The Best Of the Best Books of 2016

Usually I love learning about great books to add to my TBR list. Some days, though, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the never-ending publication of amazing new titles each year. It makes me shake my fists at the sky and shout, “There are too many books! I’ll never read them all!”

This feeling has been particularly acute these last couple weeks with all the “Best Books of 2016” lists coming out. The top 10 lists seem relatively manageable, but there are some lists with 100 books or more! I consider myself a relatively fast reader, but there’s no way I can get to all these “best” books.

After reading all these lists, my first inclination was to give up and drown my sorrows with ice cream and a Harry Potter movie marathon, but my reading FOMO was too strong. I decided that even though I couldn’t read all the books on the lists, I could at least read the best-of the best-of.

So, I went through as many “Best Books of 2016” lists I could find (adult fiction and nonfiction), and kept track of titles that appeared multiple times. Books that appeared 5 or more times landed a spot on my “best-of the best-of” list. My process probably wasn’t perfect, but I was happy with the results. There are still 19 books on my list, but that’s whole lot less crazy-making for my brain compared to lists with 100+ titles.

And I bequeath the list to you, dear reader.  Save yourself the anxiety of wading through all those other best-of lists and just use mine 🙂

Without further ado, here are the Best Of the Best Books of 2016:
*The number in parenthesis is how many times the title appeared on a best-of list.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (8)

Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson (7)

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith (7)

Here Comes the Sun, by Nicole Dennis-Benn (6)

Barkskins, by Annie Proulx (6)

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond (6)

The Nix, by Nathan Hill (6)

LaRose, by Louise Erdrich (6)

99 Stories of God, by Joy Williams (5)

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, by Svetlana Alexievich (5)

Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren (5)

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett (5)

Queen of the Night, by Alexander Chee (5)

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter (5)

Everybody’s Fool, by Richard Russo (5)

Sport of Kings, by C.E. Morgan (5)

Imagine Me Gone, by Adam Haslett (5)

My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout (5)

Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue (5)


Which of these titles do you think you’ll read? Leave your answer in the comments below!


In case you were curious, here are the lists I used to compile my list:
NY Times 100 Notable Books of 2016 (includes their top 10)
Washington Post Top 10 Books of 2016
Booklist Best Adult Fiction of 2016
Booklist Best Adult Non-Fiction of 2016
NPR’s 2016 Book Concierge
Book Riot Best Books of 2016
Publisher Weekly’s Best Books of 2016 Top 10
Goodreads Best Books of 2016
Esquire’s 25 Best Books of 2016
Kirkus Best Fiction of 2016
Kirkus Best Non-Fiction of 2016
Huffington Post Best Fiction Books of 2016
Amazon’s Best Books of 2016


Book cover images from

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