Top Ten Books of 2016

Better late than never, right? Also, check out my favourite books from previous years:

Wow, I’ve been doing this longer than I thought…
As always, I’m going to start with the Gold Books, the books that I always knew would make it onto this list – the ones that stand out without me needing to check my LibraryThing list.
In no particular order:
1) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
I didn’t even particularly want to read this but it completely blew me away. I remember being sat at my desk when I read the few pages, and I was just stunned into silence. I needed time to process everything I had just read. It’s quite simply awful. But brilliant.
‘Every second that I was not reading All Quiet on the Western Front, I
wanted to be. It’s simultaneously really easy to read and really
difficult. It’s quite obviously not a happy story. There are no chirpy
evacuees, no whirlwind romances and no duck-shaped gas marks. This is
solely one soldier’s experiences of life at the Front and it is brutal.’
2) The Collector by John Fowles

It seems I only read depressing books his year and only in the red Vintage editions…
The Collector deserves to be on this list purely due to the masterful characterisation and shifting perspectives. Somehow you end up loathing both abductor and abductee equally in a way that’s quite disturbing. 
‘I wasn’t sure about the
ending, but it’s been going round and round in my head since I finished
reading and I don’t think it could have ended any other way. It just fit
the theme perfectly. Speaking of, the theme of ‘collection’ is hinted
at throughout the book, but in an oh-so-subtle way and it’s very clever.
The final paragraphs are appropriate and haunting, and I LOVE THIS BOOK.’

Something a little lighter at least. This is a futuristic, sci-fi novel that takes place almost entirely on board a spaceship, but it’s more than that. It’s about the small crew on board and their fractious yet affectionate relationships. 
The world building is simply astounding with a variety of different races, worlds and politics, and I can’t wait to immerse myself into the second book.
‘The book is more about those little sub-plots than the overarching storyline about building the hyperspace tunnel.They embark upon a long journey across space to get to where construction can begin, and that is
more the subject of the book. We stop off at secret hacker planet for
semi-legal ship modifications, visit the home planets of the some of the
crew and deal with moral issues relating to medical treatment and
consent. It’s way more interesting than a travel tunnel!’
4) The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey 

I don’t really read a lot of contemporary fiction, although I don’t have anything against it. It’s just that I tend to go for fantasy or classics and don’t really have time for anything else. 
The Cranes Dance might just have prompted me to branch out though. I loved this book and couldn’t get it out of my head for days afterwards. On the surface it’s about ballet, but it’s really about family relationships and the voice inside your head. 
‘What made this book for me is Kate Crane. She is possibly the most relatable, the most believable and the most real character I have ever read.
It was honestly like she was inside my head. She has flaws, but not
those exaggerated traits that fictional characters are often given to pad them out a bit. She was so, so real. She was likeable, for the most part, but those parts where she wasn’t so perfect just made her relatable.’
5) The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
Charlotte hosted a read-a-long for this book, partly due to the sheer length of it. I thought I’d reviewed it, but apparently not.
It’s a wonderful book. Twists and turns galore, and it’s written beautifully. Whilst I couldn’t say I liked any of the characters, they were all written perfectly. Shame about the awful, lazy ending. I still wonder if the TV show ended in the same way.
‘My favourite thing is the odd second person thing. Normally I’d hate that
but it’s so subtle. I didn’t mark down any quotes because I essentially
wanted to quote the entire book, but it says thing like ‘our story
follows Sugar, so don’t bother following Caroline. It’ll be warmer where
Sugar’s going anyway, so let’s walk with her into the brightly-lit
doorway.’






I mean,
it’s better written than my feeble attempt, but you get the idea. It’s
not like that 100% of the time or it would drive us bad, but it’s just
enough.’
  

6) The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor

This is a light-hearted series about a group of historians who travel back in time for research purposes. I’ve reviewed the first one, but I’ve actually just finished the fourth. 

They definitely have their faults (although the writing is getting better as the books continue), but they’re so much fun that I really don’t mind.

‘There is actually a detailed over-arching plot, which impressed me. I expected Just One Damned Thing After Another to be a sort of set-up book for the series, just sorting out the Institute and how Max got her job, etc. I suspect this storyline is convoluted enough to last throughout
the entire series (seven books at time of writing) and it surprised me
that such an idea was implemented halfway through Book One.’
 

The books below are the books that do still deserve to be on the list, but aren’t quite as good as the books above. They’re still in my Top Ten, but I had to go looking for them.

7) Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good by James Davies

This is a non-fiction book about the development of psychiatry, medication and diagnostic criteria. It’s really accessible and well-written, by an author who really seems to care about his subject.

It deals with the over-diagnosis of emotions (like classing bereavement as a mental disorder), unnecessarily medicating children and the politics involved in something as simple as diagnosing illness.

It’s worth a read if you have even a passing interest in mental health.

8) Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

It’s funny, I never actually want to pick these books up when I’ve bought them. I always think that I won’t enjoy it so I put it off and put it off… even though I’ve done this so many times that I know it’s not true. It’s just that I loved the first few books, when they were simpler and before the fairies and elves and things were introduced, and now they’re just… different. 

Anyway, I loved this book, as I always do. There were some brilliant twists and an absolute shocker of an ending, even if it did go on a tad too long and the unecessary pairing-everybody-up isn’t necessary.

I know I’m not being convinving that I liked this book, but I really did!  

9) Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine by Dr Paul Offit

Another non-fiction. This one is absolutely fascinating. It discusses.variety of topics from a close examination of Christian Science, televangelists, child abuse,
abortion, etc. It’s a well-balanced book with case studies, excerpts
from the Bible and also scientific studies, which results in a discussion, not a rant.

Bad Faith is heart-breaking and shocking. I finished this book whilst getting a train to York to see a show, and I couldn’t get it out of my head during the train ride or the show itself. Some aspects hurt me, some angered me and others just caused bewilderment at how anybody could think that was acceptable.’ 

10) Scarlet, Cress and Winter (Lunar Chronicles series #2, 3 and 4) by Marissa Meyer

I read these way back in January 2016 and they nearly slipped my mind!

The first book, Cinder, was okay-ish, but then the series really improves from there. I’m still not sure it needed the fairytale links, but it’s well worth a read regardless.

I thought it was actually a pretty fitting conclusion. Not as simple as it could have been, which I give Marissa Meyer full credit for. I’ve said it in my previous of reviews of this series – it’s a good plot. There’s a convulted political history and intricate delicacies that stop juuuuuuust short of being too much.’ 

What were your favourite books from 2016? 

Comments

  1. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet was my number one read of 2016, and its sequel-ish book A Closed and Common Orbit came a close second. The other stand-out read for me was Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik, did you read that one? Also a few older books, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (though I've got a feeling you said you didn't get along with that one) and Stephen King's The Stand. 

  2. Etudesque says:

    Better late than never indeed! I think it's become a yearly tradition when I see Lunar Chronicles on someone's blog and exclaim "I must read this ASAP!"… apparently I have a very skewed idea of what ASAP means, because it's been years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *