Favorite 2016 Books

I’m baaaack!

I took off for a couple of weeks over the holidays, and when I go on vacation, I go off the grid. There’s no blogging or social media, sometimes no Internet or cell reception. I might as well have been in the witness protection program. And it was glorious.

This is me on Christmas Eve. The photo has not been doctored in any way.


Now that I’m home, it’s a good time to review my year in reading. My 2016 goal was to hit 60, or 5 books a month. I reached 58 but I’m OK with that. I’m not counting all the manuscripts I read for work so my actual total is closer to 80.

A few stats:

  • Authors new to me  31
  • Debut authors  13
  • Non-American authors  14

Shortest book: 224 pages (Phoef Sutton’s Heart Attack and Vine)

Longest book: 560 pages (Keigo Higashino’s Under the Midnight Sun)

Publishers I read most: Minotaur (9) and Mulholland Books (8), both crime-fiction imprints

I don’t know what all that means. I’m just posting stats because they make me seem scholarly.

This year was good, reading-wise. When I compiled my list of favorite books last year, only 3 made the cut and that plunged me into an existential crisis.

Happily the 2016 list is much longer. Here are my favorites in the order I read them, each with an excerpt from my review.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz


In her thrilling standalone…Lisa Lutz (the Spellman series) keeps the pace blistering without sacrificing characterization. (Starred Shelf Awareness review)


Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld


This modern interpretation of [Pride and Prejudice] is…both familiar and fresh, contemporary and classic. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve read Austen or Sittenfeld or neither. Eligible is a thoroughly charming read. (April Nerdy Special List)


City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

city of lost

The complex mystery takes unusual turns, and the setting of isolated territory surrounded by menacing woods is as breathtaking as it is unsettling. (Shelf Awareness review)


Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

lily and the octopus

Rowley is a lovely storyteller and astute observer of life, and he will take you on an emotional, existential journey you didn’t even know you were looking for. (June Nerdy Special List)


Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope

collecting the dead

Steps is a welcome new series protagonist, not only because of his unusual [synesthetic] talent but also his sense of humor…. Refreshingly, he’s far from being a hardened hero haunted by his past. (Shelf Awareness review)


The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

last days of night

Last Days is a cerebral thriller, full of twists, legal maneuverings, and courtroom drama, peppered with idealistic do-gooders and intimidating villains. (Starred Shelf Awareness review)

IQ by Joe Ide


Isaiah and his sidekick, Dodson, are a hilarious urban version of Holmes and Watson. One can hear the characters talking in their lively, rhythmic dialogue, and the descriptions paint vivid pictures. (Shelf Awareness review)


Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta


While large in scope, exploring timely issues such as terrorism, racism, the plight of immigrants and social media’s lynch-mob mentality, the book also tells the heartrending personal stories of multidimensional and memorable characters. Bish is like a British (and a quarter Egyptian) Harry Bosch. (Starred Shelf Awareness review)


Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino

under-midnight-sunHigashino, Edgar Award nominated for The Devotion of Suspect X, has created a Japanese Les Miserables…. The power of this novel lies in challenging the way we judge others…[asking] us to see that even people who commit horrific acts are capable of great courage, and sometimes they do the former because of the latter. (November Nerdy Special List)

What were some of your favorite books last year?



  • Reply
    Sabrina E Ogden
    January 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    So many good books… I have so much to catch up on. Welcome Back!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 5, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Hi, Sabrina! *waving madly* Hope I get to see you this year!

  • Reply
    January 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    The vacation photo is beautiful and makes me wonder why I insist on being snow bound with family every year instead of relaxing on the beach. Going to file that under things to change in 2017.

    On a slightly more positive note, I have read five of the nine of your listed faves. Admittedly, it means I have four to go, but there’s yet to see a reason to doubt your taste.

    Happy 2017!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 5, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      Snow can be beautiful but I don’t do well with cold. I’ve been whining since I got back to L.A. because the weather has been in the 50s and rainy!

      You have excellent taste in books, BTW. 😉

  • Reply
    January 5, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Happy New Year, PCN !! Hats and idyllic locations suit you. ‘Lily and the Octopus’ has a beautiful cover that would inspire me to pick it up and take a closer look. Thank you for your selections and I’ll be looking for some of them for my 2017 reading!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 6, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Hi, Shell!

      I was on the other Gold Coast—in Florida. So happy to be warm.

      I hope you do read and enjoy LILY. It’s a special book.

      Happy new year to you, too!

  • Reply
    Lauren O'Brien
    January 7, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Nice list, I like the variety. Those of these I’ve read would also be on my best list, I think, and many are on my TBR. I actually used an audible credit to get the Higashino I enjoyed my last one on audiobook so much. Hope to get to it soon!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      I like the variety of this list, too. I read mostly crime fic as you know, but it was interesting to see the books that resonated most come from different genres, even *gasp* historical.

      Will you be posting your list soon? I look forward to seeing it!

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