My best books of 2016 (and other distinctions)
1001 Nights in Iraq: The Shocking Story of an American Forced to Fight for Saddam Against the Country He Loves, by Shant Kendarian. Every year, there's a book or two that stands out as having been seemingly written just for me. This book was 2016's. It touched on childhood memories (the Gulf War), other books I love (Guests of the Ayatollah), and experiences of my adulthood (living in the Middle East and also dealing with lots of immigration paperwork). A crazy, topical, and yet timeless story (because unfortunately, war and immigration redtape will always exist).
Savage Summit: The True Stories of the First Five Women Who Climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain, by Jennifer Jordan. Breathless tales of mountain-climbing exploits AND feminism? Be still my heart.
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, by Jeffery Toobin. STRANGER THAN FICTION.
My Lady Jane, by Cynthia Hand/Brodi Ashton/Jodi Meadows. Laugh-out-loud, Princess Bride-style hijinks set in the drama of post-Henry VIII England.
Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo. Every time you thought the stakes couldn't get any higher, or the plot more suspenseful, or the action any brisker, Bardugo took things up a notch.
What If? by Randall Munroe. SCIENCE. And CARTOONS.
Now for some fun distinctions:
Most unexpectedly good book: Savage Summit, mentioned above. I picked it up randomly while waiting for my hold on Into Thin Air to come through, and it ended up being a great read!
Most unexpectedly bad book: The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater. My hopes. They were so high. This book. It...not crushed them, exactly, but wilted them. I still have high hopes for a second reading, though.
Longest book: Goodreads tells me it was Winter, with 832 pages.
Most-read book: Jacob Have I Loved (I've read it eleventy-billion times) and Into Thin Air (at least three times). I also re-read For Darkness Shows the Stars as well as The Winner's Curse books 1 and 2 (in preparation for book 3) and The Raven Boys books 1, 2, and 3 (in preparation for book 4).
Best bad book (a book that is vaguely trashy but fun to read): Empire of Storms. Even Sarah J. Maas' worst is still pretty dang entertaining.
Worst good book: Salt to the Sea. Its subject matter is so important, but I could never bear to read this book again.
Worst book I didn't finish: Glass Sword. I just couldn't be bothered.
Worst book I DID finish: I need to rename this category in honor of The Selection series, because its books always win. This year it was The Crown.
Worst title: A Court of Mist and Fury. Book titles are increasingly nonsensical strings of nouns these days, it seems. I can't keep them straight and they don't even MEAN anything, really.
Best title: Salt to the Sea. Perfection.
Most forgettable book: Huh, I read a book called Rebel of the Sands this year.
Book that gave me the worst case of logorrhea: What If?
Note: I did an uncharacteristically poor job of correllating similarities in books this year. It's something I really enjoy seeing the results of, but something that in actuality is really hard to do. So here's my best effort...and I hope to return to form next year.
Books that start with "this is a true story": 81 Days Below Zero, Frozen in Time.
Books in which people are injured by having their limbs sliced by assassins throwing star-shaped weapons: Crooked Kingdom; Ember in the Ashes.
Books in which people have to try to learn to shape-shift into animal form: Empire of Storms, My Lady Jane.
Books in which bad guys are hunting people for their magical abilities: Empire of Storms, Crooked Kingdom, My Lady Jane, Rebel of the Sands.
Books in which people do dangerous things during WWII in planes or on bicycles or both: Agent Z, 81 Days Below Zero, Frozen in Time, Shadow on the Mountain, The Nightingale, Girl in the Blue Coat.
Books in which a creepy guy creepily captures butterflies for creepy reasons: The Adventuress, Salt to the Sea.
Books in which a motley group of young soldiers and hackers and do-gooders, some of whom have artificial limbs, have to infiltrate the bad guys' stronghold, fighting people who are being mind-controlled: Winter, Their Fractured Light.