Nine Favorite Books of 2016
Staff Writer By: Ricky Grove (gToon)
Saturday, December 24, 2016 8:38 pm
Reading is my passion. Any subject will satisfy my reading itch as long as it's well-written and interesting. The list of books below are only a fraction of the books I've read in 2016, but they have lingered in my memories and feelings. I promise you that each book on this list is unique and well worth your reading time. Click the title to go to the publisher's website and in some cases the authors website. Covers of each book are in the rotating carousel above.
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
This remarkable novel is part of an emerging movement of African-Americans writing contemporary horror fiction. It's beautifully written with engaging characters and scenes of great tension and poetry. It's also a very funny novel that addresses race as well as the supernatural.
The Hike by Drew Magary
I discovered this truly unique novel late in the year while browsing the year's best lists. The Hike is like an adult Alice in Wonderland, but much grittier. It's impeccably written and features one of the best wise-cracking crab characters in all of literature. I mean it.
American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant By Ronald C. White
American history was ruined for me in high school by disinterested teachers. After reading this gripping biography, I realized my image of Grant was a cliche. American Ulysses will reveal to you just how special this soldier/statesman was. Every part of his life is reexamined with intelligence and understanding by Ronald C. White, the biographer.
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
I love the fact that science fiction is morphing into all kinds of different things. This moving space opera/culture focused novel is a moral question about our future ability to evolve new species and change existing ones. This novel stayed with me for many months. There are scenes of great beauty and strangeness.
Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Illustrated by Sana Takeda
Very close to being my favorite book of the year. This woman-centered graphic novel is a revelation of characterization and style. Sana Takeda's illustrations are unique and full of passion. The story moves into places that you do not expect. Reading this wonderful novel, I felt like I did as a kid reading Marvel comics for the first time: a sense of wonder and fear.
Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning By Timothy Snyder
It's hard to believe that one book could so completely re-interpret the history surrounding the holocaust, but Black Earth does exactly that. This compelling and moving book challenges many accepted historical motions of the holocaust. Snyder wants to widen holocaust history and to insert Hitlers very strange notions of the planetary ecology (yes, ecology) into our understanding. Compelling and unsettling.
The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe by Kij Johnson
A smart, fascinating re-working of Lovecrafts seminal "Dream Quest of the Unknown Kadath", but from a woman's point of view. Kij Johnson captures the eerie atmosphere of Lovecraft perfectly and her central character (a middle-aged woman) is achingly sympathetic. Loved this novel!
The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts
A deeply philosophical novel that is often written in different styles and can take place in different time periods. Heady, dazzling and endlessly surprising, The Thing Itself focuses on two very different scientists who pursue each other in a strange death dance. I can't wait to re-read this novel!
Dead Souls by J. Lincoln Fenn
Dead Souls examines the "bargain with the devil" trope, but in such a rich and unexpected way that the story comes alive again. The central female character, a driven ad exec, makes a bargain to be invisible at will. Now comes the devils due. The ways this funny/frightening/moving character copes with this situation is the meat of the novel. Feen is going to be a big thing in horror over the next several years. You must read this book.