Best Reads Of 2016

The Detective: Jonathan L. Howard's second book about Johannes Cabal, the necromancer.

The Detective: Jonathan L. Howard’s second book about Johannes Cabal, the necromancer.

Here are my best reads in English during 2016. My total was 42 books and 13 of them were e-books. Find me at Goodreads!

Dear Reader, what were your best reads of the year?

  • The Detective. (Johannes Cabal #2.) Jonathan L. Howard 2010. Sardonically funny Ruritanian detective story.
  • Bully for Brontosaurus. Stephen Jay Gould 1991. Essays on natural history.
  • Ready Player One. Ernest Cline 2011. Wonderful adventure story for anyone who played video games in the 1980s.
  • Murder at the Vicarage. Agatha Christie 1930. Parts of it very funny.
  • The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien 1937. There and back again!
  • Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah, Vol 1. Richard Francis Burton 1857. Victorian genius dresses up as a Muslim and enters a forbidden holy city.
  • Thud! Terry Pratchett 2005. Inter-ethnic tensions in Ankh-Morpork.
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz. Walter M. Miller Jr. 1959. What happens after WW3?
  • Swallows and Amazons. Arthur Ransome 1930. Sibling quartet have summer adventures in the Lake District.
  • Collected Stories. Lewis Shiner 2009.
  • The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England. Toby F. Martin 2015.
  • Errantry: Strange Stories. Elizabeth Hand 2012.
  • 6 Stories. Kathe Koja.
  • The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories. Walter Jon Williams 2010.
  • Borders of Infinity. Lois McMaster Bujold 1989. Miles Vorkosigan stories.
  • Wild Things (Short stories.). C.C. Finlay 2005.
  • Women Up to No Good: A Collection of Short Stories. Pat Murphy 2013.
  • Moving Pictures. Terry Pratchett 1990. Hollywood on Discworld.

Here’s my list for 2015.

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17 thoughts on “Best Reads Of 2016

  1. One in common, Bully for Brontosaurus. But I read that one a quarter of a century ago.

    I enjoyed Gould’s books (I’ve read them all, even the technical monographs). However, the fact that he is well known shouldn’t hide the fact that he doesn’t always put forward the consensus view. I’m not sure how often he points out a conflict if there is one. And in one case, The Mismeasure of Man, it seems that he was guilty of the same sort of bias which he was criticizing in the book.

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  2. I have previously read The Hobbit and the two Pratchett books.

    I think I have also read Murder at the Vicarage, but am not sure. IIRC that was the first novel to feature Miss Marple, who I find a much more believable character than Hercule Poirot. M. Poirot has an annoying tendency to apply logic (if X were the murderer, he would have taken the following precaution to avoid suspicion; since X did not take that precaution, he is not the murderer) in situations where logic is not fully applicable. Miss Marple at least understands that murderers can and do make mistakes.

    I have reached the age where I need reading glasses, so I find I don’t read as much as I used to. But I made it through Carl Hiaasen’s latest, Razor Girl, and a compilation of Doonesbury cartoons on Donald Trump, Yuge!. I’m currently in the middle of a Discworld book, Lords and Ladies (this is the one in which Magrat Garlick gets married to King Verence II of Lancre, but the title does not refer to any of the invited guests).

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  3. Since I am a archeology amateur nerd, but have read a lot of novels in my youth, this is my list.
    Gunnar Wetterberg’s “History of Scania 11500 BFC 1575 AD. Reminds me of Jörgens Jensens Danish Old Time but with a fcus of scania and the surroundings.

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  4. 1. Gaia Vince “Adventures in Anthropocene”
    2. Christian Felber “Change Everything”
    3. Edward Humes “Door to Door”
    4. E.O.Wilson “Half Earth”
    5. E.O.Wilson “The Meaning of Human Existence”
    6. Michael Shuman “Local Dollars, Local Sense”
    7. Richard Heinberg “The End of Growth”
    8. Lucretius “The Way Things Are” (translated by Rolfe Humphries)

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  5. 1. The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf
    2. Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides
    3. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides
    4. The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend, by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
    5. Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, Revised 25th Anniversary Edition by William Bridges

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  6. Silvia & Phil, the only one of yours that I’ve read is Lucretius. Ingvar Björkeson published a really good Swedish translation in 2002. Both of your lists are full of interesting titles, though!

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  7. I *loved* Swallows and Amazons as a kid, and desperately wished to have adventures like that, even though I get sea sick on the dock.

    I should really write down what I read this year, because I can’t remember what was 2016 vs 2015, vs re-read for the thousandth time.

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  8. like JustaTech, I have read a lot but haven’t kept track..

    standouts include Phil Merta’s #3, and The Boys in the Boat, mostly true story of a US rowing team that won Olympic gold.

    Once it became possible to buy used books on the interwebs, I filled out my Swallows and Amazons collection so I have the full set. This gets re-read in sequence every few years.. my favorite is We Didn’t Mean to Go To Sea. It’s terrifying 😉

    Broke down and got a Kindle last year, kept in airplane mode. Nearly all the books on there are from Project Gutenberg – a full set of the Trollope Palliser novels, a lot of John Buchan, finally read the Count of Monte Cristo again, War and Peace is good on the Kindle since you don’t have to hold a large heavy physical object.
    Charlie Stross’ Laundry series novels are the only things I’ve actually bought for the Kindle. Highly recommended too.

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  9. War and Peace is good on the Kindle since you don’t have to hold a large heavy physical object.

    Nineteenth century Russian authors have a reputation for doing that, but it has come into fashion for some present-day authors as well. One of my less satisfying reads of 2015 was a 700+ page mystery novel (I won’t name the title or author as the following comments would otherwise be spoilers) in which we discover at the end that the obvious suspect really was the murderer, and we only become aware around page 600 of the existence of the maguffin which provides the motive for the murder. It’s also all too common to see science fiction novels (not trilogies, single novels) more than 600 pages long, and I gave up the Harry Potter series after volume 5, which ran more than 800 pages (and should have been edited down to half that or less–the first two or three Harry Potter books were much better edited, but by number 5 Rowling was famous enough to be allowed to do her own editing).

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  10. J.a.T., I like documenting my life. Doug, I like short novels and I quite like Stross’s Laundry books too! Eric, I too gave up on HP after the endless #5, Order of the Phoenix.

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  11. good point on the HP novels. My sons have re-read our copies often enough that they are disintegrating so I have to re-buy them.. luckily it’s easy to find these cheaply at second hand.

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  12. I read a bunch of memoirs last year, the best of which were Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart, and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I also loved Michael Chabon’s first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and will continue working through the various ones of his I haven’t read before.

    I didn’t get a chance to re-read any of the post-apocalyptic novels I’ve been reminded of in the past year. Too real? Possibly.

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    • I like several of Chabon’s books a lot, but last year I read his Wonder Boys which I found to be OK but not great. My wife has read the Didion, but she says she didn’t like it much.

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  13. Wossname, Hamilton also writes very long books, but he delivers. Great North Road is well worth the effort.

    And I read his latest a month ago. A+
    I think the title was Night Without Stars.
    I also read The Fall of the House of Cabal, the fifth Johannes Cabal novel. Apart from eldritch monsters there is also some steampunk A +.

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  14. BTW it is Peter F. Hamilton. Recommened.
    SInce October: these are “good” to “very good”
    -Night School: (Jack Reacher 21) Rather Be the Devil (Inspector Rebus 21), A Closed and Common Orbit: (Wayfarers 2) , The Extraordinary & Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle: (Number 1) , Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime , Invisible Country by Paul McAuley, Revenger by Alastair Reynolds, The Jury Must Die by Carol O’Connell, Sleeping Giants (Themis Files Book 1),

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  15. Upthread I mentioned Carl Hiaasen’s Razor Girl. The title character of the book stages car accidents while shaving her “bikini area” as a prelude to kidnapping people for the Mob. It turns out her modus operandi is based on an actual incident in 2010. Cue jokes about “Pubic Enemy Number 1”. (Bonus points: The passenger in the car was her ex-husband.)

    Hiaasen’s Florida is slightly exaggerated. But only slightly. Try Googling “Florida Man” if you want more evidence. But not from your work computer, please.

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