Good Reads have just announced the results of the votes for “Best Books of 2016”
I’d looked at the nominations by category and cast my votes where I had an opinion.
I found that I hadn’t read most of the nominees in the Fiction category but I bought a few: “Lilly and the Octopus” (which went to DNF after an hour or so) , “My Name Is Lucy Barton” which I have great hopes for as a character piece and which will be my first Elizabeth Stout book, “What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours” because it has a great cover and I’m a sucker for short story collections from a single author and “Everybody’s Fool” because it’s a sequel to “Nobody’s Fool” which is my second favourite Richard Russo book. None of the ones I selected won. The winner, “Truly, Madly, Guiltily” got fairly mixed reviews. I avoided it because I though the subject matter was too grim for me.
I was better able to express a view in the Fantasy section where, even if I hadn’t read the books, I knew the series: There was book nine of the Mercy Thompson series, book nine of the Kate Daniels series, book ten of the Charlie Davidson series, book eight of the Iron Druid series and, of course, something from the endlessly prolific Brandon Sanderson. It was a bit disappointing to see the list so dominated by characters that have been around for a decade or so. In the end, I voted for “Marked In Flesh” because it was the most original of the ones I knew. The winner of the category caught me by surprise: “Harry Potter And The Cursed Child”. It got ten times as many votes as my choice and I have no idea why. This is not an easy play to read and some of the story seemed rushed to me. I enjoyed it but I can’t accept that a short story converted into a fairly average play was the best fantasy on offer in 2016. But then, I’ve been wrong about every other major vote in 2016.
I was disappointed to find that, not only had I not read most of the books in the Science Fiction category, but I didn’t want to read most of them. I read (and voted for) “Lies, Damned Lies and History” but I doubted that it would have a broad enough appeal to win. I have two of the books in my TBR pile: “Sleeping Giants“, which has been there for a while now without making it to the top, and “Underground Airlines” an alternative history from Ben H Winters (author of “The Last Policeman” trilogy) which I’ve just bought as an ebook after having given up waiting for an audiobook version.
The only place where my vote and popular opinion on Good Reads where in agreement was in the Horror category with Joe Hill’s “The Fireman” won the popular vote. This was an extraordinary novel, probably one of my best reads of the year. I’m quite put off by the concepts behind the next- most-voted-for book “The Butterfly Garden”. I’m sure it would be compelling, but it’s not a compulsion I want to allow myself.