Much of the world will be glad to bid adieu to 2016, a year riddled with tragedy and political mayhem. This year, seemingly more than others, the most talked about books seem to perfectly reflect the current state of the world. Themes of race and political unrest run deep through 2016's award-winners, particularly The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead), Stamped From the Beginning (Ibram X. Kendi), Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Madeleine Thien) and The Sympathizer (Viet Thanh Nguyen). While these books are actually historical, visiting the days of early slavery, Tiananmen Square, and the Vietnam War respectively, their underlying messages are more relevant than ever.
Oddly enough, the non-fiction books of the year strike me as light in comparison. Tales of rock and roll, James Brown and a memoir from The Boss appear alongside stories from today's funny women. Though, there is Paul Kalanithi's heart-breaking account of cancer that took our breath away, and Matt Desmond and J.D. Vance's eye-opening studies of poverty in America.
And finally, we look back on the authors we lost in 2016 including literary icon, Harper Lee, who died just one year after her second book was finally published, and James Alan McPherson, the first black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and Canadian musician and writer Leonard Cohen who died at the age of 82.
And so, while you may wish to forget 2016 ever happened, don't discount its outstanding books. It's AbeBooks' annual tradition, after all, to help you with that new year reading list, so settle in and take a look at the year's award winners, the best in fiction, and our top picks for non-fiction.
Here are the year's big hitters - the books that battled through long and short lists to win prestigious awards like the Pulitzer or Man Booker and Hugo. Much to everyone's surprise, musician Bob Dylan makes an appearance as winner of 2016's Nobel Prize for Fiction.
National Book Award for Non-Fiction
We certainly weren't lacking for choice this year! 2016 seemed to churn out an endless selection of exceptional reads by authors from Ann Patchett to Zadie Smith. With everything from mystery to historical fiction, this list of literary fiction has something for every reader.
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And war, science, politics, and poverty. It's a list that runs the gamut, but rest assured each one of these non-fiction books is a guaranteed page-turner.
Farewell to these unforgettable literary legends.
Canadian novelist known for Shoeloess Joe, the book that inspired Field of Dreams.