RoscoeBooks Picks the Best of 2016…So Far

From heartbreaking memoirs to historical YA to Chipotle-like sci-fi (that’ll make sense if you read on, I promise!), our favorite books of 2016 are all over the place. But that’s a good thing!

Here’s our list of the best things we’ve read so far this year. And of course, we’d love to hear from you as well: Please comment below – what’s the best book you’ve read in 2016?


Erika picks…

when breath becomes airWhen Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi — Paul Kalanithi was a brilliant surgeon and neuroscientist who began writing this memoir after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the tender age of 36. Despite the sad circumstances surrounding his writing, the resulting book is so much more than just a meditation on mortality — it’s a fascinating window into the work that neuroscientists do, and it asks vital questions about how both science and language contribute meaning to our lives. Though the end will likely have you in tears, this book is the epitome of essential reading. (Ed. note: Greg enthusiastically seconds this pick.)


sweetbitterSweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler — Sweetbitter was one of this spring’s most hyped debuts, and (in my humble opinion) deservedly so. Danler’s story of young Tess, who moves to New York City and immediately gets a job working at a big-time restaurant, clearly comes from a place of insider knowledge about the restaurant business, and her writing about food is lush and sensual. Just as impressive is her ability to capture the wonderful messiness of being a 22-year-old in big bad NYC. This book is one of the most purely enjoyable that I’ve read this year.

Wayne picks…

all the birds in the skyAll The Birds In The Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders — Anders, the editor-in-chief of, has delivered something really special here. In her first book for adults, Anders tells the story of two outcasts, one who has magical abilities and one who is a science-fiction scientist, as they form a friendship in childhood and meet again as adults. Filled with more quirk and playfulness than you can shake a stick at, it nonetheless remains character-focused and delivers real emotionally resonant moments. I loved it; a true blast to read.


Kelsey picks…

homegoingHomegoing, by Yaa Gyasi — Homegoing is a rich and ambitious debut novel about two separated half-sisters in Ghana and follows their bloodlines through 300 years of slavery, colonialism, and racial divides. But it doesn’t just take a look at big issues with society; it also delves into the deeply personal wounds that people — especially families — can inflict on each other. Despite this heaviness, this is a book that glimmers with hope and strives to open the reader to a new understanding of humanity.



Greg picks…

version controlVersion Control, by Dexter Palmer — This is a fiercely smart novel brimming with ideas — about technology, authenticity, race, loyalty, causality, history, science, Big Data, and yes, even time travel. But don’t be intimidated — it’s really fun and easy to read. The main plot-line of the novel is about a marriage — Palmer asks us to think about what really makes relationships thrive or fail. All through this novel, I kept thinking, “Man, I wish David Foster Wallace was still around to see this. He would’ve LOVED this book.” It’s a super-engrossing, hard-to-put-down read that’s as contemporary as contemporary fiction can be. Really loved it. (Full review is here.)


Alex picks…

girl in the blue coatGirl In The Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse — This book has been on all the new bestseller lists, and for good reason! What would you do if you spent your days secretly delivering black-market goods and someone asks, “Can you find a missing Jewish girl?” Set in 1943 Amsterdam, this book explores just that.




Chelka picks…

armadaArmada, by Ernest Cline — For what this book is, it’s fantastic – like the best Chipotle burrito you’ve ever had. It’s an homage to armageddon sci-fi movies, and it moves like one. The prose is on par with Christopher Moore’s: Funny, accessible, never flowery. Think of this as the book version of Supernatural or Chuck. Escapism at its best! (Ed. note: We realize this is a 2015 book, technically, but the paperback for Armada was published in 2016, so we’re counting it. Hey, it’s our blog. Our rules!)



About Greg Zimmerman

In life, as in literature, Greg Zimmerman enjoys a nice mix of the high- and the low-brow. He writes (and uses too-frequent parentheticals) about books at his blog, The New Dork Review of Books. Greg's day job is as a trade magazine editor, and he slings books part time at RoscoeBooks.
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One Response to RoscoeBooks Picks the Best of 2016…So Far

  1. Janani says:

    Excellent list, I’m so glad (and not suprised) that both Homegoing and When Breath Becomes Air made this list, I’ve been meaning to read Version Control and might just do it on audio.

    Liked by 1 person

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