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.

Seanan McGuire

This post appeared in a slightly different form on my previous site. I have made some updates to it. One thing remains true in all versions of the post: You should be reading Seanan McGuire.

Seanan McGuire, who also writes as Mira Grant, is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. I first became aware of her writing when I read a rave (and well deserved) review of her book Feed, book one of her Newsflesh trilogy. It is the story of a post-zombie apocalypse world, where humans won the war, but the threat remains. Two internet journalists are embedded on the campaign trail with a candidate for president. Through their eyes we see the post-zombie apocalypse world, and witness as they uncover a conspiracy. It is brilliant, smart, a fantastic read and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I recently finished reading Indexing, a Kindle serial written under her own name. It too is amazing. Think “Once Upon A Time” meets “Fringe” with an edge. Also highly recommended.

On March 21st of this year Seanan McGuire did a Reddit AMA, which I just became aware of. All writers should read this, especially her writing schedule. She works a full-time day job, but still tries to get in at least 2,000 words a day, more on the weekends. Inspirational, and frankly, a kick in the butt for me to hunker down and write way more than I am currently.

Seanan McGuire, whether writing as herself or as Mira Grant (whose latest book is Parasite) is a real find. Get on this now or when you finally do (and trust me, you will), you’ll say to yourself, “Why didn’t I check this out earlier? This is great!”