This was a fantastic year for books. Trying to narrow down our list of best books to just ten was an incredibly difficult feat because we read so many this year that we thoroughly enjoyed.
From science fiction to anthologies to Star Wars novels and more, we read a wide variety of books. But now that the year has come to an end we’ve taken a look back to see which books really stuck with us this year. Below you’ll find ten great books that we loved.
If your New Year’s resolution is to read more books, then we recommend you think about starting here!
We’re always looking to read more books so if you have recommendations of your own or want to share with us your top picks for Best Books of 2016, let us know in the comments!
Best Books of 2016
Author: Blake Crouch
Release Date: July 26, 2016
From the same guy who gave us the original Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is an insane science fiction thriller that’s full of strange twists and turns. The book follows a man named Jason Dessen who has lived a fairly ordinary life, sacrificing his career and making the sort of choices that have turned him into a family man.
But one night he finds himself being held at gun point and shoved into a strange new world. It’s a world where he never married and never had a family. It’s a world where he and his friends are ruthless geniuses changing the face of physics as we know it. It’s a world where Jason is everything he could have been – and all he wants to do is find his way home. Dark Matter is an incredible thrill ride that lags in some places but nonetheless keeps you hooked from start to finish.
The Wolf Road
Author: Beth Lewis
Release Date: July 5, 2016
At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Beth Lewis’s The Wolf Road. It’s a quirky book told from the point of view of a barely literate young woman living in a post-apocalyptic future. Very little of how our world became what it is gets explained, however. Instead, the book focuses on our heroine, Elka, and her relationship with her adoptive father who turns out to be a very dark, demented man who is wanted for a series of heinous murders. Elka has a unique understanding of the world and we see things from her perspective as she travels across this troubled world on the run from both the law and the father she had come to love.
The narrators voice can be a little off putting at first but you quickly get used to it and the story that follows is as haunting as it is enjoyable in the end. There are a number of interesting characters and the story and setting are so unique that you can’t help but read on. While some people might be frustrated by both the first person, accented writing and the lack of details about this post-apocalyptic world’s history, I quickly grew to love it. The ambiguity of the world building helps to make Elka’s story feel more real and approachable.
The Wolf Read was easily one of my favorite reads of the year.
Author: Connie Willis
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Del Rey
This book was an immediate favorite here at Nerdophiles for the sheer fact that most of us relate to Briddey so well, the neurotic workaholic with relationship issues and a meddlesome family. If only we could all participate in the elective EED surgery to tell us whether or not we’re emotionally compatible with our partners. Or… maybe not, considering the outcome for Briddey. Where one questionable relationship seems to be on the rocks from the beginning, a new one forged in desperation may also not be the answer she was looking for.
As a commentary on how technology is shaping relationships, for better or worse, this fast-paced, frenetic, and often painfully-too-familiar for twenty-somethings book was a fast, enjoyable read that we couldn’t put down. See our full review of the book here and find out what author Connie Willis had to say about relationships at New York Comic Con this year when we caught up with her to talk about Crosstalk.
Aftermath: Life Debt
Author: Chuck Wendig
Series: Star Wars: Aftermath #2
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Del Rey
This may be a controversial choice for our list and I admittedly almost put Bloodline here in it’s place. But while Claudia Gray’s Bloodline is indeed a fantastic Star Wars book, I still think that of all the tie-in books released this year (and there were a few) this was the best of them.
Chuck Wendig’s ragtag group of do-gooders led by Norra Wexley returns this time in search of Han Solo, who has gone missing while on a renegade mission to help liberate Chewbacca’s homeworld. Life Debt does a fantastic job of bringing the characters from Aftermath into the larger Star Wars universe and intermingling their story with that of the galaxy as a whole – as well as the stories of some of our favorite characters from the original trilogy.
It’s an incredibly entertaining read and well worth the read despite the backlash the series has unduly garnered. To learn a bit more about Life Debt and the upcoming third book, check out our interview with Chuck Wendig at SDCC 2016!
Too Like the Lightning
Author: Ada Palmer
Series: Terra Ignota #1
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
The first in a duology from author Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning is a book unlike any other you might read this year. It’s a truly unique science fiction experience that reads much like a novel from the 1700s despite the book’s futuristic setting and first-person narrator.
Mycroft Canner, our main character, lives in a world that has embraced the old-school aesthetics while still being quite progressive as far as religion, gender, and other aspects of society are concerned. He’s also the caretaker of a young, orphaned boy who has the ability to bring inanimate objects to life. It’s a strange set up but it works incredibly well. You can read our full review of the book here, and while it’s not necessarily an easy book to read, Too Like the Lightning is worth the challenge.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism
Author: Grady Hendrix
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Quirk Books
Full of 80s pop culture nostalgia, Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism hit bookshelves are just the right time. Much like Brian K. Vaughn’s Paper Girls and Netflix’s hit series, Stranger Things, that nostalgia really helps set the tone for the novel.
The story follows a girl named Abby who begins to realize her best friend, Gretchen, may not just be going through the usual changes girls undergo in high school. Gretchen becomes almost a completely different person and when strange things start happening to other girls in their year, Abby starts to realize that she might actually be possessed.
Pulling from so many retro influences, the story is a really fast-paced ride full of twists and turns that ultimately comes to focus on the enduring nature of friendship (and, of course, pop culture). The ending was a little lackluster but the whole story leading up to it is absolutely perfect. This is definitely a great book and one of our most entertaining reads of the year.
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #3
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Del Rey
Morning Star was easily one of our most anticipated books of the year. We’ve counted the Red Rising trilogy among our favorite series since the first book was released back in 2014 and while we’ve always been glad for the books’ quick releases one-after-another we’re a little disappointed now that the series is done.
Darrow’s story has captivated us for the past few years and Pierce Brown does a fantastic job of wrapping it up in this final installment in the Red Rising trilogy. Of course, the story isn’t really over as Del Rey will be releasing Iron Gold, the first in a sequel trilogy, in the second half of 2017. If you haven’t checked out this series before, now is the time. Morning Star more than earned it’s place as Good Reads’ Best Science Fiction Book of 2016 and I imagine you’ll see the sequels vying for that same award over the next few years.
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
As a huge fan of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series, I had been looking forward to Ghost Talkers ever since it was released and I’m more than happy to report that it did not disappoint.
Set during WWI, the book follows a woman named Ginger who is working as part of the British war effort in the paranormal Spirit Corps. As young men on the front are killed their ghosts report back on the German war effort, giving their deaths a true sense of meaning. But the program – which has remained secret since the beginning of the war – has come to the attention of the enemy.
Spies are set to try and strike back at the Spirit Corps. Ginger finds herself wrapped up in the search for a traitor in their midsts. Part paranormal romance, part murder mystery, and part military spy thriller, Ghost Talkers is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love
Author: Sarvenaz Tash
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
It was really hard to pick out a young adult top pick for this year but ultimately I settled on The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love because it’s really just a fantastic book. Set primarily during the weekend of New York Comic Con, the story read like the set up for a classic John Hughes film.
Graham has fallen in love with his best friend and comic book collaborator, Roxy. They love all the same things and have been there for each other since they were kids and he’s determined to not just declare but prove his love by making this the best NYCC ever.
But things don’t go according to plan and Graham begins to learn some hard lessons. You can read our full review here but the characters and story coupled with the unique convention back drop make this a great pick for nerdy readers everywhere.
The Secret Loves of Geek Girls
Release Date: October 20, 2016
Publisher: Dark Horse
One of the best anthologies of the year, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is one of our must-read books for nerdy girls everywhere. A new, expanded version of an originally Kickstarted project, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls is full of stories about women in love and in relationships.
It’s a very open discussion about romance, sexuality, gender, and more – and it’s something that a lot of people need. The Secret Loves of Geek Girls features authors, artists, and more who can relate to the readers they are trying to reach. They know what it’s like to be the odd one out, to discover your own sexuality through fandom, and how hard it can be to find yourself.