The fact of the matter is, I probably read more books not published in each given year than those that are published in the current year. I'm always impressed with those who focus on reading mostly new books. Of course, this is coming from a chronically slow reader. There are just so many great books out there and even if I were a fast reader, there are just too many great books to get to that you couldn't possibly get to in any given year.
So, let's get on with my list of notable books I've read in 2016! These are listed chronologically in order read from January through December.
- I WILL ROT WITHOUT YOU by Danger Slater (2016) Fungasam Press: I feel like I've been waving the flag of this book for a year now, and that's because I have. I said from the moment I read that last page of the book that this will be the winner of the Wonderland Book of the Year Award (The Award for the best fiction in the Bizarro genre) for 2017. Twelve months later I still believe that in my heart of hearts. If I were going to rank the best book of 2016, this would be it.
- RITUALISTIC HUMAN SACRIFICE by C.V. Hunt (2015) Grindhouse Press: I said that this list is ranked chronologically, but Ritualistic Human Sacrifice also takes the rank of my second favorite read of 2016. It was a very close second to ROT. That is because this book is so visceral, so disturbing, so daring, so real and yet so over the top that it is impossible to ignore. The author, a female, reveals the darkest parts of the male mind that many men would never admit they think. This book basks in the darkness it casts on you as you read.
- PINK PLANET by Jon R. Meyers (2014) Riot Forge: I was shocked that I loved PINK PLANET as much as I did. This book had flaws I felt would have me giving any other book a two star review and leave me disappointed. PINK PLANET thrives on its heart. Some of the plot points are absurd. There is a fuzzy creature that seems to serve no function whatsoever to move the story forward and yet, I want to buy plushies of this creature and read the further adventures of this adorable useless character. But this book is dripping with sincerity and passion and if you can get past some of the more technical shortcomings, I think it is punk rock brilliance in writing.
- THE LAST PORNO THEATER by Nick Cato (2013) Grindhouse Press: This book is one of those books that I've been eyeing for for the past three years but never pulled the trigger on for one reason or another. Then I met Nick Cato at a con earlier this year and got the paperback from him. I knew Nick Cato to be a movie buff of the 70's exploitation era in particular. THE LAST PORNO THEATER is exactly that, a 70's era exploitation story crossed with a Godzilla movie rolled into a story about the last remaining porn theater on 42nd Street in New York. If you're a fan of H.G. Lewis, The Warriors and Kaiju monsters, get your hands on this book.
- THE COMPLEX by Brian Keene (2016) Deadite Press: You can hardly go wrong reading a Brian Keene book. So THE COMPLEX making my list this year isn't much of a surprise. The book is signature Keene: bloody, dark, character rich and bleak. What I loved best about THE COMPLEX was that Keene dared to give it an ending that was reminiscent of THE RISING. Anyone who knows anything about the ending to that book knows that for readers, you either love it or hate it. I am in the love category and so I enjoyed Keene taking that risk again with THE COMPLEX.
- THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON by Stephen King (2005) Scriber eBooks: It's been a long while since I last read a King book (I'm thinking Under The Dome when it came out.) I've really been heavy into reading indie authors for the past several years. But I felt I needed to get back to King. It was time to read something from the highest echelons of horror and THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON was sitting on my digital bookshelf for quite sometime. I blew off the dust and was instantly reminded of why he is the master. For me, King has been hit or miss since his golden age. This book is without a doubt a hit for me. Great, suspenseful storytelling. Atypical psychological horror with just a touch of supernatural. A perfect Stephen King book and a perfect way to close out my year of reading for 2016.
There it is. Looking back on the year as a whole, I think I had my hair blown back early in the year. ROT and RITUALISTIC both floored me and it was difficult for anything I'd read the remainder of the year to touch either of them. There were lots of honorable mentions: The Drive-In 3 by Joe Lansdale, Sick in the Head by Phil LoPresti, SuperGhost by Scott Cole, Pay Up and Die by Chuck Buda, The Enemy Held Near by Armand Rosamilia and Jay Wilburn and Pins by Jessica McHugh. Any one of those books could have fallen in line in a longer list. Unfortunately, I've only read a total of 31 books this year so I wanted a short list to highlight the heavy hitters for me this year.
I've already got a bunch of great reading suggestions from others Best of 2016 lists. That's why I feel it's important to share mine as well. Hope something here grabs your attention and you decide to check it out and add it to your list for 2017.
You can check out my full list of books read for 2016 HERE.