Year-End Lists

Notable, browsable lists of the year's best music, movies, books, and TV shows. End-of-year lists are fingerprints; aggregate statistics are smudges. Therefore, no tallies. Follow the link for each list to see essential commentary from its authors, at the source.

Category: 2016 Books

San Francisco Chronicle: 100 Recommended Books of 2016

San Francisco Chronicle: 100 Recommended Books of 2016

Fiction and Poetry

  • Alice & Oliver – Charles Bock
  • All That Man Is – David Szalay
  • Another Brooklyn – Jacqueline Woodson
  • Behold the Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue
  • Carousel Court – Joe McGinniss Jr.
  • Commonwealth – Ann Patchett
  • Daredevils – Shawn Vestal
  • Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine – Diane Williams
  • For a Little While: New and Selected Stories – Rick Bass
  • The Fortunes – Peter Ho Davies
  • A Gambler’s Anatomy – Jonathan Lethem
  • A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
  • Gesell Dome – Guillermo Saccomanno
  • The Girls – Emma Cline
  • Here Comes the Sun – Nicole Dennis-Benn
  • Here I Am – Jonathan Safran Foer
  • High Dive – Jonathan Lee
  • Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  • Hystopia – David Means
  • Innocents and Others – Dana Spiotta
  • The Jungle Around Us – Anne Raeff
  • The Kindness of Enemies – Leila Aboulela
  • LaRose – Louise Erdrich
  • The Last Painting of Sara de Vos – Dominic Smith
  • The Last Shift: Poems – Philip Levine
  • The Little Red Chairs – Edna O’Brien
  • Look – Solmaz Sharif
  • Losing It – Emma Rathbone
  • Mister Monkey – Francine Prose
  • Monterey Bay – Lindsay Hatton
  • Moonglow – Michael Chabon
  • Mortal Trash – Kim Addonizio
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  • My Struggle: Book Five – Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • The Nest – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  • Night Sky With Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong
  • Ninety-Nine Stories of God – Joy Williams
  • The Noise of Time – Julian Barnes
  • Nutshell – Ian McEwan
  • Pond – Claire-Louise Bennett
  • The Portable Veblen – Elizabeth Mckenzie
  • The Queen of the Night – Alexander Chee
  • The Red Car – Marcy Dermansky
  • Reputations – Juan Gabriel Vásquez
  • The Revolutionaries Try Again – Mauro Javier Cardenas
  • Serious Sweet – A.L. Kennedy
  • Shelter in Place – Alexander Maksik
  • Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty – Ramona Ausubel
  • Sudden Death – Álvaro Enrigue. Translated by Natasha Wimmer
  • Sweet Lamb of Heaven – Lydia Millet
  • Sweetbitter – Stephanie Danler
  • Swing Time – Zadie Smith
  • The Terranauts – T.C. Boyle
  • The Vegetarian – Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith
  • The Veins of the Ocean – Patricia Engel
  • Version Control – Dexter Palmer
  • What Belongs to You – Garth Greenwell
  • What Lies Between Us – Nayomi Munaweera
  • You Should Pity Us Instead – Amy Gustine
  • Zero K – Don DeLillo

Nonfiction

  • Against Everything: Essays – Mark Greif
  • America’s Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century – Gabriel Thompson
  • Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live – Peter Orner
  • At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails – Sarah Bakewell
  • The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads – Tim Wu
  • Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen
  • Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran – Laura Secor
  • Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction – Mary Ellen Hannibal
  • The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West – Peter Cozzens
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years And After, 1939-1962 – Blanche Wiesen Cook
  • The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race – Jesmyn Ward
  • The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice – Patricia Bell-Scott
  • The Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape – Peggy Orenstein
  • The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture – Pamela Haag
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J.D. Vance
  • How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon – Rosa Brooks
  • Joe Gould’s Teeth – Jill Lepore
  • Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul – James McBride
  • Known and Strange Things: Essays – Teju Cole
  • The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict – Austin Reed
  • Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams – Louisa Thomas
  • “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination – Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf
  • Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas – Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro
  • The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America – Andrés Reséndez
  • Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon – Bronwen Dickey
  • The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial – Maggie Nelson
  • Shame and Wonder: Essays – David Searcy
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life – Ruth Franklin
  • Soul at the White Heat: Inspiration, Obsession, and the Writing Life – Joyce Carol Oates
  • Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 – Adam Hochschild
  • Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War – Mark Danner
  • Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right – Arlie Russell Hochschild
  • Time Travel: A History – James Gleick
  • The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine – Ben Ehrenreich
  • We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are Transforming Human Perception, One Sense at a Time – Kara Platoni
  • When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future – Abby Smith Rumsey
  • White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World – Geoff Dyer
  • White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America – Nancy Isenberg
  • Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File – John Edgar Wideman

San Francisco Chronicle: Top 10 Books of 2016

San Francisco Chronicle: Top 10 Books of 2016

Fiction

  • Barkskins – Annie Proulx
  • Imagine Me Gone – Adam Haslett
  • The Past – Tessa Hadley
  • The Sport of Kings – C.E. Morgan
  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

Nonfiction

  • Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right – Jane Mayer
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City – Matthew Desmond
  • How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS – David France
  • Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets – Svetlana Alexievich
  • Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South – Beth Macy

Kate Tuttle: 20 Best Nonfiction Books of 2016

Kate Tuttle: 20 Best Nonfiction Books of 2016 (as published by The Boston Globe)

  • All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation – Rebecca Traister
  • At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails – Sarah Bakewell
  • Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary – Joe Jackson
  • Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America – Patrick Phillips
  • Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy – Heather Ann Thompson
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City – Matthew Desmond
  • Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck – Adam Cohen
  • Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul – James McBride
  • Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies – Ross King
  • Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story-How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War – Nigel Cliff
  • On Trails: An Exploration – Robert Moor
  • One of These Things First – Steven Gaines
  • Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon – Bronwen Dickey
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life – Ruth Franklin
  • The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father – Kao Kalia Yang
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America – Ibram X. Kendi
  • Time Travel: A History – James Gleick
  • Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy – Cathy O’Neil
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide – Carol Anderson
  • Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File – John Edgar Wideman

John Freeman: 15 Best Fiction Books of 2016

John Freeman: 15 Best Fiction Books of 2016 (as published by The Boston Globe)

  • The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  • Ema the Captive – César Aira
  • LaRose – Louise Erdrich
  • In the Café of Lost Youth – Patrick Modiano
  • Barkskins – Annie Proulx
  • The Queen of the Night – Alexander Chee
  • The Fox Was Ever the Hunter – Herta Müller
  • The Year of the Runaways – Sunjeev Sahota
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  • The Good Lieutenant – Whitney Terrell
  • Thus Bad Begins – Javier Marias
  • Zero K – Don DeLillo
  • Our Young Man – Edmund White
  • The Story of a Brief Marriage – Anuk Arudpragasam
  • Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets – Svetlana Alexievich

Dennis Cooper: 52 Favorite Books of 2016

Dennis Cooper: 52 Favorite Books of 2016 (“in no order”)

Fiction

  • Suite for Barbara Loden – Nathalie Leger
  • Dodge Rose – Jack Cox
  • Ninety-Nine Stories of God – Joy Williams
  • Transitory – Tobias Carroll
  • Patricide – D. Foy
  • Experimental Animals (A Reality Fiction) – Thalia Field
  • The Orchid Stories – Kenward Elmslie
  • A Bestiary – Lily Hoang
  • The Knack of Doing – Jeremy M. Davies
  • Flamingos – Grant Maierhofer
  • Dreamlives of Debris – Lance Olsen
  • In Their Arms – Thomas Moore
  • The Map of the System of Human Knowledge – James Tadd Adcox
  • Novi Sad – Jeff Jackson
  • Thank You – Zachary German
  • A Collapse of Horses – Brian Evenson
  • I Hate the Internet – Jarett Kobek
  • Soft Split – Szilvia Molnar
  • Falter Kingdom – Michael J. Seidlinger
  • Tiny Fish that Only Want to Kiss – Gary Indiana
  • Margaret the First – Danielle Dutton
  • Weed Monks – Chris Dankland
  • Black Lavender Milk – Black Lavender Milk
  • The Sleep Garden – Jim Krusoe
  • You With Your Memory Are Dead – Gary J Shipley
  • Marigold – Troy James Weaver
  • Abahn Sabana David – Marguerite Duras
  • The In-Betweens – Matthew Simmons
  • Sex and Death – Ben Tanzer
  • Don’t Leave Me – Stig Sæterbakken
  • WAVES – Lucy K Shaw
  • A Tree or a Person or a Wall – Matt Bell

Nonfiction

  • Communal Nude: Collected Essays – Robert Glück
  • Bresson on Bresson: Interviews, 1943-1983 – Robert Bresson
  • I/O: A Memoir – Brian Oliu
  • AUTOMANIAS – Sara Tuss Erick
  • So Sad Today: Personal Essays – Melissa Broder
  • Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories – Robert Walser
  • Bandit: A Daughter’s Memoir – Molly Brodak
  • The Sky Isn’t Blue – Janice Lee
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 – Alyse Knorr
  • The Narco-Imaginary: Essays Under the Influence – Ramsey Scott
  • The Complete Madame Realism and Other Stories – Lynne Tillman
  • Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970 – David Toop
  • My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor – Keith Morris and Jim Ruland
  • hatefuck the reader – Penny Goring
  • WASTELAND – New Juche
  • Say Bye to Reason and Hi to Everything – Andrew Durbin, Dodie Bellamy, Cecilia Corrigan, Amy De’Ath, Lynne Tillman, and Jackie Wang
  • A Barbarian in Asia – Henri Michaux
  • Loud Idiots – Sarah Jean Alexander
  • An Individual Note Of Music, Sound And Electronics – Daphne Oram
  • Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century – Simon Reynolds

Publishers Weekly: 10 Best Books of 2016

Barkskins - Annie Proulx

Publishers Weekly: 10 Best Books of 2016

  1. Barkskins – Annie Proulx
  2. What Belongs to You – Garth Greenwell
  3. Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy – Heather Ann Thompson
  4. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City – Matthew Desmond
  5. Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey – Frances Wilson
  6. A Kingdom of Their Own: The Family Karzai and the Afghan Disaster – Joshua Partlow
  7. Ninety-Nine Stories of God – Joy Williams
  8. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets – Svetlana Alexievich
  9. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  10. The Vegetarian – Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith

Library Journal: 10 Best Books of 2016

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City - Matthew Desmond

Library Journal: 10 Best Books of 2016

  1. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City – Matthew Desmond
  2. In the Darkroom – Susan Faludi
  3. The Nix – Nathan Hill
  4. To the Bright Edge of the World: A Novel – Eowyn Ivey
  5. The Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee
  6. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America – Patrick Phillips
  7. While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness – Eli Sanders
  8. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst – Jeffrey Toobin
  9. All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation – Rebecca Traister
  10. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

Sarah Begley: Top 20 Books of 2016

Sarah Begley: Top 20 Books of 2016 (as published by Time)

Fiction

  1. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  2. Another Brooklyn – Jacqueline Woodson
  3. Commonwealth – Ann Patchett
  4. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  5. All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders
  6. Imagine Me Gone – Adam Haslett
  7. Swing Time – Zadie Smith
  8. The Trespasser – Tana French
  9. My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  10. Here I Am – Jonathan Safran Foer

Nonfiction

  1. March: Book Three – John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
  2. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J.D. Vance
  3. You’ll Grow Out of It – Jessi Klein
  4. Known and Strange Things: Essays – Teju Cole
  5. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race – Margot Lee Shetterly
  6. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life – Ruth Franklin
  7. Lab Girl – Hope Jahren
  8. Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul – James McBride
  9. The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era – Akhil Reed Amar
  10. Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape – Peggy Orenstein

Brain Pickings: 16 Favorite Books of 2016

Brain Pickings: 16 Favorite Books of 2016

  1. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone – Olivia Laing
  2. Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities – Rebecca Solnit
  3. Upstream: Selected Essays – Mary Oliver
  4. Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space – Janna Levin
  5. Time Travel: A History – James Gleick
  6. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction – Neil Gaiman
  7. Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs – Sally Mann
  8. Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice – Martha C. Nussbaum
  9. Unforbidden Pleasures: Rethinking Authority, Power, and Vitality – Adam Phillips
  10. The Course of Love: A Novel – Alain de Botton
  11. The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure – Caroline Paul
  12. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race – Margot Lee Shetterly
  13. Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living – Krista Tippett
  14. The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New – Annie Dillard
  15. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  16. Pinocchio: The Origin Story – Alessandro Sanna

Maureen Corrigan: 10 Best Books of 2016

Maureen Corrigan: 10 Best Books of 2016 (as aired on NPR’s Fresh Air)

  1. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
  2. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
  3. Underground Airlines – Ben H. Winters
  4. Here I Am – Jonathan Safran Foer
  5. The Wonder – Emma Donoghue
  6. The Lonely City: Adventures In The Art Of Being Alone – Olivia Laing
  7. Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years And After, 1939-1962 – Blanche Wiesen Cook
  8. Eyes On The Street: The Life Of Jane Jacobs – Robert Kanigel
  9. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen
  10. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi