Monday, December 5, 2016

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for another Top Ten Tuesday.

Looking back over my top-rated reads of the year, I was surprised at how many rereads were on my list! I'm notoriously bad at rereading, but this year my book clubs picked a lot of books I'd already read, plus I'm rereading Agatha Christie's complete works.

In any case, here are some of the best authors I read for the very first time in 2016.

1. Alex Gino (George)
I was impressed by Gino's ability to write a book aimed at young children that captured the experience of being transgender in grade school. The conflicts are realistic without being too heavy, and the ending is optimistic without being naïvely so. I'm glad this book exists, and I would definitely pick up another book by Gino in the future.

2. Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda)
Although I'm thankfully more than a decade out of high school now, Albertalli's high school world felt true to me. And as someone who met one of my best friends over the Internet, I loved the way she depicted that weirdly intimate relationship, where you know someone's deepest fears and their childhood fantasies but you don't know their full name or what they look like. Glad to see Albertalli has another book coming out next year!

3. Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy)
It took me a couple of years to pick up Stevenson's bestseller, but now I'm obsessed. The work his organization is doing is incredibly important, and the stories he tells in his book are heartbreaking and vital for Americans to hear about. He writes with a perfect mix of realism and passion. I don't know if he'll write another book, but he makes it into my top ten of the year either way.

4. Claudia Rankine (Citizen)
I hadn't read much in the "prose poetry" format before, but this book was pretty amazing. Rankine's careful choices, such as telling most stories in the second person "you," made me feel like I was immersed in the lived experience of American black women. I'm now interested in picking up her Don't Let Me Be Lonely from a decade earlier.

5. James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small)
I'd seen Herriot's name pop up many times on lists of top-rated books, but I hadn't read one of his works until this year. Then I had to stop myself from picking up every one of the sequels immediately. Despite the many (real or fabricated) challenges he encountered as a country veterinarian, he manages to maintain a warm and humorous tone throughout his writing.

6. Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (All American Boys)
I hadn't heard of either of these authors before this book was chosen for one of my book clubs, but I've seen several other recommendations for Reynolds' books pop up since then. I thought they did a masterful job of showing a lot of perspectives on race and police brutality in a relatively short novel.

7. John Irving (A Prayer for Owen Meany)
Both this book and The World According to Garp have been on my to-read list for years, and I finally picked up one of them. I loved the writing so much that it made me want to read all the Irving.

8. Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven)
I learned a lot from this exploration of Mormon Fundamentalism, and I understand now why I see Krakauer's name pop up so often. It takes a good storyteller to make me interested in history, and he reminded me of Rebecca Skloot in the way he approached it. I'm definitely interested in reading Into the Wild and Into Thin Air now.

9. Shauna Niequist (Bread & Wine)
This book had been on my to-read list since I joined Goodreads almost four years ago! Although it wasn't a favorite book, I loved Niequist's beautiful writing and her relatable and honest style. I would certainly read another one of her books.

10. Timothy Beal (The Rise and Fall of the Bible)
I found this look at the history and modern-day views of the Bible compelling and well-organized, even if I didn't love Beal's writing style itself. He is an excellent researcher and took a careful approach to this important topic. I'm not rushing to pick up another of his book's, but he did write one of the better books I read all year.

Which great authors did you read for the first time this year?

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