Reading: Best of 2016

The year isn’t quite over yet, but I think I’m going to go ahead and call it. Of the ~50 books I read in 2016 (not counting all the manuscripts I read for critique partners) these were my favorites (links take you to my Goodreads reviews)…

Top 5 non-fiction:

  1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert — I didn’t really write a review for this one, but it’s hands-down the best book I’ve read on how to deal with being a creative person in the world.
  2. Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground by Kevin Poulsen — This had been on my TBR for a while, and I was inspired to finally pick it up and read it based on my love for the first season of Mr. Robot… it didn’t disappoint.
  3. Yes Please by Amy Poehler — I never watched any of her shows, even SNL when she was on it, but this book really resonated with me.
  4. Making It Right: Product Management For A Startup World by Rian Van Der Merwe — I read this to learn more about Product Management and it turned out to be a great book, filled with tons of useful info. I took a lot of notes.
  5. Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman — Similar to Amy Poehler’s book, I never watched any of his shows, but I’ve seen him in bit parts on other TV shows. Months later, I’m still quoting life advice I picked up from this book.

Top 5 fiction:

  1. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N. K. Jemisin — Easily the best book I read overall this year, this book has everything I want in a novel: unique world-building, excellent characters, compelling plot, politics, magic, relationships… I could gush about this all day, but you should really just read it.
  2. This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1) by Victoria Schwab — While not my favorite of her books (that award still goes to Vicious), I love the world she built here, and I can’t wait for more in this series.
  3. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) by Becky Chambers — I had some quibbles with the narrative here (felt more like a collection of short stories than a full-length novel), but the characters, writing, and the world-building are top notch.
  4. Trade Me (Cyclone, # 1) by Courtney Milan — Easily the best romance book I read this year — complex, nuanced characters, and a unique take on the poor girl / rich boy trope.
  5. A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas — I’d nearly written this series off after reading the first book, but this book more than made up for everything that bugged me about the first one. The romance is hot, and the Night Court is possibly my favorite ensemble of any book I’ve read in recent memory.

Top 5 short fiction (comic trades and novellas):

  1. Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor — I think this won the Hugo and the Nebula for best novella this year. I read it before the short lists for the awards were announced and knew it would be a big hit. One of the reasons I like this is the Meduse (the alien species). Another reason is the perspective it’s told from. The story is surprising and creative and you should really just read it already. It’s less than 100 pages. You can finish it in an afternoon. So, get on it because there’s a sequel coming out in January.
  2. Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1) by Seanan McGuire — This was a surprise hit for me. I loved the premise (what became of the children who had been thru a portal to a strange world and returned?) and the execution (there’s also a mystery to be solved). I’m very excited that there are going to be more books set in this world.
  3. Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV — I read this earlier in the year, and it just became more and more relevant the further we got into 2016. I’m (not so) patiently waiting for vol 2.
  4. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze — This is not your typical Marvel super hero comic. It’s way more complex and sticks with you longer.
  5. The Book Smugglers’ Quarterly Almanac: June 2016 by various authors, edited by The Book Smugglers — This little speculative fiction journal contains a few essays and a few short stories, all of them very smart and very enjoyable.

If you’re curious about what else I read, that link at the very top will take you to my “read in 2016” shelf on Goodreads. If you’re too lazy to click through, here’s a snapshot of what you’ll find there (minus the few books I am still finishing up)…

Read2016-part2 Read2016-part1

That’s (nearly) a wrap for my 2016 reading! Just planning to finish up the three more books I’m in the middle of, then I’m looking forward to 2017 and diving into all the really great stuff I still have in my TBR… Especially the awesome books I got for Christmas this year! More on that soon… 🙂

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