2016 has been a doozy.
It seems like the year that just won’t stop. I mean, we’re trying to hold out the last week of the freaking year, and we get news that the world has lost Carrie Fisher. Seriously.
In a year of such loss and fear, the world of literature becomes even more important.
Books offer understanding, clarity, escapism, and a perspective on the world other than your own. It’s nice to know that no matter how weird the world gets, there are amazing authors out there doing amazing work, and letting you be a little part of that.
Fortunately 2016 did not disappoint in literature.
There were a lot of contenders for the best new releases in 2016, but these are ultimately the ones that did the exceptional – offer escape, while challenging your perspective.
1. Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien
This is drama at it’s best. It’s a story of two generations of a Chinese family, including their history, their pain, and their pursuit of survival. Get to know a bit more behind the Maoist Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square while fully embracing a familial drama.
2. Truly Madly Guilty, by Liane Moriarty
We may have fallen in love with Liane Moriarty this year through our read of Big Little Lies for book club, but her latest definitely nails escapism. Moriarty’s signature suspense keeps you guessing, even with a proven formula that always relies on similar tactics. With a smaller cast and a shorter Timeline, Truly Madly Guilty will still keep you guessing to the very end!
3. Paper Girls, by Brian K Vaughan
The first issue of Paper Girls kicked of what is sure to be an abiding love affair. 2016 really rocked the 80s nostalgia, and this is no exception. There is a lot going on in Paper Girls – from plucky girl power, to time traveling dinosaurs. Expect to feel left with more questions than answers.
4. The Girls, by Emma Cline
When true events inspire a novel, things can go really well or really poorly. Emma Cline’s imagining of the life of a teenager who becomes captivated by the Manson Family cult in the late 1960s is an exercise in exploring history in the best way. It’s a portrait of youth and idealism and what happens when all of that is corrupted by horrible evil.
5. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
This is the book to read if you want to figure out what happened in the 2016 election cycle. This is an investigation of the culture and families left behind – the poor white workers. Perhaps something that could simply feel frustrating, Vance’s exploration of his own family’s history is what maintains Hillbilly Elegy‘s relatability and bite.