My Top 16 Books of 2016

And it’s that time of the year again. 🙂 That time when most book bloggers wrap up the year and share their own list of best books that they’ve read for the year. I consider this time of the year as my most favorite because as a bookworm, I always enjoy checking what’s on everyone’s list seeing if we have the same books in common or seeing what books I could add to my to-be-read list (my forever growing TBR list). I always enjoy learning about new titles that I haven’t heard before. I know that it’s not a good idea considering the amount of books that I already have but that’s life, that’s a bookworm’s life. 😀


I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s been supporting my blog. This year marks my second year of blogging and I couldn’t believe how time can be this fast. Though I am not posting that much, I am astonished by the amount of followers this blog has gotten for this year. Thank you you to all the publishers and authors who sent me books for review. Thank you for the trust that you to my blog. I still remember myself being so ecstatic and giddy when I first received my first physical book form an international publisher (Thank you Pushkin Press! I will always treasure that feeling). Thank you to my bookish friends in the book blogging world. I like how this community has been so supportive and welcoming to everyone. Thank you for continuously inspiring me to improve my content. Thank you to my family who supports me with my book addiction. I have now accumulated a little less than a thousand books but I haven’t heard anything from them. They even suggest things on how I can sort my books. I couldn’t thank you enough for understanding my passion and love for books. Thank you to my old subscribers for sticking around through my blog’s ups and downs and to my new subscribers for believing that you’ll enjoy the content that I’ll be posting. Sending you all all my love here from the Philippines.

Like last year, I was able to again read 52 books. If there’s one word that would describe my reading this year, that will be fruitful. This year, I learned to be more relax and stop putting so much pressure to myself. I don’t want reading to become a chore that I have to accomplish. I want reading to become as as a leisure rather than it becoming a burden. I am hoping that by next year, I’ll read more (crossing fingers).

So here you go, here are the 16 books that I enjoyed this 2016 with little snippets from my original reviews as to why I enjoyed each. For the complete review just click the tile of the book and you’ll be directed to my full reviews. 😉

Because this post is so long, I decided to cut it midway. Don’t forget to click page 2 to direct you to the other half of the list. 🙂

16. Soft in the Head by Marie-Sabine Roger

soft-in-the-head“This is easily the most touching book that I read this year. This book is just overflowing with honesty and sincerity that did not find it hard to connect to it.”

“I love this book. I really do. Despite being just short, it’s full of life-affirming lessons that touched me. I like how the author created such unique characters from different worlds but met and became friends in an unlikely place. A gentle giant and frail old lady. A happy-go-lucky person man and a experienced woman full of wisdom. A man with a broken past and a woman with a perfect background. A man who thoght of himself a “soft in the head” and a woman who saw his potential. who A man who sees himself as a burden and someone who sees his value.”

“Aside from the friendship, I also like how the book valued the love for books. A book about books. Being a bookworm, I can’t help but beam whenever the two talk about books. Margueritte is a passionate reader and I like how she influenced Germain to read and value its importance.”

15. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

celeste_ng_-_everything_i_never_told_you“I can describe Ng’s writing as simple yet vivid and poignant at the same time (though it is something to get used to). Her beautiful writing can also be reflected on the way she created her sincere characters. They are just so realistic and I felt like they just live next door and I am a neighbor who knows all their secrets.”

“How she was able to tie the story and interconnect the scenes leading to the plot and eventually to the ending make this book a satisfying read. With an exquisitely done narration, the author was able to produce a gripping page turner with the right balance of family drama and exciting twists.”

“For a debut novel, Celeste Ng really did well. She was able to handle the issues raised on this book in a way that is insightful to the readers.”

14. Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin by Bob Ong

lumayo-ka-nga-sa-akin“When it comes to creativity of book format and style, it seems like Bob Ong never runs out of ideas. From his usual short story collections that ranges from fiction to non-fiction, to horror and drama, then moving to a graphic novel type of book, and now his creativity this time takes readers to a book made as a screenplay, yes, like the script in movies.”

“The book’s value in today’s Philippines is very significant. It is a commentary about how the Philippine media is on a steep decline which, as the books points out, not only is being caused by the media companies but also us, who watch, reads and allows it to be that way and how we are also to be blamed for its downfall.”

“The book also talks about the effect of commercialism to us. It talks about how businesses try to influence us but we don’t notice it. It also points out how we are becoming irresponsible with how we use different social media sites. It talks about TV personalities running for public office. It talks about the billboard fiesta in our major roads. It talks about the death of the Original Pilipino Music (OPM). This book really contains a lot! This book’s worth is totally worth it.”

13. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

death-of-a-salesman“The writing has this perfect balance that will make readers fully internalize the themes presented in it. From lies to truth, failure to success, betrayal to respect, confinement to freedom, pride to humility and expectations to reality.”

“In a world where you are being judge by the possessions that you have and the achievements that you had, this book is a great read. The book raises the question as to what’s really important in our lifetime. It raises the question as to how high should our dreams be. The themes of this book and the questions it raises for discussion makes this play a timeless read.”

12. The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

the-wangs“Honest. Heartbreaking. Hilarious. Hopeful.”

“The strongest point of the book, I believe, is it’s characterization. I love how the book took it’s time in letting the readers know the background of the characters. I like how that did not only become limited to the main characters but was also extended to some side characters that played pivotal roles in the development of the main characters.”

“This is one those books where you’ll find yourself laughing out loud at one point and finding yourself in the brink of crying the next. The author knew exactly where to place those wry humor in the story. From sudden quips to witty dialogues that just appear out of the blue.”

“This is not just a rags to riches to rags story of an Asian-American immigrant trying to come to terms with his fate. This is not as some say, basic rich problems. There’s more in this book. What I liked the most is how the book offered a great study about the connections between family members. There’s that parents to siblings relationship, siblings to siblings relationship and stepparents to their stepchildren.”

“Bob Ong writes about things that we know happens and know that something is wrong but are afraid or don’t know how to point it out. He shows us the slap-in-the-face reality. He doesn’t only criticize but also offer suggestions. The message and intention of this book is clear. The author wants us to be an intelligent Filipino consumer and viewer. We should demand better content. Maximize and properly use the resources being given to us. We should not use the different social media platforms just for our rants and whines but rather to air our dismay in the current system. There are a lot of things to be done and a lot of things that needs to be changed and definitely nothing will happen unless we start it. If we just keep mum about these things that are happening, producers and media companies will continue to sell us the same content. Unless our taste changes, nothing will happen.”

11. Absolutely on Music by Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa

absolutely-on-music“What I did not expect was how the book will totally immerse me in a world that I have little to no knowledge about. It brought me to a literary adventure far different from what I’ve experienced from previous books not just by Murakami but also by other authors. It’s unconventional but it’s magical.”

“Murakami connects the similarities with music and writing to eventually talking about what music meant to them. There’s that feeling of being excited in every page that you turn because you’re getting this new personal facts about the author that you adore.”

“I like how despite being nonfiction, this book carried some style of Murakami’s fiction books. It may sound weird but this book has that light and absorbing style that I always enjoy when I read a book by Murakami.”

“Murakami continues to amaze me with what he can write and what he can offer. I have yet to read a book from him that I won’t enjoy.”

10. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

holding-up-the-universe“You are wanted. You are needed. You are loved.”

“There’s something with Niven’s writing that will really make you feel that she’s writing from the heart. There’s that sincerity and rawness in the words that she uses that makes her writing so effective. There’s that feeling that even if you are not in the situation of the characters or you basically haven’t yet experienced what the characters are going through, Niven’s writing will draw you in and will make you walk with the characters or be inside the body of the characters, understand who they are, feel what they feel and understand where they are coming from and their struggles.”

“The book’s message is about accepting the differences that we have with others. The book wants the readers to feel that they are wanted, regardless of what they look like, where they come from and what they believe in. As long as what you’re doing is good, you do not need to change for others to love you. We should accept our imperfections and learn to live with it the best way we can.”

9. Wounded Little Gods by Eliza Victoria

wounded-little-gods“Eliza Victoria is really taking the theme of Philippine folklore and Philippine urban fantasy to a whole new level! I really did not imagine that there will come a time that I will fully believe that local gods and deities worshiped by our ancestors do really exist and they live and walk with us without us noticing. This book really made me believe that.”

“This is only the third book that I read from her and I really have to commend how vividly she writes and how solid she builds the world that she creates. How she weaves her story is so intricate and she really knows how to build up the momentum. The way she presents her world and the way she describes it is so good that it will totally immersed you.”

“She presents characters that have relatable flaws who you can easily recognize, normal characters who can be anyone that you meet in the street experiencing the same traffic like you do and facing the same stress at work.”

“Her writing is on point and direct but not in a way that will you make you feel that it was rushed. The book has this right balance between its pacing and storytelling that works perfectly with how the tension in the book escalates. She knows how to trick and play with the emotions and imagination of her readers. She’ll glue you to every page until you reach the end.”

8. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

thesleeperandthespindle_hardback_1418011159From Neil Gaiman doing the prose and Chris Riddell doing the illustration, the book is the product of two masters in their fields. Gaiman’s inventive and descriptive prose worked well with Ridell’s detailed and intricate illustrations.

I love how the book put a new take on fairy tales that everyone enjoyed growing up. The book highlighted the capacity of every woman to ward off villains in their own stories. Gaiman created a universe where women have the necessary faculties to stand on their own and who can survive without needing a hero to save their day. This book really breaks conventional fairy tale stories.


18 thoughts on “My Top 16 Books of 2016

  1. What a shame that I’m falling behind some of your best reads in 2016! So I hope that I will get a good chance of reading them next year.Also, I’m glad that you included Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto ; I won’t even forget this book. Keep it up, Mark!!! ^__^


  2. You’ve read an interesting and varied selection of books! Thanks for sharing – I read my first Neil Gaiman book this year (The Ocean at the End of the Lane) and was so impressed with his storytelling. Have a Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a great list featuring some fantastic books. A few of my favorites from this year has been A Little Life, Crooked Kingdom, A Gathering of Shadows, The Winner’s Curse, and When Breath Becomes Air. (I’m currently reading the last one, but I’ve gotten far enough that I doubt my positive opinion will change.)

    And happy new year, Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how both The Sun Is Also A Star and Holding Up The Universe made your top 16 best books of the year! Thank you for being a blogger friend, Mark! Can’t wait to meet you, hopefully next year! 🙂


  5. Your post made me intrigued to pick up ‘Holding up the Universe’ and ‘Everything I never Told You.’
    Thanks for the inspiring post!


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