Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Top 5 Books I Read in 2016

I read a lot of books in 2016, and there were a few that really stood out above the others as being intelligently written and spectacularly plotted. Those are the books that have stayed in my heart throughout the year and that I find myself continually recommending to people. Today I'd like to share those books with you.

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This book absolutely blew me away. I did not expect it to be as crazy good as it was. This was, by far, the best book I read in 2016. It is about our bleak world in 2045, where nearly everybody escapes into a virtual reality known as OASIS. It is a utopia of wonders, where anybody can become anything they want to be and do anything that they can't achieve in the real world. One day the creator of OASIS dies, leaving a massive fortune in the form of an Easter egg hidden in the game. The novel follows Wade as he makes it his goal to find this egg and obtain the fortune that comes with it. But soon every character in the game is on a hunt for the egg, and rivalries spread into the real world as a corporate monster begins either hiring or killing anyone that gets in their way to the prize.
This book is absolutely breathtaking with every new plot point that gets uncovered. It is full of 1980s pop culture references, as the route to the egg involves solving lots of riddles about '80s music, games, and movies. If you like '80s culture, video games, modern sci-fi stories, or a fast-paced adventure, you will love this book.

2. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
I had never read epic fantasy before venturing into Sanderson's Mistborn series, but I don't need to read any more to know that this is one of the best fantasy series out there. You can't just stop at book one; you need to read the entire trilogy.
Mistborn is about Vin, a young thief, who gets recruited by Kelsier, the leader of a crew that sets out to overtake the Lord Ruler, an evil leader that has reigned over the land for a thousand years. He is said to be all-powerful, but Kelsier thinks his team can do the impossible and defeat him. The most exciting part of this book is the magic system: people called Mistings can ingest different metals that give them different abilities, depending on the type of metal. The entire world and plot were so fleshed out, and I honestly didn't see any plot holes, which is rare. And the magic system was so thoroughly explored and well explained, which I loved. What is so spectacular about this series is that concepts and ideas that appear to be insignificant that are introduced in the first book appear again in the second and third books, but they tie back to other concepts in a mind-bending way that makes you realize that Sanderson had every tiny detail of the whole series planned out before he even began to write the first book. It is absolutely mind-bending to look back on the series once you've completed it and see exactly how everything connects together.

3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
This book is what it says it is: life-changing. Of all the books I've read this year, this one has had the biggest long-term impact on me. I have a separate review of this book here if you're interested.
I think a lot of people suffer from the stress of owning too much stuff and not knowing what to do with it. This book will address that issue in a completely new way: keep only what you love. Marie Kondo goes through the steps of organizing your house and personal effects that will bring you the most positive results you've ever seen when it comes to tidying. She asks you to pick up each item individually and ask yourself if it brings you joy. If it does, keep it; if it doesn't, discard it. It's a very simple approach that elicits tremendous results.
I have been following the steps in this book throughout the year and have gotten rid of so much stuff I didn't know that I didn't need. It really is very cathartic and freeing. I highly recommend this book if you want a more organized life.

4. You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
I had no idea who Felicia Day was before reading this book, but now I'm a huge fan of hers. She is hilarious, as is proven in her book (and even more so if you listen to her read the audiobook, which I did). Felicia's book is a memoir of her life thus far as a homeschooled girl who is addicted to video games. It is full of anecdotes from her childhood as an awkward girl who's just trying to fit in. She talks about her time creating the Guild miniseries and starring in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Her memoir is very relatable to someone like me who is a shy girl who enjoys video games and who often suffers from anxiety. Felicia endured a lot of the same experiences and feelings that I and a lot of others have gone through. Honestly, I think everyone should read You're Never Weird on the Internet; whether or not you know who Felicia Day is, you will most likely laugh and enjoy your time spent reading this book.
I have a separate review of this book here if you want to read that, too.

5. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
It is better to read this book without any prior knowledge of what it is about, but here is a short, vague synopsis anyway. Night Film is a psychological mystery thriller about a girl who dies and the investigative reporter who is trying to figure out the truth about her mysterious family. This book is a dark mind-bending roller coaster. I best heard it described this way: you think you've hit rock bottom when you realize you're standing on another trap door. I've never read a book in this genre before, but this was probably not a good place to start because no book will ever live up to it.
The best part about reading Night Film is that the book is filled with photographs, documents, and other visual elements, many of which have hidden content in them. If you download the Night Film Decoder app, you can scan the pictures to access the bonus content. It's seriously awesome.
I recommend just blindly jumping into this book if you're even remotely interested at this point.

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