A Compilation of Multiple Best Books of the Year Lists

Here’s a compilation of a variety of “Best Books of 2016” lists I came across int he past couple of weeks. I was putting the list together for myself, and I thought some of my readers would like to see such a list as well.

There was only one book that appeared on all three lists of what I would call the Big 3 (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Amazon.com); that book was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

So if you’re looking for a book to read, that may be it!

The New York Times:

  • The Association of Small Bombs By Karan Mahajan
  • The North Water By Ian McGuire
  • The Underground Railroad By Colson Whitehead
  • The Vegetarian By Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith.
  • War and Turpentine By Stefan Hertmans. Translated by David McKay.
  • At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails By Sarah Bakewell
  • Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right By Jane Mayer
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City By Matthew Desmond
  • In the Darkroom By Susan Faludi
  • The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between By Hisham Matar

Wall Street Journal:


  • The Story of a Brief Marriage By Anuk Arudpragasam
  • Spill Simmer Falter Wither By Sara Baume
  • Moonglow By Michael Chabon
  • The Heart By Maylis de Kerangal
  • Heat & Light By Jennifer Haigh
  • Imagine Me Gone By Adam Haslett
  • Oblivion By Sergei Lebedev
  • High Dive By Jonathan Lee
  • The Sport of Kings By C.E. Morgan
  • The Underground Railroad By Colson Whitehead


  • The Genius of Birds By Jennifer Ackerman
  • Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets By Svetlana Alexievich
  • Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story By John Bloom
  • Code Warriors By Stephen Budiansky
  • The Vanishing Velázquez By Laura Cumming
  • In a Different Key  By John Donvan & Caren Zucker
  • Abigail Adams: Letters Edited by Edith Gelles
  • The Rise and Fall of American Growth By Robert J. Gordon
  • Harry & Arthur By Lawrence J. Haas
  • Black Hole Blues By Janna Levin

Amazon editors’ top 10:

  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  • The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • Mischling by Affinity Konar
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Pumpkinflowers by Matti Friedman
  • Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
  • Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Bill Gates:

  • String Theory, by David Foster Wallace
  • Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight
  • The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • The Myth of the Strong Leader, by Archie Brown.
  • The Grid, by Gretchen Bakke.

From Seth Godin, a slightly different type of list (or two):

  • Books I wish I’d read earlier in my career: Do The Work, Persuadable, Anything You Want, Secrets of Closing the Sale, Start With Why, The Pursuit of Wow, New Rules, The Republic of Tea, Why David Sometimes Wins, The True Believer, The Red Queen, The Mesh, Don’t Make Me Think, Software Project Survival Guide, Marketing Myopia, The Goal, Misbehaving, How to Design Cool Stuff, The Shipwrecked Mind, Body of Work.
  • Filed under thinking better: Getting Unstuck, Start Here Now, Book of est, Fail, Fail Again
  • For a much needed laugh, not just a smile, but many laughs: Bizarro and The Far Side (jumbo paperback set)…

Adam Grant, Wharton professor, author of Originals

  • Irresistible by Adam Alter
  • The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith
  • The New Urban Crisis by Richard Florida
  • Extreme You by Sarah Robb O’Hagan
  • There Is No Good Card for This by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell Studio
  • Own It by Sallie Krawcheck
  • Stretch by Scott Sonenshein
  • Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu
  • Hit Makers by Derek Thompson
  • Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant


Michael Hyatt, entrepreneur:

  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
  • The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling
  • Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson
  • The Revenge of Analog by David Sax

*image from Hearts and Minds books

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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