When you’re a writer, you are constantly being asked, “Who’s your favourite author?” Or, “What is your favourite book?”
And being a huge book nerd, I love answering that question. For the sake of this post however, I will only answer one of those questions…sort of.
I’m going to go through and give you my five favourite books…of 2016. Now, to clarify, this does not mean the book was written/published in 2016, but rather, last year is when I read it.
Also, the order they appear below is not an indication of how much I liked one over the other, but rather, is a chronological listing of when I read them.
With that said, let’s get to it!
Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
This is a big one! I’d been hearing about Ready Player One for a while. Both my buddy Ben (co-writer of No Light Tomorrow, for those new to my site) and my neighbour Ted (What’s up, Ted!), recommended this book highly to me.
Now, I may label myself a ‘horror’ guy, but if I have a second love, it’s science fiction.
So, what did I know about this book before reading it? Besides the high praise it was getting, I knew it was about a video game, and that there was a crap-ton of 80’s geek references.
Is that all it’s about? Kinda. But it works very very well! With the lone exception of a single scene that was not so much poorly written, but more a missed opportunity, Ready Player One was a huge homerun.
It was so good in fact, that Señor Spielbergo himself is making it into a movie!
The Stepford Wives (Ira Levin)
Confession time, I didn’t even want to read this book. I was actually trying to hunt down a copy of Ira Levin’s even more famous work, Rosemary’s Baby, when I came across Stepford Wives. I’m not going to lie, I had no idea The Stepford Wives was a book. I thought the movie was an original creation. So when I was perusing Amazon, baulking at the highway robbery that was the price for Rosemary’s Baby, I saw The Stepford Wives listed as an item like the one I was searching for.
Being that I am an impulse shopper, I ordered it!
And boy howdy, am I glad I did. The Stepford Wives is a sharp, witty, disturbing book that was (and still is) completely relevant to the times. Levin did an amazing job of making the characters that we’re supposed to like, very likable. You cheer at their triumphs and weep at their failures.
One thing to point out though, this book is small. It goes to show how much things have changed in the publishing world that The Stepford Wives, which is basically a novella, would be a big hit back in the 70’s, but today would not get the time of day from most publishers because of it page count (or lack thereof).
And for those wondering, yes, I did get myself a copy of Rosemary’s Baby. Sadly I have not read it yet. But who knows, maybe it’ll be on next year’s list.
The Girl with all the Gifts (M.R. Carey)
I was on vacation when I picked this one up. I was already reading something else and knew I wouldn’t even crack the cover of the book until much later (I told you I’m an impulse buyer), but something jumped out at me from the book’s cover. The blurbs.
Most books have blurbs from other authors, Girl with all the Gifts has one from Joss fricking Whedon! It’s a good thing it does to, because there is nothing else besides the title and cover image (both of which reveal nothing as to what the book is about) and more blurbs to be found. But I figured hey, if the guy who gave me Firefly likes it, then dammit, I’ll give it a shot.
It wasn’t until I got home and looked up a bit about the book that I realized I am very familiar with the author. You see, M.R. Carey (as his name appears on the front), is none other than Mike Carey. Who the hell is Mike Carey, you ask? He’s a long time comic book writer. And if you know me (and if not, I’m about to tell you), you know I’m a comic book fanatic! I’ve read all kinds of Mike Carey’s comics. This cemented the purchase as a sound one in my mind.
The book, sort of a YA dystopian thing, only filtered through adult levels of horror and human suffering, is a fantastic read.
Like Ready Player One, The Girl with all the Gifts is getting the movie treatment as well. You can even watch the trailer right here!
The Acolyte (Nick Cutter)
Okay, so a couple years back, I had the opportunity to hang out with Nick Cutter and Andrew Pyper when they came through my home town for their book tour. I acted as a moderator/interviewer for their event here, and so had to bone up on their work before that night. Since Simon and Schuster (their publisher) was kind enough to send a copy of each of their new books, I got to reading.
What did I discover? These guys were some seriously great writers. Cutter’s book, The Deep, was pure nightmare fuel. I was hooked. Since then, I made it my business to read his other work. Which brings me to The Acolyte.
Unlike The Deep (or The Troop, another of his books), The Acolyte is not really a horror story at all. Sure, lots of horrific things happen within its pages, but it isn’t a horror story per say.
What it is, is a detective story set in an extremely messed up future where the catholic faith has become an even more terrifying thing than it already is (hard to imagine, I know!).
This book had me hooked from the first page.
Another thing, the book itself is gorgeous! Let’s all give a round of applause to ChiZine for the dynamite presentation.
The Terror (Dan Simmons)
Dan Simmons has been around for a long time, but this is my first forays into the man’s work. I was aware of the Terror since it came out some years ago, but always was put off (and most likely intimidated) by its size and premise. This book is a monster! 800 pages of small text. It is also an historic fiction.
Now, in theory, I was down with historical fiction, but in practice had never actually read any. I had seen Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (never read the book), and knew that this weird new sub-genre was growing in popularity, but it was not enough to cause me to pull the trigger on The Terror.
That all changed when I got a discount at my local Chapters. I snagged the book post haste.
In a lot of ways, I’m happy that I put off reading the Terror until now. A couple years ago even, I would never have finished this book. It would have been too daunting a task. Now? I ate it up!
I will say, Simmons is maybe the most literary horror writer I’ve come across. The Terror is a great crossover read for those snobbish types that normally wouldn’t be caught dead with a horror novel in their hands.
A couple honourable mentions (I struggled with expanding the list size to something arbitrary like 9, but then told myself it would be okay because I would do this instead).
The Troop (Nick Cutter)
One Night in Mississippi (Craig Shreve)
Wind through the Key Hole (Stephen King)
S. (J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst)
So there ya go. My five fave books of 2016. What books did you dig last year? Let me know in the comments.