It’s the happiest, hardest day in the bookish calendar, when all the past year’s most glorious reads are winnowed down into a list of the best of the best books to cross my desk in 2016.
Here there be magnificent debuts, swoony, promise-keeping series finales, and bolts from the blue; books that enchant, provoke, and break hearts.
This year saw the publication of a library’s worth of wonderful reads—these are my picks for the 25 that grabbed on and didn’t let go.
To an outside observer, intrepid Victorian heroine Faith may seem boring and subservient, but beneath her dull exterior lies a mind bursting with curiosity, intelligence, and passion.
Chokshi weaves a mystical fantasy that drips with lush enchantments, pushing past the tropes and older tales it nods toward to walk a fresher, more perilous path.
Fleeing a childish mother, a stalled life, and a guilty conscience, 15-year-old Anna runs away to Los Angeles to live with Delia, her D-list actress sister.
But who, exactly, is her new husband, and what darkness lies behind the chilly beauty of her new home?
Told in alternating narration, the book also makes room for a whole chorus of other voices and perspectives, transforming it into a big compassionate tapestry of New York City, life, and everything. (See our full review here.) White’s meticulously researched, gorgeously transporting historical fiction, the first (hallelujah!It runs on its heroine’s white-hot rage, complicated but never quenched by her love for her gentle younger brother and for Mehmed, the sultan’s heir.Lada must balance her political aspirations, hunger for vengeance, and the desires of her heart to thrive in a brutal, high-intrigue world she has spent her whole life learning to navigate.When her once-celebrated naturalist father moves their family from London to a clannish island following a scandal, Faith is desperate to get to the bottom of things…and more so after her father is found dead.Certain he was murdered, she reenacts his final journey the night he died and discovers what he was hiding: an impossible tree that bears fruit only upon hearing lies, the eating of which gives the liar strange wisdom.