10 books we loved reading in 2016

These 10 fiction and non-fiction titles were big hits with USA TODAY’s reviewers:

1. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (Harper, fiction)

Sharp and funny, Patchett’s entertaining, decades-spanning novel encapsulates the fallout from divorce on six kids in a blended family; it’s the ultimate Boomer book.

2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Random House, non-fiction)

A young neurosurgeon receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, and in his remaining days explores what makes life meaningful in this devastating, unforgettable memoir.

3. Swing Time by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press, fiction)

In her reliably beautiful prose, Smith explores the friendship between two black women growing up in Northeast London whose off-and-on connection powerfully captures the complex intersections of race, class and popular media.

4. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster, non-fiction)

Analytical but not self-absorbed, the rocker’s memoir is a rich and colorful chronicle of a legendary life, defined (and ultimately saved) by his complicated relationships.

5. End of Watch by Stephen King (Scribner, fiction)

The gripping conclusion to the superb Mr. Mercedes trilogy, which introduced a couple of unforgettable characters — namely P.I. Bill Hodges and serial-killing nut job Brady Hartsfield  — proves that the Master of Horror has redefined the detective story, too.

6. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Spiegel & Grau, non-fiction)

With warmth, wit and insight, the urbane host of The Daily Show recalls coming of age in South Africa during and after apartheid’s rule.

7. News of the World by Paulette Jiles (William Morrow, fiction)

This flinty Western turns surprisingly tender with its moving depiction of the friendship that blooms between a young white girl kidnapped by Indians and the old man hired to return her to relatives.

8. Truevine by Beth Macy (Little, Brown, non-fiction)

With velvet-fisted fortitude, a journalist extracts the odd-but-true story of albino black brothers taken from their Virginia home more than a century ago to become part of a carnival’s “freak show.”

9. The Nix by Nathan Hill (Knopf, fiction)

The Nix has some of the wisest observations of the year, and also the funniest, and neither parents nor video game nerds are safe in Hill’s masterful debut novel about a writer commissioned to deliver a book about his estranged mother.

10. LaRose by Louise Erdrich (Harper, fiction)

Two families reckon with a boy’s accidental killing in this poignant novel, which sets Native American tradition against modern-day challenges of pain-pill addiction and PTSD.

Contributing reviewers: Jocelyn McClurg, Matt McCarthy, Eliot Schrefer, Matt Damsker, Brian Truitt, Gene Seymour, Mark Athitakis