Guest Post by Jessie: Great Books of 2016

Today’s post is a Guest Post! Jessie from The Desert Bookworm (delicious blog name!) created a list of one of her best read of 2016. Check out her blog for more recommendations, and check out my guest post on Jessie’s blog with my list of favorite books set in New York City!

On the hunt for reasonably priced Halloween candy yesterday, I dropped into a few stores, and ran into Christmas decor! As premature as it may seem, the year is winding down; so to acknowledge the best of this past year, here’s a post with my superlative reads for 2016:

Most Fun:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

51bE6SBNroL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI was a little late to this one (it was published in 2012, so 4 years late, to be exact), and I regret not getting to it sooner. If you’ve heard about this book, you may be wondering, “Am I nerdy enough to ‘get it?'”

Let me wipe away those fears right now. Whether you’re a huge nerd or the coolest cat on the block, you owe it to yourself to pick up Ready Player One.

I’m not big into video games and I was a little late for the 80s-idolism, but man, I couldn’t get enough of this book. It was such a fun adventure – puzzles to solve, worlds to create, a few chat-room romances, all narrated by a kid so likeable and relatable, he could be your next-door neighbor instead of the superhero of 2044 that he is.

Most original:

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

the-golem-and-the-jinniThe Golem and the Jinni could easily be one of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year, but what makes it truly remarkable is the completely unique melding of religious and historical lore with turn-of-the-century New York City. It read like a historical fiction, with the addition of two extremely magical characters (surprise! It’s a golem and a jinni).

What’s better yet, the golem and jinni have their own roots in historical religious lore, so their stories are deeply entrenched in the very accurately-depicted Muslim and Jewish contexts. Add adventure, romance, a bone-wrenchingly evil villain…It was such a delightful, unusual read, one that I simultaneously wanted to race through and savor.

Most unforgettable:

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

9780812992977_custom-5ce76f203feaa575f22d11023f49056e14fc46a1-s400-c85The Age of Miracles is one of those books that I think about at least once a week. It depicts the life of Julia, who is 11 when the earth’s rotation begins to slow. Days and nights stretch to become weeks of darkness and light, crops fail, tides change, animals and humans become disoriented.

This (literally) earth-shattering event is counterpointed with extremely relatable experiences Julia is enduring as a sixth grader – humiliation about growing older, a first crush, sadness about her parents, wanting to be treated like an adult, etc. Karen Thompson Walker has an astute memory of what it’s like to be 11, the pain and confusion and terrible complexity of it all, and her insights rang true to me on every page.

Most beautiful:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

25614492I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and Salt to the Sea hit me right in the heart. It tells the story of several refugee teenagers fleeing to the coast to escape the dual threats of desperate Germans and approaching Russians.

The characters are strong and thoughtful and heartbreaking – Florian, a rebelling Austrian art forger trying to bring vengeance on the Regime, Johanna, a lovely and competent Czech nurse with a secret, and …. a Polish girl who has been made victim to terrible crimes in the course of the war. Together they try to learn to trust each other in order to survive. You’ll stay up late reading to the very last page, then be sad that it’s over.

Most anticipated:

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

la-et-crooked-kingdom-20160222A lot’s been said about the Six of Crows duology with the release of Crooked Kingdom last month, and I think the series lives up to the hype. So let me put in my own plug here.

A wild, romping, hilarious and heist-filled read, Bargudo has cooked up an incredible band of characters that will keep you speeding through the pages. The Six of Crows duology follows Kaz Brekker, the gangster king of Ketterdam, and his assembled band of highly skilled misfits as they fight their way across the ocean to rescue a dangerous scientist. After an unfortunate double-crossed at the final moment, they find themselves in a tight spot (or several). If you want a book with twists and turns, with Bardugo keeping just one step ahead, these are the books for you.