Books of 2016
I read some good books in 2016, and will hopefully have time to get through a few more before the year is out. These are the ones I have enjoyed the most, both those new in 2016 and from earlier, presented in no particular order.
Books published in 2016
Gone With The Mind – Mark Leyner
Leyner is my favourite writer, the most entertaining writer, sentence to sentence, I’ve ever read, so perhaps unsurprising that I loved this: a Leyner-esque take on the memoir that is endlessly digressive and funny and great.
The Throwback Special – Chris Bachelder
I properly discovered and fell for Chris Bachelder’s writing this year, after having read his first novel, Bear Vs Shark, a few years back. The Throwback Special is about 22 men gathering annually to re-enact a spectacularly brief and violent NFL play, and it’s funny and wise and moving and ace.
You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott
Suburban murder and sex and intrigue in the world of junior gymnastics. Obsession and family sacrifice as Abbott continues an amazing sequence of noir-for-you-at-home books.
Mr Eternity – Aaron Their
Dan Defoe is or isn’t actually Daniel Defoe and lives for hundreds of years and is described in numerous different eras and locales and contexts. Excellent: wildly imaginative, entertaining as heck, and ultimately uplifting.
Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy – Simon Reynolds
Simon Reynolds of Rip It Up and Start Again fame turns his attention to glam rock and the results are engrossing, illuminating and make you want to listen to the music he describes, even if it’s not all to your taste. Which is pretty much what I’m after with music writing.
Multiple Choice – Alejandro Zambra
A Chilean novella or something in the form of a multiple choice test. Short enough to keep the gimmick fresh, well-written enough to make it totally immersive.
Moonglow – Michael Chabon
A fictionalised biography of a fake grandfather, this is a wildly entertaining rebuke to the privileged status of the ‘authentic’ memoir.
Days Without End – Sebastian Barry
Narrated in the voice of a young Irish dude who flees to America at the time of the famine, falls in love with his best friend and fights in the Indian and Civil wars. At times truly gruesome, but also properly moving.
Books not published in 2016
Norwood and The Dog of The South – Charles Portis
Portis wrote True Grit, which I haven’t actually read, but these are amazing deadpan roadtrip books with some of the best dialogue I’ve ever read.
U.S! and Abbott Awaits – Chris Bachelder
As mentioned above, Bachelder’s my new obsession, really funny, but sad and true and beautifully written. Abbott Awaits is three months in the life of a man waiting to be a dad for the second time, and U.S! is an amazing book where (real) muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair is resurrected time and again and is about the power of literature and art and what it’s for etc and is also very funny.
On Warne – Gideon Haigh
A book of essays about Shane Warne by probably the best cricket writer working today, maybe ever.
Going Native – Stephen Wright
Dreamlike linked stories about America and the West in the late 20th century. Lush writing and strong imagery – I’m still thinking about this regularly a couple of months after finishing it.
The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
I had no idea this was so good – written in the 30s, published in the 60s, Irish surreal comedy masterpiece. Casually profound.
The Rest is Noise: Listening To The 20th Century – Alex Ross
A properly engrossing book about 20th century classical music. One that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it.