The Best Books of 2016: Cookbooks, Coffee Table Reads, Crime Novels And More
Some of us (e.g. this writer) are more likely to do considerable damage on our credit cards in a bookstore than we are in Barneys, so the making of this list was a dangerous feat. (Amazon cart = 15 items, and counting.) If you are likewise a bookworm, or are shopping for someone who is, let this list be your guide to the best of the best of 2016’s offerings. While by no means comprehensive, we hope this curation will suit your shelves (and help your elves) this holiday season.
The Moon Juice Cookbook
Every LA girl is obsessed with Moon Juice, and its founder, Amanda Chantal Bacon, generously shares all of the recipes which made her shop so beloved here.
Everything I Want To Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking
Every LA It girl is also obsessed with Squirl, a trendy Silver Lake neighborhood restaurant which has also been critically acclaimed. Its female chef shares her favorite recipes in this must-have tome.
It's All Easy
This one is an obvious crowd-pleaser, especially for busy girls and/or heads of households.
Cravings by Chrissy Teigen
Read one hapless-in-the-kitchen TZR editor's hilarious attempt at cooking like Chrissy here, and buy this if you think you—or a gift recipient—is going to need comfort food in 2017.
How To Celebrate Everything
This New York Times best cookbook is the perfect gift for any hostess friend, with hundreds of ideas for making any occasion special.
Life In Balance by Donna Hay
We want to live inside this beautiful book, which accompanies inventive, healthy recipes with mouthwatering photos which manage to make root vegetables look more appetizing than any cheeseburger.
Life In Balance, $31
In The Company Of Women by Grace Bonney
If you are at a loss for what to get any of the women on your list, this book is the answer. Design Sponge founder Grace Bonney interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, from designers to bakers and beyond, and the result is something to revisit daily for motivation and inspiration.
Living With Pattern: Color, Texture and Print At Home
This book by designer Rebecca Atwood demystifies the use of pattern in the home, providing digestible design tips as well as DIYs you can actually execute. We especially loved the section on finding your personal style, which makes this book the perfect gift for anyone nesting for the first time.
Grace: The American Vogue Years by Grace Coddington
This compilation of Ms. Coddington's most iconic fashion stories for American Vogue is a fashion girl's dream, and one of the most coveted coffee table books of 2016.
Coach: A Story Of New York Cool
Any book with a forward by Debbie Harry is bound to be worth owning. This one celebrates the iconic American brand's 75th birthday with a look at its evolution and the environment—New York City—which continues to inspire it.
Featuring over 300 of the most beautiful botanical images of all time, this book is the perfect gift for those with a green thumb, nature lovers or art enthusiasts.
The Vegetarian: A Novel
The Vegetarian is one of the New York Times Book Review's top ten books of 2016, so you know it warrants a read. If that alone isn't enough to entice you, perhaps this line from the book's reviewer will be: "[A] mesmerizing mix of sex and violence...vivid, chiseled...Like a cursed madwoman in classical myth, Yeong-hye seems both eerily prophetic and increasingly unhinged.” Weird, that's how our ex-boyfriends describe us as well...
The Underground Railroad
This book has pretty unanimously been declared one of the best books of 2016. The Underground Railroad's narrative follows a runaway slave named Cora as she makes her escape to freedom.
In this novel by Bel Canto author Anne Patchett, an illicit kiss has unimaginable consequences which span decades. It's a family saga that will engross those needing to escape their own drama this holiday season.
The Sellout: A Novel
This book made everyone's "best of" list this year. One New York Times writer really picqued our interest, however, with the following words regarding the novel, "The first 100 pages of [Paul Beatty's] new novel, The Sellout, are the most caustic and the most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I've read in at least a decade." Trust us when we say that this book lives up to its hype.
The Sellout: A Novel, $10
We suggest you pick this one up for yourself if you were (as we are) big fans of books like The Virgin Suicides or A Visit From The Goon Squad. You can read it in one sitting.
Over 40 million Americans live in poverty, which is a staggering statistic for those of us lucky enough not to be touched by this problem personally. Learn more about the issue from the Harvard sociologist who lived among them.
At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails
This is the perfect gift for the philosophy major who can't afford to spend $23 on a book (because they majored in philosophy, obviously). Our favorite anecdote from At The Existentialist Café is the one which describes the after effects of Sartre's experiments with mescaline, which caused him to think he was being chased by "lobster-like beings." Philosophers... they're just like us.
In The Darkroom
This is the engaging story of feminist journalist Susan Faludi's father, a sometimes-violent Holocaust survivor who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2004.
In The Darkroom, $17
Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power
Get to know the man we'll be calling our President in the new year.
Seinfeldia: How A Show About Nothing Changed Everything
For the Seinfeld fanatic in your life.
Ten Restaurants That Changed America
A compulsive read for your favorite foodie.
My Own Words
This collection of writings by justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a must-read for feminists.
My Own Words, $20
Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law
For anyone feeling politically helpless.
Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into The Mystery And Art Of Living
Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and National Humanities Medalist Krista Tippett (On Being) has interviewed some of the great voices of our time on the myriad challenges of modern life. Here, her curation and distillation of all they've had to say.
Crime fiction tends to be the type of shameful reading you pick up at the airport and hope no one catches you with. Not so with this novel, which The Washington Post named one of its best books of 2016. If you liked the HBO show The Night Of, The Trespasser is definitely worth picking up.
I Let You Go
This novel explores the events that transpire after a single mother's son is killed in a hit-and-run. Online bullying, a hot-button issue in 2016, plays a big role here, and the big twist in the book rivals that of thrilling favorites like Gone Girl.
I Let You Go, $11
Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial
This book is a must for Serial fans. Written by family friend Rabia Chaundry, Adnan's Story sheds new light on the famous case.
In the aftermath of one woman's disappearance, many of the loved ones in her life lie to the police. Why? Find out in this page-turner which will make long flights fly by (pun intended).
Maestra is guilty-pleasure reading at its finest—think Gone Girl meets 50 Shades of Gray. If you ended up reading this book over the break, we suggest you keep it a safe distance from small children, grandmothers and judgmental intellectual types.
If Jane Eyre were a murderer, this might be her story. "Of all my many murders," the title character—who bares great resemblance to Brontë's iconic character—says, "committed for love and for better reasons, the first was the most important." Clearly, this is not your grandmother's Jane.
Jane Steele, $16