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:
- The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
- The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb
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!