The Best Books I Read in 2016

the-cartel

Every month, I send out a monthly reading newsletter and every December, I send out my best of the year list. Here are my selections:

FICTION

3. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

2. The Cartel by Don Winslow

1. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow

My penchant for digging into more non-fiction than fiction continued in 2016, but I was lucky to discover Don Winslow’s fantastic double punch of 2005’s The Power of the Dog and its sequel, The Cartel, which arrived ten years later. They’re as close to perfect as possible and, much like The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, these two novels tell one long, connected story. It’s had to choose which is better, but I think the original may have the slight edge (although the latter has a better ending). Both are bloody, raw, emotional, and most of all unapologetic, and they’re some of the best novels I’ve ever encountered in my life.

Honorable Mention:

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey


22b-2bcopy

NON-FICTION

3. Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Another toss-up between one and two – both changed the way I view and approach the world, albeit in vastly different ways. Yuval Noah Harari’s expansive yet condensed and easily digestible history of our species, Sapiens, is utterly fascinating. It answers so many of our questions from the mundane – why are human babies dependent for years while spawn of other species are up and around almost overnight – to the important – how did we turn us from roaming hunters into farmers that couldn’t leave our land for a day? – and forever altered how I view my life and our place on Earth. Meanwhile, Ta-Neihisi Coates has been the darling of liberal literary circles for the better part of a year and with good reason. His book, a letter to his son, describing the life of a black man in America through his own life story, is smart, complex, and very upsetting, and should be mandatory reading for everyone. You don’t have to agree with every book you read – in fact, you shouldn’t and you use the margins of the book to argue with the text – but you should read things that challenge your worldview and Between the World and Me certainly does that. Two books. Two very different subjects. Both impactful.

Honorable Mention:

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Showtime by Jeff Pearlman


Christopher Pierznik’s eight books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Hip Hop Golden Age,and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him onFacebook or Twitter.

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