Every Book I Read in 2016

2016 is almost over and while I don’t have to add to the enormous pile of “year end” lists again, I would feel badly if I didn’t share with you every single book that I read this year. My goal was to read forty books this year and I finished forty-one. (Reading a bunch of graphic novels and rereading all of the Harry Potter books probably helped.) I’d say, on the whole, that this year was much better in terms of quality than last year. I barely read anything I didn’t like.

I reviewed everything I read between January and April here. Other than that, I didn’t publish any reviews! I solemnly swear to do better next year. This is like, my general attitude going into 2017: Do better. (I think, probably, that should be everyone’s attitude?)

Next year, I’d like to read more, finish the books I’ve yet to finish (see the bottom of the list), and tackle even more books I’ve put off reading because I deemed them too time-consuming or difficult. I think that all of those things are possible.

And without further ado, I present to you every book I read in 2016.

(*) denotes a book that could easily have been included in my top five novels.


Top Five Novels (Roughly in Order of Preference)
Outline by Rachel Cusk [Note: I actually read this twice this year.]
The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas
The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Five Non-Fiction Books (Roughly in Order of Preference)
Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin
Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters by Laura Thompson
Columbine by Dave Cullen

Four Novels That Have Nothing to Do With One Another Except That I Liked Them a Whole Lot
The Girls by Emma Cline*
The Sellout by Paul Beatty*
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Nicotine by Nell Zink

Three Very Excellent, Very Different Thrillers with Female Protagonists
The Trespasser by Tana French*
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Five Graphic Novels (In Order of Preference)
Killing and Dying: Stories by Adrian Tomine*
Beverly by Nick Drnaso
Patience by Daniel Clowes
The Infinite Wait and Other Stories by Julia Wertz
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Three Good Autobiographies (In Order of Preference)
Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography by Robert Graves [Note: This was a reread.]
Girl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

Two Sci-Fi Books That Kinda Blew My Mind
LoveStar by Andri Snaer Magnason*
High-Rise by J.G. Ballard

Two Sci-Fi Books That Definitely Did Not Blow My Mind
Morning Star by Pierce Brown
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Two Novels About Women Going Crazy That Made Me Feel Extremely Anxious
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

One Novel That Basically Made Me Feel Like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Two All-Time Favorite Books, Reread in a Frenzy During the Final Week of December
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Group by Mary McCarthy

All Seven Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling, Reread in a Frenzy Late This Summer
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Three Books I Haven’t Finished That I Promise I’m Still Reading
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
A World On Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt

A Year (2016) in Music

I used to rank my top fifty or so songs of each year, but this year I decided to do something a little different, mostly because I listened to about one-quarter the amount of new music that I normally listen to. So, I made a bunch of little lists. Some of them aren’t even about 2016 music. But I think the below is pretty representative of what I enjoyed or interacted with the most.

(If you are interested in my personal top fifty or so songs of the year, I made a playlist here.)

10 songs that I think were my favorites of 2016 (roughly in order):
1/ “Open Your Eyes” – School of Seven Bells
2/ “Do You Need My Love” – Weyes Blood
3/ “Your Best American Girl” – Mitski
4/ “Emma O” – Speedy Ortiz
5/ “It Means I Love You” – Jessy Lanza
6/ “Alaska” – Maggie Rogers
7/ “Below” – White Lung
8/ “No Woman” – Whitney
9/ “Razrushitelny Krug (Destructive Cycle)” – Kedr Livanskiy
10/ “Erase (Aubade)” – Fear of Men

5 2016 rock songs with male vocals that I loved:
1/ “Quite Like You” – Andy Shauf
2/ “Alabaster Snow” – Leapling
3/ “Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)” – White Denim
4/ “Human Performance” – Parquet Courts
5/ “Two Deliverances” – The Hotelier

6 more 2016 rock songs with female vocals that I played on repeat:
1/ “Wednesday Night Melody” – Bleached
2/ “Door” – Nice As Fuck
3/ “Shut Up Kiss Me” – Angel Olsen
4/ “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” – Lucy Dacus
5/ “U Coulda Been An A” – Colleen Green
6/ “Denial” – Mannequin Pussy

5 new albums that I listened to a lot and didn’t really get sick of:
1/ Front Row Seat to Earth – Weyes Blood
2/ Oh No – Jessy Lanza
3/ Light Upon the Lake – Whitney
4/ The Party – Andy Shauf
5/ Fall Forever – Fear of Men

4 composers I listened to the most while at work:
1/ Claude Debussy
2/ Erik Satie
3/ Benjamin Britten
4/ Aaron Copland

5 Julia Holter songs that soundtracked my winter (because I made this Julia Holter Primer for my friend and then listened to it all the time myself):
1/ “Marienbad”
2/ “In the Same Room”
3/ “In the Green Wild”
4/ “Hello Stranger”
5/ “Don’t Make Me Over” (cover)

5 representative songs on a 70-song playlist I made specifically for a trip to my lake house with friends this summer:
1/ “In a Big Country” – Big Country
2/ “Country House” – Blur
3/ “Steal My Sunshine” – Len
4/ “Pepper” – Butthole Surfers
5/ “Born Slippy (Nuxx)” – Underworld

2 compilations I was obsessed with:
1/ Sky Girl
2/ Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music

7 songs I performed more than once at karaoke during 2016:
1/ “If It Makes You Happy” – Sheryl Crow
2/ “Live to Tell” – Madonna
3/ “If I Can’t Have You” – Yvonne Elliman
4/ “Linger” – The Cranberries
5/ “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” – Belinda Carlisle
6/ “S.O.S.” – ABBA
7/ “Insensitive” – Jann Arden

6 songs that unexpectedly made me cry (at least twice in public):
1/ “Thirteen” – Big Star
2/ “America” – Simon & Garfunkel
3/ “Walk Away Renee” – The Left Banke
4/ “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” – Dave Van Ronk
5/ “Vienna” – Billy Joel
6/ “Living Without You” – Harry Nilsson

9 old songs that I had major moments with this year:
1/ “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” – Steely Dan
2/ “But I Might Die Tonight” – Cat Stevens
3/ “Lucky Strikes & Liquid Gold” – Jeff Cowell
4/ “Lopin’ Along Through the Cosmos” – Judee Sill
5/ “Long Promised Road” – The Beach Boys
6/ “All I Ever Wanted” – New Riders of the Purple Sage
7/ “Ballad of Geraldine” – Donovan
8/ “Hot Burrito #1” – The Flying Burrito Brothers
9/ “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” – Electric Light Orchestra