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2016 in review: the 10 best books I read in 2016

It’s time to wrap up the year, and make some end-of-year lists. In made lists with the 10 best books I read in a year in 2014 and 2015, and I’ll keep this habit up.

I pledged to read 40 books in 2016, and if I do a bit of an extra effort on the last days of the year, I’ll make it to my goal. Not one of my big reading years, but average. I read 35 books in 2015, 105 in 2014, and 69 in 2013.

Here is my top 10 of books I read in 2016.

10. Headstrong: 52 women who changed science – and the world – Rachel Swaby
An overview of women whose careers in science left more than a trace – and it’s appalling to read how undervalued some of these women were, are, and, if we don’t do anything, will be.

9. De Helaasheid der Dingen – Dimitri Verhulst

I read this in Dutch, and if you can read between the swearwords, it’s a terribly depressing story.

8. Bejamin Franklin, An American Life – Walter Isaacson

I took some months to chew through it, especially through the final chapters about the political career of Benjamin Franklin. Certainly, I was more attracted to the chapters about his scientific experiments, but I learned a lot from the chapters about his political career.

7. Oorlog en Terpentijn – Stefan Hertmans
A story about the first World War, based on the memoirs of Hertmans’ grandfather.

6. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
A book on the life of black domestics in the South: there’s a lot of injustice and heartbreak in the book, but it’s written beautifully.

5. Onder Professoren – Willem Frederik Hermans

A satire of life in academia – you’ll be nodding along as you see some of the “typical” characters every department seems to have.

4. A man called Ove – Fredrik Backman
There’s a reason why this book is a best-seller: it’s a simple story about what makes us human.

3. Lab girl – Hope Jahren
Partially a story about trees, partially a story about life in science – this book is a must for every academic.

2. On Anarchism – Noam Chomsky
A collection of essays by Chomsky on the Spanish Civil War, but also on language and freedom.

1. A little life – Hanya Yanagihara
Intensely depressing, but also one of those books that I just did not want to end. I felt reading this book shook something in me.

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