Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Standalone Reads of the Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. This week, we’re talking favorites of the year. I didn’t want to compile my absolute favorite books of the year yet, because 2016 isn’t over yet. Plus, I don’t want to necessarily choose 10. So instead, I’m talking about the standalone books I absolutely adored in 2016! 

Night Film by Marisha Pessl // I read this mystery book during the #spookathon, because one of the challenges was to read a book with red on the cover. I wanted to read something different, and this definitely fits the bill for me. Not only is it a mystery/thriller which I hadn’t read for a while, it’s also a mixed media book. In addition to the prose, there’s also police reports, web pages, pictures, text messages, etc. I felt like that added so much to the whole experience of this mystery! It’s one of my favorite reads of the year in general too. 

Gravity by Tess Gerritsen // I’ve been wanting to expand my genres more, so when I was in a slump this year I picked up the science fiction mystery. I absolutely adored it. It was so captivating, I read it in a matter of hours. It’s set partly on Earth and partly in the ISS when a deadly virus breaks out in the latter and no one can figure out what it is or how it’s killing. Absolutely adored it, and that’s when I decided to read more mystery books and science fiction ones.

This Is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp // I was anticipating this release for a while, but somehow never got around to reading it when it actually got released? I saw it in the library a month ago or so, and decided to pick it up. It takes place in 54 minutes in a high school, when the principal’s welcome speech ends but the doors of the auditorium won’t open. Then someone starts shooting. I was on an emotional ride with this book, which I didn’t expect because of the 54-minute time line. How can you get attached to characters in that time? I’m telling you, Marieke Nijkamp did it. This is a heartbreaking but beautiful read. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen // Yes, I’ve only read my first Austen book this year. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think I have to tell you guys what this is about? I didn’t have the best track record with classics, so I was terrified I wouldn’t like this or connect with it. But I actually ENJOYED myself while reading this classic. Which is something I didn’t think I would say. So I want to thank Jane Austen, for opening me up to the world of classics more. 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys // I absolutely adored this YA historical fiction book. It’s about several young people who are tied to the Wilhelm Gustloff during the second World War. The Wilhelm Gustloff is a ship, and it’s one of the biggest maritime disasters ever. It’s touching, heartfelt, honest and brutal in many ways. I couldn’t stop reading. 

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi // One of the few science fiction books I read this year! I actually read far more science fiction this year than I ever have, because I’ve been trying to expand my reading a bit. This was wonderful. It was incredibly scary to me, because it was so realistic. It’s set in our world (in the US), but water has become the most expensive commodity. States are killing people for it. It was honestly so good, and I couldn’t do the description justice if I tried. I’d highly recommend this one. 

Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis // This is a very recent read for me! It’s a historical fiction book set during the Congress of Vienna. I adored the setting, the characters, the story line and the little fantasy twist it had. I’m definitely looking for more Stephanie Burgis reads soon. 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt // I actually read 2 Donna Tartt books this year, The Secret History and The Goldfinch. But I loved The Secret History much more, to be honest. I read this in February, and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s the story of a group of university students in New England, who murder one of their friends. This you know from the start. You just don’t know why. It’s amazing. They study Greek and Latin, and basically are each other’s only friends. This book also managed to make me feel incredible smart, and incredibly stupid at the same time.

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II // And finally, a non-fiction read. I am a skeptic. So when I read a book about how one lifestyle is better than the others, I am so full of doubts and questions. But this book made me think about so many things. If you don’t know, this book talks about the China Study, which was a study that compared the diets of people in the US with those of people in China -in various locations, of various ages, etc.- and what effect their diets had on their health. This has lead me to eat vegetarian and vegan quite often (whenever I can, really) which is something I never would’ve considered last year. It scared the shit out of me, to be honest. 

So those are 9 standalone reads I absolutely adored in 2016! No, these aren’t necessarily 2016 releases -I just read them during the year. Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Which books did you love during 2016 – and which standalones?

41 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Standalone Reads of the Year

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed The Secret History – it’s one of my all-time favourites (The Goldfinch was technically excellent, but much too long and I hated everyone in it – I had to force myself to finish it). I’m excited to see Night Film and The Water Knife on your list – they’ve both been on my radar a long time, and it sounds like I should bump them up and read them.


  2. The Secret History has been on my TBR forever. I will pick it up someday! I really enjoyed Night Film as well. Pessl’s other book is very different, but I loved it as well: Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I’m also so glad you loved Pride and Prejudice. One of my all time faves (and Marvel has made a wonderful comic version of it that I read this year).


  3. I have copies of Salt to the Sea and The Water Knife, and need to read them both! I’m so glad to see them on your top 10 list. I love P&P — so glad you enjoyed it!


  4. Night Film looks like a great thriller, and Congress of secrets sounds good too. I remember hearing about the China study, and frankly I can imagine that being scary. I mean food is such a big aspect of health and I can only imagine how a US diet compares to a Chinese diet/ way of life (unfavorably I’m sure!). I should get that and read it.


  5. I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time this year, too! If you want to try a modern re-telling, try Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – it’s really fun!


  6. The Secret History! One of my all time favorite books ever! I have a copy of Night Film but haven’t read it. Seeing it here on your list makes me want to, though:-)


  7. Great idea to talk about standalones! It’s true, there still is time to discover a 2016 all-time favorite 🙂 Night Film, Salt To The Sea and This Is Where It Ends are all still on my TBR, hope to get to them soon. Pride and Prejudice is one of the few classics I loved as well. And Congress of Secrets sounds intriguing!


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