Now that 2016 has ended and I’ve managed to read a fantastic 73 books (I know, right?!), it’s time to reflect back on all the books I’ve read and pick out some of my favourites. Not all of these titles were released in 2016, so I’ve tried to include the publishing year for you.
It was tough to pick my top reads, as I read some fantastic books this year. I tried out new genres and new formats, which has really changed my appreciation of reading. It’s opened up whole new literary possibilities for me, resulting in the beautiful and equally terrifying increase in my TBR bookcase – yeah, you heard right: bookcase.
And, of course, as one reading year closes I can look forward to a whole new set of reading goals and challenges. But you’ll have to wait for that post…
I’d like to start with my honourable mentions. These were books I did thoroughly enjoy, but didn’t quite make it onto my absolute favourites list.
- Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (Penguin Great Loves, 2007)
- How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (Ebury Press, 2012)
- The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (HarperCollins, 2013)
- This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab (Titan Books, 2016)
All were fantastic for different reasons, but there were other books I read this year that hit me like a punch in the book-y face and those are my top reads of 2016.
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (Faber & Faber, 2016)
As soon as the first reviews of ‘The Lesser Bohemians’ came through, I knew I needed to read it. Written with exquisitely poetic, stream-of-consciousness prose that leaves you alternately breathless and filled with life, it is such an extraordinary novel. Look out for a full review soon.
I’m preparing to read McBride’s earlier novel – ‘A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing’ – later this year.
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Gollancz, 2006)
As you will recall from my full review of ‘Locke Lamora‘, this book has been on my shelf for years. With the opportunity to meet Lynch in London this summer, I thought it was about time I read it. I was not disappointed in the least, and am so excited to read the next book this year
Arcadia by Iain Pears (Faber & Faber, 2016)
I didn’t really know much about ‘Arcadia’ when I picked it up, and I must say I was daunted by the 600 or so pages. However, it was an utter delight to read as it so perfectly captures the nature of storytelling. It transcends genre and place to exist as something just wholly wonderful and just the right kind of indulgent. You can see my full review from earlier in the year here.
The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla (Unbound, 2016)
I was not expecting to be as changed by this essay collection as I was. Filled with humour, sadness and outrage, it is a hugely topical book that really should be read by everyone, no matter your background.
At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill (Scribner, 2002)
Words cannot express how much I loved this book. I believe it might be one of the best books I have ever read, and the beauty and agony of it is still with me, even though I read it back in May. The narrative weaves through the characters and the landscape – both physical and political – with such skill and emotion that I continued to fall in love with it long after it was finished. Read it. Just, please, read it.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Penguin, 2013)
Yes, I know, it shouldn’t have taken me this long to read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. But now I have, and now I get all the hype around it. Funny, poignant and pure, it’s a fantastic book that kind of puts life into perspective.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Arrow, 2012)
Funny, geeky and currently being filmed by Steven Spielberg, ‘Ready Player One’ is a brilliant dystopian cyber novel. It had me laughing out loud, squealing at the bad guys and loving every geek-fuelled moment right down to my toes. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer read.
Saga: Volume One by Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Image Comics, 2012)
I’ve picked up more graphic novels this year and ‘Saga’ is amazing. As soon as one volume is over, I simply have to read the next one. Amazing storytelling combined with some of the most beautiful artwork makes this one of the best series of books I’ve ever read.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (Bloomsbury, 2016)
So good, I’m reading it again right now. Both inspirational and aspirational, ‘Big Magic’ is a perfect guide for how to live a creative life – whatever that means to you. Gilbert has such a wonderfully clear and friendly approach that makes the whole thing feel like a comforting chat with a close friend. It was hugely influential when I read it at the beginning of 2016, and I’m hoping this second read-through will be the drive I need for 2017.
And that’s it! My favourite books I read in 2016. It was a great reading year and I’m seriously looking forward to getting stuck into 2017.