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NYPL’s Most Recommended Books of 2016


Here in NYPL's Readers Services unit, we recommended hundreds upon hundreds of books this year -- via email, on our podcast, and through Twitter and Facebook Live.

We also recommended a lot of reading-related gifs this year.

Not all these books were published in 2016; in fact, most of them weren't. But these are the books that made it to the top of our recommendations lists.

We tailor each recommendation to each patron's personal preferences, but there are some books that come up over and over again... either because they're stellar examples of a genre, because they check so many boxes for qualities people are looking for, or because they're books we read and loved ourselves this year.

Below are our favorite recommendations of 2016. (And here's last year’s list, too.) Enjoy!


Gwen’s list:

For anyone looking for a fast-paced read, I couldn’t stop suggesting The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

For YA novels with LGBTQ+ protagonists, my own personal favorites were: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, Run by Kody Keplinger, and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

For people looking for a super-quick read, the sci-fi/fantasy novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

For a thoughtful food memoir, Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

For middle-grade readers, It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

For people looking for popular fiction that would make them cry, Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

For world-building science-fiction, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

For readers who wanted to be seriously scared: Security by Gina Wohlsdorf

For great essays, Little Labors by Rivka Galchen

For lovers of historical fiction, Kindred by Octavia Butler and Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleve

book covers

Lynn’s list:

Sweetbitter! By Stephanie Dahler. Book equivalent of popcorn.

My favorite plot-driven read was from early in the year: Noah Hawley's Before the Fall

In nonfiction, the best thing I read (and keep recommending) is The Way to the Spring by Ben Ehrenreich​

In mystery, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry, and recently Tana French's The Trespasser

Memoirs & biographies: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The most important book I read that I recommended to anyone looking for literary fiction was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

For our historical fiction lovers, War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans & A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

For setting and dystopian fiction: Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

I loved these short stories set in small places: When Watched by Leopoldine Core

In true crime, Truevine: Two Brothers a Kidnapping and a Mother's Quest by Beth Macy


Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Book recommendations

Could you give us more non-fiction recommendations? My main interests are reading about history, science, politics, psychology, etc. One I can recommend is Dava Sobel's "The Glass Universe" both specifically for the story it tells of women scientists and because it does a good job of illustrating how huge efforts to amass empirical data about stars became the foundation for our modern scientific understanding of the universe.

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