The first month of 2017 has almost passed, but I want to revisit 2016 for a while.
2016 was a terrible year in many ways. We lost so many great people, were struck in the heart by terrorist attacks all over the world, were appalled by violence and war, saw great tragedies unfold, and watched the UK leave Europa and the US elect an unfit president, thereby threatening the safety and well-being of millions of people.
2016 might be a year we want to forget as quickly as possibly, but we shouldn’t solely dwell on the negatives. One quote that popped up more frequently as the year passed by was one that most of us know by heart.
It’s no coincidence that people turn to literature to help them through difficult times. After all, many of us read to escape real life, don’t we?
Maybe that’s why 2016 was such a good reading year for me.
I read more books in 2016 than I did in the two previous years. And for that reason, I’m grateful for 2016. It brought me some amazing books that I not only enjoyed at the time but will enjoy for many years to come. I believe my three favourite books of 2016 will pass the test of time and will become some of my all-time favourites, securing a special place in my heart.
Which books, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you right now…
1. We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Where to begin?
I’ve never read a book that affected me as much as this one did. I’ve never cried over a book (I’m not one to cry over books or movies, no matter how good they are) but two out of three books in this list came very close. I had real tears in my eyes with both of them, which is saying something.
We Are the Ants tells the story of Henry Denton, a.k.a. “Space Boy”. Henry is funny, smart, and overall a likable boy, but he finds himself to be the victim of many tragic misfortunes over the course of the novel. There’s his boyfriend Jesse who killed himself, his new “boyfriend” Marcus who bullies him in the worst possible ways, his home situation, etc.
It might sound like a romance, but it’s so much more than that. Every character in this novel is well-rounded, complex, and has an important part to play in the story.
It might sound like a fun, wacky, light read – this books features alien abductions after all – but, again, it is so much more than that. We Are the Ants is remarkable and poignant and insightful and will leave you reeling long after you’ve finished.
A full review will be up on the blog soon.
2. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
The Sun is Also a Star is a love story that recounts the events of a single day. Daniel, a hopeless romantic and an aspiring poet, prepares for a Yale interview while Natasha, a girl who believes in science and facts, is twelve hours from being deported to Jamaica. And then they meet.
Whether you enjoy teen romance or not, there’s much to love about this book. Nicola Yoon’s writing style, for one, but also the way in which she handles important topics such as immigration, identity, mental illness, and so much more.
You can read my full review of The Sun is Also a Star on the blog.
3. Extremely loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
This book has been around for a while, but it really got the attention it deserves in 2016.
Oskar Schell is a nine-year-old inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. (Source: Goodreads)
What’s funny is that three-quarters into the book, I didn’t believe it would come together. I thouroughly enjoyed Oskar’s view of the world, the friendship between Oskar and Mr Black, and his relationship with both his mother and grandmother, but there was this mystery about a key that I did not think would be resolved in a satisfying way.
But then the climax rolls around and everything just clickes. The readers learns that the key is as much a way to hold onto his father as it is to deal with the secret that he shares with his father. A secret that’s too much to handle for anyone, let alone for an anxious but smart and precious nine-year-old. And it’s precisely that secret that brought me to tears and made me stare into the distance a long time after I’d finished the book.