The Guardian says, “Nothing quite like this has ever been published before.” Another trusted friend of mine said they’re “…masterful. And I don’t use that word lightly. You won’t be able to stop reading.”
Women by Chloe Caldwell
Women is a collection of personal essays about Caldwell’s first relationship with a woman. Her voice is stunning, and the stories are witty, sexy, heartbreaking, and brash. Women is a quick read- I finished it in two days, but it’s one that stays with you. It’s a hugely important LGBTQ narrative, but resonates with anyone who has ever loved and had their heart broken. It also touches upon the importance of Caldwell’s relationship with her mother, as well as friendships and flings with other women in her life. It is a story of loss, of being lost, of self-discovery and of strength.
Women is an excellent travel read, and a fascinating introduction into the genre of personal essays if that’s not usually your cup of tea. The whole thing reads like intriguing fiction while showcasing the rawness of human feelings and actions.
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
This book is unbelievably important, and should be required reading in schools. A People’s History is a look at the history of our country from everyone’s point of view- not just the white male victors. As Richard Marcus of Blog Critics puts it, “In fact throughout the history of this continent, more specifically the United States, there exist examples of speeches and first person accounts of events that give lie to the officially held position espoused by history books. [A People’s History] gathers together writings, speeches, poems, and song lyrics dating back to the times of Columbus telling the history or the United States, but it’s a history you might not recognize.”
This sort of empathy and understanding is crucial to forming a stronger nation. A People’s History is informative and powerful, shedding light on the struggles of the minorities that the white majority has been trying to brush under the carpet since the United State’s creation.
Let us know what other books we must read as we ring in the new year! And from all of us at BookHive, we wish you happy holidays and lots of inspiration in the coming year!
BookHive does beta reader editorial research for authors with Fiction (all kinds), YA/Middle Grade & Memoir manuscripts.
Tallie Gabriel is an actor, writer, and BookHive social media maven. She’s a member of InViolet Theatre and Artistic Assistant of BEDLAM Theatre in NYC.