BookBrowse's 2016 Award Winners

Dear BookBrowsers,

The end of the year is a perfect time to take stock, to reflect on the many great books we made time for and to add additional recommendations to our ever-expanding "to read" lists.

This is where BookBrowse's annual Best of the Year awards come in. As opposed to most other award programs which encourage vote stuffing and are more an indication of an author's fan base, our best of year winners are chosen on a weighted scale by our subscribers. No vote-stuffing, no simple yes or no vote. These are considered responses; we take our awards program seriously. In this issue, we feature the four overall winners in the Fiction, Non-Fiction, Debut and Young Adult categories, plus our full Top 20 2016 Favorites, consisting of fourteen fiction titles, three non-fiction and three YA books.

Longtime BookBrowse favorite Louise Penny wins the fiction prize with A Great Reckoning (#12 in her Inspector Gamache series). When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi's life-affirming reflections on the challenge of facing death, wins in non-fiction. The best debut award goes to Yaa Gyasi for Homegoing which traces three hundred years of Ghanian history. The best young adult novel, All We Have Left, views 9/11 through the eyes of two American teenagers showing that love and hope will always triumph.

2016 Fiction Favorites

A Great Reckoning A Great Reckoning: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, #12
by Louise Penny


Winner of the 2016 BookBrowse Fiction Award

Bestselling author Louise Penny pulls back the layers to reveal a brilliant and emotionally powerful truth in her latest spellbinding novel.
More details and reviews about this book


Homegoing Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Winner of the 2016 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.
More about this book

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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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