Fort Worth librarians’ picks for best books they read in 2016

Librarians love lists, and one of the best things about the end of the year is the annual slew of “best of” lists. Here are some of our staff’s personal picks for the books we enjoyed reading most in 2016.

Everything, Everything

By Nicola Yoon

Delacorte Press, 2015

For ages 12 and up

Maddy has severe combined immunodeficiency, which means she is confined in her house and allergic to most of the outside world. She only interacts with two people: her mother and her nurse. Then, a handsome teenage boy moves in next door and everything changes.

Full of shocking twists, hilarious turns and potentially deadly risks, this is more than a love story. It’s a book about discovery, freedom and the lies we tell ourselves to stay in control. It’s heartbreaking, it’s empowering, and it’s impossible to put down.

Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs

By Eric Litwin

Orchard Books, 2016

For ages 3 and up

Groovy Joe loves relaxing and eating his ice cream. But when a series of dinosaurs bursts through his door and pulls out spoons, what’s a dog to do? Easy! Share!

Told in rhyming words and a repeating chorus, kids will be ready to sing, dance and move along to Joe as he keeps a positive attitude no matter the situation, and uses creative thinking to solve each problem that arises.

Highly Illogical Behavior

By John Corey Whaley

Dial Books, 2016

For ages 12 and up

Solomon has anxiety and is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years. Lisa is hoping to study psychiatry in college and needs a project for her application. She decides that getting Solomon out of the house is the perfect thing.

As she forces her way into his life, the two gradually become close friends, along with Lisa’s boyfriend, Clark. When the truth behind their meeting comes out, it could destroy the bonds — and hope — that have been created.

This book is about the rarest of all teen story elements: boys and girls as actual friends. Together, the trio provides each other with companionship, human connection and a belief that things can be different.

Never shying away from tough things like how it feels to have an older relative, or what it feels like to have a panic attack, this book is real and intense. It also has humor, pop-culture in-jokes and a wrenching ending that will have the reader smiling through tears.

I Spy on the Farm

By Edward Gibbs

Brubaker, Ford & Friends, 2012

For ages 3 and up

This engaging book encourages readers to look through a hole cut into every page to see what animal they can spy on the next page. Clues about color and sound are included. The large illustrations are attention-grabbing and kids will love guessing what animal is next!

Max the Brave

By Ed Vere

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015

For ages 3 and up

Max the black kitten is brave! Max is fearless! Max is a mouse-catcher! Well, he will be once he figures out what a mouse is. He very politely asks a series of animals if they are mice, but each denies it.

Readers will delight in Max’s mistakes and love his quirky and playful adorableness. The bright colors, silly humor and not-so-scary monster will make this a favorite read.

Only Ever Yours

By Louise O’Neill

Quercus, 2015

For ages 12 and up

In a world where women are created solely to become companions to powerful men, their only commodity is beauty. Girls obsessively ride exercise bikes that shout degrading comments for being even 1 ounce overweight. Diet and wardrobe are tightly controlled. The girls attend classes to learn cooking, sex and motivation, which is bullying the lower-ranking girls to break their self-esteem and destroy their worth.

Freida and Isabel have been best friends since childhood, but the struggle to stay in the top 10 beauties of their class begins to take a toll. Isabel begins to sabotage her own looks through weight gain, cutting and rebellion. Freida is mystified as to why but also determined to make a husband choose her.

This insightful story is very similar to The Handmaid’s Tale and is tough to read in spots. But it has a lot to say about beauty-as-worth, self-esteem and the ways men treat women, as well as how women treat each other. It also is impossible to put down.

Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds

By Paula Yoo

Lee & Low Books, 2010

For ages 6 and up

This amazing and inspiring book tells the story of Sammy Lee, who died this month at age 96. He learned to swim in 1932, at a time when people of color were only allowed to use public pools one day a week. He spent the next 16 years training hard and becoming the best he could be while also fulfilling a promise to his father to become a doctor.

Lee made Olympic history by becoming the first Asian-American to win a gold medal. He went on to compete in several Olympic Games and win multiple medals, titles and honors. This triumphant tale is an example for anyone determined to follow a dream.

Wendy Dunn is a teen programming librarian at the Fort Worth Library.