It’s always hard to pick my top books of the year because I don’t want to limit myself to just the books I gave the highest ratings to – my ratings are often dependent on my mood at the time or how quickly I head to Goodreads after finishing a book (right away, while I’m still under the book’s spell, or a couple days later, when I’m in love with a new book?). They can also be influenced by factors like the publisher (if they are indie, I might want to give them a boost) or author (I expect more from some well established authors).
In other words, my ratings are fairly unreliable.
Still, a higher rating suggests that I liked it better, so I reviewed my books, starting with the highest rating, and picked these books as my favourite books read in 2016 (in no particular order):
- The Little Paris Bookshop
- Floodgate Poetry, volume 3
- And the birds rained down
- This one summer
- Beauty tips from Moosejaw
- Small beneath the sky
- The sleeper and the spindle
- We should all be feminists
- Sad animal facts
I read this book back in the late winter months, but I still have fond memories and feel joy when I think of it. It was a delightful book full of interesting characters. Plus, a bookshop on the river (every girls dream, right? No? just me?).
One of the things that I loved about this book was the intrigue. There were unanswered questions and emotional reveals, but it felt more like intrigue than drama. Also, there’s a lot of love, but not just romantic love. I have the utmost respect for a book that acknowledges the love between friends and gives it the same weight as romantic love.
This is about Chanie, a young Native boy who ran away from a residential school and died alone in the cold. It’s heartbreaking, but also incredibly beautiful. It’s interwoven with lore from his culture (the spirits of the forest who were following him) and punctuated with a small epilogue explaining who he is and why he matters (his death helped spark the end of residential schools in Canada).
In all that, there’s also hope. Chanie fights to keep his language, a difficult task for even the strongest when faced with institutionalized cultural genocide. That little bit of fire in him reminds me that there is hope – Canada’s Indigenous have not given up and we can support them in their work to reclaim the culture that was beat out of them for 7 generations.
*Please see my post, Re. reading Indigenous Canadian books, which I wrote after posting this. I will no longer be reading Joseph Boyden’s work because the controversy about his heritage.
I didn’t think volume 2 could be beat, but I was wrong. This book has three sections by different poets: The first made me think of summer and Ray Bradbury (especially Dandelion Wine); the second was a beautiful conversation about fatherhood; and, the third was life and nature and other things. Enid (the third section) does things with words that made my heart sing.
I don’t know what to say about this book. It was beautiful. Mysteries were veiled in smoke and characters had the old souls of an ancient forest.
This is a book that I regret giving away.
This was my favourite graphic novel of the year. I could relate to the main character (a rare thing for me) and the illustrations were beautiful. I especially liked how the underwater scenes were done.
This was a surprise hit for me. I picked it up from the library on a whim and was captivated throughout. It’s a part memoir, part Canadian history. I was delighted to learn all the bits of intrigue in our mixed heritage. I feel like I might have enjoyed history class a hell of a lot more if this book had been around when I was a kid.
This was a delightful memoir and exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from a poet (one of my favourites, as it happens). Peppered in between the stories of her family were mini chapters where she used prose about grass and insects and such to convey memories. It makes it feel less like a study of someone’s life, and more like anecdotes told over tea and biscuits.
It’s a fairy tale, but with an unexpected feminist angle. Also, it’s full of gorgeous illustrations. There’s nothing more that needs saying. Just read it.
Speaking of feminism, this was an excellent read. It reminds us that even if we aren’t faced with daily discrimination, doesn’t mean that the fight is over – many other women in many other countries face real prejudice daily, big and small. This is a beautifully written argument for feminism.
This was just incredibly amusing and delightful. As a bonus, it was educational (especially as the author included an appendix with more detail about each fact).