2016: A Book Odyssey

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* I was fortunate to receive some of these books for review via their publishers, but all thoughts are my own. *

Reading in 2016 became a bit of a chore towards the end, with the majority of the amazing books I consumed being read before and during summer. My autumn and winter are usually spent curled up with a good book, but this year I was busy. Like, actually busy. Freshly springing into January, I'm looking forward to getting my head down again and reading what I want to read. No pressure. But before that, I'm looking back on what books I enjoyed the most during the tumultuous year that was 2016.

Fiction

Dear Fang, With Love* by Rufi Thorpe - Far and away my favourite fiction read of 2016. This book has stuck with me every day since I finished it in July. You can read my full review of Dear Fang here and my interview with the lovely Rufi here.

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle - A longer review of this book can be found here. Very atmospheric, an unusual structure, and incredibly haunting. A lot of fun for lovers of science fiction, Dungeons & Dragons, and fantasy.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King - I finished the first book in King's The Dark Tower series absolutely ages ago, and for some reason haven't continued on, despite how engrossing this volume was. 2017 will be the year I pick up The Drawing of the Three.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl - A very inventive, dizzying book from Pessl. A short review can be found here, but to summarise: a creepy, intricate, multimedia experience.

The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby - As someone who likes to pick fantasy books or something with an inventive element, this was a very 'normal' choice for me after being loaned a copy from a work colleague. This story ended up being beautiful and you can read my thoughts from the time here.  Leaving Murasaki's world behind was a real struggle.

Autumn by Ali Smith - A very late entry into the list, but one of the best pieces of fiction I read in 2016. I'll be writing a full review of this soon as I have a lot to say about it. Ali Smith is a stunning wordsmith and her worlds, although everyday, seem so mystical.

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth - I was moments away from making this post live when I realised I forgot about Bitter Greens. Holy hell, how could I have forgotten about Bitter Greens? My full review can be found here. It says it all really. A gorgeously tragic book about three incredible women.


Young Adult

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - Another book I'll be reviewing in full soon. Take 2001: A Space Odyssey, throw in some Portal, The Hunger Games, Moon, and you'll get Illuminae. A hefty tome of chat logs and records, this book could simply get points for originality, but the characters and story take this even further. I've already picked up Gemina, ready to enter back into the darkness of space.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab - The world building. The magic system. This book was close to being perfect. Schwab has created something so compelling and unique, I couldn't get enough of it whilst I was reading. Even though I personally feel this book serves ideally as a standalone, I will be picking up the rest of the series soon.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - If there is one book on this list that wins the award for 'book that made me throw a tantrum the most', this would be it, no argument. Do not read about about this book and just buy a copy. It's a journey.

Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater - The third book in the Raven Cycle, and certainly full of drama. This series is probably one of my favourites, even if I didn't love the last installment as much as I would have liked to. I still miss Blue and her family and all of her Raven Boys. My full review of the series as a whole can be found here.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - I honestly did not expect to love this book as much as I did, after hearing some less-than-lovely things about it. Sarah is really known and loved for her Throne of Glass series that I haven't yet touched, but feel to after enjoying A Court of Thorns and Roses. This book was dark, and I couldn't get enough. Roll on, A Court of Mist and Fury.

Winter by Marissa Meyer - The final installment in The Lunar Chronicles, and I basically cried from beginning to end. This series boasts some of my favourite literary characters, and I can't praise Meyer enough for her ability to write realistic, flawed, loveable people. And androids. There is a deep void in my life where sassy-fairy-tale-retelling-science-fiction-action-adventure needs to be now the series is over. Still not over it. My full review of the series as a whole can be found here.


Non-Fiction

Becoming by Laura Jane Williams - Hot damn am I glad this amazing woman is publishing a second book in 2017 because I need to be hooked up to her writing like an IV drip. See my full review here. I love her.

Just Kids by Patti Smith - My first read of 2017 is M Train, also by Patti. Just Kids was like swimming in a fantasy world that I couldn't let go of. The woman knows how to use her words.

Girl Up by Laura Bates - I bloody loved this book. My full review can be found here. Basically required reading for all people, ever.

In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki - If you're into architecture, aesthetics, or just art theory in general, this is the read for you. Wonderfully atmospheric, Tanizaki talks through the importance of darkness and shadow in Japanese culture. Very eye-opening being read by someone who lives in a very bright, light world.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson - Throw a book about internet culture at me and I'll be right there to eat it up. Plus I love Jon Ronson. This book certainly made me look at Twitter in a new way and I'm now very hesitant before retweeting something that shames someone else. There's always a backstory.

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky - I've been a fan of Watsky's music for years now, so when I found out he was releasing a book of essays, I preordered in an instant. I'm happy to report that reading his words on paper is as smile-inducing and introspective as you would expect. If you haven't heard any of Watsky's music, I would recommend you listen to some right away. He has an incredible way with words.

Artful by Ali Smith - I wasn't sure whether to put this down under fiction or non-fiction. Smith uses the backdrop of a grieving lover going through the desk of her previous love to present to us the notes she finds on art and literature lectures. As always, her work reads like an absolute dream and I found myself, once again, taking notes on everything she mentioned so I can experience them myself. I think 2017 is going to be a very Ali Smith year.

101 Artists to Listen to Before You Die by Ricardo Cavolo - The latest entry in this list as I finished reading it a few days before the end of 2016. This was an off-wishlist Christmas present from my dad (very brave). Cavolo details the 101 artists that have shaped his life, coupling them with gorgeously intricate illustrations and personal anecdotes. I can see myself coming back to this time and time again, reliving his engrossing writing. The way he describes music is unlike anything I've read before.

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