Was 2016 a good year? A bad year? Middling? Or was it a great year?
Well, for readers, it was a splendid year. People who like reading make sure of that. We asked readers to recommend their favorite books of 2016; selected responses are below.
Choices include sci-fantasy (or should we call it "speculative fiction"?), historical fiction, novels, memoir, and investigative journalism. Three Irish writers are represented. Female authors dominate. And, this being an online survey, ebooks and other digital deliveries are well-represented.
"This book," writes Conrad, "is beautifully written and explores the existential question facing us all: How does one create a meaningful life? Paul's wife, Lucy, wrote the epilogue, and her contribution reminds us that this is not simply a journey to finding meaning in one's own life, but a quest to help those we love do the same. Paul has given a great gift to the world."
Katherine Molinari liked In Remembrance of Home (Amazon Digital, $19.99), a novel of speculative fiction by J.M. Deutsch. Molinari writes that the book "transports the reader to another world" where humanity must struggle to survive after an alien species invades Earth. But soon, the reader sees that humanity itself is destroying the human race. "More to the point," she writes, "in recent literature, the heroine often has some sort of superability, some power or unique characteristic that makes them special. This book challenges this idealistic youthful belief and asks the reader: Is anyone really special, or will anyone and everyone resort to animalistic behavior to survive? An exciting, well-written page-turner. Can't wait to read the sequel."
The Lonely Sea and Sky by Irish writer Dermot Bolger (New Island, $14.50) was the favorite of Justin Golden, 66, of Bethesda, Md. He calls it a "brilliant tale of an Irish ship operating in the war zone during WWII. . . . The crew find themselves in the middle of warring factions on the high seas. Their heroic actions are inspiring. Based on a true story."
Our readers write beautifully, don't they? They remind us that reading a good book is a beautiful act, a beautiful experience, even when (as often) it is sorrowful, scary, or unsettling. Here's to more great stuff in the great year of 2017.