The 2016 Book of the Year Honors!

Here is my Book of the Year for 2016, as well as the books I felt deserved special mention.

To see my complete book list for 2016 please click here.

Book of the Year: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
Special Mention: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Special Mention: Indexing – Reflections by Seanan McGuire
Special Mention: The Fireman by Joe Hill
Special Mention: The Last Star by Rick Yancey
Special Mention: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling and Jack Thorne
Special Mention: On the Beach by Nevil Shute

2016 was a stellar year for books. I was back to some of my best numbers since 2011, and significantly over the count for 2015 (18 books read, 6 books listened to). In 2016 I read 31 novels and listened to 5 for a total of 36. I read 2 non-fiction books as well. Out of the 31 novels read, 12 were digital editions. There were 18 nominees for Book of the Year.

Book of the Year honors for 2016 go to The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is the second time Paolo has received Book of the Year honors. His The Windup Girl won in 2010.

The Water Knife is near-future science fiction where water is a commodity to kill over. The Water Knife is an agent of the state of Nevada, making sure the state retains its access to water no matter what. This means states down river, like Arizona, are becoming wastelands. Since I live in a state (California) going through a drought, it gave me a lot to think about. Though The Water Knife tackles a serious subject, it is also thrilling, at times funny, and a great read. You care about the characters, too. Highly recommended.

Special Mention: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach. We All Looked Up is a YA book that could have easily been Book of the Year. It is the story of a group of high school friends dealing with the end of the world. An asteroid is headed towards earth, there is no way to stop it, no one will survive it. Though it sounds like it would be a downer of a book, it is anything but. Great characters, all trying to decide who they are and how they want to live in the last days. Though very, very different, it reminded me of Ben H. Winters The Last Policeman books, which are also amazing. Highly recommended, and I will definitely read whatever Tommy Wallach does next.

Special Mention: Indexing – Reflections by Seanan McGuire. If you have ever looked at this page before, you know I am a HUGE fan of Seanan McGuire. Seanan writes fantasy under her own name, and horror/sci-fi under her Mira Grant pseudonym. Indexing – Reflections is the sequel to her serialized novel, Indexing. It is a story of a special squad of individuals working to stop the dark parts of fairy tales from becoming dangerous and killing everyone (for example, a Sleeping Beauty can put an entire city to sleep. If no one wakes them up, they will sleep until they starve to death). Think Once Upon a Time meets Fringe. If you have not read Seanan McGuire or Mira Grant, please do. Just fantastic stuff.

Special Mention: The Fireman by Joe Hill. I have liked Joe’s previous novels, but The Fireman is next level. A disease is infecting people, and this disease can cause people to burst into flames suddenly. The collateral damage from that can cause entire cities to burn. The story focuses on a pregnant woman trying to survive as civilization crashes around her. A long book, but a page turner, you get to know and care about the characters. Definitely Joe’s best book, one that could have easily been Book of the Year, and probably would have been if not for The Water Knife.

Special Mention: The Last Star by Rick Yancy. The third and final book of The Fifth Wave Trilogy, it was one of the best written books of the year. Rick definitely commands the language, while still telling a great story. If you saw the movie The Fifth Wave and did not care for it, please give the books a try. All three are great, and a bit darker than the movie or other YA series. I look forward to whatever Rick does next.

Special Mention: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling and Jack Thorne. This is the script to the play, not a novel, though it certainly reads like one. It takes place some time after the epilogue of The Deathly Hallows, where everyone’s kids are at Hogwarts. Absolutely loved it, and wish it were a true novel. If you love Harry Potter, which I do, definitely read Cursed Child.

Special Mention: On the Beach by Nevil Shute. Written by Nevil in 1957, I have watched the 1959 movie many times, as well as the TV miniseries from 2000. However, I had never read the book. This year, I listened to it via Audible and it was fantastic. The movie and miniseries both held true to the book, but there were definitely some changes. In the book, things are much darker, and more people than just young Mary Holmes are experiencing some kind of psychological break. This includes sub commander Towers, who rationally knows everyone in the US is dead, but still imagines his family alive. If he accepts what he knows is true – that they are of course dead – he would lose it. And he still has work to do. As relevant today as it was sixty years ago, the book is a true classic. The narration by Simon Prebble is spot on. A highly recommended book, a highly recommended Audible book.

My 2017 Reading Plan
One thing that I learned – or more accurately what I was reminded of – is how important reading books, especially novels, is to me. It just makes me happier.

In 2017 I want to again aim for around 30 novels read. I also expect to listen to a certain number of books via Audible.

The biggest change for 2017 will be reading of non-fiction books. These are books like Springsteen’s Born to Run, Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality, David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers and Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet. I do not include technical/training books in my non-fiction counts. I find I usually just read the relevant parts of those.

2017 should be another great year for books.

Wolfhound Century

Last night I finished reading Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins.

Wolfhound Century appears to take place in an alternate universe version of the Soviet Union, filtered through the New Weird of China Mieville (read Perdiso Street Station. Seriously.). It is dark fantasy mixed with Cold Was era police procedural.

The main character is Lom, a cop with issues, but a cop who gets results. We travel with Lom to another city for his investigation into a terrorist. In his investigation he comes across corrupt cops, giants, stone-like dog monsters, news of a fallen angel and things ever more bizarre. Though I do not read much fantasy, I really enjoyed Wolfhound Century. A good, solid and imaginative read.

Note that this is book one of a trilogy. Book 2, Truth and Fear, is already out. I plan on reading it and the 3rd book as well.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is my first nominee for Book of the Year 2016.

Mr. Bacigalupi’s last few books have been YA. This is his first adult novel since The Windup Girl, which I also highly recommend.

The Water Knife is set in the near future where the southwestern states wage a cold – and sometimes hot – war over water rights. It is a pre-apocalyptic world, and these are the first steps to the end.

The three main characters are a journalist, a refugee and an operative who show us different aspects of the world in this time. As always, I try to avoid spoilers here, so all I will say is that The Water Knife is as much as thriller as it is a warning of what realistically could happen. Great book, highly recommended.

Chimera by Mira Grant

The first book I finished reading in 2016 is Chimera by Mira Grant (pen name of Seanan McGuire). It was the third and final book in the Parasitology trilogy.

The main character is Sal, formerly Sally, who had been in a terrible car accident. A medical tapeworm was implanted to try to save her. Sally was actually gone, and the person known as Sal was the tapeworm driving the body. This is actually a minor spoiler from the first book. As the series continues, the tapeworms start to take over more bodies, but unlike the success that is Sal, they are more like The Walking Dead. The series tackles what is a person, as well as different concepts of identity.

I enjoined the series including this final book. If you have not read Mira (or Seanan) I would recommend the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. It is fantastic. I also very highly recommend Imdexing, which she released under Seanan McGuire.

2015 Book of the Year!

As is my New Year tradition, today I select which book I read in the past year as my Book of the Year. This is a book that I read for the first time in that year, though the book did not need to be published in that year. Though the number of books I read this year was down from last year, it was still stellar.

My 2015 Book of the Year is lluminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff! A fantastic book, see my The Reading and Listening Lists Featuring My Selections for Book of The Year page for my thoughts on it. The page also includes my 2015 reading and listening lists, the new Non-Fiction reading list, as well as the other nominees for Book of the Year in 2015.

20 Years of Book Lists and Book of the Year

As is my New Year tradition, today I select which book I read in the past year as my Book of the Year. This is a book that I read for the first time in that year, though the book did not need to be published in that year.

I realized as I was making my selection that I have been keeping my book list and selecting a Book of the Year since 1995, making this the 20th list and the 20th Book of the Year.

In a word: Wow.

I look at the lists, see what I selected for Book of the Year, and it brings me right back. Not only to the books, but to what was happening in my life at the time. Like all life, some bad things are recalled, but luckily many good things are too.

I started the lists on pieces of paper and 3 x 5 cards. I still have all of them. It’s been fun keeping this list, and motivational as well. It motivates and inspires my own writing, while also prompting me to read more (going for 40 novels read in 2015).

Last year I added novels I listened to on Audible to the list. This year I may add non-fiction books, but I am trying to decide criteria around that. For example, in 2014 I read two great books on Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. However, they are reference books. I would consider a true non-fiction book something like Seabiscuit (which is amazing). Also, if I do include non-fiction, I don’t think I would include them in the running for my Book of the Year, though I may select a best non-fiction book separately.

A fun problem to have, and I will post again with what I decide.

Finally, my 2014 Book of the Year goes to The Peripheral by William Gibson. 2014 was a great year for books, there were fifteen nominees for Book of the Year, and it was really a toss up of which book it would be until I read The Peripheral a few weeks ago.

Please see my The Reading and Listening Lists Featuring My Selections for Book of The Year page for my thoughts on The Peripheral, my 2014 reading and listening lists, and see what the other nominees for Book of the Year were.

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Peripheral

I just finished reading The Peripheral by William Gibson. With only two weeks left in 2014, it is definitely a top contender for my Book of the Year.

A return to far future science fiction for Gibson, it is a murder mystery with a time travel element to it. Gibson also keeps the future tech coming, all of it feeling possible and probable.

This is another book that is very easy to drop spoilers for, so I do not want to say anything more about it other than that I highly recommend it.

Coming Home by Jack McDevitt

Coming Home

Jack McDevitt is one of my favorite writers. The first book of his I read was Moonfall. A standalone novel about an asteroid that will shatter the moon, it was edge-of-your-seat exciting. I was hooked on McDevitt from that point forward.

The next book of his I read was Deepsix. This is the second book in the Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins series. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. They are fantastic. This is the book where I knew I would read everything McDevitt wrote. Many of the books are around the Omega clouds, space traveling destructive forces that will attack any planet where it finds structures with right angles. This is because right angles do not exist in nature, someone had to make them. Very cool, exciting books.

McDevitt’s other series is the Alex Benedict books. These take place thousands of years in the future. Alex and his pilot Chase travel the universe looking for relics. Some human, some may be alien. Coming Home is book seven of the series. Another home run by McDevitt, it is a nominee for my Book of the Year.

Coming Home has two major stories in it. One is Alex and Chase looking for Apollo-era relics. The other is a continuation of a storyline that began in book six of the series (Firebird) about the rescue of passengers on a starship stuck in trans-dimensional space. I don’t want to say too much more due to possible spoilers, other than I really enjoyed it. Also, if you have not read the Alex Benedict series yet, I would recommend at least reading Firebird before reading Coming Home since they tie into each other so much.

Please check out Jack McDevitt. You will be glad you did.

McDevitt Books
My Jack McDevitt Book Shelf.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

I finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn yesterday. I tried to read it a few months ago and just could not get into it. I’m not sure why, but I think the initial pages made me not like any of the characters (this changed as I got deeper into the book). I decided I would give the book another try since the movie comes out Friday. I knew that if I saw the movie first that I probably would never get around to reading the book.

Gone Girl is one of those books that everyone raves about, one of those books that people who don’t normally read do read and love. I have been burned by books like that in the past. They were fine, but they weren’t “that” good.

Gone Girl is that good.

It is one of those books that I was sure was going to go one way, the resolution would be what I thought it would be a hundred pages in, but I was wrong. I even changed my mind a few times as far as who did what and how is it going to end.

I recommend it highly, it is definitely a nominee for my Book of the Year, and I cannot wait for the movie.

Yearly Totals Added to Reading and Listening List Page

I recently updated my Reading and Listening Lists page to include yearly totals. 2013 and 2014 include totals for books read, books listened to on Audible and their combined totals.

Totals

Years 2012 and earlier have books read totals.

While working on the totals, I noticed that they have fluxuated greatly over the years. 1995 had the fewest number of books read at 20. 1995 was also the first year that I started keeping the list.

2004 had the most books read at 39.

For 2015 I will try to break 40 for the first time.