2016 was decent as far as reading went. There was a stinker here and there, some things I couldn’t finish, but overall a satisfying year.
In order of d2016 was decent as far as reading went. There was a stinker here and there, some things I couldn’t finish, but overall a satisfying year.
In order of date read, here are some of the highlights. First, in fiction:
A Brief History of Seven Killings (and, though I read it in Dec 2015, it deserves mention as well – The Book of Night Women): I don’t usually pick up a book because it gets an award but I read a review of Marlon James’ A Brief History and was interested enough to pick it up. As it turned out, I was #45 or something along those lines in my library’s hold queue and first read The Book of Night Women. I was very impressed by that volume and equally so by the second. One of my goals in 2017 is to read John Crow’s Devil.
The Life of Sir Aglovale de Galis: Clemence Housman’s life of this eldest son of King Pellinore is one of the best Arthurian romances I’ve read. Ever.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu: I have never been able to “get into” Susanna Clark’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell but I found her short stories very enjoyable. She’s able to capture the fairy ambience well, similar to Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Kingdoms of Elfin.
Silver on the Road: A serendipitous find at the library. Laura Anne Gilman writes about an alternate American West ruled by the Devil. I eagerly anticipate the sequel due out in 2017. I’d also recommend her trilogy The Vineart War.
Blackdog: Another serendipitous find. A standalone fantasy novel (which alone would make it worthy of inclusion on this list, if only for the novelty) by K.V. Johansen.
The Great Ordeal: This is the penultimate book in R. Scott Bakker’s second trilogy set in the world of Eärwa, and holy ****, it was amazing. The final volume, The Unholy Consult, cannot come out too soon.
Babayaga: This is a follow up – though not a sequel – to Toby Barlow’s epic werewolf poem Sharp Teeth. And it was just as good, if not better (though don’t expect a retelling of the Russian fairy tale).
The Etched City: I lucked on to this book by K.J. Bishop because a friend of mine was cleaning out his library and donated it to mine. Characters, story, and writing all fell into place for me, making it one of the best reads of 2016.
Hag-Seed: Margaret Atwood’s take on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” It reminded me a lot of the Canadian series “Slings & Arrows,” which is set in a Canadian acting company and recommended viewing (all three seasons, though the first one is the best).
The Underground Railroad: Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist, about an elevator inspector, was one of my favorite books of 2008, and his zombie novel, Zone One, a fave of 2011/12 (started in Dec, finished in Jan). He continues not to disappoint me with this story about the young woman Cora’s escape from slavery.
Alice: A brutal retelling of the Alice in Wonderland story. This is not for your young adult reader.
The nonfiction shelf had its share of good reads as well:
The Accidental Species: Henry Gee’s marvelous counter-argument to the Creationists: “Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy.”
Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Don Paterson’s guide is indispensable when trying to interpret the Bard’s poems, which can be opaque.
Utopia is Creepy: Nicholas Carr’s collection of blog posts and essays is not an anti-technological screed but rather a call to seriously consider the impact technology is having on our lives, and whether or not we’re becoming the servants and not the masters of our high-tech gizmos....more