My 2016 in books

This year I aimed to read 40 books, and fell well short of the mark, finishing at 34 books read. The books I’ve read this year can be categorised into three main themes: books read as part of my research; self-published short reads; and ‘big’ fiction. All of these categories have included great and ‘meh’ reads, but here I present the ‘big’ fiction of note I read in 2016 (i.e. not necessarily published in 2016).

The ones I enjoyed

Purity by Jonathan Franzen – The more I read his books, the more I realise that you either love or hate Franzen’s style. I personally love the way he writes characters, fleshing out their history for us so, as readers, we feel like we know these people intimately. This was a great start to the year in reading.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – The first Gaiman novel I’ve read reminded me so much of a fantasy children’s story written for ‘big kids’. I loved the adventure and the wonder and the scariness and the laughter. It was magical and one I’d like to re-read.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King – Short stories done so well! This was a great book to dip into in between dips in the ocean at a friend’s shack last summer. Although he lost me a little with the poetry he included in this collection, King is still the master of suspense.

Room by Emma Donoghue – I’d been reluctant to read this book for a while because I wasn’t sure I could stomach the subject matter. But this was really delicately written, and, despite still being a horrifying story, it was done well.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter – This was my favourite read of the year and was a story which inserted itself into my ‘favourite books of all time‘ list. Unlike anything else I have ever read, this book is like poetry. Utterly beautiful. ‘I plucked one jet feather from my hood and left it on his forehead, for, his, head.
For a souvenir, for a warning, for a lick of night in the morning.
For a little break in the mourning.
I will give you something to think about, I whispered.
He woke up and didn’t see me against the blackness of his trauma.’
Wow, wow, wow. Did I mention how beautiful I thought this was?!

The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard – Tells the story of a young Jewish boy in the ghetto during World War II. A heartbreaking perspective made for a book that was hard to read in places, but was told with grace. Highly recommended.

A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball – I have a literary crush on this young man and this book was so different and a gripping read. Set in a world where those who attempt suicide or are clinically depressed have their memories wiped, are put in special villages and are taught things from scratch in an attempt to ‘re-wire’ them.

The Great Divorce by CS Lewis – Incredibly creative story about a man’s journey between heaven and hell. I wasn’t expecting this to be as good as it was. This man’s creativity floored me, even though I didn’t get all the allusions.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling – No surprises with this being included; I just loved being transported back into that world, even though this wasn’t a novel.

The ones I thought were over-rated

You know those books that people rave about and then you read them and wonder why? Not books that I hated, but books which I found disappointing. Rather than go into too much detail, here’s a short list:

So, there we have it! In 2017 I am aiming to read 40 books again, and have joined a new book club so I hope to be reading some new and interesting novels. I hope you all have a great New Year! Happy reading!

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7 thoughts on “My 2016 in books

  1. I’m in the “I Really Don’t Like His Writing” camp for Franzen. He’s the fiction equivalent of Hillary Clinton as far as I’m concerned. Big, fat snoozefest. I LOVED The Rosie Project! I thought it was a funny, gentle quirky read. Just goes to show how subjective reading is, Melsy! I think you did well with 34 books. I’m lucky to have read 14!

  2. I’m in the “I Really Don’t Like His Writing” camp for Franzen. He’s the fiction equivalent of Hillary Clinton as far as I’m concerned. Big, fat snoozefest. I LOVED The Rosie Project! I thought it was a funny, gentle, quirky read. Just goes to show how subjective reading is, Melsy! I think you did well with 34 books. I’m lucky to have read 14!

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