Best Books I Read in 2016

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 (2007) by Patrick Rothfuss

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 (2012) by Michael Chabon

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 (2015) by Paul Tremblay

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 (2015) by Peter Clines

14 by Clines is one of my favorite books, and this one ranks right up there with it. A juicy blend of science fiction, mystery, and Lovecraftian horror.

5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) by Junot Díaz

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 (2015) by Ernest Cline

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 (2001) by Chuck Palahniuk

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 (2015) by Robert Kroese

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 (2015) by Lev A.C. Rosen

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 (2011) by Ben Loory

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.

More Best Fiction Lists:


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.

2. Paper Girls (Volume 1) by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang

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.

4. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh (2013)

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.

9. Adulthood Is a Myth (Sarah’s Scribbles, #1) by Sarah Andersen

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.

More Best Comic Books Lists:


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 (2016) by Chuck Klosterman

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 (2003) by Chuck Klosterman

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 (2000) by Dave Eggers

The title says it all.

4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir (2007) by Haruki Murakami

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 (2016) by Steven Pressfield

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 (1994) by Anne Lamott

Surprise: Another book by a writer, for writers.

7. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (2010) by Seth Godin

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 (2005) by Chuck Klosterman

You might be noticing a theme here. I like Chuck Klosterman and books about writing.

9. How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) by Dale Carnegie

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 (2016) by Jamie Arpin-Ricci

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.


25 thoughts on “Best Books I Read in 2016

  1. Nameless Nomad

    Ever considered reviewing social anxiety in music? I happen to love music. And I’m also determined to overcome this crazy phenomenon of social anxiety. Something about music that relates to me; it helps me let go and let it out kind of.

    1. Tim Barry Jr. Post author

      I have thought about it. I found a couple of songs with lyrics related to social anxiety, like “Don’t Be Shy” by Cat Stevens and “Do It Anyway” by Ben Folds Five. Do you have any other suggestions?

      1. Nameless Nomad

        Yeah, “Solitary Shell” by Dream Theatre and “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World are probably the best. “People Watching” by Jack Johnson, so simple it’s sweet. “Living In The Moment”, “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” and “Did You Get My Message?” by Jason Mraz. “Lying To The Mirror” by Gabrielle Aplin. “Hold On To What You Believe” by Mumford and Sons (mostly it’s the title which keeps repeating that is so meaningful). “Empty” by Ray LaMontagne (okay, totally negative lol), and finally… “Midnight Awake” and “Still Your Heart” by Adrian Snell.

  2. Tim Barry Jr. Post author

    Thanks for the recommendations. I will have to check those songs out. But to be honest, I’m not sure if/when I’ll have the time to write reviews for all of them. If you have any interest, you should think about starting a blog focused on social anxiety in music. I’m sure a lot of people would be interested in reading that.

    1. Nameless Nomad

      Just do it if you want to. I’m not into blogging. Besides, I’d rather break out of social anxiety quietly without labeling myself for the world (i.e. blogging about it). Just how I feel.

  3. Nameless Nomad

    I just realized that I missed one of my favorite songs of all time, “The Sound Of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. Imagine all the texting, commercials, self-serve grocery stores and so many other things that have replaced social interaction making it terribly easy to fall into a pit of confusion and loneliness. To me, that it what the song’s about. I literally just realized that it is EXACTLY describing social anxiety. Paul Simon is an amazing writer.

    1. Tim Barry Jr. Post author

      Thanks for the rec. I love music, but it tends to hit me more viscerally. I don’t really process the lyrics. I focus on the instruments and the sound of the singer’s voice, not so much what they’re actually saying. That’s why I don’t really know many songs about social anxiety. I’d need to read the lyrics to figure out what a song’s about.

  4. Nameless Nomad

    When I listen to music at work, I’m a lot like that too. Otherwise I’m listening to all aspects because it gives me that emotional high, if you know what I mean.

    When it comes to social anxiety I guess it’s just an emediate distraction. Ever had it where (I’m sure you have) like a certain embarrassing thing of that day or that week keeps nagging at you and you can’t stop thinking about it. Anxiousness at it’s best. Don’t even know what’s bothering you, just subconscious fears I guess. Eventually (after a long time) you finally stop thinking about it but you’re not really happy yet, not sad, just solumn. Like when you say a word over and over until it’s lost its meaning.

    Been about twelve months since I discovered social anxiety and started accepting it. And I also went through a lot of those states that you mentioned in one of your articles. Anyway, started running regularly and some other things. I really appreciate your perspective that it is caused by yourself and can be overcome by yourself the same. Anyway now that I’m committed to overcoming social anxiety, it’s become more of a part of me in that I’m thinking about it all the time and I find myself listening to relatable lyrics all day long – not just when I’m anxious.

    Have you listened or read any Zig Ziglar?

    That was long.

      1. Nameless Nomad


        If you want to try something new, I’d definitely recommend Zig Ziglar. He’s probably one of the best people to learn from.

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