Wednesday, January 24, 2018

This One Goes to... 5: Favorite Books Read in 2016

In the past, my 'Favorite Books Read' lists have included 11 works of fiction and 11 nonfiction works. This year, that isn't the case.

To be honest, 2017 wasn't a great year in reading for me. Not only did I read far fewer books in general, of the books I did read, there weren't many that were really outstanding. Thus, a list of '11 Favorites' would be impossible.

Still, I did read some really great books. Here are my favorites for 2017, in no particular order. 



FICTION
  • The Book of Weird by Barbara Ninde Byfield (This vintage hard-to-classify gem is a witty encyclopedia of a fantastical alternate Europe. I wish I read this book back in my Dungeons & Dragons days.)
  • The Chronicles of Solar Pons by August Derleth (Yes, Pons is an unabashed pastiche of Sherlock Holmes. But he is also a great pastiche of Sherlock Holmes. The stories are a great deal of fun and I actually think August Derleth is a better writer than Arthur Conan Doyle.)
  • Lost Worlds Vol. 1 by Clark Ashton Smith (Along with H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, Smith was one of the "Big Three" writers for Weird Tales. His fantasy stories are very dark and nightmarish. I especially liked the ones set in the dying earth landscape of Zothique.)
  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (This tale of a convent that trains novice nuns in the ways of assassination is one of the best new fantasy novels I've read in a long time. Great setting and characterizations. Features some good quotes about fighting and martial arts.)
  • Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (Gorgeously written, surreal, and dreamlike. A novel to read slowly and savor.) 

NONFICTION
  • A Buddhist Grief Observed by Guy Newland (I struggle with grief and loss. So does Guy Newland. He eloquently writes about his Buddhist beliefs both helped and at times failed to help him deal with the death of his wife.)
  • The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights by Norm Phelps
    and
  • A Plea for the Animals: The Moral, Philosophical, and Evolutionary Imperative to Treat All Beings with Compassion Hardcover by Matthieu Ricard (Two excellent books about animal rights, both written from a Buddhist perspective. Phelps especially makes some very strong, substantial arguments regarding the place of veganism in Buddhism.)
  • Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women's Self Protection by Tim Larkin (The title is a little misleading; the book is not really a "total guide" nor is it only of use to women. Larkin address mindset more than specific techniques, and I find the things he has to say to be perfectly valid. His observation that "violence is rarely the answer, but when it is... it is the only answer" is spot-on.)


SPECIAL MENTION

  • Lazarus Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Incredible dystopian graphic novel series that explores themes of wealth inequality and environmental destruction. Very timely and relevant... unfortunately.)
(My list of favorite books read in 2016 can be found here, and favorites of 2015 can be found here.)

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