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Staff Favorites of 2016: Adult

What was the County of Los Angeles Public Library staff reading in 2016? Here are some selections from our staff of the best books we read this year.

See our Staff Favorites of 2016: Teens and Children list too. Find even more reading suggestions at Books & Media.

 Born Bright: A Young Girl's Journey From Nothing to Something in America book jacket

Born Bright: A Young Girl's Journey From Nothing to Something in America by C. Nicole Mason

In her powerful memoir Los Angeles native Nicole Mason describes her road to success despite all of the obstacles she's faced since childhood. She describes how difficult it is to escape poverty due to limited choices and a lack of support, challenging the notion that the poor simply do not work hard enough to reach success.

Genre: Memoir, 2016

Recommended by: Kristen of Bell Gardens Library

 The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo book jacket

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

I love reading about comedians and what makes them tick, and how their "overnight success" was actually many hard years in the making. Schumer writes with her trademark fearless candor about her childhood, relationships, family, and career in a series of essays. You'll laugh, cry, wince, and occasionally blush as she shares her stories.

Genre: Memoir, 2016

Recommended by: Susan of South Regional Office

 Homegoing book jacket

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

A remarkable multi-generational epic that begins with two sisters in 18th century Ghana. One is sold into slavery while the other marries a British slave trader. Their family lineage is traced to present day America through a series of interconnected stories. A deft, startlingly assured debut novel brimming with compassion and humanity.

Genre: Fiction, 2016

Recommended by: Katrina of Norwalk Library

 Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places book jacket

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Ghostland takes you on a tour of the most famous haunted locations around the country, exploring their cultural, social and political origins. Recommended for readers who are looking for a good nonfiction read about all things supernatural.

Genre: Nonfiction, 2016

Recommended by: Ursula of La Crescenta Library

 The Sudden Appearance of Hope book jacket

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

Hope Arden is disappearing; not physically, but a minute after you meet her you will forget she ever existed. Forced to live a lonely existence, Hope becomes embroiled in a world of secrets and must find a way to make her voice heard when it is easily forgotten.

Genre: Fiction, 2016

Recommended by: Judy of Hawthorne Library

 Based on a True Story: A Memoir book jacket

Based on a True Story: A Memoir by Norm Macdonald

In quite possibly the greatest memoir ever written, because it is more fiction than memoir, Norm Macdonald recounts the story of his life in a series of drug-fueled anecdotes while on a suicidal mission to Las Vegas for one last big score. Fans of Macdonald will love the humor of the story while perhaps being frustrated by the lack of true details.

Genre: Memoir, 2016

Recommended by: Josh of Adult Services

 Small Great Things book jacket

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Race, discrimination, implicit & explicit biases, and white privilege are topics difficult to discuss and read about. Jodi Picoult molds recent news events into a full-blown court case in her latest fictional release. This was a page-turner that at times was hard to put down, at other times hard to stomach, and even harder to think about.

Genre: Fiction, 2016

Recommended by: Hilda of Chet Holifield Library

 Be Frank With Me book jacket

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

You will fall in love with the main character of the story, Alice Whitley, a straight-laced assistant from New York and the precocious boy, Frank, who she has been assigned to take care of while his mother finishes her latest novel. This book will touch you and make you laugh.

Genre: Fiction, Humor, 2016

Recommended by: Fiona of San Gabriel Library

 I'm Thinking of Ending Things book jacket

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

This suspenseful story about an unnamed narrator and her boyfriend, who are on a road trip to visit his parents for the first time as she is thinking of "ending things" with him, will keep readers up, awake, and creeped out all the way until the unexpected ending.

Genre: Suspense, 2016

Recommended by: Jennifer of Gardena Mayme Dear Library

 Eligible: A Novel book jacket

Eligible: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

You don't have to be an Austen fan to love this reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice, set in 21st century Cincinnati. Darcy is now a Harvard-educated neurosurgeon and Elizabeth Bennett is a writer for a popular women's magazine. Sittenfeld brilliantly updates not only the setting but the reflections on courtship, gender roles and class.

Genre: Romance, Humor, 2016

Recommended by: Margo of Walnut Library

 Behind Closed Doors book jacket

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

Told from the point-of-view of a wife in a seemingly perfect marriage, I could not put this book down and finished it in a day. It's full of suspense and twists and turns as you discover more about the marriage and the characters involved.

Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction, 2016

Recommended by: Katie of Agoura Hills Library

 The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race book jacket

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward (editor)

Referencing James Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time," this collection of essays and poems examines the modern world from the black perspective. Thought-provoking, tragic, and inspiring, the book is a worthy companion to Baldwin's words and observations.

Genre: Nonfiction, 2016

Recommended by: Judy of Hawthorne Library

 The Watchmaker of Filigree Street book jacket

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Intricate, compelling, intense – this book starts like a train leaving the station and finishes with a runaway race to the end. The characters are gripping and compelling, and the central conceit, which I refuse to spoil, is entrancing. Excellent fantasy that doesn't slot neatly into any specific existing genre.

Genre: Fantasy, 2015

Recommended by: Winona of Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Library

 Saga, Volume 6 book jacket

Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

The already groundbreaking series is made even greater. It's three years later and we find young Hazel living with her grandma and "Aunty" Lexis in a women's prison. Marko and Alana are growing closer to finding their daughter, and to each other. We find out the fate of a main character. And the authors give major fan-service to the beloved seal Ghus.

Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, 2016

Recommended by: Victoria of Sorensen Library

 Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future book jacket

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

This book is a fascinating look into the life of Billionaire Elon Musk and his ambitious companies. Although it's a biography it is also a detailed look at SpaceX, Tesla, Paypal, and what it takes to be successful. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in space, renewable energies, and the type of future we could have.

Genre: Biography , 2015

Recommended by: Alejandro of East Region

 The Grace of Kings book jacket

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

The Grace of Kings is epic fantasy with a Far East flavor. When two rebel heroes join forces to defeat the Emperor of Dara, they don't foresee how their friendship will be tested. Meanwhile, gods scheme behind the scenes to change their destinies in this first book of the Dandelion Dynasty series.

Genre: Fantasy, 2015

Recommended by: Rachel of Manhattan Beach Library

 Sawbones book jacket

Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt

Wrongly accused of murder, a 19th century female doctor flees New York City and finds herself in a remote Army outpost in Colorado. Taking over for an incompetent doctor and falling for a handsome Army captain, her past soon comes back to haunt her. A thrilling saga that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Genre: Historical Mystery, 2016

Recommended by: Wendy of Technical Services

 Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology book jacket

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

One of the more accessible, memorable, and readable books in the world of ex-Scientologist memoirs. The book is a deeply personal look at the slow deterioration of Remini's relationship with the church and its leaders and the aftermath of her decision to leave the faith. Remini was a surprisingly enjoyable narrator: candid, funny, and genuine.

Genre: Memoir, 2016

Recommended by: Heather of West Covina Library