10. "THE TROOP" NICK CUTTER
Good horror can be hard to come by. The genre is nowhere near as popular as it was when I was in high school (during the mid-90's), but there are still some worthwhile works coming out of it. This tale of a small Scout camping trip gone horribly wrong is certainly one of them. It manages to perfectly capture the atmosphere of such groups (at least as I remember them), while also being one of the year's creepiest (and grossest) reads.
9. "THE SECOND AMENDMENT: A BIOGRAPHY" MICHAEL WALDMAN
Every non-fiction book is of course going to have a bias to it, in particular when covering such a hot button topic, so you may as well pick one that shares your own. If you feel that we should have no restrictions on firearm ownership then this is probably not the book for you. If you feel that the NRA are a bunch of gun-toting lunatics, this might be more up your alley, and help provide you with some useful ammunition against the aforementioned lunatics.
8. "THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD" MICHAEL KORYTA
It's hard to beat a good thriller, and there were probably very few better than this one this year. The twisty, suspenseful plot is reason enough to recommend this book, but the super-creepy bad guys make it even better. Almost a horror novel, this one might have you checking the locks before bed.
7. "REDEPLOYMENT" PHIL KLAY
We all know that war is horrible, but I don't think many of us realize just how bad it can be. This collection of short stories does an incredible job of helping the reader to really understand just how rough our soldiers and their support staff have had it during our recent campaigns in the Middle East. It can be a bit depressing (and understandably so), but it will make you realize just how good you've got it.
6. "I AM PILGRIM" TERRY HAYES
Probably the year's best action-suspense tale. While everything about this book is very memorable, the impending terrorist attack the main character is fighting to prevent is one of the most plausibly frightening scenarios set to paper in recent memory. It's hard to believe just how quickly one finishes this not-insubstantial book in the race to get to the finish and see how it all ends.
5. "NO GOOD MEN AMONG THE LIVING" ANAND GOPAL
It's unlikely to be much of a surprise to anyone that our intervention in Afghanistan has royally fucked things up in the country, but I don't know that anyone outside it really understands by just how much. This important book takes a look at the situation on the ground from the perspective of the Afghan people living the consequences of our leaders' actions. A necessary read for anyone who wants a better understanding of the situation.
4. "STATION ELEVEN" EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL
A post-apocalyptic, literary masterpiece. It uses the tale of a wandering symphony in a desolate, Michigan wasteland to show us the wonder of life as we know it, and just how much even the smallest of our actions can mean to the lives of others.
3. "ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE" ANTHONY DOERR
This tale of a blind French girl and a German boy over the course of World War II is a perfect representation of what historical fiction should be. While it is at times quite a harrowing tale, it is often filled with beauty, of the sort that only the hardest of hearts won't find incredibly moving.
2. "THE BONE CLOCKS" DAVID MITCHELL
The 5 novellas that comprise this book, each told from a different perspective and in a different voice, all tell one overarching narrative, about a woman who finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a battle between forces of good and evil. It can be thrilling, funny, sad, fantastical, and sweet, but most importantly of all, it is always riveting.
1. "THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST" CLAIRE NORTH
Possibly the most novel book I've read in a long time. I went into it knowing virtually nothing about what would transpire, as the jacket is very vague, and I think that is the best way to experience it. For most of the time I had literally no idea where the plot was headed, and as such I don't think I had more fun reading a book this year. It doesn't hurt that it's filled with big ideas and some fantastic dialogue to boot.