Like I do every year, in 2016 I read some books. However, despite great aspirations, I didn’t finish off as many as I’d read in 2015. That means now many of the books in my “to read in 2016” stack will carry over into 2017. At least I hope. Until then, these are the …
… Books I Read in 2016.
- City of Djinns // William Dalrymple — A great analysis of Delhi that covers religion, politics, race, history, and mythology.
- Mysteries of Witchcraft and the Occult // Robert Jackson — An old book of mine I rediscovered as I was going through boxes of books stored in the garage. I decided to give it another read.
- Cartoon History of the United States // Larry Gonick — After learning a lot about world history that I hadn’t previously known during our trip around the world, I figured it was time to brush up on my American History. This book, which I also found as I unpacked our belongings, seemed like a good place to start.
- Abaddon’s Gate // James S.A. Corey — Everyone likes to call this Game of Thrones in space, and it does have elements of that. But this particular installment, the third in the series, was more like Lord of the Flies in space.
- The Sixth Gun Book 1: Cold Dead Fingers // by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt — Post Civil War supernatural Americana. What’s not to like?
- Descender 1: Tin Stars // Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen — A robot uprising space opera. This comic series was earning some big acclaim, so I decided to check it out. It was decent, but not enticing enough to keep me reading.
- Idoru // William Gibson — This was first published in 1996 and I bought this book years ago. I’m not sure why it took me so long to crack it open. It’s classic Gibson full of greedy corporations, organized crime, future gazing, and hapless protagonists.
- The Nonexistent Knight and the Cloven Viscount // Italo Calvino — Another book I’ve had on my shelves for decades. Two thoroughly enjoyable allegories from the Italian master.
- Rotters // Daniel Kraus — A dark and disturbing tale of teen angst, fathers and sons, and entering the family business.
- Cibola Burn // James S.A. Corey — Book 4 of The Expanse. This time, our crew visits an alien world.
- White Darkness // Geraldine McCaughrean — An adventure tale about a girl and her uncle going to Antarctica to look for the entrance to the Earth’s hollow core. I first learned of this book when my family was visiting London. I tried to find it there, but every shop we looked in had sold out, so that made me really want to read it. The story starts out kind of light, but it quickly takes a dark turn.
- Daredevil Volume 1: Devil at Bay // by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee — I’m a bit of a sucker for stories starring the Shroud and this is better than most. But of course it is, Mark Waid wrote it.
- A Darker Shade of Magic // V.E. Schwab — I’d read about this over at io9 and it seemed intriguing, so I gave it a shot. It’s a good story with intriguing worldbuilding and memorable characters.
- World War Z // Max Brooks — I’d tried to read this a few years back and failed. But this year I was determined to power through it. So I did, and once I got rolling, I enjoyed it.
- Blade Runner: A Movie // — Another book that sat on the shelf for too long. This has nothing to do with the Ridley Scott film (although Scott allegedly purchased the name of this book for his film). Instead, it’s a movie treatment of the Alan E. Nourse book written by William Burroughs. As zany as you’d think it is.
- The Mountains of California // John Muir — I’ve spent a lot of time in the California mountains, and reading about Muir’s firsthand experiences in the same woods more than a hundred years before me was quite enjoyable.
- Under the Banner of Heaven // John Krakauer — A deep look at the history of the LDS Church and, in particular, one of its fundamentalist splinter groups, which can be quite violent.
- Halting State // Charles Stross — A futuristic crime novel set in Scotland. Trouble begins when a bank inside a virtual world is robbed by a group of orcs and a dragon. Form there it leads to international spies and cryptography to Chinese hackers and high finance.
- Queen of the Black Coast // Robert E. Howard — I devoured Howard’s Conan the Barbarian stories when I was young, so when I saw that this was available through Gutenberg I thought I’d revisit it. It’s still as pulpy as ever.
- A Little History of the World // E.H Gombrich — Although this is primarily white, Euro-centric history covering a period from roughly the dawn of time to the beginning of World War II (it was written in 1935), it did cover some notable moments that aren’t typically mentioned in an American education.
- The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone // Jordan Stratford — A middle readers novel of an alternate history featuring a young Mary Wollstonecraft (before she was Mary Shelley) and Lady Ada Lovelace.
- The Sixth Gun Book 2: Crossroads // Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt — The second volume in this tale of supernatural post-Civil War America deals with the fallout from the events of the previous book. Not as tight as the first, but still well done.
- Medusa’s Web // Tim Powers — Easily my favorite book of 2016. It took a little time to get into it and figure out what was going on, but when all the pieces clicked into place it was a hell of a ride.
- A History of Weapons // John O’Bryan — A good resource to learn about an astounding number of weapons, both real and mythical.
- Nemesis Games // James S.A. Corey — As you can probably tell, I went deep on The Expanse this year, partly because the SyFy adaptation turned out to be surprisingly good and partly because these characters really stick into my brain.
- Bitter Seeds // Ian Tregillis — A novel about British magicians fighting German mutants during World War II. It had been on my “to read” list for too long.
- In a Sunburned Country // Bill Bryson — After our travel around the world, I try to read one travel-related book every so often, and Bill Bryson is always a good choice when it comes to travelogues.
- The Dungeoneers // John David Anderson — The first book with this title I read this year. A standard misfit youth coming-of-age story in a medieval setting.
- Saga 6 // Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — Consistently great, this comic. I’m always happy when a new collection comes out.
- Hot Sauce! // Jennifer Trainer Thompson — This was my year to up my own hot sauce game, so I picked up this slim volume for some tips. I’m not entirely sure one couldn’t get the same information on the internet, but it’s nice to have it all in one volume.
- Rocket Robinson and the Secret of the Saint // Sean O’Neill — I backed this project on Kickstarter and wrote about it on GeekDad. It’s a fantastic adventure story and huge fun to read.
- Lovecraft Country // Matt Ruff — I liked this, but I wanted to like it more. It was horrifying, not so much of the horror elements (which were mostly comical), but because of its depiction of how black men and women were treated in 1950s America.
- The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England // Ian Mortimer — I’m planning on taking a trip to the past soon, so I needed to do a little research.
- Justice League Vol. 7: Darkseid War Part 1 // Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok — I will confess I only picked this up because Batman ends up sitting in Metron’s Mobius chair.
- The Dungeoneers // Jeffery Russell — The second book with this title. A straight-up Dungeons & Dragons-style adventure crawl with a little humor.
- The Nethergrim // Matthew Jobin — A young adult swords & sorcery adventure. I was on a bit of a medieval fantasy kick, likely due to reinvigorating the Pathfinder campaign.
- JLA 2Justice Leage Vol 8: Darkseid War Part 2 // Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok — Honestly, I was hoping for more. The promise of Batman in the Mobius chair just couldn’t carry this story for me.
- Babylon’s Ashes // James S.A. Corey — The latest installment of The Expanse series. Epic space battle.
- Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know // Julia E. Sweig — We visited Cuba in December, so this was a critical read. I could have done with some more cultural reference, but Sweig really lays out the history and politics of the island.
- The Perdition Score // Richard Kadrey — The latest in the Sandman Slim oeuvre. It won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the rest of the books in the series, but it’s rollicking good fun. I like to read these when I’m on vacation.
- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell // Susanna Clarke — Okay, I cheated a little here. I didn’t quite finish this in 2016. But since I’d been reading it on and off for at least half the year. The first 10% is a real slog, maybe as I had to get used to the writing. We don’t meet Mr. Strange until about a quarter of the way through the book. There are spots were it really drags, and there are others that are quite delightful. Overall, I’m glad to have read it—and really glad to almost have it behind me.
Books I Didn’t Finish
- A People’s History of the United States // Howard Zinn — While this is an important book to read, it’s not a light and breezy read. It’s dense, and I really had to pay attention to what I was reading. Since most of my reading time is before bed, I couldn’t get too far. It took up a fair amount of my reading time this year, and I’m only about a third of the way through. I’m committed to finishing it in 2017.
Books I Gave Up On
- Joe Golem and the Drowning City // Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden — I should have loved this. It fires on all the cylinders but just didn’t do it for me. Love the concept, couldn’t get into the execution.
My goal was 48 books for 2016, and I only hit 41. I’m going to leave 48 as my goal for 2017, so we’ll see how I do in about a year.