Best Books of 2016

2016 had a great many books that thrilled me, and others that delighted. The rest of the year I could have done without —  so many deaths and a horribly long election and a range of backlash to terrify anyone.

For those interested, these are the best books I read in 2016, though not all were published in 2016.

Best Series:

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell (March: Book One, March: Book Two, March: Book Three)

Best Photography:

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard

Best Memoir:

Bukowski in a Sundress by Kim Addonizio

Best Children’s Book:

Science Verse by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

Best Young Adult Fiction:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Best Short Story Collection: (I only read 3 and these 2 tied)

Heirlooms: Stories by Rachel Hall (this one has remained on my mind more than expected)

Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

Best Jane Austen Fiction: (this is a three-way tie)

A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes by Ginger Monette

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner by Nicole Clarkston

Best Poetry: (another tie)

Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Obliterations by Heather Aimee O’Neill and Jessica Piazza

Best Fiction: (a three-way tie)

The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart

What books were your favorites this year?

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard

Source: NetGalley
ebook, 288 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard, which will be published in September 2016, is stunning. Wolfe is a clear talent at capturing nature, tribes, and animals and his composition is unique and lively. It’s clear that the equipment he uses and his forethought about the scene enable him to capture even unexpected beauty. Rather than work as a career photojournalist, he has taken a harder, more independent path. While this has left him to be creative and take on projects that others might not, it also has some consequences, such as not being in his home more than he is on the road. However, it is a choice he never regrets, and readers will see why when they view the phenomenal images in this book.

His love of photography is infused in every picture he takes, and it is these pictures that enable us to put ourselves in different locations and view them as they are, without industry and interference from the modern world.  Even photos at a distance are created with composition, lighting, and subject in mind.  It is clear that he loves what he does, and he equally loves the subjects, shining a new light on even the ones most photographed, like penguins.  Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard is a book that everyone will want to have in hardcover to cherish Wolfe’s art — to hold it, to view it up close, and to reach inside and experience the world through his eyes.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Photographer:

The son of commercial artists, Art Wolfe was born in 1951 in Seattle, Washington, and still calls the city home. He graduated from the University of Washington with Bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and art education in 1975. His photography career has spanned five decades, a remarkable testament to the durability and demand for his images, his expertise, and his passionate advocacy for the environment and indigenous culture. During that time he has worked on every continent, in hundreds of locations, and on a dazzling array of projects. You can view his stunning photographs online and buy.

Mailbox Monday #371

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Dodgers by Bill Beverly, which I received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Dodgers is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that recalls the very best of Richard Price, Denis Johnson, and J.D. Salinger. It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.

Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran, a surprise from Simon & Schuster.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.

Tomorrow’s Bright White Light by Jan Conn, a surprise from Tightrope Books.

Acclaimed poet Jan Conn’s latest book, Tomorrow’s Bright White Light, offers poems as phenomenological guides to an approximation of a future “truth.” The collection includes poems about odd, secretive childhood events and poems that visit the badlands of adolescence from both male and female viewpoints. Some poems deal with the struggles of contemporary life in its many guises, while others derive from Conn’s time in Latin America. Obvious or not, all of the poems in this stunning collection are linked, creating a personal mosaic of the poet’s many lives and experiences.

Tourist by Lara Bozabalian, a surprise from Tightrope Books.

Opening with an aubade for the labyrinthian corners of Bombay’s largest slum, Tourist is a collection that is unafraid of shadows, and aims to unearth the unseen. Set across time and landscape—modern day Michigan, 1970’s Cambodia, WWI England, the kaleidoscopic mindscape of an Alzheimer patient – these poems draw us into lives that, initially, seem foreign, yet provoke our solidarity in the face of disorientation—a boy facing his first bankruptcy, an Elephant facing destruction at the hands of poachers. The book culminates in ‘Beethoven Walks’, an elegiac war cry from a man who wades in and out of darkness like a modern day Odysseus, and the churning resilience that sets him free.

Dopamine Blunder by Lori Cayer, a surprise from Tightrope Books.

In her astounding third collection, poet Lori Cayer takes on the juggernaut role of steward of human nature and subsequently explodes the myth of happiness through a multi-faceted lens of anthropology, socio-biology, sociology, psychology, archaeology, medicine and philosophy. Hinging on erasure and found material, Dopamine Blunder investigates these fundamental questions as our millennium enfolds with equal uncertainty and trepidation.

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard from NetGalley for review.

Legendary photographer Art Wolfe presents an intimate behind-the-scenes guide to the experiences, decisions, and methods that have influenced forty years of stunning images captured around the world. Wolfe and co-author Rob Sheppard transport readers on a global journey, while carrying on a dialog about photography, tools and process, world travel, close calls, and photographic opportunities both taken and missed. From the rich sights and smells of the Pushkar Camel Fair to the exact moment when a polar bear and her cubs leave their arctic den, Photographs from the Edge represents the instances when circumstance, light, and subject miraculously collide to form an iconic image. Many of these photographs can never be duplicated as cultures and landscapes are transformed and wildlife diminishes or disappears all together. No matter his subject, Wolfe regales us with the stories behind the photographs and helps us experience life on the world’s most unique photo safari. Photographs from the Edge is a lifetime of experience distilled into a rich photographic education.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford for review from NetGalley.

London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity.

Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be. Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living.

Straight James / Gay James by James Franco for review from NetGalley.

Actor James Franco’s chapbook of poems explores the different personas he uses in his writing, art, acting, and filmmaking. The poetry varies from the imagistic to the prosaic. Franco’s poems delve into issues of identity, sexuality, private and public life, being a brother, a son, an artist and actor. The chapbook also contains an interview of Gay James conducted by Straight James. Yes, Straight James asks the overwhelming question: Are you gay?

What did you receive?