As the year draws lazily to an end (I’m on leave from work and ready for an overseas trip so I’m feeling pretty relaxed) I think now is a good time to have a go at a list of my favourite things that came out of this year. It doesn’t do to dwell on the many sad passings of popular icons this year (I think we can all agree it was shocking), so I’ve put together a few of the better things that happened this year.
A lot of the books I read weren’t published this year sadly, but I largely spent the beginning of this year in a fugue and didn’t keep up with what was happening in the world of literature. That said, a few my notable reads this year include (the author) David Mitchell’s Slade House, originally a Twitter story that turned into a full, wonderful ghost story. Fool’s Quest, published in 2015 by Robin Hobb, was another book I devoured in a sitting and loved immensely. It’s book two of a trilogy, and that trilogy is the third detailing the life of the main character, FitzChivalry Farseer. I discovered the first trilogy a long time ago and I’ve been following along with his life as new books come out, but I wait with sadness for the last book which is due to come out soon. It will be last in the chronicle of his life, and then his story will be told and all that will be left are fond memories.
I read the last two Bill Hodges books this year and as always Stephen King fails to disappoint. In my eyes the man can do no wrong. While I read End of Watch, I listened to Finders Keepers on Audible read by Will Patton of Armageddon and Gone in 60 Seconds fame. Both books are pure, powerful storytelling and were a joy to read.
Something I did discover that was published this year was Sylvain Neuvel’s debut, Sleeping Giants, book one from the Themis Files series. This story is about the discovery of a giant robot buried deep within the Earth, predating human technology and ability, and rather than being told from the perspective of the characters it’s told in a series of interviews and journal entries.
I discovered John Connolly when I spotted a friend reading The Book of Lost Things and was intrigued enough to get a copy for myself immediately. I loved it. It’s really dark and it made me cry. I found A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers while browsing the book store and something made me take it, turning out to be a good decision. This is feel-good science fiction at it’s best, filled with lovely characters that drive the narrative.
A few other books I enjoyed were the Fireman by Joe Hill, Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen, In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware and The Trespasser by Tana French. A good variety in all, I think 2016 was a year that started slowly for me but improved immensely with the quality of stories I found to read.
Movies and TV
The top of my list for movies has to be Arrival. I’ve gushed about the short story it was based on in a blog post already, but I simply must insist that if you haven’t seen this lovely movie yet, you do, asap.
Other movies that I really enjoyed this year are: Deadpool (no reasons necessary, I think everyone loved it), Doctor Strange, Ghostbusters, The Nice Guys, Kubo and the Two Strings and Fantastic Beats and Where To Find Them.
Immediate Edit (same day): Rogue One is incredible. It’s a feast, a spectacle and I loved every second of it. I may watch it repeatedly.
As far as TV goes, Stranger Things is definitely the best series I watched this year. It brought back all the nostalgic memories of being a teenager and reading as many Stephen King novels as I could fit into a Summer holiday.
I was given Flesh and Bone by a friend, I know it came out last year but I didn’t know about it, and I watched all of it soon after finishing Stranger Things. I thought this series was incredible, the performances, the music, the uncomfortable subject matter. It doesn’t look like a next season is in the making sadly, so we’ll all have to console ourselves by rewatching the first and only season.
Being a Constant Reader, one could imagine my excitement when I found out that a TV mini-series of 11/22/63 was in the works (in 2015). The show aired earlier this year and I was absolutely blown away. Similarly, The Night Manager was an amazing TV adaptation of a really great book by John le Carré. In addition, I discovered Parks and Recreation this year, and was enthralled. The show, like Community, is unlike anything else on TV. Amy Poehler has an amazing sense of humour, and Ron Swanson is a god among men.
Something that deserves an honourable mention, I believe, is the Great British Bake-Off. This year marked the 7th, and last, season of a British favourite. I certainly was on the edge of my seat every episode, as I desperately sought to figure out who would leave that week. The show has been sold to two other stations, and the hosts have split, so we’ll have to see if the shows that replace it next year meet the high standard of the original.
Overall, I must say that 2016 was the year of the television show.
Tiger Army – V (2016)
The fifth album of this American Psychobilly band, V has been long-awaited as the first album in almost a decade. The album start out racing, with pounding double-time drumming and punk guitar, then moves back in time to the 60’s, a time Nick 13 believes he belongs to. This album is unlike anything they’ve achieved before, and quite honestly my day is empty if I don’t have this playing on repeat as my life soundtrack.
So a lot of good came out of 2016 with the bad. I can only hope that next year is better, although I doubt I’ll be as optimistic with my Goodreads Challenge book number, I think 52 was a high bar to set for myself.
What’s in your best of 2016 list?