Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 | Favourite Books


2016 was a busy year for me as I worked 25 hours a week whilst being a fulltime student, yet somehow I managed to read more books this year than I did last year. With a solid 88 works on my "read" list of the year - a selection from various authors, countries, genres, and mediums - I had more than my fair pickings of favourites. This year I heavily favoured nonfiction works, with 3 of my top 5 being nonfiction and a 4th being a memoir in graphic novel format.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell tackles the nature of success - are successful people truly outliers or does the answer lie beyond their individual characteristics? - in his third book, in a highly entertaining yet informative manner. Each chapter looks at a specific person or group of people and analyses their cultural backgrounds, the decade or month they were born in, and their level of practice to determine whether outliers truly are outliers or whether there's a key to success hidden amongst them.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
Nothing to Envy relies on the personal narratives of six individuals to create a picture of life in "modern" North Korea from the 1990s through present. I regretfully was not very aware of how North Korea functioned until reading this book, and I'm more interested than ever as to how such a regime manages to stay in power despite the problems it faces from within and without.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Evicted is a hard, provoking look at America's inner city poverty that makes it impossible to think of anything else whilst reading it. Desmond looks into the lives of eight families based in Milwaukee, traces their history in the city, and outlines the problems these families face as they attempt to make a life out of their circumstances. Evicted provides a look into a life of extreme poverty while detailing how many people ended up in these situations and suggests a few ideas as to how the US could do better by its poorest.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The Complete Persepolis is the complete collection of Satrapi's memoir-in-comic-strips that recounts her childhood and adolescence in Tehran, Iran during the rise of the Islamic Revolution. Satrapi puts a personal touch on the recounting of the views of the Iranian people during this time, as well as the common problems girls face as they grow into women, all while keeping a humourous tone. I've never been into graphic novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed Persepolis.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The only work on fiction in my favourites this year, A Little Life follows four recent college grads as they make their way in New York City. However, it's far from a happy underdog-in-the-big-city tale. Beneath the initial superficial layer of parties and flirtations lies the complex suffering of Jude, one of the grads who keeps his secret past close. It's a heartbreaking, gorgeous read with sections so raw it's hard to read at times but so full of genuine human emotion that you cannot help but be pulled in.


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