Books of 2016

It’s time for the yearly reading list! Those of you who have seen my yearly reading lists in the past will note that the list for 2016 is a lot shorter than it usually is. Being pregnant (that first trimester really knocked me out) and then having a newborn plus buying a house, moving over the summer, and nesting left a lot less time for reading. At any rate, here’s my list, complete with star ratings (on a 1-5 scale; 5 star ratings in bold) and some other miscellaneous stats, and with a couple of best-of lists at the end:

January

  1. Luis Alberto Urrea, The Water Museum (2015) – 4 stars
  2. Christopher J. Yates, Black Chalk (2013) – 3 stars
  3. Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance (2015) – 3 stars
  4. Naomi Novik, Uprooted (2015) – 4 stars
  5. Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy (2015) – 4 stars
  6. Paul Robeson, Here I Stand (1958) – 4 stars

February

  1. Myra J. Hird, Sex, Gender and Science (2004) – 4 stars
  2. Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman (2015) – 4 stars
  3. Han Kang, The Vegetarian [trans. Deborah Smith] (2007; 2016) – 4 stars
  4. Lincoln Michel, Upright Beasts (2015) – 3 stars
  5. Andrea Gibson, Pansy (2015) – 5 stars
  6. China Miéville, Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories (2015) – 4 stars

March

  1. Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen (2016) – 5 stars
  2. Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country (2016) – 4 stars
  3. Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (2015) – 5 stars
  4. Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (2015) – 4 stars

April

  1. Dale Spender, Man Made Language (1980) – 4 stars
  2. Pat Schmatz, Lizard Radio (2015) – 4 stars
  3. Lila Bowen, Wake of Vultures (2015) – 4 stars
  4. Carola Dibbell, The Only Ones (2015) – 4 stars
  5. Lyndsay Faye, Jane Steele (2016) – 5 stars
  6. Erika Hayasaki, The Death Class: A True Story about Life (2014) – 3 stars
  7. Tom Hart, Rosalie Lightning (2015) – 5 stars
  8. Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air (2016) – 4 stars
  9. Patrick Ness, The Rest of Us Just Live Here (2015) – 4 stars
  10. Ann Neumann, The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America (2016) – 3 stars
  11. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (2001) – 4 stars
  12. Mary-Louise Parker, Dear Mr. You (2015) – 4 stars
  13. David Hughes, The Pillbox (2015) – 3 stars
  14. Kurtis J. Wiebe (ill. Roc Upchurch), Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery (2014) – 3 stars
  15. Kaitlyn Greenidge, We Love You, Charlie Freeman (2016) – 4 stars

May

  1. Seanan McGuire, Every Heart a Doorway (2016) – 4 stars
  2. Jessica Chiarella, And Again (2016) – 4 stars
  3. Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Blades (2016) – 5 stars
  4. Lydia Millet, Sweet Lamb of Heaven (2016) – 3 stars
  5. Joe Hill, The Fireman (2016) – 3 stars
  6. Stephen O’Connor, Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings (2016) – 5 stars
  7. Manuel Gonzales, The Regional Office Is Under Attack (2016) – 3 stars

June

  1. Lindy West, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (2016) – 4 stars
  2. Negin Farsad, How to Make White People Laugh (2016) – 2 stars
  3. Louise Erdrich, LaRose (2016) – 4 stars
  4. Malka Ann Older, Infomocracy (2016) – 4 stars
  5. Dorothy Roberts, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century (2011) – 4 stars
  6. Michelangelo Signorile, It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality (2015) – 4 stars
  7. Jessica Valenti, Sex Object: A Memoir (2016) – 4 stars
  8. Adam Haslett, Imagine Me Gone (2016) – 4 stars
  9. Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (2016) – 4 stars
  10. Jesse Walker, The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory (2012) – 3 stars
  11. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton: The Revolution (2016) – 5 stars
  12. Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography (1987; 1999) – 4 stars
  13. Robert Aickman, The Wine-Dark Sea (1988) – 3 stars

July

  1. Joe Haldeman, The Forever War (1974) – 3 stars
  2. James Herbert, The Rats (1974) – 2 stars
  3. Ben H. Winters, Underground Airlines (2016) – 4 stars
  4. Mychal Denzel Smith, Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching (2016) – 5 stars
  5. Paul Tremblay, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (2016) – 3 stars
  6. G. Ballard, The Drowned World (1962) – 4 stars
  7. Ezekiel Boone, The Hatching (2016) – 3 stars
  8. Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) – 4 stars
  9. Ross Macdonald, The Way Some People Die (1951) – 4 stars
  10. Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen (2015) – 3 stars
  11. Kelly Sue DeConnick, Bitch Planet #6 (2015) – 4 stars
  12. Kelly Sue DeConnick, Bitch Planet #7 (2016) – 5 stars
  13. Kelly Sue DeConnick, Bitch Planet #8 (2016) – 4 stars
  14. Christina Crosby, A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain (2016) – 4 stars
  15. Karrie Jacobs and Steven Heller, Angry Graphics: Protest Posters of the Reagan/Bush Era (1992) – 4 stars

August

  1. Nicole Seymour, Strange Natures: Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination (2013) – 4 stars
  2. Karel Čapek (trans. David Wyllie), War with the Newts (1936) – 5 stars
  3. Karel Čapek, The Absolute at Large (1920) – 3 stars
  4. Sarah Arnold, Maternal Horror Film: Melodrama and Motherhood (2013) – 2 stars
  5. Sue Short, Misfit Sisters: Screen Horror as Female Rites of Passage (2007) – 3 stars
  6. Julie Wosk, My Fair Ladies: Female Robots, Androids, and Other Artificial Eves (2015) – 3 stars
  7. Alejandro Zambra (trans. Megan McDowell), Multiple Choice (2014) – 3 stars
  8. Ellen Datlow (ed.), The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eight (2016) – 4 stars
  9. Ashley Dawson, Extinction: A Radical History (2016) – 4 stars
  10. Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014) – 5 stars
  11. Sarah Pinborough, The Language of Dying (2009) – 4 stars
  12. Chuck Wendig, Invasive (2016) – 3 stars
  13. China Miéville (ill. Mateus Santolouco, Riccardo Burchielli, and David Lapham), Dial H, Vol. 1: Into You (2012) – 4 stars
  14. Maria Stoian, Take It as a Compliment (2015) – 4 stars
  15. Stephen Graham Jones, Mongrels (2016) – 5 stars
  16. China Miéville (ill. David Lapham and Alberto Ponticelli), Dial H, Vol. 2: Exchange (2012) – 4 stars
  17. Jesmyn Ward (ed.), The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race (2016) – 4 stars
  18. China Miéville, This Census-Taker (2016) – 3 stars

September

  1. Herman Koch, Dear Mr. M (2014) – 3 stars
  2. Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History (2016) – 4 stars
  3. Chuck Klosterman, I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) (2013) – 2 stars
  4. Megan Abbott, Bury Me Deep (2009) – 4 stars
  5. Victor LaValle, The Ballad of Black Tom (2016) – 4 stars
  6. Blake Crouch, Dark Matter (2016) – 4 stars

October

  1. Sady Doyle, Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why (2016) – 4 stars
  2. Neal Stephenson, Seveneves (2015) – 3 stars
  3. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World Is Forest (1976) – 4 stars
  4. Marjorie Liu (ill. Sana Takeda), Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening (2016) – 4 stars
  5. Megan Abbott, You Will Know Me (2016) – 5 stars
  6. Nick Mamatas, I Am Providence (2016) – 3 stars
  7. Richard Littler, Discovering Scarfolk (2014) – 5 stars
  8. David Almond, Skellig (1998) – 5 stars
  9. Tom Gauld, Mooncop (2016) – 3 stars
  10. Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag, Strong Female Protagonist: Book One (2014) – 5 stars

November

  1. Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2016) – 2 stars
  2. Walter Mosley, Folding the Red into the Black: Developing a Viable Untopia for Human Survival in the 21st Century (2016) – 4 stars
  3. Brian K. Vaughan (ill. Fiona Staples), Saga, Volume 1 (2012) – 4 stars

December

  1. Marc Lamont Hill, Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond (2016) – 5 stars
  2. Belle Boggs, The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood (2016) – 4 stars
  3. Dina Rose, It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating (2014) – 4 stars
  4. Caitlin Moran, Moranifesto (2016) – 4 stars
  5. Ta-Nehisi Coates (ill. Brian Stelfreeze), Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 1 (2016) – 3 stars
  6. Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe (eds.), The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales (2016) – 4 stars
  7. Michael Ian Black, Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (But Also My Mom’s, Which I Know Sounds Weird) (2016) – 4 stars
  8. Eric Fair, Consequence: A Memoir (2016) – 5 stars
  9. Nat Turner and Thomas Gray, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831) – 3 stars

Total number of books – 112
Total number of pages (as calculated by Goodreads) – 31,160

Gender of authors:
Male – 61
Female – 55

Genre:
Fiction in total – 67
Speculative fiction (SF/F/Horror) – 50
Nonfiction in total – 45
Poetry – 2
Scholarly nonfiction – 9
Graphic novels / comics / art – 16

Decade of original composition/publication:
2010s – 92 [probably the vast majority of this number came from 2016]
2000s – 5
1990s – 2
1980s – 3
1970s – 3
1960s – 1
1950s – 2
1930s – 1
1920s – 1
1830s – 1

I clearly need to diversify here. Next year I’ll try to read outside of new releases and contemporary books a bit more.

Ratings:
5 stars – 19
4 stars – 60
3 stars – 28
2 stars – 5
1 star – 0

Top Ten

I gave 19 books 5 stars; this list is a winnowing down from there (listed in no particular order).

  1. Andrea Gibson, Pansy (2015) – This book of poetry may be the best thing I read this last year. I read it twice all the way through this year. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
  2. Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (2015) – Lots of great history of how autism has been treated and diagnosed with a compelling argument for greater acceptance of neurodiversity in the present and future.
  3. Megan Abbott, You Will Know Me (2016) – I always love Megan Abbott. She essentially has two emphases in her writing – noir and girlhood. This is one that really delves into the darker side of girlhood and, in this case, motherhood as well. (One of her noir books is featured on the next list.)
  4. Tom Hart, Rosalie Lightning (2015) – A beautiful and devastating graphic memoir by a father whose daughter died suddenly at age two (a rarer version of SIDS). It’s hard to recommend because it hurt so much to read. Even thinking about it makes me weepy.
  5. Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Blades (2016) – Gorgeous and smart fantasy. This is a followup to Bennett’s City of Stairs (2014), which I also highly recommend.
  6. Richard Littler, Discovering Scarfolk (2014) – This is just odd. And funny. It is ostensibly a guidebook to a place called Scarfolk, a weird little (fictional) place in England. It’s less about narrative and more about place and lots of cool images and graphic design. Well worth reading for those images alone. It grew out of a blog, so you can check out some of the art and concept there.
  7. Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014) – Just good, solid science fiction. I’m looking forward to reading Chambers’ next.
  8. Marc Lamont Hill, Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond (2016) – Well-written coverage of recent instances of racism, classism, and oppression. It’s depressing at times, but ultimately hopeful.
  9. Eric Fair, Consequence (2016) – I just read this one, but I think it’ll stick with me. It’s a memoir from a man who joined the military for all the best, most idealistic reasons and wound up torturing people in Iraq. It reveals a great deal about what that life is like, but mostly it’s about what led him there and about his life afterward, how he tries to (and largely fails to) deal with the consequences of those actions. It’s depressing as shit.
  10. Karel Čapek (trans. David Wyllie), War with the Newts (1936) – This is a bit of early 20th century European science fiction. It’s weird. I like it for that weirdness.

Looking Back, Other Favorites

These are books that I didn’t give five stars to, but I really can’t remember why in most cases. These books may not have been five star reads for me at the time, but they have stuck with me (in positive ways) or look better in hindsight, so I wanted to mention them, too.

  1. Naomi Novik, Uprooted (2015)
  2. Ann Leckie, Ancillary Mercy (2015)
  3. Jessica Valenti, Sex Object: A Memoir (2016)
  4. Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (2016)
  5. Bitch Planet
  6. Ellen Datlow (ed.), The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eight (2016)
  7. Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene: An Intimate History (2016)
  8. Megan Abbott, Bury Me Deep (2009)
  9. Marjorie Liu (ill. Sana Takeda), Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening (2016)
  10. Caitlin Moran, Moranifesto (2016)

 

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