My 2016 was somewhat slack with reading but, as I look back at all that I read, it’s a lot fuller than I originally recalled.
There was a lot of good, too. Some bad, sure, but a lot of good things that were charged by the election and the strange shifting reality of a simultaneously more transparent and insulated culture. That in mind, these are the best books and written works of 2016.
Craziest Dog Story: “Billie the Semen-Detecting Dog Recruited by U.K. Police to Help Catch Rapists”
Poor, poor, poor, poor Billie having to sniff up all that jizz in order to help us sniff out a rapist. You are a saint, Billie.
Most Divisive: “Nice Cargo Shorts! You’re Sleeping On The Sofa” by Nicole Hong
This story ignited a debate all year about cargo shorts and their validity. The war raged on between the fashion-ins and the fashion-outs that the shorts evolved into an ugly badge rebellion that drew anthropological intrigue.
Best Worst / Worst Best Fashion Writing: O32c‘s Lotta Volkova Interview
This story honestly made me question everything about current fashion. It’s bizarre and inspiring, gross and gleeful. That’s so 2016, guys.
Most Delicious Writing Drama: Chris Kimball VS. Cook’s Country
The most PBS story happened to be a magazine feud between a former editor and host who defected in order to start his own property that was a little too close to home. This will make for a great spoof drama a la The Big Short.
Night & Day: Drew Magary‘s The Postmortal to Drew Magary’s The Hike
I read Magary’s 2011 debut The Postmortal at the beginning of the year and was so disappointed. Excellent concept buried under too little action and too many low-stakes elements. Flash forward to the fall where his follow-up The Hike was the sort of book that made you excited about reading again. Well done!
OK Gay Book Of 2016: Guapa by Saleem Hadad
Everyone raved around this book about being gay in an unspecified Middle Eastern country. But, for a debut, it screamed of needing edits, was melodramatic, and uncomfortably autobiographical to the point that you questioned fictionalization.
Better Gay Book Of 2016: What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell
Similarly regarding supposed fictionalization save for this being a little weirder and more inventive albeit equally as sleepy. Thank heavens this was a shorter book, though.
Best Gay Book Of 2016: Desert Boys by Chris McCormick
Ahh: the sweet spot. A gay debut that was both uncomfortable and cool, that played with so many topical issues without nailing you in the face with a message. This is what gay literature should be in 2016 and is an excellent jumping off point to challenge the landscape of “gay books.”
A Wonderful Thrill: Slade House by David Mitchell
This book kept me up all night. It’s delicious.
Best Adaptation: Arrival
The movie is based on Ted Chiang’s fortysomething paged short story. While great, the movie was slightly inferior to the story because it told the same story with a lot, a lot, a lot less. Still: good work all around.
Best Book Of 2015 Consumed In 2016: A Little Life
A book so full of life and death. Love it or hate it, A Little Life is a new classic—and required reading.
Required A Reread: Between The World And Me
This book was still so present that I gifted it to my mom for her birthday.
Worst Sportsmanship: Bob Dylan’s Nobel Win
Can you believe this dude? How obnoxious.
Sexiest Author: Saleem Haddad
While his debut was the most OK gay book to come out in 2016, he sure was the sexiest author. I’d accept a topless calendar of him as thanks for reading Guapa.
Best Story On Death: “A Tender Hand In The Presence Of Death” by Larissa MacFarquhar
I’ve known about hospice care my entire life but it wasn’t until reading this very sweet, very sad, very necessary story did I fully understand that it’s a vital service for people on the way out of life. It was inspiring in many, many ways.
Most Surprising: National Geographic‘s Transgender Cover First
This was only surprising because…it took them this long to do this? It’s 2016, fam.
Favorite Published Writing By Me: “Why Gay Bars Are So Important” for ATTN:
I literally completed this story the day before the Orlando shooting. It has a special place in my heart.
Favorite Feminist Writing: “Becoming Ugly” by Madeleine Davies
There was a lot of excellent feminist writing in 2016 but this late entry summed up the entire year, a need to be brash and unlikable in order to transmit your dissatisfaction and need for change. Rise up and cause a commotion! Be ugly!
Most Concerning: Post-Truth
The word of the year is always so disturbingly accurate. Sigh.
Best Old People Story: “Too Old For Sex? Not At This Nursing Home” by Winnie Hu
Hell yes, literally fucking old people.
Best Reading: Mykki Blanco’s “I Want A Dyke For President”
RIP: New York Magazine‘s Beta Male
We hardly knew ye, Beta Male. Good attempt—and we needed you more than ever. Here’s hoping more sensitive men will emerge in 2017.
Best Research: “Yes, Trump Really Is Saying ‘Big League,’ Not ‘Bigly,’ Linguists Say” by Liam Stack
A very, very, very, very important analyzation.
Favorite Book Of 2016: The Hike by Drew Magary
I consumed this book in a day and a half. It is a non-stop riot, a fun free for all about a man who goes on a hike that winds up being an alternate dimension excursion. It is a terrific little book and reminds you of how fun reading can be. It is a necessary escape from everything around you.