Balance, Wellness

Best Books of 2016 That Got PD Writers Through the Year

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After spending your hard-earned time and money giving to others this holiday, round out the year with a self-gift of a good book.

After spending your hard-earned time and money giving to others this holiday, round out the year with a self-gift of a good book.

News headlines and social media feeds got the lion’s share of most of our reading time this year. This final week of 2016 might feel like a great time for some deserved eye-rest–and general checking out of the online sphere–and while that’s true cozying up with a good book can be just what you need to offset the last 12 months of craziness, escape suffocating families, and get on the hygge train. If you’re looking for some inspiration or what to use your holiday gift cards on during the post-holiday sale seasons, our in-house readers are offering up their favorites by category (because sometimes you just have to be in the mood, ya know?). Read on!

If you’re looking for something…

Dark:

thegirls_cline

 The Girls by Emma Cline

I loved reading this. It was as terrifying as it was enchanting, and the prose felt like poetry at times. After I began reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to sit down and continue reading. –Mary Luttrell, Creative Director

eileen_moshfeghEileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Hilarious and darkly relatable. It’s a story of how one young woman disappears from her life to pursue a new start and a new identity. The protagonist is an anti-hero that you can’t help but root for. –Mary

Dramatic:

mothers_bennett

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

I ignored my family for most of Fourth of July weekend to read this powerful debut. Bennett was discovered after she wrote this viral piece for Jezebel, and in The Mothers race also serves as an important, but understated, underpinning in a young girl’s saga after a high school romance in a small California town leads her to an abortion with repercussions that ripple out into her church, her friendships, and her future. It’s fiery and juicy and has lines you’ll want to underline on every page. I’m looking forward to what this young author will deliver in her long writing life ahead.

sportofkings_morgan

The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan

This story of a Southern horse-racing family has all the ingredients of a soap opera but reads like poetry. Completely immersive and page-turning, it’s a novel that addresses themes of great contemporary relevance–race, sexuality, gender dynamics, and (true to PD spirit) animal rights–while remaining entertaining and unputdownable.

Inspiring:

roadtocharacter_brooks

The Road to Character by David Brooks

Sometimes reading about people who changed the world can be anti-inspiring–like, I can sure try to be Gandhi, but it’s just never gonna happen. Brooks’s book is the opposite of that. Even while he presents the stories of historical trailblazers–Eisenhower and Frances Perkins among others–and how they used the aspects of their characters others told them were weaknesses to be great, you’re completely convinced that you can do the same thing. Reading this made me feel like I could cultivate enough change and strength within myself to really impact the world. Sounds like just what we all need for 2017!

the-art-of-waiting

The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs

Boggs intimately combines her and her husband’s struggles with infertility treatment with an eye-opening exploration of the medical, emotional, and cultural minefield that having a child can be. Even if you’ve never had trouble conceiving, have never thought about having children yourself, or don’t have a vagina, this book will make you seriously reframe your understanding of family, and of patience, in all aspects of your life.

Brain-teasing:

gene_mukherjee

The Gene Siddartha Mukherjee

I was scarred by a bad high school science teacher, but lately, I’ve rediscovered the real joy and wonder in scientific discovery. Acclaimed doctor and writer Mukherjee unspools the history of genetics–and thereby the history of all life–in this lively tale of rogue scientists who followed their gut, and their mistakes, to probe the truth of what makes us all so similar and so different. In our age of advanced medicine, it was refreshing to be brought back to a time when full genetic sequencing wasn’t an option, and to relive the moments when people first saw those iconic double helixes.

lonelycity_laing

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

As a New Yorker, I didn’t expect to glean as much as I did from this book about the experience of living in a city with a reputation for making you feel simultaneously anonymous and part of a huge community. Laing seamlessly combines her personal experiences of moving to NYC with provocative mini-biographies of famous artists–Warhol, Hopper, and others–whose “lonely” aesthetic reflected a deeper aspect of their characters.

Escapist: 

littlenothing_silver

Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

I loved Silver’s previous book, a fictionalized story of a famous Depression-era photograph, and was bowled over by how different, but equally amazing, this was. It’s a gorgeous story about belonging and home and love–and just the right amount of magical realism. And with the decadent jacket, it’s truly a beautiful reading experience that defies explanation.

allthelight_doerr

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I was late to this literary blockbuster–I blame the part of me that refuses to like what everyone else does, at first–but now completely understand what all the hype was about. If you think you’ve read all you can about World War II, think again and get yourself set up with a big cup of tea and blanket to be transported into this story of young love, friendship, and survival that you won’t be able to stop talking about.

What were your favorite books of 2016?

More in books: 13 Books to Read When You Need a Female Hero

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Photo: Pixabay; Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Gray Wolf Press, Simon and Schuster

Jennifer Kurdyla

Jennifer Kurdyla

Features Editor at Peaceful Dumpling
Features Editor Jennifer Kurdyla is a New York City girl with Jersey roots and a propensity for getting lost in the urban jungle. An experienced publishing professional, yoga instructor, home chef, sometimes-runner, and writer, she adopted a vegetarian lifestyle in 2008 and became vegan in 2013. She has written for The Harvard Review Online, The Rumpus, and Music & Literature and maintains a wellness-based website, Be Nourished, which features original writing and recipes. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram @jenniferkurdyla, Twitter @jenniferkurdyla, and Pinterest.
Jennifer Kurdyla
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