Books: 10 most important books of 2016 and more

Hello, I'm books editor Carolyn Kellogg, with this week's book news for you.



Looking back on the year, I've selected the 10 most important books of 2016. Because books take so long to create, there's no guarantee that they'll be as meaningful when they're published as they were when they were conceived. These, however, touched on something essential and will have lasting importance.

10 most important books of 2016
10 most important books of 2016 (Various)


Congratulations to Anne Rice, whose new novel "Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis" enters our bestseller list this week at No. 5. Although Rice was known for living in New Orleans, a city that was featured in "Interview With the Vampire," the 1976 book that launched the series, she moved to Southern California not long ago — perhaps looking at our desert is what drew her imagination to the undersea Atlantis.

Anne Rice
Anne Rice (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)


"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters," Donald Trump said at a January campaign appearance in Iowa. That statement topped the list of 2016 quotes, according to the editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, which shared its top 10 quotes of 2016 — they'll all be added to the book.

Patti Smith went to Sweden to accept Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize in Literature at the Dec. 10 laureates' banquet, as Dylan had declined to attend. She was, in fact, first invited to perform before the choice of Dylan was made public. She writes about the experience at the New Yorker —  including stumbling while singing Dylan's song "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," on video here. "As I took my seat, I felt the humiliating sting of failure," Smith writes, "but also the strange realization that I had somehow entered and truly lived the world of the lyrics."

Patti Smith at the Nobel ceremony
Patti Smith at the Nobel ceremony (Jonas Ekstromer / Associated Press)


Our critics-at-large have been writing terrific essays all year. Don't miss Viet Thanh Nguyen on the Democrats' failure in November. "Here's what I have to say to American liberals and leftists: instead of listening to the strategists, who don't believe it's possible to dramatically change our society, can we finally be bold and listen to the artists and the outsiders and the radicals and the freaks and the avant-garde and the base and the youth and the anarchists and all those who don't want to do business as usual with the limousine liberalism of both the elite Democrats and Republicans? Can we listen to the dreamers instead of the doubters?"

Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks at the Pulitzer centennial celebration in Los Angele
Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks at the Pulitzer centennial celebration in Los Angele (Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)


There's still time to get books for all your friends for the holidays, and our books gift guide is here to help.