Best books of 2016

From “Horrible Bear,” meant for ages 3 - 6, to “All the Single Ladies,” meant for an older crowd, here are the best and brightest from 2016.

Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino.

Why it matters that Childish Gambino is bringing back the funk

Donald Glover returns with a controversial sound — one that deploys funk not as pop dressing, but for its original purpose.

Singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh is back, performing the songs of her long-running band Throwing Muses as well as her solo material.

For a new album, Kristin Hersh learned to let go

The Throwing Muses frontwoman has a new double album with an accompanying book, and new artistic insight borrowed from her son.

Publisher pulls controversial children’s book parody

Amid a firestorm of criticism on social media, publisher Abrams announced that it would cease publication of its parody of children’s books.

Latest Books headlines

new england literary news | Nina MacLaughlin

Books by subscription, children’s titles of a bygone era, librarian honors

Quarterlane Books is a subscription-box service that delivers a curated selection of titles four times a year at the start of each season.

Local bestsellers

A list of bestsellers based on reporting from the independent booksellers of the New England Independent Booksellers Association and IndieBound.

the story behind the book | kate tuttle

A very different portrait of John Singleton Copley

“A Revolution in Color” is Jane Kamensky’s attempt not only to tell Copley’s life story but to re-examine widely held ideas about Boston in his era.


Greater Boston author readings Dec. 11-17

A weekly calendar of literary events and author readings.

the discovery

Images from a train window on Northeast Corridor

In “On Time: Along the Northeast Corridor,” renowned photographer Rosamond Purcell and her husband, Dennis, capture the route on an iPhone.

More Books headlines

Books in Brief

The man behind Krazy Kat; making scents

Capsule reviews of “Krazy’’; “Perfume’’; and “Rest’’


Greater Boston author readings Dec. 4-10

A weekly calendar of literary events and author readings.

the story behind the book

Traveling back along the campaign trail with John Dickerson

The first presidential campaign John Dickerson covered was in 1996 for Time magazine, but he has long been fascinated with history and politics.


Alice Hoffman: Books become part of you

In the author’s “Faithful,” two characters disagree about whether life is more like short stories or a novel, but they do agree on the importance of fiction

book review

Twenty-eight years after her death, Kathleen Collins’s debut collection begins with a breathtaking wisp of a story

The 16 stories by the late Kathleen Collins mostly went unpublished during her lifetime, and for years languished in a steamer trunk.

book review

Amid a political typhoon, a witty, enjoyable history of a midcentury tempest in a literary teapot

“The Feud” traces the shifts in the relationship between America’s pre-eminent man of letters in the 1940s, Edmund Wilson, and a Russian émigré writer, Vladimir Nabokov.

book review

David France takes us back to the ‘Plague’ of AIDS and those who fought the war against it

“How to Survive a Plague’’ is at once a deeply reported (if New York-centric) AIDS history and an intimate memoir that makes clear the author’s stake in the story.

the discovery

Celebrating Keats and ‘Snowy Day’

The 1963 Caldecott winning book has become an iconic piece of children’s literature.

four takes

Trying to get our hands around time

Capsule reviews of “Time Warped’’; “Measuring Time, Making History”; “Time Travel’’; “Now’’

Book Review

Journalist investigates after mysterious death of whistleblower surgeon’s husband

Surgeon Diana Jager is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day when Peter Elphinstone walks into her life. She’s sleep-deprived and locked out of her hospital’s intranet; she’s lost her temper with a patient and has had critical surgeries canceled because of a lack of beds. The last person she wants to deal with is Creepy Craig, the hospital IT guy, so when Peter walks in and introduces himself as new to the IT team — polite, respectful, and easy on the eyes — it’s nearly love at first sight for the worn-out doctor. Before you can say “meet cute,” she’s rocking out at a Blink-182 tribute concert with Peter, not to mention making out with him in her car, teen style.

the story behind the book | kate tuttle

Coming to terms with AIDS death, 30 years on

Michael Ward’s memoir, “The Sea Is Quiet Tonight,” was published this month.

Poet Philip Levine.

book review

With Philip Levine, poetry is part of the texture of everyday life

Levine drew from that struggling Rust Belt past to create verse that was often direct, angry, confessional, and full of the turmoil of contemporary life.


Marlon James is a fiction fan with a thing for medieval history and fantasy

James became the first Jamaican-born author to win the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2015 with his novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings.”

The first civilian ambulance corps. was created in 1869 at Bellevue Hospital. Below: A view of how Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan looks today.

book review

Bellevue’s saga is the story of modern medicine, of New York, of America itself

A new book by David Oshinsky looks at the history of a hospital that has made more appearances in the news and in movies than any other American hospital.

book review

In ‘Wonderland,’ fun serves as the mother of invention

Steven Johnson (“How We Got to Now’’) is a writer who hangs out at the intersection of science, technology, and culture.

Emily Bastien is the author of “Aqua Tales.”

This 7-year-old has the write stuff

Douglas native Emily Bastien published her first book this year, making her one of the youngest published authors around.

Ray Kroc in front of one of his restaurants in 1955.

book review

Abusive, rags-to-riches McDonald’s billionaire and wife who gave fortune away

Lisa Napoli recounts how Ray Kroc became a billionaire by turning a California hamburger joint called McDonald’s into a global empire and how his wife, Joan, gave it all away.


Greater Boston author readings Nov. 27-Dec. 3

A weekly calendar of literary events and author readings.

new england literary news | Nina MacLaughlin

New magazine clusters visual, literary around themes, a new press, publication sets sail

Slow Reader collects stories, essays, poems, illustrations, and some in-betweens that center around novelist Haruki Murakami.

the discovery

A heaven’s-eye view view of how — and what — we’re doing with Earth

In “Overview: A New Perspective on Earth,” Benjamin Grant has gathered satellite shots of the planet gleaned from his Instagram account, Daily Overview.

President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Books in Brief | Kate Tuttle

Fresh looks at Black Elk, JFK, and table manners

Capsule reviews of “Black Elk,’’ “JFK and the Masculine Mystique’’; and “Table Manners’’

FILE - In this May 5, 2016 file photo, Megyn Kelly poses for a portrait in New York. Supporters of President-elect Donald Trump have flooded Amazon with negative reviews of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s new memoir. The Los Angeles Times reports over 100 negative reviews of Kelly’s “Settle For More” appeared on the online retail giant’s site within hours of its release Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. The newspaper reports many of the negative comments came from a link from a pro-Trump Reddit forum. Many of the negative reviews disappeared from the site by early Wednesday. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP, File)

Amazon removes negative reviews of Megyn Kelly’s memoir

Amazon has suppressed a number of negative reviews of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s new memoir.

Mr. Trevor’s plots often unfolded in Irish or English villages.

William Trevor, 88, writer who evoked the struggles of ordinary life

Mr. Trevor’s plots often unfolded in Irish or English villages whose inhabitants waged unequal battle with capricious fate.

Novelist John Edgar Wideman

Book review

Violent deaths of Emmett Till and his father reflect on race, justice system

“Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File’’ mixes memoir, research, speculation, and fiction in a wandering book that attempts to illuminate the tragedies that befell Emmett Till and his father, Louis.


New home design and gardening books to gift

Tips on how to design in a Scandinavian or rustic style and advice on gardening and, well, life.

the story behind the book | kate tuttle

Writing D-Day’s forgotten soldiers back into history

Linda Hervieux interviewed the last 12 surviving members of the all-black 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion for her book, “Forgotten.’’

book review

Deathbed stories loose family’s hidden history of Nazi trauma, mental illness, Space Age intrigue

“Moonglow’’ is Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon’s most probing and substantial book yet.

The Discovery

Sharing a beguiling literary mystery

For the first time, a complete reproduction of “The Voynich Manuscript’’ has been published

Angela Merkel

Four Takes

Glass ceilings? No, more like labyrinths.

Capsule reviews of “Angela Merkel,’’ “Margaret Thatcher,’’ “This Child Will Be Great,’’ and “Women of Power.’’

A frame from Abe Zapruder’s historic home movie of President Kennedy’s assassination.

Story of home movie that made name Zapruder famous

Alexandra Zapruder writes that her grandfather’s footage of the Kennedy assassination “was a serious and complicated responsibility . . . It appropriated our name and changed the course of our lives.”

Jodi Picoult


Jodi Picoult focuses in on race relations

For her new book, “Small Great Things,” best-selling author Jodi Picoult says she read more than she has for any project.

Seiji Ozawa (pictured in 2015) is the subject of “Absolutely on Music.”

New England Literary News | Nina MacLaughlin

Chats with Ozawa; Papercuts becomes a publisher

“Absolutely on Music: Conversation With Seiji Ozawa” is a collection of the edited transcripts of chats between the maestro and novelist Haruki Murakami.

the Discovery

Greater Boston author readings Nov. 20-27

A weekly calendar of literary events

Rep. John Lewis collaborated on a trilogy of graphic novels titled

Colson Whitehead, Rep. John Lewis win National Book Awards

Whitehead’s ‘‘The Underground Railroad’’ won the award for fiction and Lewis shared the prize for young people’s literature.

Fiction and nonfiction bestsellers

Based on reporting from the independent booksellers of the New England Independent Booksellers Association and IndieBound for the week ended Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016.

Anna Kendrick (left) talked about her new book ''Scrappy Little Nobody'' with Boston librarian Margaret Willison.


Anna Kendrick likes being damaged. ‘It’s fun.’

Judging by the sold-out crowd Wednesday, the Portland, Maine, native is anyone but the “Scrappy Little Nobody” her book’s title suggests.

Fable of polar bear, retired from circus, who becomes a writer

“Memoirs of a Polar Bear’’ is a shaggy bear story that asks us to accept as perfectly natural the fact that a bear attends conferences and goes to the movies.

Books in Brief | Kate Tuttle

Profiles of an ‘opium-eater,’ Joan Rivers, and museums, offbeat and iconic

Capsule reviews of “Guilty Thing,’’ “Last Girl Before Freeway,’’ and “Treasure Palaces’’

Molly Booth (pictured at Marblehead’s Little Theatre) went from college papers to the novel “Saving Hamlet.”

For 20-something young adult novelist, Hamlet was the muse

Though hardly out of college, Marblehead’s Molly Booth has a novel out, inspired by Shakespeare and her own work in theater.


Did you ever wonder how media draw your attention, then sell it?

In “The Attention Merchants,” Tim Wu describes how the rise of electronic media established human attention as perhaps the world’s most valuable commodity.

People look to books to explain Trump’s election

Many people surprised by the outcome of the election have turned to books for answers. Three of the biggest sellers examine white working-class America.