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Real Simple and Real Simple Editors
January 04, 2017

This story originally appeared on Realsimple.com

As 2016 comes to a close, we’re taking a close look at all the books we've read to bring you the top fifteen standout reads. After all, ‘tis the season to curl up with a book and tackle those books that have been sitting on your shelf all year long. Though we keep you updated throughout the year with the best books to read every month, herein lie our choice novels, non-fiction reads, and memoirs. In this gallery, you will find outstanding debuts such as Yaa Gyasi’s unforgettable Homegoing, a sweeping history of two sisters—one sold into slavery and one married off to a rich Englishman, Britt Bennett’s gorgeous tale about loss and the lasting bonds between women, and Emma Cline’s haunting take on a Manson Family-like cult in The Girls. You will also find stunning novels from seasoned vets like Zadie Smith, who returned with Swing Time, an epic tale of friendship, and Ann Patchett, who delivered a riveting family drama in Commonwealth. Indeed, 2016 has been a tremendous year for reading. Whether they made us smile, cry, cringe, or just ponder, these books left a lasting mark. Some (okay, many) made the list because of their beautiful writing, others because they made us laugh out loud or because they made us think about the meaning of life (just look to Kerry Egan’s essay collection On Living and Paul Kalanithi’s memoir When Breath Becomes for powerful reflections on life and death.) So whether you’re looking for a light read to help you escape the roller coaster that was 2016 or you’re hoping to get a fresh point of view, we’ve got you covered. Kick up your feet up and enjoy.

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