These are all books I read this year, and which I feel were worth the time I spent reading them. They range in style from funny to sci-fi to dark and violent, but all of them are well-done, enjoyable and interesting.
The Martian by Andy Weir
By now everyone and their mother knows the story of the Martian: Weir self-published the story to massive success and it led to a major publication deal and a movie starring Matt Damon. But the hype surrounding the book was for a reason: It’s awesome!
I found myself constantly surprised at how the author was able to make all the math and science accessible, interesting and even funny. This story was a real page-turner and I read it while on vacation, powering through the whole thing in only a couple days. I won’t spoil any of the plot details; I’ll let the commercials for the blockbuster movie do that.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Comedian Aziz Ansari has long had an interest in the unique ways in which dating and romance have changed over the last 50 years, as anyone who has seen his stand-up videos can attest. He’s especially fascinated with the changes of the last 10 years, since the advent of texting and online dating.
For this book he teamed with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and together they undertook a large research project, conducting interviews and surveys across a wide swath of age ranges, and they were led to some really interesting and unique observations. Of course, the book wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without Ansari’s hilarious insights and anecdotes. There’s a lot of data but it’s presented in a funny and easy to read way.
Fans of Ansari and this book might also want to check out his new Netflix series, Master of None, which premieres later this month and looks to deal with similar themes.
I Am Pilgrim By Terry Hayes
I Am Pilgrim is a full-blown spy-versus-terrorist thriller in the vein of 24 or Homeland. What I found interesting about it was how it switched back and forth from the viewpoint of the hero and the villain. Maybe the fact that there was an (American) “hero” and a (Middle-Eastern) “villain” was a bit of an over-simplification of morals in today’s society, but the story was intriguing and action-packed. There are some terrifyingly realistic scenarios on display and the last third of the book is pretty much non-stop action. Anyone who likes spy fiction will really enjoy this read.
Golden Son (Red Rising Book II) by Pierce Brown
The first two books of the Red Rising trilogy, Red Rising and Golden Son tell the tale of Darrow, a young miner in a colony on Mars. The story goes way beyond this basic description, but I won’t spoil any of the details. I think fans of the Hunger Games series would enjoy these books, though I would say these lean a bit more into the sci-fi genre, have a broader scope, and are also a bit more violent.
If you hurry, you can finish these two just in time for the release of the third book, set to come out early in 2016. I know I’m looking forward to the conclusion!
The Cartel by Don Winslow
Don Winslow’s The Cartel is a ripped-from-the-headlines story of the brutal and devastating war between the American D.E.A. and the Mexican drug cartels. This is a work of fiction, but a lot of the violence is true-to-life. To be honest this is one of the most brutally violent novels I’ve ever read. And to think that similar events actually took place or are currently taking place right across the border in Mexico is really upsetting.
If you like your novels to have Game Of Thrones level killing, but don’t care for the fantasy setting, this novel is for you. If you enjoyed Netflix’s recent telling of the Pablo Escobar story, Narcos, this will probably pique your interest as well. Just be prepared to feel depressed and horrified.