2016 has been a weird year. Bad in the greater global scheme of things. A plethora of great people have died in quick succession of one another. Britain is leaving the EU because the average intellect in the UK in recent years has dropped lower the pound. The US has an orange maelstrom of controversy at the helm and Little Mix is still a thing. However, Tom Waits is still alive, we got engaged, peanut butter is still available and puppies are still adorable. The world hasn’t gone completely to shit. I have also read many books this year. Some amazing, some mediocre and some that baffled with terribleness. This is my round up of my favourite 5 books that I’ve read this year.
Runner up – Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, Dave Eggers
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? It is a hard book to describe. The plot is a slow boil and slowly reveals itself. It’s methodical and is entirely comprised of speech. This is its main short coming and probably why it isn’t in the top 5. It can be a right bother if you forget where you are on the page and require you to re-read a fair old chunk. Not a common problem but can break the immersion. A different and worthwhile read nevertheless.
Number 5 – Railsea, China Mieville
I loved Mieville’s New Crobuzon trilogy and can highly recommend it. Mieville is part of ‘New Weird’ and each of his tales is most certainly weird and they are, for the most part, excellent as well. Railsea is set in a similar fantastical universe and Mieville once again proves that he can build a world and make it seem believable but still relatable. Honestly, if you haven’t checked out any of his work yet then I can’t praise him enough. The Scar is one of my favourite books of all time.
Number 4 – Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill
Before reading Heart Shaped Box I had no real idea who Joe Hill was. I’d heard that he was a very talented writer and was quite spooky. I read it and I should say it scared me, good and proper. I love horror. Stephen King and H.P Lovecraft are some of my most often frequented authors. I read Heart Shaped Box and before long my heart was going mental. From start to finish it had me going and the imagery conjured by Hill got in my head. It was only after finishing the book that I did some research and found out that Hill is Stephen King’s son. He kept his identity and origins such a secret that even his agent didn’t know about his heritage. He’s talent, he’s scary and now my amazon book list is clogged up with all of Hill’s work.
Number 3 – Animals, Emma Jane Unsworth
Animals is about two friends that love to get off their heads on substances, drink far too much wine and generally behave immaturely. It’s brilliant. These two young women don’t behave like ‘proper ladies’ and I love it. It reminded me of people I used to hang out with during my Uni days and it genuinely cracked me up on several occasions. That and the story isn’t a predictable cliché you would come to expect from a novel set half-way between ‘coming-of-age’ and ‘mid-life-crisis’ epoch. Unsworth writes believably and gave me flashbacks to those hazy days getting hammered with your mates in a pub garden before eating a kebab in the doorway of a tattoo parlour at four in the morning. Good times.
Number 2 – The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber
Those who are reading this post might already have seen my review of The Book of Strange New Things and will also know that I thought it was a fantastic piece of literature. I don’t know what more I can say about this book other then you must read it. It won’t make you lose weight, it won’t help you pack in smoking neither will it help you pay off your debts. It will, however, make you truly appreciate what and who you have in your life currently.
Number 1 – The Second Coming, John Niven
John Niven is a very, very, very funny man. I have never, in my entire life, laughed while reading a book like I have The Second Coming. A rough overview of the plot is that Jesus is sent back to Earth because he let it fall into disrepair while God was away on a fishing trip. If you’re not into blasphemous texts, then probably give this one a miss. If you don’t care, then dive right in and cackle your little heart out. I could write a lengthy and elaborate essay on why this is the best book I’ve read in 2016 but that could spoil it for you. Order it now and devour it in a day like I did. You won’t be able to put it down and you will love it.