This year I had one big aim – to read more. Logic dictates that if you’re going to become a better writer, you’d better become a better reader, so this year I’ve attacked my bookshelves with abandon.
From non-fiction, to YA, and everything in between, I’ve managed to get through 31– and I’m not quite done with December yet. The less said about the bottom of the list the better: some were novels by usually brilliant authors who churned out stereotypical rubbish, others were overhyped and disappointing. I wasn’t keen on the one YA book I read, perhaps because I’m not a young adult (by any stretch of the imagination), and maybe I read one too many books about psychopaths (research – honestly…)
But there were some real gems. In no particular order, here is my top 10 for 2016:
- Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson. I love all of Kate Atkinson’s books, and this one was no exception. Original, witty, clever and so well written, its sequel, A God in Ruins, is going to be one of my first books for 2017.
- Quiet, by Susan Cain. When I was on my French exchange, the French mother I was staying with grew quite concerned. We had Wednesdays off, and my activity of choice was to find a quiet corner with a book, and stay there for most of the day. This, to me, was a day well spent; to her it was just plain odd. As an introvert, this book gives you permission to be the person you have always felt most confortable with, and I recommend that everybody on the ‘I’ end of the spectrum, or anyone who knows someone that way inclined, should read it.
- Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. Early onset Alzheimer’s doesn’t make for the cheeriest of reading material, but this is so well written and sympathetic, I’d recommend it to anyone.
- Hurting Distance, by Sophie Hannah. Sophie Hannah is the queen of thrillers, and I think this is one of her best. It’s dark, but compelling, and all of the pieces of the story fall together at the end in a very satisfactory way.
- The Turning Point and The Way Back Home, by Freya North.
- The House We Grew Up In, by Lisa Jewell.
- After You, by Jojo Moyes. When a new book by these wonderful authors comes out, I always know that I’m going to love it. The literary equivalent of a bar of Dairy Milk, you know what you’re going to get – characters you care about and feel you’ve known your whole life, a gripping story and maybe a few tears. Time well spent with some of your oldest friends.
- The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd. Sue Monk Kidd wrote ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ and this book was just as good. It’s not an easy read, but worth the time.
- Us, by David Nichols. King of amazing imagery. My favourite line made it for me in the first few chapters: “…one of my sister’s notorious pasta bakes smouldering in its centre like a meteorite, smelling of toasted cat food.”
- The Martian, by Andy Weir. I picked this up by chance from a holiday bookshelf and it was probably my most enjoyable wild card. The voice of Mark is funny and engaging, and the sci-fi elements of surviving on Mars, nothing but fascinating.
So my only question is now, what’s next? What were your favourites? Any advice on what to read for 2017?