As 2016 is winding down, I thought I’d do a best-of list, but it won’t be a “best books released in 2016,” since there are too many I have yet to read. Instead, I’ll do a list of the best books I read in 2016, regardless of when it was originally published.
Top 10 Novels I Read in 2016
1. The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
I’d heard nothing but high praise for this book and series, between the 4.55 rating on Goodreads, recommendations from other authors, and the comparisons to Game of Thrones. I finally got around to reading it this year and can confirm all the praise is deserved. I’d love to see these books turned into a TV series or movies.
2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (2012)
This is another book I wanted to read based on a high Goodreads rating and recommendations. It’s a long book, and a bit slow at the beginning, but with each page, I became more and more absorbed in the story, and by the end I truly loved it. It covers seemingly everything, from magicians, to the early comic book industry, to World War II.
3. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (2015)
I’d read and loved Tremblay’s The Little Sleep, about a narcoleptic private detective. A Head Full of Ghosts is a shift in genre, to horror, though both books are heavy in mystery. They’re quite different, but I loved them equally. Tremblay is becoming one of my favorite authors today, to the point that I’ll read whatever he writes, no matter the genre.
4. The Fold by Peter Clines (2015)
14 by Clines is one of my favorite books, and this one ranks right up there with it.
5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (2007)
This book was…different—in a good way. It follows a series of characters in a Dominican-American family over several generations. The best part was Díaz’s unique voice and writing style.
6. Armada by Ernest Cline (2015)
Cline’s first novel, Ready Player One, was one of my favorite books ever, and Armada was…not. That was an almost impossible bar to pass. But I still enjoyed this new twist on the alien invasion story.
7. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (2001)
I’d seen and loved the movie Fight Club, based on Palahniuk’s novel, but I’d never read any of his other books…until Choke. All I can say is I plan on reading more Chuck Palahniuk books in 2017.
8. City of Sand by Robert Kroese (2015)
I’ve been following Kroese since reading Schrodinger’s Gat, a “quantum physics noir thriller.” I wasn’t as big a fan of his comedic books, but City of Sand was more similar in tone to Schrodinger, and I loved it. A really twisty mystery plot with elements of science fiction.
9. Depth by Lev A.C. Rosen (2015)
I both loved and hated the premise of Depth: a noir set in a future NYC flooded from global warming. I loved the premise because…well, it’s awesome. And I hated the premise because I had the same idea for a story myself. The setting is really the only similarity, so I may still write it.
10. Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory (2011)
This isn’t a novel, but a collection of short stories, mostly magical realism. Each story is rather short to read, but you can spend hours thinking about them.
Top 10 Graphic Novels I Read in 2016
In previous years, I’d read Y: The Last Man and Saga, but 2016 is when I really started to get into graphic novels. Here are my favorites:
1. Locke & Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
I was really blown away by this entire series. It was just about perfect.
This reminded me of my novel Trick or Zombie Treat, so naturally, I loved it.
3. Saga (Volume 6) by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
I continue to enjoy this space opera, which includes some of the most inventive aliens, planets, characters, weapons, and technology.
This is different from the other graphic novels on the list. It’s more autobiographical and isn’t so much a novel as a series of shorts. But I thought it was amazing—both hilarious and heartbreaking at times.
5. Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
I could see where Christopher Nolan got his inspiration for The Dark Knight with this comic, a dark serial killer mystery. In 2016, I also read The Killing Joke (which I liked) and The Dark Knight Returns (which I didn’t like as much).
6. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman is a master, so I wasn’t surprised to discover The Sandman was masterful. It’s a really interesting mix of mythology, history, and fantasy.
7. Descender (Volumes One and Two) by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen
This was a really interesting science fiction comic, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
8. The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
This was a fun film noir-inspired series following a Hollywood screenwriter in the 1940s, caught in a noir mystery himself.
Another in the vein of Hyperbole and a Half. If you suffer from social anxiety, you’d probably relate to a lot of the short comics in this book.
10. Wytches by Scott Snyder & Jock
This was a twisted horror comic about modern witches, but what really sets it apart is the artwork.
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books I Read in 2016
I read more fiction than non-fiction, so my pool to pick from was smaller, but here are my top ten:
1. But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman (2016)
Klosterman is one of my favorite pop-culture writers (and novelists) (and essayists) (and podcast guests) (and all-around thinkers), and I absolutely loved his latest book, particularly the chapters about science.
2. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman (2003)
I also read Klosterman’s first book for the first time this year. It’s tough to say which I liked more. No one else can tie together topics ranging from Guns ’N Roses to Saved by the Bell to the Lakers/Celtics rivalry to serial killers.
3. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (2000)
The title says it all.
4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami (2007)
Murakami talks not only about running but about writing, and how those two parts of his life are intertwined. He and I share much in common, as I also write novels and run every day, though I’ve never owned a jazz club in Japan…
5. Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield (2016)
Another great book from the writer of The War of Art, this one includes tons of great advice for any aspiring writer.
6. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (1994)
Surprise: Another book by a writer, for writers.
7. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin (2010)
I first heard of Godin from his podcast guest appearances, and I always thought he sounded brilliant, so I figured I’d try reading one of his books. Not surprisingly, it was brilliant.
8. Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman (2005)
You might be noticing a theme here. I like Chuck Klosterman and books about writing.
9. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)
As someone trying to overcome shyness and improve my social skills, this book, while old, includes a lot of timeless advice.
10. The Introvert Writer by Jamie Arpin-Ricci (2016)
I read this short book recently after seeing a promo for a free copy, and being an introvert writer, I found it useful.
So that’s it. My favorite books I read in 2016. And judging by the dozen books I got for Christmas, 2017 is already shaping up to be even better.