Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read in 2016?

fantasy and science fiction book reviews2016 is almost over! We hope you’ve had a wonderful reading year and that our work here at FanLit helped you achieve that.

Now we want to know: What is the best book you read in 2016?

It doesn’t have to be a book that was published in 2016. Just read in 2016. It doesn’t even have to be speculative fiction.

Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

Next week we’ll be telling you about our favorite SFF books published in 2016.

And, as always, we have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page. And we’ve also got a constantly updating list of new and forthcoming releases.

One commenter will choose a book from our stacks.

We’ve got a couple of giveaways still current.


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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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29 comments

  1. I think my favorite this year was Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, though it’s an older one.

  2. Misti P /
    Oh, that's a hard question. I read a lot of books I loved this year. I think I'll go with A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I read it in one day and the idea of the different Londons was just fascinating to me. I loved A Gathering of Shadows also and can't wait for the final book next year.
  3. There is no way I can whittle down 176 books into one. So I have twelve. In no particular order:
    One Good Eclair (A Nutrition Mafia Mystery, #1) Schneider, Maria E. – Cozy mystery
    In Shining Armor (Pax Arcana, #4) James, Elliott – urban fantasy with sarcastic wit, male protagonist
    Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess (Girl Genius Novels, #2) Foglio, Phil – steampunk and the subtitle says it all “Adventure, Romance, Mad Science!”
    Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen Bujold, Lois McMaster the latest in this excellent scifi series
    A Free Man of Color (Benjamin January, #1) Hambly, Barbara historical mystery
    Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1) Carriger, Gail – YA steampunk fantasy with British wit.
    Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) Ritter, William – YA fantasy mystery
    Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer, #1) McBride, Lish – Hilarious YA urban fantasy
    The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (The Penderwicks, #3) Birdsall, Jeanne – these are sweet family stories.
    Uprooted Novik, Naomi – very good fairy tale
    The Grendel Affair (SPI Files, #1) Shearin, Lisa – fun, new urban fantasy
    A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye, #9) McGuire, Seanan – urban fantasy with fairy tale and mystery leanings.

    • I think it’s time to raise the profile of the Hambly FREE MAN OF COLOR series, April, with everything that is going on. I not only loved the mystery (and January and his family/friends) but I learned so much about American history.

      • April /

        Agreed. Going to have to continue the series – I get so caught up in other stuff that I often forget to go back to a series I’ve started.

  4. Melanie Goldmund /

    I’m having trouble deciding between Uprooted, by Naomi Novik, and The Girl With All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey. Both were amazingly fantastic.

  5. JACQUE STENGEL /

    Mistborn by Brian Sanderson. I’m late on the Sanderson train, but it was rant good!

  6. It’s not an easy one!

    In speculative fiction, my top 3 were:

    – Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie
    – The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley
    – Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

    In non-fiction:

    – So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

  7. Paul Connelly /

    In approximate order: City of Blades (Robert Jackson Bennett), Europe in Winter (Dave Hutchinson), and Dark Orbit (Carolyn Ives Gilman).

  8. I really love Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey. I picked up this book because I was a big fan of Wool Omnibus and I was not disappointed. Beacon 23 was a real treat! I will definitely read more of Howey’s works.

  9. SFF: KSR’s “Red Mars” and RCW’s “Last Year.”

    Outside of that, I’d say Addario’s “It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life in Love and War” and Didion’s “Year of Magical Thinking.”

    All of David Sedaris’s books.

  10. Kevin S. /

    It’s super hard to narrow down to one book so I’m going to cheat and give two honorable mentions :)

    The best book I read this year is an oldie and I’m probably the last person on the planet to read it. Several weeks ago, I was chatting with one of my classes (high school) and somehow the topic of Harry Potter came up. I admitted I hadn’t read any of the books or seen the movies. This resulted in a “double dog dare” issued by one of my students and, being a grown man, I had to accept the challenge. I loved “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”!! The writing was simple and straightforward, yet creative and fun at the same time. I can’t imagine what this book would have done to me when I was 12.

    My first honorable mention is “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness. A young English boy’s mum is dying of cancer when a monster starts visiting him during the night. Who is the monster and why is it visiting him now? A beautiful book that will bring a tear to anyone’s eyes.

    My second honorable mention is “The City of Mirrors” by Justin Cronin. This is the long awaited conclusion to the Passage trilogy and it didn’t disappoint.

  11. Of the 100+ books I read in 2016, the following stand out:
    The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate – N.K. Jemisin
    The Jaguar Hunter – Lucius Shepard
    Divine Invasions – A Life Of Philip K Dick – Lawrence Sutin
    Chasm City – Alastair Reynolds
    The Unreal and the Real – Ursula K. LeGuin
    Death’s End – Cixin Liu
    Sandman Overture, Ocean at End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
    Saga series – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
    Blindsight – Peter Watts
    Lilith’s Brood (Xenogenesis Trilogy) – Octavia Butler
    Voices From the Edge (Short Stories, Audio) – Harlan Ellison
    Dark Knight Returns, Sin City – Frank Miller
    Watchmen, Killing Joke, V for Vendetta – Alan Moore

  12. I have two little kids, so reading time is at a premium. I also find myself re-reading a lot, as I often don’t have the brain power to read something new.

    For new books, I’d have to say A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.

    Close runners up are Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells and Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay.

    For re-reads, The Tale of Indigo and Cloud by Martha Wells, The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner (new book, new book in 2017!!), Kristine Smith’s Jani Killian series, and Melissa Scott’s Fairs’ Point.

  13. Sandy Giden /

    For me it’s a toss up between Red Rose Chain and Once Broken Faith, both by Seanan McGuire

  14. Read Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice for the first time this year and loved it. Best book I read this year was Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, which is exquisitely written.

  15. Bone Swans by C.S.E. Cooney

    Hands down the best book I read this year, although it’s not a novel but a story collection. Everything in it was perfect!

    Follow-ups are:
    Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home
    Charlie Jane Anders – All the Birds in the Sky
    Brandon Sanderson – The Way of Kings
    Andy Weir – The Martian
    Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Illuminae

  16. Best of 2016 for me:

    ACOMAF by Sarah J Maas
    Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
    Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
    Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor
    The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
    Earth Girl, Earth Star and Earth Flight by Janet Edwards

    I read such amazing books this year, these all got 4.5-5 stars. You can find the reviews on http://www.adventuresbookishgirl.wordpress.com if you like.

  17. Version Control by Dexter Palmer!!!!

  18. I read quite a bit this year so best of list would be more than one choice from everything read.

    In Fantasy
    Age of Myth by Michael J Sullivan
    Unhewn Throne trilogy by Brian Staveley
    Riyria Revelations by Michael J Sullivan

    Sci Fi
    Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (if I had to choose one, this would be it)
    Arkwright by Allen Steele
    Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey

    Other
    Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
    The Fireman by Joe Hill

    above are only the standouts and there were lots of other enjoyable reads throughout the year.

  19. M. Robinson /

    The Devourers by Indra Das

  20. RedEyedGhost /

    This was not a good reading year in terms of quantity, but overall I would say the quality was good. Probably the best work I read this year was The Shattered Sigil trilogy by Courtney Schaefer, but I also loved the two books released so far in John Hornor Jacobs’ Incorruptibles trilogy and can’t wait for the final books release next year.

    Peadar O’Guilin’s The Call and Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts were are exceptional.

  21. The best book I read this year was Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Here is my book review: https://mybookshelfdialogues.com/2016/10/07/dark-matter-by-blake-crouch-book-review/

  22. I read a lot of good books this year, but I can’t stop banging the drum for Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft. If you don’t take my word for it, take Mark Lawrence’s.

  23. My 2 faves were Blackbird Summer by Em Shotwell and The Reburialists by JC Nelson.
    I ran down my fave 2016 books here:
    http://eswritingjourney.blogspot.com/2016/12/top-books-i-read-in-2016.html

  24. Leland Eaves /

    Not really book but graphic novel. Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Lovecraftian horror done right.

  25. Astra /

    The Wine-Dark Sea, a collection of short stories by Leonardo Sciascia. Boy, does he pack a punch in just a few words.

    In non-fiction, Mary Beard’s SPQR was a great history of the Roman Republic.

  26. Aouk van der Zee, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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