​Nutshell by Ian McEwan
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix
Swing Time by Zadie Smith

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Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
La Rose by Louise Erdrich
The North Water by Ian McGuire
City of Djinns by William Dalrymple
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Shelter by Jung Yun
The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

Dear Friends and Fellow Readers:

I write to share my 2016 favorite fiction book suggestions in honor of my deceased mother, Ilza Berry Williams.* Past selections can be seen on the other pages of this website.

2016 provided many, many interesting books. So Lita is recommending 10 books instead of her usual five. I retaliated by adding three more to my list. We actually had some overlap.

2016 may have provided a lot of interesting books but many still left me somewhat wanting. The books were well written, had tension, and featured intriguing characters. But many didn’t tell a compelling story, which is one of my main criteria. I saw the play Hamilton and just saw the film adaptation of Fences. So I know the arts are continuing to produce compelling stories. I challenge fiction to return to the same. Lita cautions me to remember that writing is harder than it looks.

I will commend 2016 fiction for its subject diversity. Slavery is being readdressed and cultural works from India, China and Africa abound. Untold history and diverse cultures are also among my main criteria.

So in honor again of my mother, please visit the website and provide me with your favorites and any comments on ours.


Barry Lawson Williams

* My mother, Ilza Berry Williams, was a New York City schoolteacher. She taught reading, then all subjects to special needs students, and then English as a second language to Spanish speaking students. She became a principal, and then the Deputy School System Administrator before retiring. She managed to read a book the day before she passed.
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
The Nix by Nathan Hill
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
La Rose by Louise Erdrich
The North Water by Ian McGuire
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan
​Grace by Natasha Deon
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry