Two-and-a-half years after starting this site, I figure it’s time I get my blogging act together and start a regular, end-of-the-year wrap-up series. I’m afraid I can’t provide you with a grand total of books I read in 2016, A) because I wasn’t keeping track and B) because whatever the final tally is, I’m sure it will be embarrassingly puny next to those of my fellow bloggers. I read slowly, OK? And I tend to linger over books once I finish them—reading and rereading particular parts, and that sort of thing.
Without further ado, here are a few of the books that I enjoyed the most this past year.
The majority of my reading this year was either nonfiction or poetry, which left very little room for fiction, but all in all, I have to say my favorite fiction is a toss-up between “White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoevsky (review) and Dubliners by James Joyce (review). After hearing so many horror stories about how difficult Joyce’s work can be, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying most of these stories
, even though I know that Dubliners is the easy one and he only gets more complicated from there. That’s on top of Joyce’s sublime prose, which should be the envy of every writer worth his salt.
Similar to Dubliners, “White Nights” was my first real encounter with a classic author about whom I had heard much but from whom I had read little. This bittersweet little novella then encouraged me to go and read more of Dostoevsky’s short fiction, with the intention of working my way up to the novels. Who knows? Maybe in 2017, I’ll be able to review some of the really interesting books, like Crime and Punishment.
This was the year I finally read Macbeth and oh my goodness, what took me so long? This is one of my favorite books of all time, not just of this year, and I would love to explore it in more depth in the future.
This is tough: I’m stuck between a book about the Inklings and one by an Inkling. I think my favorite nonfiction will end up being The Fellowship by Philip and Carol Zaleski (review) just because I love biographies, and this happens to be one of the better ones I’ve read in a while. Although, I would like to give honorable mention to C. S. Lewis’s The Four Loves, which is some of his finest work (in my opinion), as well as being terribly underrated.
I read a lot of great poetry this year, but I think the collection that stands out to me the most is Seamus Heaney’s Field Work. It was a little slow-going, since I kept stopping to look up words like “omphalos” and “retiarius.” But luckily, Heaney’s poems are more than worth whatever work it takes to understand them: often considered one of his best books, this is certainly some of the most beautiful poetry I’ve ever read from Heaney, as well as some of his most intensely lyrical work. I’ll probably write a full review of Field Work sometime later this year. I also have the four collections that came before it, so maybe I’ll review them all in order.
That’s it for me. What are your favorite books that you read in 2016? Let me know in the comments!