I like reading. A LOT. I would rather stay at home read then do, well, most things. My dating life isn’t very exciting, but I went on a ton of literary adventures in 2016 and learned so, so much. My goal was to read 52 books in 2016. I only read 42, tying my record in 2011. However, a couple of the books I read were over 1000 pages (by Fanny Burney…one of the most long-winded authors in the English language). Anyways, these were the best books I read in 2016.
I only worked in a restaurant for a hot minute right after college, but I am totally FASCINATED by books about restaurants. Sweetbitter is one of the best I’ve read. Danler totally nails what it’s like to be a hardworking, hard-drinking twenty-something in the Big City. I literally read the entire book in one city on a flight from Ohio to LA. It was that good.
Stephen King has written some really frightening, disturbing shit, so it was a great surprise to me that he’s also really funny. Part memoir, part guidebook to writing fiction, On Writing is the best book I’ve read about becoming a writer (so far). If you have any inclination towards writing whatsoever, you absolutely must read this book.
This generational time travel novel weaved in and out of plausible reality and fiction so seamlessly, I was absolutely dizzy when I finished the book. Basically, the main character finds himself in his hoarder aunts’ NYC apartment, completely outside of the passage of time. He is then compelled to write down the story of their family and their connection to time travel through his great-grandfather’s discovery of The Lost Time Accidents. It was just crazy and I really respect John Wray for being so imaginative in his narrative.
These books are on Amazon FOR FREE so I read them and they were surprisingly good! The Paper Magician Trilogy takes place in a steampunk version of Victorian London and follows a young student of paper magic. When her teacher is brutally attacked, she has to go on a journey through his heart to save him. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s so good. Oh, and Disney is making it into a movie so…get on that.
This collection of short stories was really weird and awesome. The stories all had a subtle sci-fi, superhero flavor. Of course, not all superpowers are created equal, and we find the characters navigating a world where some superheroes are more gifted than others. Kelly Link is a genius.
Cat Winters writes spooky young adult books set in the early 20th century and they’re all top notch. This is her second book set during WWI and the Influenza epidemic. It deals with xenophobia and grief and there’s a twist that you will not see coming. I almost threw my Kindle out of the airplane when I read it.
This books is so wild because it’s ALL TRUE! Apparently in the 1920’s there was this epidemic of “Sleepy Sickness” AKA Encephalitis Lethargica. The survivors of the disease were left in statue-like states, although their minds were perfectly normal. They were stuck like this, tucked away in sanitariums until the 1960’s, when world’s coolest neuroscientist Oliver Sacks showed up and treated them with a new drug and they just SNAPPED OUT OF IT! They were so happy, but then the drug had terrible side effects and most had to quit taking it and return to their statue-like state. This book is so good. It’s just a patient-by-patient case study, but Sacks had such a great way with words that it’s super interesting.
This classic set in the Congo is basically about the atrocities of colonialism. I didn’t think I would like it, but I was completely taken by Conrad’s prose and I was majorly disappointed that this book was so short.
Like Heart of Darkness, The Vorrh is also set in Africa. There’s a lot of different characters and a crazy mix of the supernatural and science fiction. I don’t know what drugs this guy was doing when he thought of this novel but it was sooooooooooo good. It was like Heart of Darkness, but mixed with…robots? Monsters? It’s certainly the most inventive fantasy novel I’ve read in a long, long time.
I love everything Aziz Ansari does. I thought this was going to be just another comedy book (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it’s actually a pretty in-depth sociological look at dating and love for millennials. I can’t say it made me very optimistic about the chances of finding love, but it was very interesting.
If you like mysteries, romance, and mummies, you’ll love this book. I read it as part of my research for my mummy romance novel I want to write (I’m absolutely serious about that), and I was really pleasantly surprised. It’s a classic, and you can probably finish it in one rainy afternoon.
I haven’t spent a lot of time writing about books on this blog, but reading and writing are both a huge part of my life. So if you like this, let me know! Perhaps I’ll start a new series like my monthly music picks to let you know what I’ve been reading every month. I read a wide variety of genres and quality levels. I read self-published romance novels on Amazon Prime, high literature classics from the 1700’s, sci-fi short stories, YA Bildungsromans, non-fiction essays, straight up neuroscience books…literally I’ll read anything. I always welcome recommendations, but I do have to warn you: my to-read list on Goodreads is going to take me about 20 years to work through so…I’ll get to it when I get to it.
What was the best book YOU read last year?