And here’s the final entry! These are the last ten of the fifty books I read in 2016, including a book I just finished a mere two days ago. As with the past entries in the series, an * denotes an audiobook. Catch up on the previous parts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Allie Brosh is amazing. I’d seen a lot of these comics on her website already, but they’re super fun and well worth a retread. The book format it’s also much friendlier to keeping track of the way the stories are told, and make it easier to keep track of the throughline of the story. Ms. Brosh illustrates with a ton of energy, and the pictures bring a great comedic point to the stories, even those that are already funny. Well worth a read, especially if you haven’t read the comics before.
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
From the author of xkcd comes a collection of the “What If” questions from his site. I really, really love these, especially since a surprising number of them end in the annihilation of the planet. (Don’t mess with light speed baseballs.) I wish more of them weren’t repeats from the site (there are a few new ones), but they’re still super fun even as a re-read. I eagerly await a second book of these.
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink*
Read this book on the recommendation of my therapist when I was talking about dieting. Pretty dry, but it recounts some very interesting experiments they’ve done on how people eat without thinking and what can be done to adjust for it (also without thinking). Well worth a read if you’re into food science/nutrition science stuff, or just want some insight into how (American) humans deal with food.
It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd
No surprise, I read this book for school. But I might have read it anyway. Does a good job discussing how teenagers *actually* use social networks, and doesn’t have the fear monger in tone so common with books about the topic. I’m all for books that talk about teenagers and young adults like they’re actual people instead of walking train accidents. I imagine this could also be useful for anyone who’s writing YA and needs and up to date idea of what “the youth” is doing on social media these days.
Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman*
Nick Offerman is a fantastic narrator, and I would listen to him read a phone book, even if he’s a little flat on some of the humorous passages he tries to inject here. A tour of twenty (or twenty-five?) of Offerman’s favorite Americans, it’s a surprisingly nuanced “manly” look at famous people in our history. Sure, you’ve got your George Washingtons and your Teddy Roosevelts, but you also have the likes of Yoko Ono, who is spoken about only with praise. A great read for a wide-ranging look at Americans you will then want to go and consume the entire oeuvre of.
Promises, Promises: a romp with plenty of dykes, an ogre, a unicorn, an oracle, a quest, a princess, and true love with a happily ever after by L-J Baker
This book is probably my favorite book of this year, and was definitely the most surprisingly good. It’s a simple romp through a snarky fantasy world that’s very aware of the history of the genre and its own cliches, and pulls every silly joke and reference it can along the way. And at the center is a surprisingly sweet love story. So yeah, go read this and give yourself the gift of a book that is just a plain old good time, no qualifications needed.
Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
The first book in the Culture series, which had been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. I hear this is very different in tone from the later books, but I still really enjoyed it, though it did take me a while to get into it. It tells about the culture from the outside perspective of a Changeling operator working for the other wise in a war agasint them. It gives us a fascinating, if hostile, peek into the Culture and how they operate. I’m really looking forward to reading even more in the future, though the book has one hell of a downer ending and is not exactly a quick read, so I’m going to let it digest a bit before I move into the sequel.
The Human Division by John Scalzi
It should come as not surprise to me by now that I loved a John Scalzi book. The Human Division takes a diplomatic look at the Old Man’s War universe, as things shake out from the major events at the end of The Last Colony. This was originally constructed as a series of short parts, released over the course of a year or so, and while for some books that would mess with the pacing I think this book is just as strong if not stronger for it. I really liked this angle on Scalzi’s sci-fi universe and really hope there’s another entry in the series soon.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I picked this book up because a) it was on sale, and b) Saladin Ahmed retweed some creepily prescient stuff from it onto his Twitter feed, which piqued my interest post-election. I didn’t realize how absolutely *depressing* it would be, but I’m still glad I read it. It’s a beautiful work, with. amazing worldbuilding and writing to die for. Definitely worth a re-read in the future, as I’m sure there’s a lot of interesting details I missed.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
This ended up being my final book of the year by dint of being on my phone, making it easier to read at work than Star Wars: Life Debt, which is sitting at something like 25% read on my e-reader. Dumplin’ was a fun, quick read, with a lot of heart and magical drag queens. (Magical drag queens = don’t worry kids, the queers show up to help the hetereo cis main character believe in herself! And then sit off camera pretty much the entire rest of the novel.) Despite my light parenthetical beef with the book, it was very cute and full of good messages about not being ashamed of one’s body and how just knowing you shouldn’t be ashamed on its own doesn’t necessarily help in real life.
And that’s all for my books of 2016! It was a great year of reading, and I look forward to trying for another 50 books (or maybe more) next year. I’m hoping to read more diverse authors, get around to some big hits that I’ve been meaning to read (like Leviathan Wakes and the 2nd Game of Thrones book), and read more YA to support my goal of becoming a YA librarian.
I should be back soon with a 2016 wrap up post. Maybe even tonight! I expect you all to be waiting with bated breath, refreshing like crazy. 🙂
All covers sourced from Goodreads.