The Best Books I Read in 2016


Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

My favourite read from 2016. Fifteen dogs kicks off in Toronto with a bet between Hermes and Apollo. Following the bet, 15 dogs suddenly gain human consciousness and must explore the relationship between instinct and emotion. A truly philosophical fable, this short novel wields multi-dimensional characters like none other.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt is simply amazing. She is a master when it comes to character development. The Goldfinch tells the story of Theo, the passing of his mother and his relationship with his estranged father. Utilizing a number of settings and introducing a great number of distinct characters, the Goldfinch is a mystery that takes the reader on a truly immersive journey.

Grayling by Gillian Wigmore

After battling an illness, Jay sets out to canoe the Dease River in Northwestern B.C. and soon meets a mysterious woman who joins him on his journey. The writing is poetic yet succinct. Grayling is a sensual tale that explores the complexities of human relationships. I enjoyed every moment.

Rabbit, Run by John Updike

Updike is, of course, a renowned storyteller. Rabbit, Run left me with both immense sympathy and immense hatred of the protagonist Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom. This novel will certainly speak to those who yearn for the past. Written in 1960, Rabbit, Run is a timeless piece.

On Writing by Stephen King

For years I’ve been reading books about writing and whenever someone suggests a new book on writing I tend to nod my head, feeling less than hopeful. After reading King’s book I am assured that some books about writing are priceless. On Writing is funny, true, gritty and incredibly helpful to anyone interested in the craft of writing. King’s description of working late nights, raising a family and supporting his wife while managing to cram in time for writing was deeply moving. 

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

If you hate the gym and want an abdominal workout nonetheless, fear not! Simply read In a Sunburned Country and you’ll be laughing until it feels like you’ve done a hundred sit-ups. Bill Bryson is a favourite of mine. When life gets rough he’s my go to guy. In a Sunburned Country is Bryson’s account of exploring Australia’s many facets. He brings his usual wit and sarcasm to the pages.

Beauty of the Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

I read this book after hearing Camilla Gibb speak at the University of Calgary. The story of old man Hung who wheels his cart of Pho from location to location each morning is a stunning account of how stories weave between generations. Gibb’s use of Vietnamese history made for a delicious read that was both entertaining and insightful.

The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys

The Frozen Thames is a series of vignettes about the Thames freezing over. Each vignette is poetic and captures details that distil larger historical events, making them feel personal and alive. The book itself is beautiful and definitely worth owning.

The Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates

Glimpses into Joyce Carol Oates’ life as a writer is a reminder that even the most renowned, well versed writers struggle with their craft. From advice to new writers to Joyce’s obsession with running, the Faith of a Writer may be short but it’s a book that refuses to abandon the reader after they’ve put it down.


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