A Year in Reading: Aimee Nezhukumatathil

December 20, 2016 | 2 min read

covercovercover2016 was a year of great joy and promise dotted with the specter and the results of the most poisonous news cycle in my entire memory. My family and I moved to Oxford, Miss., so I could begin my appointment as the Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. With that came the gift of time to write and read in a town so steeped in an almost mythic love for writing and literature — so that, in times of despair, I often felt buoyed by books.

covercovercoverThis year also marked the first time in more than a decade where I lived in the same town as an independent bookstore — the mighty and marvelous Square Books (and Square Books Jr. for kids) — and never before have I been so perfectly happy to make my wallet just a bit lighter these days. Here then, is a sampling of the books I turned to and marveled over, often in more than one read-through, and thoroughly dog-eared to bits:

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham

Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future by Lauren Redniss

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

A Bestiary by Lily Hoang

The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood by Belle Boggs

Bukowski in a Sundress: Confessions from a Writing Life by Kim Addonizio

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Bestiary by Donika Kelly

Four Reincarnations by Max Ritvo

The Halo by C. Dale Young

Brooklyn Antediluvian by Patrick Rosal

Look by Solmaz Sharif

Third Voice by Ruth Ellen Kocher

No More Milk by Karen Craigo

ShallCross by C.D. Wright

Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair

Ropes by Derrick Harriell

Eternity & Oranges by Christopher Bakken

Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Chord by Rick Barot

play dead by francine j. harris

The Ladder by Alan Michael Parker

The Bees Make Money in the Lion by Lo Kwa Mei-en

The Crown Ain’t Worth Much by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres edited by Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline Kolosov

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

covercoverAnd finally, very much in the spirit of how I gifted Matt de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street for its music and ebullient spirit to every parent I knew with young children, my favorite picture book of the year (resoundingly endorsed by my six- and nine-year-old boys): We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen. You will simply, never forget this wily pair of turtles. I promise you. The sparse storyline and hilariously evocative illustrations showcase more empathy and kindness in a few pages than many grown-ups have these days. The sheer beauty of this picture book will leave you clutching your heart.

More from A Year in Reading 2016

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Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

is the author of three poetry collections, most recently, Lucky Fish. Her nature essay collection is forthcoming in 2018 with Milkweed Editions. She is the Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.