Xtina’s Favorite Books of 2016

I read 42 books this year! I am pretty proud of myself, considering I took a few very busy courses and had a constantly-moving toddler to wrangle. It helped that several professors required heavy reading. Below is a list of some of my favorite books I read this year. Some were published in 2016, and some were published in 1964. I’m not an ageist.

You can read my reviews here if you feel so inclined.

The Best Book that I was obsessed with as a kid but never actually read

Harriet the Spy- Louise Fitzhugh

The Best Book I read and then subsequently could not stop thinking about

The Mothers-Brit Bennett

The Best Book I read that made me fall in platonic book-love with the author

Modern Lovers– Emma Straub

The Best Book I read about Brooklyn that was written in prose

Another Brooklyn- Jacqueline Woodson

The Best Young Adult Book

I’ll Give You the Sun-Jandy Nelson

The Best Continent and Generation-Spanning Book I read

Homegoing- Yaa Gyasi

The Best Book I read that acted as a window into a situation I know very little about

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel– Firoozeh Dumas

The Best Book I read about undocumented immigration that should be required reading for anyone who forgets that undocumented immigrants are people

Gaby, Lost and Found- Angela Cervantes

The Best Book I re-read that blew my mind again

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire-J.K. Rowling

The Best Book I re-read that reminded me that perfection is not real

The Giver – Lois Lowry

The Best Book I read that surprised me in a good way

Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda– Becky Albertalli

The Best Book about Grief

The Thing about Jellyfish – Ali Benjamin


Pinegrove – Cardinal

I’ve read lots of reviews that have tried to categorize this album as alt-country and emo, which are two genres that don’t seem to go together at first thought. But if you go back to Omaha, Nebraska in the early two thousands Saddle Creek was doing just that. Bands like Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley were emo(ish) bands that had very distinct country influences. Pinegrove fits that narrative perfectly. It’s rock music that makes you feel mixed with a few banjo riffs and a country draw. I can even hear early Wilco and Heartbreaker era Ryan Adams.

“Every outcome’s such a comedown” is the refrain of Pinegrove’s Evan Stephens Hall on the opening track, “Old Friends”, off their excellent new album Cardinal. With lines like that one and “I should call my parents when I think of them; I should tell my friends when I love them” this song had me hooked from the beginning. It’s a sad and sentimental song; two of my favorite themes wrapped up into one song.

Other stand out tracks on the album include, “Size of The Moon”, “Aphasia”, and the bookend to “Old Friends”, “New Friends”. Next to “Old Friends”, “Size of The Moon” is the other stand out track. It’s a break up song that starts soft and builds to fuzzy guitars.

If I were to pick an early favorite for album of the year this would top my list. It sounds like all my favorite records, but at the same time feels fresh and inventive.