In no particular order other than they roughly follow the timescale of when I read them my top ten books of 2016.
1. Twice Born by Margaret Mazzantini
I read this book in January. It had been sat on my kindle for well over a year and I hadn’t read it. Not sure why not but I am so glad I finally read it. It’s about the war in Sarajevo and a story of a couple who meet there. This brought home to me just how horrific the War was and I felt ashamed I hadn’t really taken that on board before. I did then read quite a few books over the course of 2016 about the war but for me this first book was the best. And lesson to self to not ignore what’s going on on your doorstep.
2. The Brilliant and Forever by Kevin McNeil
This was my April book challenge which was a book recommended to me by my local bookshop. I loved this book it’s set on a Scottish island which for me was Lewis and Harris as the author is from Stornoway and it was too accurate not to be. It is about an annual story telling festival but slightly surreal as one of the main characters is an Alpaca. It is firstly very funny but then it gets quite dark and leaves you reeling at the cruelty of what we can do to others. It’s a very different book but one I really enjoyed.
3. Cry the Beloved Country Alan Paton
This was my May challenge to read a book I should have read in school. It was recommended to me by my husband and I actually read his original school book. Set in South Africa before the end of apartheid. It is a very realistic account of racism but also shows the power of love and indeed the power of love to overcome as well. I am not sure why I never read it at school but very glad I now have.
4. This must be the Place by Maggie Farrell
I am a huge Maggie Farrell fan and have been lucky to see her at our local bookshop several times. I started this book the afternoon before she spoke there early evening then finished it in the garden on a very rare occasion this summer that it was warm enough to sit out. Maggie Farrell is one of my favourite authors and this book does not disappoint. It’s another epic read and one that I would happily re read and I don’t say that about many books.
5. The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
Amy was one of the authors at the Borders Book Festival in June. Her book is autobiographical of her breakdown due to alcoholism and how this makes her return to Orkney where she was brought up. Here in graphic detail she puts herself back together. I loved her honesty and how she laid herself bare. I also enjoyed her descriptions of Orkney and I’m sure she’s encouraged people to visit the islands which I’d love to do though draw the line at swimming in the sea all year round as she does.
6. A Little Life by Hanya Yanahihara
I struggled with this book initially till I was told by a fellow reader that once you got through the first 100 pages you would be away and fully engaged in the story. She was right. This is one of the most difficult books I’ve read but also one of the most thought provoking. It’s about an abused boy and how this abuse affects his whole life yet how he is very much loved by his friends and his mentor. It’s a long read but one you are sad when it’s over and one that really makes you think.
7. The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
Just love this book. So clever giving you throughout the book different scenarios about a couple who meet at Uni. You try and guess which scenario you like the best but they are good and bad in each of them. In reality a fairly basic story but the fact it takes you on these scenarios is so clever and it’s a belter of an ending too.
8. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
This was my September challenge to read a book I’d given up on before. I’m not sure why I gave up on this book as it was so good and the ending just blew me away. One of the best endings of a novel I’ve ever read. Kate Atkinson is one of a kind and this book is another must read. And if like me you start and give up keep going.
9. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
This was my October challenge to read a book that I owned and had never read. Set in post war Britain a tale of the friendship of two men one white and one originally from India who met during the war. Theirs is a lifetime friendship and as they marry for both families too. It was very funny but also very accurate about this period of history. And again made you think about your views and opinions.
10. The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse
I have read a few of her books and she takes every day issues that face us all and creates stories out of them. This one is about a girl facing anorexia and the impact that has on her and her family and how this can tear a family apart and the effects it has on the whole family. In parts a very difficult read as it’s your worst nightmare to lose a child as they won’t eat but also a realistic look at the mental health issues facing so many young people today.
That’s my 2016 list. I’m delighted to say that four out of the ten were from my 2016 book challenge which I’ve now completed. It was at times challenging but it really gave my reading year a focus and made me think each month and research which book would be my challenge book of the month. After looking for some tim I’ve found my 2017 challenge listed below. I’m looking forward to getting started.