Best Books of 2016 – Mark’s Picks
If you discount the three months I spent reading Infinite Jest, my reading in 2016 was heavily weighted on the nonfiction aisle, so it seems fitting that my picks for the year fall into this category.
Number 3 – The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
I imagine Bill Bryson being among the top authors whose books are packed by travellers. His love of humanity, eye for detail, and keen wit on the road make travelogues like Notes from a Small Island an obvious choice for a ramble around the British Isles. In The Road to Little Dribbling, he returns to this terrain, to hold forth on history, travel destinations, and matters of social downturn. Frequently outrageous, always funny.
Number 2 – The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova
I am embarrassed to admit that I was at one time taken by a con artist. I should have known better, because this was not just any con. No, this was the fabled three card monte, a game that any jamoke should know to steer clear of when walking the streets of New York. My wife knew better, and had I read Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game prior to that trip, I would have reconsidered stacking my perceptual abilities up against one of the oldest cons in the book. Konnikova, a psychology writer, breaks down the psychology of the con and why it works. The Confidence Game is packed with fascinating (and well-told) stories of con artists and how they played their marks. Utter page-turner.
Number 1 – Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
If you love memoirs, you’ll love Lab Girl. If you love science writing, you’ll love Lab Girl. If you love nonfiction at all… well, you get the point. Lab Girl is my favorite book of the the year. It is, hands down, one of the best memoirs I’ve read in recent years. Largely the story of Hope Jahren’s entry into science (biology) and her life in the lab, the memoir is packed with a scientist’s curiosity with a poet’s love of language. It is a joy to read.