The Didact's Best Books of 2016

As the last hours of 2016 wind down, it is time to go through a time-honoured tradition, stretching back to, uh, last year, before, um, whoever's bothered to read this, in which I go over the best books that I read during the year. As with last year I've separated this into fiction and non-fiction.

And there were a few really good ones to plow through this year, that's for sure. The five books that I have picked out in each category are, to my mind, required reading for any man out there today, for a variety of reasons.

It is worth mentioning that many of the best books that I read this year- in either category- were published by Castalia House. The top 3 fiction books that I read, for instance, were all published by them, as were a whole host of my top-rated titles for the year. This is not a coincidence. Castalia House was explicitly established to promote the very best works in sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction that are to be found anywhere, and they are succeeding admirably in their goal. They are a critical ally in our war to reclaim our culture, and as the reclamation moves forward and gathers force, they will be at the forefront of restoring greatness to literature.

As with last year, once the clock turns on Jan 1, 2017, my 2016 book list and all of the requisite links and ratings will be moved to a standalone post so that they can be browsed at leisure.

So, 'ere we go:

The Didact's Top 5 Non-Fiction Books of 2016

This book might just be the first modern "red-pill" book ever written. While guides to the true nature of women have been in existence since, well, the Old Testament, very few books have ever been this ruthless, and this pessimistic, in their dissections of the motives of what we know as "dark triad" women. The book takes the form of question-and-answer sections in which Rev. Lawrence Shannon coldly, methodically, and precisely goes through what women want, how they think, how dangerous marriage can be for the modern young man, and the ways in which a man can protect himself in the current feminised day and age. This book does NOT make for happy reading, but I consider it to be required reading for any young man who is giving serious thought to settling down, getting married, and having children. This book will make you prepare for the very worst- and it might just turn you off the idea of ever marrying in the first place. But you will be far better prepared for the realities and demands of committing to a woman as a result.

2. The Privileged Sex by Martin Van Creveld
The myth of male privilege is well known to those like you and me by now. There is no question in our minds that women are privileged far beyond men in modern society- this basic truth is obvious to any man with eyes to see. But heaven forbid that you bring up such a subject in polite conversation, especially in the presence of women, for you will be fortunate to leave the room with your face intact. So it is fortunate indeed that renowned historian Martin Van Creveld, for whom I have the highest respect, decided to examine whether women really are underprivileged relative to men. This book is a devastating, and conclusive, answer to that question, and methodically demonstrates that women enjoy privileges thanks to their sex- thanks mostly to men, in fact- that makes their lives far easier than they would be otherwise.

3. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. History by Chris Kyle
American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by [Kyle, Chris, McEwen, Scott, DeFelice, Jim]Thanks to the (apparently excellent) movie directed by Clint Eastwood documenting his life, the late Chris Kyle's name is a household one these days. His autobiography is written from the perspective of a man who had seen Death up close, many times, and came away from the experience with both a grim resolve and a deep-seated fatalism. The writing is superb; the narrative is tight and Mr. Kyle writes in plain, unadorned language without any self-laudatory flowery prose whatsoever. You get a real sense that this was a man driven by deep-seated love of God, country, and family- and that his willingness to put his country before his family cost him a part of his soul. You also get a glimpse into the mind of an unapologetic patriot who had no problem with killing those who would happily kill his own friends and comrades, and regarded those same enemies as barbarians. There are few shades of grey in this book, but its grimness is tempered by stories about his family and interludes written by his wife, Taya. An excellent story by a hard but decent man trying to do what good he could in an indecent time. May God rest his soul.

4. Fistfights with Muslims in Europe: One Man's Journey Through Modernity by Julian Langness
Fistfights With Muslims In Europe: One Man's Journey Through Modernity by [Langness, Julian]I've written at length already about Julian's book here as part of a wider philosophical point about Europe's slow and terrible demographic death spiral into oblivion. The book itself is quite short, but it honestly is one of the best works that I have read all year. Simple, forthright, and unsparing in both its criticisms of Europe's decadent civilisation and the Muslim invaders who threaten to destroy it, the book is written almost from two perspectives. It is a firsthand account of a young man's journey through the twilight of the civilisation of his ancestors- but it is also a philosophical treatise that binds together many ideas that all of us are familiar into a coherent thought process. It is also surprisingly well-balanced; Julian's grudging admiration for his Muslim antagonists is rooted in his recognition that they at least are willing and able to live and fight for something, whereas the effete Europeans whom they live among seem to have simply given up.

5. 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff and the Annex Security Team
13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi by [Team, Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security]
Very few works of film, art, or literature have ever made me truly angry. The film, 13 Hours, broke that rule in summary fashion. I have never walked out of a movie theatre wanting to strangle anyone in my life- until I saw that movie. And if the movie made me angry at the people who left nearly 40 Americans to die in the middle of Hell, the book made me even more so. The book is incredibly well-researched, the narrative is very tightly paced, and the story is as even-handed as it can possibly be given the nature of the events that occurred in Benghazi in the days leading up to the attack on the compound on September 11, 2012. Furthermore, although the book strives extremely hard to maintain an apolitical tone, it is impossible to read this book and not feel an elemental, seething rage at the fact that the military and diplomatic arms of the Executive branch of the United States government simply left these people out there to die. At its core, though, this book is a story about heroism, brotherhood, sacrifice, honour, and duty, about courage in the face of impossible odds- and about the terrible cost in blood and lives that sometimes must be paid by the few in order to keep the many safe.

Honourable Mention: The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire by David Deida
The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire by [Deida, David]
When I first opened up this book, I found the flowery, hippy-dippy introduction to be so ridiculous that I just couldn't read very much further. All this nonsense about "masculine and feminine energies" and other such new-age silliness simply turned me off. But I got over my initial disdain for what I thought was rather OTT writing and gave it another go toward the middle of the year. I was rewarded with one of the most interesting, well-written, and easily understandable guides to masculinity, as applicable to long-term relationships, that I have ever come across. David Deida's aim in this book is to help men understand that masculinity is not something to be feared or shunned, but is instead a form of energy to be harnessed and directed towards specific aims. And when applied to the purpose of making oneself and one's woman happy, fulfilled, and sexually desirable to each other, such energy can achieve amazing things. This is a book that deserves to be re-read from time to time, though its language and tone may be a bit off-putting to many.

The Didact's Top 5 Fiction Books of 2016

A Sea of Skulls (Arts of Dark and Light Book 2) by [Day, Vox]
I finished reading this book literally ten minutes before I wrote the sentence you're reading now. The fact that I consider it to be, hands down, the single best non-fiction book that I have read all year, should tell you just how good this beast of a book really is. I tore through its 449 pages a little over 8 days, on top of everything else I was reading, and I have to say that it is superior in every possible way to its already superb predecessor. I would need to write up a full review of it to do it justice, but suffice to say for now that Vox Day is no longer competing with George R. R. Martin as a writer- he has now left the big fat Rape Rape gasping and wheezing far behind in the dust and is now legitimately worthy of being considered in the rank of fantasy writers that sits right below J. R. R. Tolkien. Seriously, it's that good. And this isn't even the full novel we're talking about; because of various time pressures, Vox Day decided to release the roughly half of the book that he has finished so far as a standalone volume, to be updated whenever the rest of it is finished, edited, and updated. This was a risky gambit, but bloody hell, did it ever pay off. If what he has written so far is any indication, the rest of this monumental tome is going to be one for the ages, a true high-water mark in the genre of epic fantasy that will not be matched or exceeded for decades- if ever.

2. Loki's Child by Fenris Wulf
Loki's Child by [Wulf, Fenris]If I had to describe this book in just one sentence, it would be: "madder than a bag of snakes". I am honestly not exactly sure how to describe it, given that it bends genres, blends ideas, and gleefully flips off just about every rule of "conventional" fiction writing with complete abandon. Basically it's the story of a supposedly untalented band being given a record deal with a star producer, but it quickly turns into a combination of a scathing satire of the music industry, a serious philosophical commentary on the state of modern audio recording, a work of dark fantasy, and a dystopian political novel. What is remarkable is that, despite all of its batshit insanity and almost contemptuous disregard for convention, it is deliriously funny and exceptionally well written. This is a novel that has to be read through in order for any reader to accept that its existence is even possible, because according to everything any halfway decent writer is ever taught in school, this book simply should not exist.

3. The Missionaries by Owen Stanley
The Missionaries by [Stanley, Owen]Up until I read Loki's Child, I didn't think that I could possibly find a book that would be more savagely funny, and take more sadistic delight, in tearing apart the pretensions of Man than this book. This is quite simply one of the funniest books I have ever read. Its no-holds-barred take on the pretensions of foreigners who come in to "civilise" those who patently cannot be civilised is acerbic in the extreme, but the hysterical humour and bone-dry wit of the writing help disguise the extraordinarily pointed nature of the barbs that the author directs toward well-intentioned but completely clueless attempts by foreign aid organisations to bring the basics of Western civilisation to darkened lands. Well worth reading if only just for the comedy factor, this book also makes a number of serious points rooted in the author's personal experiences which make the book a right treat to read.

4. Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein
Starman Jones (Heinlein's Juveniles Book 7) by [Heinlein, Robert A.]I'm currently reading through Heinlein's twelve "Juveniles" now, as part of an active effort to better understand the sheer virtuosity and skill of the Grandmaster of science fiction at the peak of his powers. Of the nine juvenile novels that I have read so far, this one, the seventh, is my favourite. There is nothing really "juvenile" about Heinlein's writing in these books, for they are primarily about boys in their teens on the cusp of manhood, of unusual and even exceptional intelligence and resourcefulness, being confronted with trials that force them to become men. In this one, we see a boy grow into a man through luck, preparation, dedication, skill, and sheer hard work, who eventually is forced into a position in which his actions will save or doom the lives of his companions. An exceptional book even by Heinlein's astonishing standards, this book may well be the best "early" work of his outside of Starship Troopers.

5. Conan the Barbarian: The Complete Collection by Robert E. Howard
Conan: The Barbarian complete collection by [E. Howard, Robert]The character of Conan the Barbarian is one of the most memorable individual fantasy characters ever written, and once you read through Robert E. Howard's short stories, novellas, and novel in this collection, you will quickly understand why. The savage nobility of the Cimmerian protagonist of Howard's tales is unapologetically masculine- strong, brave, masterful, and honourable. His "barbarism" is used repeatedly to contrast the behaviour of supposedly "civilised" men with his own, and plays well to the theme that Howard repeatedly expounded that civilisation inevitably results in decadence and weakness. If you are in any way a fan of the Conan character, this is essential and superb reading. Howard's prose style in particular deserves special praise; while he was liberal with words, there is an economy to his writing that is somehow not dense to read at all, and the words simply flow from the page in easy succession while still conveying a wealth of ideas.

Honourable Mention: A State of Disobedience by Tom Kratman
A State of Disobedience by [Kratman, Tom]This is not an easy book to read. Written back in 2003 as a warning to America and the world about what the United States would likely become under a President Hillary Rodham Clinton- dear Lord, I feel shivers of horror just writing those words- the point of this book is to illustrate the author's fears about what would happen to the Republic if someone as venal, mendacious, corrupt, and downright evil as the Rottenmuncher were ever to come to power. LTC Kratman himself will readily admit that this is not his best book, and I agree with him- it isn't. But it is still a very good read nonetheless, and contains a number of portentous prophecies that came perilously close to coming true in 2016. Thank Almighty God that we dodged that particular bullet.

CLASSIC Book of 2016: The Screwtape Letters by Clive Staples Lewis
The Screwtape Letters by [Lewis, C. S.]As I have come closer to a fuller understanding of God, and inch, perhaps inevitably, ever closer to finally converting to the true Faith myself, I resolved earlier this year to read through the works of a man whose intellectual journey was at least somewhat similar to mine. C. S. Lewis started out in a nominally religious family, became an atheist as a teenager, and converted to Christianity after striving for years to understand it. He essentially reasoned and examined himself into a conclusion that everything he could see pointed out to be true. From those experiences, he wrote two seminal works: Mere Christianity, which I have yet to read, and this book. Written from the perspective of a demon, a servant of Satan, attempting to advise his wayward nephew as to the best way to convert an unsuspecting target into the service of the Dark One, this book is literally like reading the Enemy's playbook. All of the temptations which seduce a man to evil are shown here- as are their antidotes. Written in good humour, this is nonetheless one of the best apologetics for Christianity ever written because it presents the faith in a way that is at once easy to understand and deeply profound. Without question one of the best books ever written, it is instructive at a number of levels, particularly to people like me who can see and understand the truth of God, but just aren't fully convinced yet as to whether Christians have the best view of that truth.


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