If you’re anything like me, part of your New Year’s Resolution involved reading more books. Studies and personal experiences show that people who read regularly tend to be more intelligent, empathetic, and happier. Reading more (and I don’t mean your Facebook feed) will open yourself up to viewpoints you never would have considered before. There are so many genres to choose from, that it’s nearly impossible to not find a book that peaks your interest. Some people say they don’t like reading, but that’s probably because they haven’t found the right book yet. If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some of the top books from 2016.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Set in the 1960’s, this novel follows the plight of a family after two marriages fall apart and then a blended family comes out of the ashes. Taking place over the rest of their lives, it’s often difficult to know exactly what happens, as the reader observes the family from the outside, hearing pieces of gossip and different perspectives of events that tells the story of a family that deals with job and tragedy, including the death of a child.
The Return by Hisham Matar
Written as a memoir, this book tells the tale of Matar’s father, who was arrested in Egypt and sent back to Libya. He was then placed in a prison where letters were occasionally smuggled out to Matar, but they stopped coming after a few years. Matar, his brother, and his mother immigrated to America, where his father’s absence haunted him for the rest of his life. The memoir gives insight into these events and also covers his return to Libya, where he attempts to discover what happened to his father.
Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich
A poignant novel examing the personal lives of several Russians as the Soviet Union dissolves. This novel vividly describes the experiences of people stuck in this country as drastic change takes over. Instead of approaching it from a historical point of view, Alexievich chooses the tell the story through emotions and memories. A reader feels connected with the characters as the novel gives deep insight into their struggles and triumphs.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
This novel features two timelines that alternate between the narrator working as a personal assistant to a celebrity who wants to establish a school in Africa and the narrator’s childhood, when she became friends with a biracial girl, which ends in friction between the two girls. The novel offers interesting insights into race and class issues that most readers will find engaging.
The Girls by Emma Cline
The story follows a lost teenager, Evie, who searches for a place she can belong, which leads her to join a cult eerily similar to that of Charles Manson. The story is told from the perspective of an adult Evie, who cannot come to terms with how close she came to taking part in a horrific murder. This book will definitely make you shiver.