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What were the Top Three Books you read in 2016?

Discussion in 'Books and Anime Discussion' started by Trig, Feb 6, 2017.

  1. Trig

    Trig Auror

    Jan 27, 2010
    We had one of these threads a few years ago and it was pretty good, but quickly turned into people posting huge lists of books and not really talking about most of it.

    So, let's limit it to the top three this time around. The top three books that you read in 2016, their publishing date doesn't matter. Fiction, Nonfiction, I don't care as long as it's good.

    And please, feel free to elaborate on why you picked those books to be on your list. What makes them stand out, where do they excel, in which areas did they disappoint you personally, and to whom would you recommend them?

    No hedging, no 'either or', no 'I can't decide between', just pick three. No more, no less. Additionally I'd say no series in their entirety either.
  2. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    ...If you're going to make a thread like this then list your own damn top three picks. It's a good way to get the ball rolling.

    I didn't read three good books in 2016. I read more than three books, but damned if any of them were worth a top-anything list. Probably the first year in a while where I didn't get at least one book in a month. When I was a kid I read several books a month, sometimes more than one a week.

    Hell I think the only thing I'd truly recommend that I read in the last two years is The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson. I read a lot of decent and/or above average books, but damned if I'll recommend them.

    I wish I had time to read more lately.

    Edit: @CareOtters - exactly. I could pick a 'best three' but it doesn't feel right if three of them weren't actually good, ya know? Gotta read more, I misses it. My precious.

    Edit2: As to why I picked Emperor's Soul... well, it's freaking great. I don't have a lot of books rated on Goodreads because I decided a while back to only rate books that I thought deserved 5/5. I did that for various reasons. This is one such book... at least until I read it for a third time and decide to downgrade it, but that hasn't happened.

    It's a novella, only around 30-35k words if I recall correctly, and tightly plotted as all hell. I did feel that the weakest part of it was the last 5k or so, but even that tied up reasonably well compared to most books these days.

    It's fantasy, and it is what got me to go and seek out more of Sanderson's shorter works. I feel he shines with those. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell is an even shorter work of his, and it's great as well. Sanderson's long, sprawling epics are great, but... it's almost like being forced to stick to a word count takes him from 'good' to 'great.'
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
  3. Anme

    Anme Professor

    Apr 17, 2008
    1. Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

    A collection of interviews which together aim to capture the effect of the fall of the Soviet Union on ordinary people living in it. I hadn't been this captivated by a book for a long time. I think the diversity of the experiences and emotions of the people interviewed gives a much better image of what the transition from communism to capitalism meant than what a more rational analysis can show. Based on this book, I'd say the writer was the completely justified winner of the 2015 Noble prize (the reason I discovered her).

    2. The Festival Of Insignificance by Milan Kundera

    I've read/tried to read a lot of books in French in 2016 to practice the language and this was my favourite. A fairly lighthearted short novel that kept me amused throughout. Maybe not worldbreaking but it hit all the right notes for me.

    3. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

    I'm sure I don't really need to recommend Terry Pratchett here. I hadn't yet read the Tiffany Aching series before 2016 and now it's probably my favourite discworld series with the Watch novels a close second.
  4. Otters

    Otters Third Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Jun 8, 2010
    High Score:
    2016 has been the year of reading countless ebooks on my phone while pretending to be working. This means an endless parade of Kindle Unlimited shit. None of them have particularly stood out, and I can't think of many books which I've deliberately purchased outside Kindle Unlimited.

    It passes the time, sure, but I've found that even though more books seem to be appearing, there are less and less quality titles.
  5. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

    Nov 16, 2009
    High Score:
    1. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley.

    An excellent debut novel; set in 1883, it follows three protagonists - Thaniel Steepleton, a Home Office telegraphist saved from an explosion by a mysterious watch; Keita Mori, the titular watchmaker; Grace Carrow, a student theoretical physicist trying to avoid her families plans for marriage - through a series of incidents taking in Irish and Japanese nationalism, Gilbert and Sullivan, science, loyalty, terrorism, love, and a clockwork octopus. One of those books that you sit down to read a chapter of and then realise you've lost the last couple of hours.

    2. The Sudden Appearance of Hope, by Claire North.

    When she was a teenager, Hope Arden disappeared. Not missing, although she has subsequently been the subject of police investigations across the world. But when you stop talking to her, when she leaves your sight, when you stop actively thinking about her...you forget her. It's helped her become a very successful thief. That was before Perfection, the new, must-have lifestyle app that encourages you to be the very best, and utterly appalls all those who think about it for more than a minute.

    Although this was certainly one of the best books I read last year, it is also easily my least favourite of Claire North's books (including her works as Kate Griffin). I never quite felt 100% invested in it, and some of the plot is rather on the nose. It's still an excellent book.

    3. Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne.

    I'll freely admit, part of my enjoyment of this was probably pleasant surprise - it was chosen to read at book club, and I really wasn't expecting to enjoy it; a YA book about teenage girls struggling with mental health and boy problems would not have been my first choice! But I really enjoyed it - it's smart, funny, sad and engaging, and shines a light on some serious topics without being too heavy-handed.. I'd cheerfully read the sequels.
  6. Rhett

    Rhett Fourth Year

    Jan 28, 2011
    Same, although I did enjoy the 'Starship's Mage' series by Glynn Stewart. Humanity is basically ruled by the Mage Emperor from his seat on Mars. There is a small part of the populace that has certain abilities, the major one which allows them to propel starships past the speed of light. As far as I recall, there are no living alien civilisations.
    Here's book 1 of 4 so far:

    Another Kindle Unlimited series I thought was decent was the Empire Rising series by D.J. Holmes. Admittedly, the fact it dealt with a future Britain in space made it quite appealing.
    Here's the first book in the series:

    Third series was the Tales from the New Earth by JJ Thompson. Set in a post apocalyptic world where humanity is almost extinct. The few survivers have mutated and retained skills long lost to humanity. So far 8 books, this is book 1:

    The author does have a couple other decent series.

    None of these authors are Tolkien but they are readable with some interesting ideas.
  7. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage ~ Prestige ~

    Aug 9, 2009
    Department of Post-Mortem Communications
    High Score:
    I don't think I've read many books in 2016, mainly fanfics.

    Not even sure if I read this in 2016 but The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler was rather fun, as was its sequel. A series about a girl who discovers she can enter books. main character is fun and engaging, the premise is interesting and the writing is solid. Can't say its all that memorable since I have trouble remembering many scenes but yeah, I do remember having a fun time with both books.

    Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King is worth checking out if you want to improve your editing skills. I personally found it rather helpful.

    Fuck me, I can't remember anything else. Did I not read anything in 2016? That can't be true. Guess I read a few manga...need to read more this year.
  8. ScottPress

    ScottPress The Horny Sovereign ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Apr 22, 2013
    The Holy Moose Empire
    High Score:
    1.Distant Star

    No, I'm not just sucking up to Joe. It's a good book. Not great, I thought Joe today would certainly have written it better, but it's good and I greatly enjoyed the worldbuilding of Forget.

    2.Mistborn: The Final Empire

    Discounting the terribad romance, I fucking loved the magic system and Kelsier is boss.

    3.Words of Radiance

    I was deciding 3rd place between this and the Way of Kings. I think Stormlight books are too overblown, and Sanderson gets too self-indulgent with the Interludes, but I can appreciate the work that went into SA. Ultimately it came down to flashbacks (ugh, Dalinar's in WoK are boring), the degree to which Shallan pissed me off (she's less boring in WoR) and the Moments of Awesome (the best one in WoK was Kaladin's Superhero Landing, WoR had Kal flying over the Shattered Plains and the final duel with Szeth). In general, I think that Sanderson's draw is his ideas rather than writing style. Still, he writes books I can enjoy.
  9. DarkAizen

    DarkAizen Professor DLP Supporter

    Dec 5, 2007
    Oh boy, let me see.

    1. The Fifth Season

    A truly amazing book, the story is set in a post-apocaliptyc world where some people have the power to move the earth. But these people are feared and hated by everybody else, and are trained by a select group of people to do their bidding. It's pretty intense and the sequel is better! I think this is the first series I read that the sequel improves the story.

    2. Babylon's Ashes

    This is the 6th book in the Expanse universe. The new Firefly as some people call it. I simply love this universe. And I normally dont read Sy-Fy.

    3. A Plague of Swords

    The 4th Book in the Traitor Son Cycle. If you love military books about a company with magic, dragons and monsters this story is for you. It was hard to read the first book in the series but by the second book you're going to start to love/hate some of the characters and the action is amazing.
  10. Erandil

    Erandil Minister of Magic

    Jul 27, 2008
    My favourite book this year was probably Rage of Ares

    It is the last in the Long war series by Christian Cameron (who is also responsible for the Traitor's Son series of which I love the first two books but since then have had significant problems with certain aspects of his later works). The Long War series is about a Greek soldier/hero/man during the Persian War and I don't think I have read a book that manages to capture the feeling of the time as convincingly as he did and he has done a superb job of bringing the time and its many famous characters to live while making the reader feel like he is part of one of the must interesting moments of ancient history.

    This book (the at least for now last one in the series) is primarily about the Battle of Platea and is a perfect ending to the epos of Arimnestos.

    Second on my list is the historical novel/series The Greatest Knight

    It is a book about William Marshall, contemporary of Richard Lionheart, the perhaps most famous knight of his time and manages to be an entertaining story while avoiding not romanticising the time or its characters. The rise of William Marshall from simply knight to one of the most intentional noble is simply astonishing and a perfect example of how to portray sucha thing believably.

    In fact I think many a questplayer and GM might benefit from reading this book (and its successor) since William and his rise to power is, in my opinion, the perfect blueprint for many a MC.

    Lastly I have chosen Free the Darkness

    While perhaps not the best fantasy I have read last year it may be the one I enjoyed the most. While at first glance it may look like a typical fantasy novel, full of clichees, it actually has a lot of humoristic and satirical elements (or at least I interpreted them as such) in it that make it quite an unique experience.

    I liked the first few books, which while nothing gamebreaking were solid sci-fi with an interesting twist, but found the last one to be a real letdown that was full of plotholes and extreme stupidity.
  11. Rhett

    Rhett Fourth Year

    Jan 28, 2011
    Free the Darkness does seem interesting. I'll give it a go. Thanks!
    As for the 4th book, Alien Arcana, there were aspects I didn't like, and aspects I did. I'm still looking forward to the protagonist's journey.
  12. gorlosh

    gorlosh DA Member

    Apr 5, 2011
    The three body problem series.
  13. DeathShade

    DeathShade Third Year

    Mar 7, 2011
    The icy north
    Miles Cameron is the author of Traitor's Son :)
    Edit: Nvm seems like that is the same guy :p

    I always have trouble defining which books (or other media) I enjoy the most. Its easy enough to say I like some more than others, but not which one is the best. So here in no particular order is three of the best books I read last year :)

    The Dread Wyrm by Miles Cameron.
    This series just keep on giving :D The magic is interesting and somewhat unique, the fight scenes are awesome, and the characters are keeping me engaged in the lull between the action scenes.

    The Long Sword by Christian Cameron.
    Christian Cameron is one of my go-to guys when I want to read some action packed historical fiction. I think this series (William Gold) is better than Long War which was mentioned earlier. But both are very good.

    The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan.
    This is another great fantasy series, that have kept the quality high all the way. The magic system in this series is also very interesting, and it has some very unique features. For example a magic system that focuses entirely on the use of rifles/guns and the gunpowder they use.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
  14. adude443

    adude443 Squib

    Sep 30, 2016
    High Score:
    Top 3 books for 2016.

    1. Worm by Wildbow.

    I know it has been out for years now, but I still hadn't read it until the start of 2016. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it. Its a tale of Morality, Of doing the wrong things for the right reasons. It is Grim dark, and exhausting to read at times,

    2. Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
    I reread it on the anniversary of his death, and will continue to do so every year. It was the first book of his I have read, and one of my All-Time Favourites.

    3. Harry Potter and The Philosopher's stone.

    I sometimes forget how good Rowling's writing is at times, but as a member of the bookclub I read the series again. Even though I started late, and am not reading the series actively. Still behind a bit actually.
  15. IAmJustAnotherGuy

    IAmJustAnotherGuy Seventh Year

    Jan 1, 2015
    I wasn't able to read that many books last year both those few that I did blew me away. I picked the best of fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels from my last year.

    1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

    "An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity."

    Set both before and after a pandemic wipes out most of humanity, this book is one that stuck with me the most throughout the year (I read it in January). It is told from the viewpoint of three different characters and their struggles. I loved the focus given to the memories from secondary characters.

    2. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-fiction by Neil Gaiman

    "The View from the Cheap Seats draws together, for the first time ever, myriad non-fiction writing by international phenomenon and Sunday Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman. From Make Good Art, the speech he gave at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia that went viral, to pieces on artists and legends including Terry Pratchett, Lou Reed and Ray Bradbury, the collection offers a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed writers of our time."

    As an avid Gaiman fan that hadn't had the chance to read most of his non-fiction work, this was a blessing. It is particularly interesting to read about his influences (both works and writers) and his insight on his already published works.

    3. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

    "The complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler's Europe."

    This was not just a graphic novel. Anyone with a passing interest in comics, World War II or tales of human perseverance owes it to themselves to give this book a shot. I love the relationships between the characters in present time even more than the stories set in Nazi Germany though. The art can be a bit hard to get into but it is a sensation that goes way quickly. I finished it the book in a day.
  16. Eilyfe

    Eilyfe Chief Warlock

    May 27, 2014
    In no specific order:

    Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie: I loved the way he utilized his frame narrative and how he told the story in such an evocative way. The book definitely inspired me to write more.

    Snuff by Terry Pratchett: Good Omens was the only Pratchett book I had read until that moment (and it was co-authored at that), so the pure genius of Pratchett took me by storm. I fell in love with the character of Sam Vimes, and afterwards I ordered two more books with the Watch.

    Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond: non-fiction book that I found quite entertaining. It took me a while to read it because it's quite thick, but there was some useful information inside that I might use in some story or another. It's also an interesting investigation of ultimate causes for the different ways human societies have developed.
  17. Erandil

    Erandil Minister of Magic

    Jul 27, 2008

    Pretty sure those two are actually the same person, simply different names to differentiate between fantasy and historical focused novels.