Are you startled to discover that it is the 22nd of December already? Did you just drop your Christmas cards off at the PO while feeling inadequate and hassled? (Wait, that was me.) Do you still have gifts to buy? Friends, I am here to help you out. Why don't I tell you about the best books I've read this year, and you can return the favor in the comments? If you order today, Amazon will get you an actual book in time for Christmas. And if you are a person who gives e-books, you have boatloads of time. Bushels of time! So much time that you could go back to scrolling through Facebook and wondering why it always makes you so grumpy. (Or, you know, not.)
Hands down, favorite book of the year: Being Mortal. I love Atul Gawande's work, and this is the best thing he's ever written. Beautiful, thoughtful, powerful, and lots of other cliched -ful words -- all of them true. Read it, for real. Give it to the people you love and talk about it afterward. Pro-dignity, anti-euthanasia, with a memorable blend of professional and personal experiences.
I read two fantastic novels back to back in the late winter: All The Light We Cannot See and Everything I Never Told You. All The Light is about a blind French girl whose path intersects with that of a German boy. I found it utterly un-put-down-able. I can see Marie-Laure so clearly in my mind's eye, curious and fearless. Everything opens with the death of a girl, but from there it goes in many unexpected directions. A painful read, but a good kind of painful and not a salacious kind of painful.
The Rosie Project is the fun if implausible story of a man with Asperger's. (I am trying to decide if recommending it does a disservice to people on the spectrum, and I'm coming down on the side of probably not.) I told you about The Long Ships when I read it, and it remains on my list of favorites from 2016. I did not expect I would enjoy immersing myself in the story of a medieval Viking, but I had to force myself to come up for air. I also did not expect to enjoy immersing myself in the story of a medieval physician, but The Physician was a real pleasure despite the disappointments of its sequels. I fully expected to enjoy immersing myself in Our Mutual Friend, and it was even more fun to revisit than I expected. (Coming in 2016: David Copperfield, the read-along! You know you want to!)
I bought Astonish Me on a whim and really enjoyed it. I suggest that you not read any of the descriptions -- just plunge in and enjoy the ride without any spoilers. I liked it so much that I bought the author's other book, Seating Arrangements. Both of these books are describing demographics that I emphatically do not belong to, as is Laura Vanderkam's I Know How She Does It. But I always find food for thought in her reflections on employment and enjoyment, even if "hire a (second) nanny" is not likely to be a workable solution for my family. On the subject of demographics I do not belong to, I am currently reading Dr. Thorne, the third book in the Barsetshire chronicles. Trollope is hugely underrated, if you ask me, and that Kindle version of the Barsetshire chronicles is only 99 cents.
When I wrote my lament about how there are not enough good books in the world, Rachel-who-needs-a-blog recommended Naomi Novik's Uprooted and OOOOOOHHHHHH, I am so glad she did. I have a post all about it in my drafts folder, but for today I will just say: read it. SO GOOD.
There are other books in my 2016 reading log that I enjoyed almost as much as these, but I'll make just one more non-book recommendation: Telestrations. It's a super-fun hybrid of Pictionary and Telephone that accommodates a wide range of ages and reading abilities. We have a hard time finding games that everyone can agree on, but we've laughed and laughed playing Telestrations together.
Happy shopping! [Disclosure: these are all affiliate links, so Amazon might pay me a quarter if you click through from this page to buy something.]