Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Authors in 2016

I feel terrible that I have been so bad at talking about what I am reading on the blog, because this really has been a terrific year in reading. I’ve been thinking about my favorite reads of the year, and many of them are by debut authors or authors whose works I hadn’t read before. Today’s Top Ten (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) topic, favorite new-to-me authors, gives me a chance to highlight some of the works that may (or may not) make my final 2016 top ten list, but that I loved and would highly recommend anyway.

The Throwback Special, Chris Bachelder. Nominated for a National Book Award, this novel comprised of a series of vignettes of a group of 22 men who meet every year to reenact a famous football play is both funny and melancholy.

The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson. This story of a North Korean orphan who goes to work (putting it mildly) for the state was completely haunting. Deservedly, it won the Pulitzer in 2013.

The Girls, Emma Cline. Every year there’s a much hyped debut release that splits audience opinions right down the middle. This novel, centered around a plot based on a series of killings similar to the Manson murders and the girls involved, worked for me on many levels. I think Cline will be a writer to watch.

All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews. I was all about solid family stories this year, and this one, about a writer trying to keep her sister from ending her life, was as solid, funny, and heartbreaking as they come.

The Fortunes, Peter Ho Davies. Focused on four different periods in American history, Ho tells the story of four Chinese Americans and their families, highlighting the immigrant experience. I happened to be reading this one (which was also nominated for the National Book Award, incidentally) during the election, and it made me sad and afraid all over again.

Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire Fuller. A chilling story of a girl abducted by her father, who tells her the world has ended and carries her away into the woods.

Crow Lake, Mary Lawson. This quiet novel about a group of siblings who lose their parents and try to keep the family together really surprised me. The narrator is unreliable in a completely unexpected, almost refreshing way, and what I expected to be a dark and depressing story is actually rather touching and funny.

Rules of Civility, Amor Towles. I’m a sucker for almost any story about WASPs in New York (sorry, not sorry), but this one is particularly well told. Katey Kontent is a first-generation American who hails from Brooklyn and gets swept up by high-society friends. Part F. Scott Fitzgerald, part Dominick Dunne, this one was difficult to put down.

Head Full of Ghosts, Paul Tremblay. This novel tells the story of a family with a daughter believed to be possessed by the devil who agree to have everything filmed by a reality television crew. The pop-culture references and the sharp style are both big hooks. Even people who don’t typically read horror would enjoy this.

The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Each member of The Plumb family (WASP: check; New York: check) expects to get a piece of “The Nest,” the family trust fund left behind by their eccentric father. But one sibling has an accident that requires all the money from The Nest to bail him out. This is the story of what happens when all the money’s gone.

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13 comments

  1. So many of these are on my list. Except for Our Endless Numbered Days and All My Puny Sorrows, both of which I read and loved!
    Sounds like you’ve been getting lots of good reading done!

  2. Laila, I am on hold at the library for A Gentleman in Moscow…I was number eighty-something when I first put it on my list back in October. Now I’m 65! So maybe I’ll read it sometime in the spring?! My next New York novel is The Swans of Fifth Avenue. Should be fun!

  3. Naomi, it has been an exceptional year for reading! I realize now the huge mistake I made in not writing about all these great books, because trying to compose this post about did me in. Who knows how I’ll pick my top ten favorites? I recognize that this is not a bad problem to have…

  4. Love seeing Orphan Master’s Son on lists! I thought it outstanding. Am adding Crow Lake to my tbr. Shame on me – I’ve had Rules of Civility on a shelf at home for months. And I expect The Girls will make the TOB short list. And The Nest, though I wouldn’t have said that when I read it but it has been a popular one.

  5. Girl About Library, I think The Girls suffered from all the hype around Cline’s advance. I wonder if people wouldn’t have been more generous towards it if it hadn’t. I’d like to see what I think after a second read.

  6. Care, I liked The Nest better than I thought I would. Crow Lake was a wonderful surprise! It’s a quick read. I hope you enjoy it. Rules of Civility is also another quick read because it’s so hard to put down.

  7. Ooh, I can’t remember if I knew about the reality show aspect of the Paul Tremblay book but that sounds particularly great. He’s definitely an author I need to check out in 2017, since I’ve heard tons of wonderful things about him from various bloggers this year.

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