2016 has been one hell of a year. It started out for me with optimistic giddiness, then crashed into the land of extreme stress and fear and stayed there rather longer than I would have liked. But what I’d thought was the end of so many good things in my life actually marked the beginning of a fantastic new chapter. While I wish I could have skipped the painful lessons and jumped right to the end, I’m grateful for all I learned this year. I’m happier and healthier for having gone through it. That doesn’t mean I’m not freaked out as hell by the incoming presidential administration or really saddened by the deaths of so many actors, writers, and musicians I loved, but I also feel tremendously lucky for what I have in my life. So much love.

Compiling the list of books I read this year takes me back to some of the sadder times, because I can remember where I was while I was reading each one. Those books listed in bold were among my Top 10 for the year. Those with an asterisk are ones I either didn’t finish or didn’t really like. This list does not include the books I read to my son this year because it would be a VERY long list otherwise. Maggie Nelson’s visceral, honest, and poetic essays in Bluets and The Argonauts were, without question, two of the three best things I read this year. If you haven’t read Maggie Nelson, what are you waiting for?!?!?


  • Rich and Pretty: A Novel by Rumaan Alam
  • Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
  • Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
  • The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein
  • The Green Road by Anne Enright
  • Days of Awe: A novel by Lauren Fox
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • The First Bad Man by Miranda July (after slogging through the whole thing, I’m still not sure what to think of this book and whether or not I should give it an asterisk)
  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
  • Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
  • The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
  • Gold Fame Citrus: A Novel by Claire Vaye Watkins
  • A Little Life: A Novel by Hanya Yanagihara

Short-Story Collections:

  • A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver (a re-read, many times over)
  • American Housewife: Stories* by Helen Ellis
  • You Should Pity Us Instead by Amy Gustine
  • Fortune Smiles: Stories by Adam Johnson
  • The Dream Life of Astronauts: Stories by Patrick Ryan


  • Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
  • Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”* by Lena Dunham
  • Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball by John Feinstein
  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
  • The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America by Tamara Winfrey Harris
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  • Bluets by Maggie Nelson
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  • Dear Mr. You* by Mary-Louise Parker
  • The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen


  • All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver
  • E. E. Cummings Complete Poems by e. e. cummings
  • Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Felicity by Mary Oliver
  • The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke by Ranier Maria Rilke
  • Poems New and Collected by Wislawa Szymborska

Here are some books I hope to read in 2017. If you have any feedback on them (must-reads or don’t-reads) let me know!

  • Either Secondhand Time or Voices from Chernobyl (or both) by Svetlana Alexievich
  • Willful Disregard: A Novel About Love by Lena Andersson
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
  • Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens
  • Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
  • It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
  • The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  • Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchet
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (the last Rowell book I haven’t read!)
  • Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

May 2017 be kinder to all of us. And if it isn’t, I hope you find some good books that transport you somewhere else (at least temporarily).