Books of 2016

I had a target of reading 50 books in 2016. I didn’t quite manage to make it. I managed to only read 24. A dismal performance indeed. I read a couple of wonderful books and discovered some great new writers. I also managed to break out (well a little bit) from the cozy comforts of science fiction.

Perhaps I will make 50 in 2017!


Paul Kalanithi’s memoir “When Breath Becomes Air” is lyrical, inspiring and heart breaking. Without a doubt the best book I read last year.


I loved “Death’s End“, the epic, satisfying conclusion to the “Three Body Problem” trilogy by Cixin Liu.

Kenneth Liu’s short story collection “The Paper Menagerie” is excellent. You can read the titular story here.


Katherine Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” is an unflinching, honest account of a year spent in a Mumbai slum.

Jacky Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” is a memoir of growing up poor and white in the midwest. It made me think again about the assumptions I made about American politics.


I disliked the much hyped “Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley” by Antonio Garcia Martinez. The author’s overblown, sarcastic style really put me off an otherwise fascinating topic (for me).


I enjoyed Neil Stephenson’s “Seveneves” and Alistair Reynolds’ “Revenger“. Both excellent science fiction books.


Review: Death’s End by Cixin Liu

Death's End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3)Death’s End by Liu Cixin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Death’s End is the final instalment in Cixin Liu’s “Three Body Problem” series. I read a lot of science fiction and I am not exaggerating when I say that this series is amongst the best I have read.

The scope, scale and ambition of Mr. Liu’s work is such that even writing a review for his books feels like a daunting task. So I am not going to bother, and am just happy to be a giddy fan boy.

The Three Body Problem series deals with the Fermi Paradox; more broadly, it is a meditation on what it means to be human and our place in a huge and uncaring universe. The books take us from revolutionary China to the far, far future. Mr. Liu (and his translators) blend Chinese culture and truly mind bending science to create an intoxicating world that I have enjoyed being immersed in and thinking about.

Death’s End stands alone as a great book and it is a brilliant conclusion to the Three Body problem series. Cixin Liu has sold millions of books in China and his reputation as a science fiction superstar is justified. Ken Liu (The Three Body Problem and Death’s End) and Joel Martinson (The Dark Forest) have done sterling work translating his books for a wider audience. Don’t wait, pick up The Three Body problem and be prepared to be blown away.

** The trilogy is called “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”. Apparently in China the series is better knows as the Three Body Problem series, and I think that makes more sense to me. So I refer to it as Three Body Problem..

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