The Goodreads Choice Awards are the only major book awards chosen by readers. These are their picks for the best of the year!
1. FICTION: Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Sam and Clementine, a (seemingly) happy couple with two daughters and dream jobs, are invited to an old friend’s barbecue. Two months later, they’re embroiled in a whirlwind of lust and betrayal, questioning the stability of the relationship at the core of their lives, and wondering what would’ve happened if they hadn’t gone.
2. HISTORICAL FICTION: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead looks at pre-Civil War era South, telling the story of a slave in Georgia who escapes a cotton plantation and flees those looking to catch her through what is re-imagined as a literal network of underground railroad tracks and tunnels. It’s a dark and gripping story about the real brutalities of our nation’s past, and the ways in which the consequences are felt today.
3. MYSTERY & THRILLER: End of Watch by Stephen King
In the finale of Stephen King’s edge-of-your-seat Bill Hodges trilogy, the evil mastermind “Mercedes Killer” is driving his victims to suicide —�and retired detective Bill Hodges and his business partner Holly Gibney have to find and stop him lest they suffer the same fate.
4. FANTASY: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne
Based on a story by JK Rowling, the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child looks at Harry Potter as a husband, father, and overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, and at a son who must contend with the overwhelming legend that’s part of his history whether he wants it or not.
5. HORROR: The Fireman by Joe Hill
A highly contagious and deadly plague is spreading throughout the country, marking its victims with black and gold “scales” before causing them to burst into flames. When pregnant nurse Harper Grayson finds the telltale marks on her own skin, she looks to the legendary Fireman — a madman who’s learned to harness the power of the fire within — to save the life of her and her unborn child.
6. ROMANCE: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
In perhaps her most heart-wrenching work yet, Colleen Hoover tells the story of Lily Bloom, a former small-town girl running her own business in Boston. When she starts dating neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid, despite his apparent aversion to relationships, she finds herself overwhelmed by questions about this new setup and by thoughts of her first love, Atlas Corrigan — thoughts which only get stronger when Atlas finds his way back into her life.
7. SCIENCE FICTION: Morning Star by Pierce Brown
In the conclusion to a trilogy which has won a Goodreads Choice Award for the past two years, Pierce Brown brings the story of the rebel Darrow to a brilliant end — and after having suffered through harrowing war, the murder of his wife, and the enslavement of his people, Darrow is ready for vengeance.
8. NONFICTION: Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda
The musical Hamilton is both about a revolution and a revolution in itself, turning Broadway on its head by using hip-hop to tell the story of an orphan who grew up to be a U.S. founding father. This book is a behind-the-scenes look at the production from its earliest stages and onward, featuring beautiful photos, exclusive excerpts from notebooks and emails, and interviews with more than 50 people involved.
9. MEMOIR & AUTOBIOGRAPHY: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
When 36-year-old neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi received the shocking diagnosis of terminal lung cancer, he quickly went from treating the dying to struggling to live. Kalanithi died before he was able to finish, but his memoir traces the path that led him to medicine — the insatiable desire to learn and understand what makes a meaningful life, which made him a deeply thoughtful reader, writer, and practitioner — and how that journey prepared him to face his own death.
10. HUMOR: The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
In a collection of candid, unapologetic, poignant, and (very) personal essays, actress and comedian Amy Schumer explores the friendships, relationships, and experiences that led her to a successful entertainment career and shaped her into the hilarious and strong woman she is.
11. HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY: Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner
For over fifty years, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy shared a friendship that helped them through the highs and lows of their professional careers and personal lives. Through poignant anecdotes and never-before-published stories, Shatner offers a unique perspective on the vibrant life of an impressive, and hugely missed, man.
12. SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal
In an illuminating examination of the intelligence of animals, Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal challenges the notion of a “cognitive ladder” placing animal intelligence on a low rung and human intelligence at the top, and posits a theory that, instead, cognition among species are incomparable to each other — not stronger or weaker, just different — and that animals might be much more complex than we think.
13. GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS: Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
Sarah Andersen’s “Sarah Scribbles” comics are hilariously relatable, recognizable to anyone who has ever felt like they were doing this whole “adulthood” thing wrong. Through adorable strips about everything from making friends, to dating, to the agony of the fitting room, Andersen perfectly captures the specific struggle of the awkward twenty-something.
14. FOOD & COOKBOOKS: Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen
The internet’s favorite model and personality Chrissy Teigen takes her love of food and cooking and puts it on the page, sharing family recipes, comfort meals, customized classics, and general kitchen hacks with home cooks at any level.
15. POETRY: The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
In this collection, Amanda Lovelace divides her poems among four sections: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. The first three address the writer at different stages of her own development, culminating in a final, universal message to the reader — but the book as a whole tackles themes of love, loss, healing, and empowerment.
16. DEBUT GOODREADS AUTHOR: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
In the desert nation of Miraji, mortals reign and mystical beasts keep hidden in the shadows and barren wastelands. It’s a magical place, unlike the dead-end town of Dustwalk that sharpshooter Amani is eager to escape. When she meets mysterious (and handsome) fugitive Jin, she sees him as her ticket out — but she never expects to fall in love.
17. YA FICTION: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Drawing on a real maritime wreck from the last days of World War II, Salt to the Sea describes the harrowing journey of four teenage refugees, each with their own past and own secrets and coming together in search of passage to freedom and safety. The characters lean on each other in a time of great fear and grief, and their humanity makes real a little known, but heartbreaking, tragedy.
18. YA FANTASY: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Teenage huntress Feyre has escaped her evil captor with the magical powers of the High Fae — but as she re-enters a world entrenched in dark politics, power plays, and an underlying evil, she realizes she might be the only one able to fix it.
19. MIDDLE GRADE & CHILDREN’S: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
In the first of a brand new series about a cast-down Apollo, the young god lands in New York City in human form after angering his father, Zeus. Without his powers, he has to figure out how to survive in this modern city — but when he realizes his enemies are looking to take advantage of his new mortality, he turns to an enclave of demigods for help.
20. PICTURE BOOKS: The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
The last in a much-loved series about Gerald (the elephant who’s a bit of a worrier) and Piggie (his carefree best friend), The Thank You Book spend this sweet book saying goodbye to all the people they love.
27. For more Best of 2016 content, click here!
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