Friday, December 30, 2016

A good year for reading

Each year one novel seems to stand out in my mind. One year it was Ann Patchett's State of Wonder, for example. Another year it was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I am not talking about the best novel published that year, as I don't read nearly enough new novels to make a judgment like that, but just the best novel read that year.

Singling out one novel is tough this year, not because there were no outstanding novels but because there were so many.

Reading Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins was a beautiful experience, even if it didn't wow me quite as much as Citizen Vince did the year before. Another Ann Patchett novel, an early one called The Patron Saint of Liars, impressed me greatly, as did Richard B. Wright's Clara Callan and two novels that actually were published in 2016, Sweet Caress by William Boyd and As Good as Gone by Larry Watson. The Jack Matthews novel reviewed here a couple of days ago, The Gambler's Nephew, was an incredible pleasure to read.

Not quite as good as these six, but still very good were The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob, Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts, The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen and two thrillers by Joe R. Landsdale, The Thicket and Edge of Dark Water.

So it was quite a year for reading, and that doesn't even count such nonfiction pleasures as Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, Robert L. O'Connell's Fierce Patriot and Neal Thompson's A Curious Man.

The choice is hard, but I am going to make it anyway. Here are my top three novels of the year:

1. The Patron Saint of Liars

2. The Gambler's Nephew

3. As Good as Gone

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