2016 Books and whatnot
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
Faithful Place by Tana French
McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories edited by Michael Chabon
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
The Cartel by Don Winslow
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
The Bully Pulpit Doris Kearns Goodwin
A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever
by Josh Karp
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
True Grit by Clinton Portis
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
the Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
The Union of the State by Corey Stulce
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Broken Harbor by Tana French
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
A Man on the Moon: Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin
End of Watch by Stephen King
The Hike by Drew Magary
The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America--The Conflict of Civilizations
by Bernard Bailyn
Chapel of Ease by Alex Bledsoe
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs
Based on a True Story by Norm MacDonald
Family Plot by Cherie Priest
Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale
Cades Cove: the Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community 1818-1937
by Durwood Dunn
But What If We're Wrong: Thinking about the present as if it were the past
by Chuck Klosterman
Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver
Moonglow: a Novel by Michael Chabon
Secret Place by Tana French
The Best Horror of the Year, volume 4 edited by Ellen Datlow
Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn
2016 was a difficult year. There were professional issues (shorthanded for a large part of the year, changes in expectations for my schedule, and a disappointment when a potential window for promotion slammed shut in surprising fashion). There were personal issues (Dad's hip replacement and issues surround it, largely). Most of which boiled down to a real shortage in free time. And when there was free time, a lot of the time had to be used doing something other than reading.
Add to that: The early part of the year is painted by an aborted attempt at David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, which I started in late January and kept plugging with until late March before finally admitting that now wasn't the time for that one.
Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country was amazing fun. Interconnected stories of an African American family dealing with a powerful evil while wrestling with racism in 1950's America. Perhaps one of the most satisfying endings I've run across in years.
Jeff Zentner's Serpent King writes the Southern Teen as well as anything I've run across. I'd seen it pop up in my Goodreads feed, and I'm always looking for somebody who writes the South without trying to make it a character itself. I bristled, at first, with this an what I was calling teenage melodrama. I made myself remember, though, that I'm 39, and don't remember as well what 17 is like as I'd like to pretend. I found it true to life, and oddly inspiring.
Alex Bledsoe continues to entertain and impress with the Tufa Series. I like the way Alex's characters talk. I also like the way Alex manages to maintain an air of mystery with the Tufa, four volumes in. This one's a wry little mystery. I dug it.
Drew Magary's The Hike might end up being my favorite book this year, if only because it kept me off balance for nearly its entirety. Nothing but curveballs, and keeping no rhythm other than its own. I gave this book as a gift to a couple folks this year.
Norm MacDonald's wondrous, ponderous Based on a True Story made me laugh more than any book I've read in recent memory. Completely full of shit. Worth every minute of it. And whether you like it or not is of absolutely no consequence.
Cherie Priest's Family Plot is a beautiful ghost story. Another writer with the knack for hitting this local nail right on the head, the characters in this Chattanooga based spooky story felt very close to home.
Alan Moore's Jerusalem was an amazing, beautiful love letter to his home town. I was hesitant to go into this one, especially after giving up on an attempt at Infinite Jest. The investment of time? Would it be worth it? Short answer: Yep. It's an occasional mindfuck. A giant playpen for Moore. I could spend my entire afterlife reading the adventures of Phyllis Painter and the Dead Dead Gang.....
Michelle Paver's Dark Matter came recommended from a couple places within a short amount of time. That synchronicity had me order the book from England. A novel that takes the form of a diary, I ended up reading nearly the whole thing one night when I couldn't sleep. A young man takes an expedition to the Arctic, ends up alone in the ongoing winter night. Just a fun read.
Michael Chabon's Moonglow brought back the same feeling I got when I read Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Hit the right chord for me, especially since my own grandparents were distant figures for me, and more than geographically. I never really knew the people behind the title. The story of Chabon getting into the hows and whys of his grandfather and grandmother was heartbreaking and amazing....