The end of the year is the usual time when book rankings of all kinds are being published. One of the most interesting ones is the list of top books compiled by Amazon editors.
You can start exploring this year’s edition by visiting Best Books of 2016 landing page on Amazon website.
Five titles were strong contenders for the title of The Best Book of 2016. Eventually, the editors decided to honor The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. It’s a brilliant and wise portrayal of a young slave seeking her freedom on a real underground railroad.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is not a metaphor – a secret network of tracks and tunnels has been built beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, where both find work in a city that at first seems like a haven.
The second place is taken by The Wolf Road, half-western, half-thriller from an incredible new voice in literature Beth Lewis.
#3 book is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis, a memoir written by J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy. It’s a true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like “when you were born with it hung around your neck.”
It’s worth mentioning that as much as 26 books in Top 100 are memoirs. And three books were written by debut authors.
Amazon’s list of best books of 2016 is not based on sales. So, how are the books selected to Top 100?
Members of Amazon editorial team read hundreds of books a year. They meet every month to name Best Books of the Month. Titles that land on monthly lists have big chances to be selected for the grand Top 100.
In October, the editors gather in a series of meetings to review Best Book of the Month entrants but also look at the upcoming releases.
As a result, the best titles are selected for the main lists:
On top of that, top 20 books are selected for each of the sixteen featured categories. Here are the quick links to the most popular ones:
- Best mysteries and thrillers – The Whistler by John Grisham, Night School – a new novel from A Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10,
- Best biographies and memoirs – Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Abraham Verghese, American Ulysses by Ronald C. White Jr,
- Best literature and fiction – Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, Swing Time by Zadie Smith, News of the World by Paulette Jiles,
- Best romance books – Debbie Macomber’s Sweet Tomorrows, Sting by Sandra Brown, A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe,
- Best nonfiction books – Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Messy by Tim Harford,
- Best children’s books – Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, The Hammer of Thor, Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man.
Below, you’ll find Top 10 books with short descriptions and links to both print and Kindle format. We’ve also prepared a simple Best Books of 2016 infographic. Feel free to share it with your friends and followers.
Make sure to explore the entire Best Books of 2016 catalog on Amazon.
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Amazon Best Books of 2016 – Top 10
1. The Underground Railroad
#1 New York Times bestseller and Amazon’s #1 Book of 2016.
A story of a young slave Cora working on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits.
When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape.
But things do not go as planned. Cora kills a white boy who tries to capture her.
2. The Wolf Road
A debut literary thriller from an incredible new voice. Perfect for fans of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place.
But Elka had learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.
So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper is wanted for murder.
3. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
J. D. Vance
A riveting account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class.
The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm.
J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
4. The Nix
The novel explores — with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness — the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.
The action spreads from the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago.
In 2011, college professor and stalled writer Samuel Andresen-Anderson has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hadn’t seen her since she abandoned the family when he was a boy.
Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the news.
It’s 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather.
As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others. They find themselves changed, and stripped of the personalities they once shared.
A superbly crafted story, Mischling describes one of the darkest moments in human history to show us the way toward ethereal beauty, moral reckoning, and soaring hope.
6. Lab Girl
An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science, Lab Girl is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science.
Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together.
It’s a demonstration of what can happen when you find the stamina, passion, and sense of sacrifice needed to make a life out of what you truly love.
7. Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story
Part memoir, part reportage, part history, Pumpkinflowers captures the birth of today’s chaotic Middle East and the rise of a twenty-first-century type of war in which there is never a clear victor and media images can be as important as the battle itself.
Raw and beautifully rendered, Pumpkinflowers will take its place among classic war narratives by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, and Tim O’Brien. It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today.
8. Before the Fall
A new novel by Noah Hawley is a perfect marriage of genre and literary fiction.
Down-on-his-luck artist Scott Burroughs would usually take the ferry back to New York from Martha’s Vineyard, but he is unexpectedly offered a spare seat on the Bateman family’s private jet.
Then just minutes after take-off, the plane crashes into the ocean and of the eight passengers and three crew, only Scott and the Batemans’ small son, JJ, are left alive…
Another masterpiece from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.
The novel unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry.
From the Jewish slums of pre-war South Philadelphia to the invasion of Germany, from the heyday of the space program to the twilight of the “American Century,” the novel revisits an entire era through a single life.
10. A Gentleman in Moscow
A transporting novel about a man who is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.
The main character, Rostov, Rostov, is an indomitable man of erudition and wit, who has never worked a day in his life.
Now he must live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors.
Best Books of 2016 – infographic
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