I wish I could have read more this year. I found myself constantly yearning for more time to dive into a story, but because of work, travels, or busying myself with other projects, I didn’t have the chance to explore as many narratives as I would have liked to. Nevertheless, I did discover some fascinating reads in 2016, and it’s time that I share them with you here. You can click on the books’ covers to view them on Amazon.
Hide by Matthew Griffin
This is the book I recommended to everyone I could this year. It’s not very long, but I found myself savoring every page, not wanting it to end, as I fell so head over heels in love with Griffin’s prose. The story was heartbreaking and at times even disturbing, but more than anything this book was powerful. It follows the relationship between two men who have lived their whole lives hidden from others, keeping their love affair shielded from the world. As a gay man, this is the kind of love story I’ve been wanting to find for so long. There were many times throughout the book I felt overwhelmed by the story, both due to how it was written, and because of how it made me feel. The author includes a sex scene that is the most beautiful way I’ve ever read sex being described, gay or straight. I cried more than once, and felt it deeply enter into my consciousness. I’ll continue to recommend it to anyone who will listen to me.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This sci-fi thriller was so smart, surprising, and kept me guessing from beginning to end. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the author invented another twist that I never saw coming. Usually books like this start out great but then begin to plummet as things get complicated. Dark Matter did not fall into this trap. It also made me think about my own life, and the choices I’ve made, as the duplicity of another version of myself started to haunt my thoughts. The pace of this novel chugged forward at a break-neck speed, and I was happily dragged along for the ride. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, exciting, intelligent read, this is the book for you.
But What If We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman
No, this book cover is not upside down. Well, yes, the font is upside down, but that’s actually how it’s supposed to be. I don’t often read non-fiction, but I stumbled upon this in a book store in Canada and it immediately caught my attention. It’s kind of like a modern philosophy book that examines everything we think we know, and how we expect things to be thought about in the future. It uses pop culture, sports, and history to dissect and predict how people hundreds of years from now will think about us now. It challenged me, and made me contemplate a lot of questions I hadn’t ever really dug into before. For such a deep book, it was really easy to read, and I enjoyed diving into something so outside of my normal kind of book.
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
I’m a sucker for stories told from different characters’ perspectives, especially if those stories come from different times and places. (So much so that my most recent novel follows the same structure.) When I first found out about this book, it sounded right up my alley, and I was not disappointed. Smith weaves an intriguing story across centuries and continents, pulling in interesting aspects of the art world that create a layered story. I love books about artists, and the fact that a love story was also thrown into the mix pretty much made this book check off everything I ever find myself wanting in a novel. This book had some of the most memorable characters of any book I read this year, and I found myself especially attached to one in particular. I definitely am interested in checking out whatever Smith writes next.
Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers
This book appeared in the midst of summer, when all I wanted to do was quit my job, buy a van, and start driving around our beautiful country. Thus, I highly enjoyed following a single mom and her two strange children as they drove around the Alaskan wilderness, without a plan or clue as to what in the world they were doing. I’ve read some Eggers before, but this was the first time I thoroughly enjoyed his work from beginning to end. This book constantly entertained, and had me chuckling throughout, as the protagonist’s daughter in particular is extremely comical. I also really just wish I was sitting wherever the cover photo was taken right about now.
As a side note, while I may have finished less books this year than I did in 2015, I can admit that I did read a ton of magazines, including a handful of independent ones that I’m thoroughly obsessed with. Special mention to Cereal Magazine, as I plan to buy every issue they ever release until the end of time. Check back again, most likely after Christmas, as I plan to list my best tv shows of 2016 next!