Reading List: Powell’s staff’s best books of 2016

Powell’s just released their Staff Top 5 Picks of 2016 yesterday. I crunched the numbers* and calculated their “consensus” Top Ten. Presented in order of most to least total points, they are (links take you to Powell’s, because that seemed appropriate):


  1. The Lonely City by Olivia Laing (20 points)
  2. The Girls by Emma Cline (17 points)
  3. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (12 points)
  4. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (12 points)
  5. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (11 points)
  6. What Is Obscenity? by Rokudenashiko (10 points)
  7. The Fireman by Joe Hill (10 points)
  8. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (10 points)
  9. LaRose by Louise Erdrich (10 points)
  10. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (10 points)

What I love about this list is that there are so many books on here that I’d not heard of before. Sure, I knew that The Girls and The Fireman were getting a lot of buzz. I’ve also been hearing great things about Commonwealth. I’ve already started Homegoing and the first few chapters are great. But, other than that, the rest are completely new to me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I trust Powell’s staff recommendations. So, I’ve added these to my to-read shelf and created a separate PowellsBestof2016 Goodreads shelf to keep track of them. I’ve already started Homegoing, but if you’ve read anything else on this list, or are planning to read anything else here, let me know what you think/recommend in the comments.


* In case you’re interested, here’s how I came up with the total points… I did some good old “copying and pasting” of all the lists into a spreadsheet. Then I assigned points to each mention of each book based on where it appeared in each list (5 points for first place, 4 points for second place, etc.). Then I made a pivot table and sorted the results by total number of points in descending order. There was an obvious cut-off after the first ten books. After that, there were a bunch with 9 points each. So I capped the list at ten books.

I did this same analysis last year for the Powell’s Staff Top 5 Picks of 2015. You can check out that post here if you missed it. You can also check out my shelf for those books on Goodreads, where I’m keeping track of what I’m reading.

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