My Favorite Reads of 2016

This year marks the completion of my 21st year of keeping track of all of the books I’ve read. My list dates back to January 1, 1996. As I do at the end of each year, this is an overview of my 5 favorite reads I had this year. I am writing this post on December 14, with two weeks remaining in the year, and I do plan to finish a few more books before the year is out. But I am only including books that I have finished to this point.

I read a total of 27 book through December 14, 2016. Twenty-one of the 27 books I read were nonfiction this year. I’ve been reading more nonfiction these last few years, and far, far less science fiction than at any point in the past.

My top 5 reads of 2016 are the books I most enjoyed reading in 2016. It doesn’t meant the books were written or published in 2016. Here, then, is my list:

5. I Remember Me by Carl Reiner. Early in 2016, I was on a Hollywood biography/memoir kick. It is a guilty pleasure of mine. Carl Reiner’s memoir was among my favorites, and I enjoyed the added bonus that he narrated the audiobook version.

4. No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Homefront in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This is the first time I’d read a detailed biography of FDR, and Goodwin’s book was a fantastic introduction. Reading the book made me feel like I was living through the times, and what more can you ask of a piece of nonfiction.

3. The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life by John Le Carré. I’ve never read any of Le Carré’s fiction (although I’ve seen the movie versions of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy) but his memoir was fascinating. This was another example where the audiobook benefited from an excellent narrator… John Le Carré himself.

2. The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman’s nonfiction essays on art, literature, music, and everything in between were wonderful, melodic things. I wish I could write with his eloquence.

1. Cannibal Queen by Steven Coonts. My favorite read of 2016 was Steven Coonts travelogue of his journey crisscrossing the 48-states in his 1942 vintage Steerman biplane named Cannibal Queen. This is Blue Highways for pilots. The book made me yearn for the days when I used to fly, and envious of such a wonderful adventure.

For the record, as I write this, I am three-quarters of the way through Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith. Given how much I am enjoying it, I suspect it would have made the top 5 had I finished it before today, knocking Carl Reiner off the list.