As the year winds down and I look back on 2016, all I want to do is tell the entire year to go f&*k itself and the horse it rode in on. From the many great losses of artists like Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and a childhood favorite Patty Duke, to Brexit, the floods and other natural disasters, one horrific mass killing after another, wars that never seem to end, Aleppo, and the most divisive, disturbing and dysfunctional US election cycle of modern history, and it’s clear that 2016 sucked monkey butt.
If I search for the positives from the past year, about the only good thing I can lean on is that I was able to find good things to read. I think I may have read close to a hundred books this year, so picking only a couple as favorites is near impossible. Then again, calling something impossible only makes me want to try harder.
It shouldn’t be surprising that throughout this crappy year, I allowed myself to indulge my zombie apocalypse fascination. I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead, but the graphic novels and the TV show aren’t enough to satisfy my fix. Around February, I got hooked on R.R. Haywood’s The Undead series, which is long — more than 20 books — and endlessly entertaining. Thankfully, working my way through the series kept me entertained for a good bit. I can’t recommend them more highly. Hell, anything by Haywood is comforting escapism at its best and besides, Haywood gave me the best interview of the year.
While I love The Undead, I’d have to say the best zompac I read this year was The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. If you roll your eyes when you hear zombie, this is the novel that will change your opinion of the genre. It takes place long after society has collapsed but there are still some who are fighting to regain their grip on civilization. The shear strength of the characters is enough to keep you engrossed. The writing is beautiful and the tale is one that will stick long after you finish.
My second pick is one that came along right when I needed a good uplifting tale. Granola, MN by Susanne Aspley was published in Nov. 2016 and is a quirky story that takes place in rural Minnesota – a place Aspley describes as, “a Wonder bread town.” Pasty white Granola gets just a bit more interesting when an Afghanistan war hero comes home to stitch his life back together. It’s funny and poignant and filled with fantastic writing. Aspley is a McKnight Award winning author and her style is unique and engaging.
There are still a couple of weeks left before the end of this nightmare of a year. I’m hoping, if I’ve got my nose buried in something good, I can finally put this year in the rear-view mirror and leave it behind like the stinky, maggot infested roadkill it has turned out to be.
**Blatant Self Promotion ** If you haven’t already, you should add The Peacekeeper’s Photograph or The Bonding Spell to your list of good books in 2016. They will both be marked down by at least 50% this week (Dec. 22, 2016).
So here’s a big F-YOU 2016! I am so DONE with you. To help us all keep reading good stuff and to ensure we don’t think too long and hard about this crappy year, comment with your favorite books of 2016.
And check out post Veterans and Mil Spouses recommend: Their best reads of 2016 (Part One). Andria Williams has pulled together a great list of ideas that will keep me one click purchase happy for a while. If you’re looking for books to fill up 2017, here’s a good place to start.