These are in no particular order, and are not necessarily published in 2016, but my favourites of those I read. I read 133 books, and ended up with 16 that I thought really stood out.
- The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
This was the first book I read in 2016, and a great one to start with. It’s a pretty big fantasy novel, but really engaging and character-led. It doesn’t have the best female characters, I have to say, but was a really enjoyable read and I’d definitely recommend if you’re a fantasy fan.
2. Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
This is a fairly short, non-fiction book about Matt Haig’s experiences with severe depression and anxiety. It’s ultimately got a hopeful message though, and I found it really helpful.
3. Girls Will be Girls – Emer O’Toole
This is all about gender as a “performance” and how we feel that certain things are free choices, but when examined further, maybe they aren’t so free after all. This is one of the best feminism/gender books I’ve read, and finally one that didn’t make me constantly angry and upset and the horrible state of the world.
4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte
I’d been meaning to read Anne Bronte for ages, and I think with this book she became my favourite Bronte. It’s a fantastic novel about a woman dealing with a horrible abusive husband and is so ahead of its time. I liked it so much more than Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre.
5. We Were Liars – e. lockhart
This is a YA book about a girl whose family stays on an island each summer. Something is obviously wrong, you get that from the start, but her family won’t tell her what. I didn’t guess the twist at all, and after this have gone on to read e. lockhart’s other books, which I also enjoyed.
6. The Gracekeepers – Kirsty Logan
A beautiful modern fairytale with a bear, a circus, and a world made almost all of water. Just wonderful.
7. Nobody Told Me – Hollie McNish
This is poetry and prose about Hollie’s experiences of pregnancy and parenthood. Made me feel so many different emotions, and was just wonderful. I highly recommend it to everyone, especially if you have kids.
8. The Lie Tree – Frances Hardinge
A gorgeous children’s book about Victorians, science, magic, and feminism. Brilliant, I couldn’t put it down. This won the overall Costa prize too.
9. The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
Probably my fiction book of the year. Cora Seaborne, the main character, is wonderful. It’s sort of similar in theme to The Lie Tree, but an adult novel. Science, religion, mystery, relationships, feminism, socialism, beautiful writing. Can’t go wrong.
10. Bodies of Light – Sarah Moss
I discovered Sarah Moss this year – her writing is beautiful, her books are full of things to make you think. This one is set in the Victorian era about a woman training to be a doctor when women weren’t really allowed to do such things.
11. Vive La Revolution – Mark Steel
A history of the French Revolution written by comedian Mark Steel. I loved this. Funny and informative and really easy to read.
12. Fellside – M.R. Carey
A fantastic follow-up to The Girl With all the Gifts, this is a more supernatural sort of book, set inside a women’s prison. Kept me gripped from start to finish.
13. Gossip from the Forest – Sara Maitland
Non-fiction about Sara visiting various forests around the UK, interspersed with her re-tellings of fairytales. Atmospheric and wonderful.
14. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
Beautiful writing, horrible happenings. Also some moments which made me laugh out loud, which I didn’t expect. A really important book about the horrors of war.
15. The Tidal Zone – Sarah Moss
Another Sarah Moss. This is pretty much a perfect book. Gorgeous writing.
16. Christmas Days – Jeanette Winterson
Short stories with a Christmas theme, alternated with recipes and thoughts about her own Christmas traditions. She writes beautifully, as always. The ghost stories were my favourite, I think.