Fiction reigned for the Amazon Books Editors this year, including our overall favorite, Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway. (Towles’ New York Times bestseller A Gentleman in Moscow was also included in the Best Books selection in 2016.)
Set in the 1950s, this compassionate, hopeful, and compulsively readable tale is full of wonderfully flawed characters trying to do the right thing in all the wrong ways. You will want to shake them as enthusiastically as you’re rooting for them. This is one Highway you’ll want to get right back on after you turn the last page.
To view the full list, visit Best Books of the Year. There, you’ll see our overall top 20 picks, plus favorites in popular categories from biographies, to literary fiction, to romance and sci-fi (and everything in between, including children’s books).
But before you do, we wanted to share readers’ most popular Kindle highlights from the top 10 best books of the year.
1The Lincoln Highway
By Amor Towles
Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow) might just have written one of the best novels of this decade, delivering one of the greatest gifts of fiction: hope. Filled with 1950s nostalgia and the gentle naïveté and hijinks of those who are young, optimistic, and on a mission, The Lincoln Highway follows four kids whose paths collide as they search for their mother and a stashed wad of cash.
“For what is kindness but the performance of an act that is both beneficial to another and unrequired?"
2Crying in H Mart: A Memoir
By Michelle Zauner
You will laugh, you will cry, your stomach will rumble with hunger, and you’ll tap your toe to the beat of this powerful mother-daughter and Korean American story that shows just how important it is to accept someone fully for who they are—and love them just the same.
“I remember these things clearly because that was how my mother loved you, not through white lies and constant verbal affirmation, but in subtle observations of what brought you joy, pocketed away to make you feel comforted and cared for without even realizing it."
By Jean Hanff Korelitz
A story within a story that is a Rubik’s Cube of twists, The Plot follows an uninspired author fading into obscurity until his new book rockets him to fame. Only the plot isn’t his and someone knows it. Korelitz keeps us guessing—even when all seems clear—right up to the knock-out ending.
"Either it’s a good plot or it isn’t. And if it’s not a good plot, the best writing isn’t going to help. And if it is, the worst writing isn’t going to hurt it.”
4How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America
By Clint Smith
Clint Smith’s tour of places and landmarks linked to slavery is the type of book that can change the way you think, even if you have known some of these places (or thought you did) your entire life.
"This, I now realize, is part of the insidiousness of white supremacy; it illuminates the exceptional in order to implicitly blame those who cannot, in the most brutal circumstances, attain superhuman heights. It does this instead of blaming the system, the people who built it, the people who maintained it."
5The Four Winds
By Kristin Hannah
Set during the Great Depression and featuring an unlikely heroine who will lodge herself into your heart, The Four Winds is a reminder, when we so urgently need it, of the resiliency not only of the human spirit, but of this country as well. Kristin Hannah's latest reads like a classic.
"A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me."
6Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
By Patrick Radden Keefe
From the author of Say Nothing, an utterly absorbing history of the Sackler family—the founders and masterminds behind OxyContin. From their rise marketing pharmaceuticals, to the backdoor dealings of FDA approvals, to the front door dealings of museum philanthropy, this is a story of ambition, power, deception and greed that is impossible to put down.
"The opioid crisis is, among other things, a parable about the awesome capability of private industry to subvert public institutions."
By Colson Whitehead
From the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner of The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, a blisteringly entertaining novel of schemers and dreamers, mobsters and crooks, elaborate heists and furniture fronts, and the thrilling mischief of those who are up to no good and others who are just trying to make a living.
"The way he saw it, living taught you that you didn’t have to live the way you’d been taught to live. You came from one place but more important was where you decided to go."
By Maggie Shipstead
Maggie Shipstead has accomplished the impossible: an epic novel that is ambitious, literary, yet utterly accessible. Great Circle follows two women who yearn for adventure and freedom—aviator Marian Graves and starlet Hadley Baxter—and like flying, it’s the thrill of the century.
"One thing I learned is that you don’t just love a person, you love a vision of your life with them. And then you have to mourn both."
9Project Hail Mary
By Andy Weir
As in The Martian, Weir makes science and problem solving not only cool but absolutely essential to survival, delivering an electrifying space adventure that yanks at both the gut and the heart strings.
"Human beings have a remarkable ability to accept the abnormal and make it normal."
10Klara and the Sun
By Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro’s quiet, emotional, and moving novel about a robot girl with artificial intelligence, who is designed as a playmate for real children, is a story that will captivate and haunt readers.
“Mr. Capaldi believed there was nothing special inside Josie that couldn’t be continued. He told the Mother he’d searched and searched and found nothing like that. But I believe now he was searching in the wrong place. There was something very special, but it wasn’t inside Josie. It was inside those who loved her.”