I pushed myself to make more time for reading this year and succeeded, reading almost 20 books (and I have 3 weeks left!). Here is a list of my favorites from 2016, just in time for holiday shopping.
[side note: while adding links to each book, I realized that not a single one is over $20, and most are closer to $10!]
Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts. This is the best book I've ever read. It's beautiful, it's tragic, it's haunting, it's glorious. I cried from happiness, from anger, and from grief. I sent pictures of passages to friends because they just had to be shared. I gave my dad a copy, and partway through he sent me a simple text: "Some of the most magical passages written." Buy a copy for yourself, and another to give away.
East of Eden - John Steinbeck. I rarely read a book twice (though I'll be reading Shantaram again in 2017), but East of Eden is an exception. Every few years it pops into my head, and I'll cruise through it with fresh eyes, and unique takeaways - it's a book that speaks to me differently with each passing year. I've read most of his novels, but I come back to this as my favorite.
The Fortress of Solitude - Jonathan Lethem. This is an incredibly thoughtful, smart novel. Taking place in Brooklyn over a long span of years, it covers the issues of race, gentrification, drugs, and more with stylistic grace. I struggled to feel hooked in throughout the first section, but this book builds nicely.
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy. Woah, intense! I've had this on my list for a while, as it's considered one of his best works, and it certainly is, but be ready for graphic violence that challenges any Tarantino film. It took me some time to become comfortable with his writing style in this, and to understand what was taking place, but stick with it. This is an incredible piece of literature.
You Suck: A Love Story - Christopher Moore. A friend (thanks Aubrie!) gave me a Christopher Moore book a few years back, and I've been hooked on him since. His writing is smart, light, and funny, which is a good break between more serious reads (see, Shanataram, Blood Meridian, and The Fortress of Solitude). This isn't my favorite of his, so if you haven't explored him before, I'd suggest starting with A Dirty Job or Lamb.
Tools of Titans - Tim Ferriss. This book just came out a week ago, but it's an easy referral for me. I've listened to over half of Tim Ferriss' 200+ podcast interviews, where he dissects world-class performers in a variety of fields. This book is a compilation of the tips, strategies, and themes that he has teased out and discovered in these interviews. It's thoughtfully laid out, easy to jump around, and an invaluable resource for anyone. I dare you to read a random 50 pages and not find something that is immediately useful in your life.
Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life - David Servan-Schreiber. I refer back to this book often. Since it's initial publication in 2008, this book has been one of the leading voices for using nutrition and other techniques as preventative medicine, and as complements to standard cancer treatments. It will change the way you eat.