Rosalind Faires' Top Reads of 2016

Top Books to Make You Cry on Your Lunch Break

These three novels drew a discreet tear or two with their beautiful, brave, and bittersweet humanity

Rosalind Faires' Top Reads of 2016

Now, when I say cry, I don't mean bawl. I'm talking the elegant tear or two that ever so slyly escapes your eye when your heart is full to bursting. To the people who find themselves crying over the overwhelming beauty of a certain piece of music or videos of animals of different species befriending each other or sudden confrontations with minor acts of completely non-obligatory kindness – these are for you.

1) A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking) It's a Russian novel for American audiences – littered with exquisite insights into human behavior but moving at a slightly brisker pace than can be found in Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. It follows the Count Alexander Rostov's life under house arrest in the elegant Moscow hotel, the Metropol. Beginning with his sentencing in 1922, we chart the arc of history through the way it affects the running of a hotel and the life of one deeply kind, erudite gentleman.

Cry about the beautiful minute contradictions that live in people and how fearsome and tender it is to grow old with people you love.

2) The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith (Sarah Crichton Books) Smith has us criss-crossing through time to track the work of the title artist, a Dutch painter of the Golden Age, who paints her most enduring work in the wake of her daughter's death.

Cry about the mysterious way in which art inspires and eludes us, about the compromises we make and how they haunt us, about life lived in the bittersweet.

3) Arcadia by Iain Pears (Alfred A. Knopf) A grand spiderweb that rewards you the more you explore it, Pears' fantasy tracts the intersection of three seemingly disparate realities: 1960s Oxford, England; a pastoral fantasy world in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien's the Shire; and a dystopian tech-heavy future.

Cry about the simple bravery of human beings living their lives in spite of futures they know they must face, and the sheer wonder of watching threads knit together so elegantly.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Top 10s
Steve Davis’ Top 10 Films of 2017
Steve Davis’ Top 10 Films of 2017

Steve Davis, Dec. 29, 2017

Kimberley Jones’ Top 10 Films of 2017
Kimberley Jones’ Top 10 Films of 2017

Kimberley Jones, Dec. 29, 2017

More Fiction
Joe O’Connell’s Top Reads of 2017
These three novels and one memoir are all memorable for the ways they plumb the depths and mysteries of memory

Joe O'Connell, Dec. 29, 2017

Rosalind Faires’ Top Reads of 2017
Uncovering literary gems in areas such as historical fantasy, suburbia melancholia, female-centric speculative fiction, and more

Rosalind Faires, Dec. 29, 2017

More Arts Reviews
Theatre Synesthesia's <i>The Fault</i>
Theatre Synesthesia's The Fault
In Katie Bender's play, an American family tries to save itself from being shaken apart

Robert Faires, Oct. 19, 2018

"Ed Ruscha: Archaeology and Romance" at the Ransom Center
This evocative excavation into the artist's process of creating art and making books reveals the work of art is the completed book itself

Melany Jean, Oct. 19, 2018

More by Rosalind Faires
Edward Carey's Portrait of Madame Tussaud in <i>Little</i>
Edward Carey's Portrait of Madame Tussaud in Little
The Austin author both writes about and illustrates the grand, strange life of the waxworks queen

Oct. 19, 2018

<i>An American Marriage</i> by Tayari Jones
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This bittersweet novel charts a wrongful conviction's effect on a young couple

Oct. 19, 2018


Top 10s, Fiction, A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith, Arcadia, Iain Pears

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle