These are the books I have read and loved this year. I gave them all nine or ten stars, and I have given a snippet of my reviews below, but feel free to click on the links if you want more! Four of these novels are ones I stumbled across completely by accident, picking up secondhand copies on a whim, and the gambled paid off as they have been amongst the absolute best books I’ve read in a long while. It also looks like September was an absolute cracker of a month for me book-wise!
If you’ve published a post of your top 2016 reads, please feel free to link to it in the comments – I would love to hear what you have enjoyed reading this year!
* Only a few of these novels were published in 2016, and I have marked these ones with a star…
Wintergirls by Laure Halse Andersen – read in January
Our narrator, Lia, has suffered for years from anorexia, and the recent death of her former best friend sends her spiralling again. Told entirely from her point of view, we get a sometimes horrific insight into the mind of someone who is caught in a cycle of self-destruction. This book is sad, frustrating and depressing. And I absolutely loved it.
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler – read in January
Hairdresser Dorrie is driving an elderly customer, Isabelle, to a funeral. We don’t know whose funeral it is – and don’t find out until the very end of the novel – but over the course of the long journey, Isabelle tells Dorrie about her past… I was utterly gripped by this book, and liked pretty much everything about it.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield – read in February
Margaret works in her father’s bookshop and lives upstairs. She leads a quiet and reclusive life, so she is shocked when, out of the blue, she receives a letter from the incredibly famous and successful author Vida Winter, asking Margaret to stay with her and write her life story. Margaret is intrigued, yet unsure, but curiosity gets the better of her. I really loved this book. The story is completely intriguing and there is a creepy, gothic atmosphere pervading the whole novel.
Mobile Library by David Whitehouse – read in March
Bobby has a pretty rubbish life. His mum has gone, his dad is an aggressive drunk, and he’s bullied at school. But then into Bobby’s life stumble Val and her daughter Rosa, and this is when the adventures really begin as they set off on a crazy road trip in a stolen mobile library…
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – read in March
A.J. is a grumpy bookstore owner. His wife has died, business is bad and he is generally in a huff all round. But then we see another side of A.J. when a two-year-old girl in abandoned in the bookstore, and he decides to adopt her.
* The Museum of You by Carys Bray – read in July
It’s the start of the summer holidays, and twelve-year-old Clover has been left to her own devices for the first time. As well as tending to her grandad’s old allotment, Clover also starts to wade through the clutter of her mum’s old bedroom to try and piece together her life. This novel is simple and gentle in many ways, yet the lovely characters make it utterly readable.
The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley – read in June
The novel kicks off in the 1920s, with Tom and Alice bumping into each other at a party. We find out they knew each other when they were children and had clicked then as they do now. We then jump ahead 60 years and are introduced to Kate, a young woman who is completely lost following the death of her mother, and then her grandmother. The two stories slowly come together in this lovely, gripping novel.
* The Wonder by Emma Donoghue – read in September
Nurse Lib is uptight, grumpy and cynical – probably not the best person to investigate what many believe to be a Godly miracle – a young girl who hasn’t eaten for four months yet is still alive and well. This is a slow-moving novel. There are no huge twists or turns, there are no flashbacks or different points of view. In fact, not a massive amount really happens. Yet I was totally gripped from start to finish.
Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carla Rifka Brunt – read in September
It is the 1980s, and June is left devastated when her beloved uncle Finn dies of AIDS. A mysterious man who is spotted loitering at Finn’s funeral turns out to be Toby, his boyfriend of many years – but June didn’t even know he existed. June finds herself unable to resist when Toby extends the hand of friendship – but will she like what the relationship tells her about Finn, and the rest of her family?
The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob – read in September
Told in the third person throughout, we follow Amina as she travels home to see her father who is behaving oddly. We also go back in time to find out a bit more about her family. I absolutely adored this bittersweet novel and I would love to read more about this family.
How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss – read in September
Hattie is 17, fed up as her friends have gone off travelling, and also – annoyingly – pregnant by a boy that everyone warned her was trouble. What she really needs is a new friend – and she gets one, in the most unlikely shape of her alcoholic great-aunt Gloria. I absolutely loved this novel and really can’t find fault with it. It made me laugh and cry, and the characters will stay with me for a long time. Just perfect!
Atlas of Unknowns by Tania James – read in November
Set in both India and New York, the novel follows the Vallara family as they struggle through life after a range of mishaps. Firstly the death of Anju and Linno’s mother when both the girls were young, a death shrouded in mystery. And then Linno has a terrible accident which threatens to destroy her life. I found the book compelling and was really invested in all the characters, and I loved both the sisters and their father Melvin.
And a few runners-up – I couldn’t resist adding these books as I loved them too!
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning
For One More Day by Mitch Albon
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy