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.

Quincy Conrad, 28, of Philadelphia, unquestionably recommends one of the year's best books, and a word-of-mouth best seller: When Breath Becomes Air (Random House, $25), Paul Kalanithi's memoir of living and dying with lung cancer. His spouse, Lucy - he was a neurosurgeon and she is an internist at Stanford Health Care - helped curate the book into publication. The making of When Breath Becomes Air is one of most moving literary stories of this year.

"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."

Ginna Goodall, 64, of Avondale, liked one of the year's standout novels, The Wonder (Little, Brown, $27) by Irish Canadian author Emma Donoghue. "I have recommended this book to everyone," she writes. "I have appreciated Emma Donoghue's writing since first reading [her 2014 novel] Room, and this one did not disappoint. I especially like historical fiction with strong, relatable characters. This one covers a fascinating era of Irish/English history, the influence of the Catholic Church, and the beginnings of nursing as a profession."

 Roger J. Brown, 80, of East Fallowfield, Chester County, was pleased to recommend Dark Money (Doubleday, $29.95) by New Yorker investigative journalist Jane Mayer. "This is a fascinating history of income inequality in America," Brown writes, "starting with Charles and David Koch, who funded dozens of organizations to secretly influence political and academic institutions. Using such names as Americans for Prosperity, American Enterprise Institute, Center to Protect Patient Rights, Heritage Foundation, Institute for Humane Studies, and American Legislative Exchange Council, the Koch brothers and their allies have successfully infiltrated contemporary organizations such as the tea party, and have contributed to introducing legislation on the state level which favors their libertarian philosophy."

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."

Speaking of speculative/fantasy/paranormal fiction, reader Carmen Brooks recommends Amy Cross' novel The Disappearance of Katie Wren (Dark Season, on Kindle for 99 cents), a tale of a mother's journey through the London underworld in search of her daughter. "It was fast-paced, kept me guessing," she writes, "and Amy's books are so underrated. Her books have been absolutely incredible." They have been numerous, too - Cross' website lists more than 100 titles.

Amy Ford Albano, 45, of New Hope, recommends The Glorious Heresies (Tim Duggan, $27), a novel by Lisa McInerney. The debut novel won the prestigious (and lucrative: about $37,000) Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. "Strong debut novels are a gift," Albano writes, praising the book's "dark Irish humor, along with raw, perfect prose."

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.