The Top 10 Reader Reviewed Books of 2016

We're counting down our best books of 2016, beginning with the Top 10 First Impressions books of the year.

First Impressions is a great source of truly impartial reviews. Only BookBrowse members who are assigned a copy of the book can share their opinions as a First Impressions review. This means that it is effectively impossible for people associated with the book to sway the reviews, as can happen elsewhere. You can see which books have been reviewed recently in our "What's New" section, and here are the top 10 finds culled from more than 1,500 reviews of 60 books.


Rated 4.7 out of 5 Stars

Cruel Beautiful World Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Hardcover & ebook Oct 2016. Paperback TBA. 352 pages. Algonquin Books

"Caroline Leavitt's ability to bring complex characters to life in a way that touches the reader to the core is amazing. I found myself completely immersed in each subplot as the novel progressed. This ability to engage the reader in such a complex way is the mark of a great novel." - Melissa S. Rowland, NC (read all 23 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


The Midnight Watch The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian by David Dyer

Hardcover & ebook Apr 2016. Paperback Apr 2017. 336 pages. St. Martin's Press

"I was fascinated by the idea that such a very small sliver of time could be the subject of a full-length novel. But Dyer fabulously investigates and portrays the facts around the failure of the closest ship to the Titanic to rush to her aid." - Erica M. Chicago, IL (read all 23 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


Miss Jane Miss Jane by Brad Watson

Hardcover & ebook Jul 2016. Paperback Jul 2017. 224 pages. W.W. Norton & Company

"It is not often that you happen upon a book so eloquently written, interesting in subject matter and overflowing with emotions. Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, this wonderful novel tapped every single feeling possible." - Aleksandra E. Alpharetta, GA (read all 24 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt

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A Message From BookBrowse

Dear Readers,

Last week's election was one of the most contentious the United States has ever seen. And in the aftermath, regardless of how we voted, all of us in the USA are feeling a sense of divide, one that we know is mirrored across much of the world. How do we reach across that chasm to engage in meaningful dialogue? How do we build a bridge between us? To continue that metaphor, how do we find the bricks to build that bridge, made of the solid stuff we have in common? Because we do have so many things in common.

We don't have any good answers about how to find one another again. But we do know one thing: books. All of us at BookBrowse know that books can be a part of the process. You do too. Books are doors through which we can walk to learn about new people, new places, and new ideas. They are mirrors into which we can see ourselves just a little more clearly. And they are maps which can guide us as we get up in the morning, move through our day, go to bed and do it all again the next day. Books are a safe way to try on new perspectives. They are a bold way to articulate what we believe, and to challenge our beliefs.

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Best Books for Book Clubs in 2017

Dear BookBrowsers,

It's the most wonderful time of the year. No, we're not talking holiday parties and sugar cookies although those are fun too. It's time to start planning your book club lineup for 2017. Wading through recommendations from friends and family alike is not for the faint of heart so we've culled a select dozen novels that we suggest should be at the top of your "to consider" pile. With the exception of one, all are already released in paperback or soon to be so (and all are also in hardcover and ebook.) We have included an additional three titles for the young adult set.

Don't forget: you can also always participate in BookBrowse's online book club 24-7. Cookies and wine optional!

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Mysteries + Travel = The Best Kind of Books

As winter closes in, is there a better way to spend the long, dark nights than with a mystery series set in a foreign locale? These mysteries set in drop-dead destinations around the world will satiate your appetite for travel on a budget. Even better? No jetlag. You can't beat that! So find yourself a comfy chair and dive right into these clever whodunnits. And once you're done, go back for more in the series!

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Focus on the Family: Eight of the Best Novels About Families

File under the category of "can't live with them, can't live without them." Families can be a wonderful source of solace but also strain at our sense of self as extended ties impose impossible demands while stirring a whole host of emotions--both high and low.

No matter how happy or complicated--or fun or messy--your family is, you will find a lot to relate to in the novels we have picked here. The universality of themes relating to family make them especially malleable to great fiction as you will find with these recommendations. You might even agree with Leo Tolstoy: "All happy families are alike. Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Pick a couple to read with your book club. Maybe even share them with your family!

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How to Set Up a Reading Nook in Your Home

Sophisticated Reading Room.jpg If you're a bookworm, or even an aspiring one, one of the greatest joys is having a comfy space to cuddle up with a book for hours undistracted. In a world of non-stop push notifications, diminishing boundaries between work and home, and your already-hectic schedule, squeezing in some quality time to read can be a real challenge. But designating a space in your home specifically for reading can help create that time for you, while also helping you to make better use of your interior space--whether it's a bay window begging for some TLC or an awkward corner of a room that you just don't know how to style.

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