These are my top 10 books of 2016 – a mix of poetry, novels, and non-fiction that I loved and still wish I hadn’t finished (grumble grumble).
Book of Longing
I have always been a big fan of Leonard Cohen‘s incredible music and was in no way disappointed by his poetry. This anthology is every bit as beautiful, poignant, and playful as his lyrics. I definitely recommend seeing out 2016 by reading this reflective and enlightening collection, and remembering this sadly missed genius.
North and South
To my eternal shame, I only read the book of ‘North and South’ for the first time this year, despite having watched the wondrous BBC series at least 50 times (and yes I am unashamed). I enjoyed every minute of this book and not only because I could envisage the dashing Richard Armitage throughout the novel (not wholly) but because of its fascinating story, real characters, and gripping narrative. A must read for anyone who loves classics – or even just an outstanding novel.
‘Nightingale Wood’ is a fun and fabulous Cinderella story set in the 1930s. It is a truly magical read that will make everything you read after seem vastly inferior (trust me, I still wish I hadn’t finished it, *sigh*).
I enjoyed every minute of this hillarious, tragic, and poignant novel. Hensher handles some heartbreaking themes with perception and humanity. ‘The Fit’ well earned its place in my best books of 2016.
Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman
This collection of short stories detailing the exploits of A J Raffles, a cricketer by day and society thief by night, is incredibly fun – and incredibly good. Lovers of Sherlock Holmes will enjoy these stories which are set in the same era as Holmes and told with the same flair. This is a new author to get addicted to.
I just loved Pushkin’s beautiful novel in verse. Onegin’s dreamy prose, fabulous heroine, and exquisitely sad story made this not just a best read of 2016 for me, but one of my best reads ever.
Public Library and Other Stories
This weird and wonderful book was definitely a highlight of this year. While a very fitting subject for me to be reading about it was also a moving, wacky and constantly gripping read.
Did I have a huge soft spot for this book because it was written by a distant ancestor of mine? Yes. But did I genuinely love this book with its adorably bad romantic story, and its wonderful evocation of New Zealand during the 1950s? A big yes. Oh and have I reserved more titles by this author? You bet, yes.
This wonderfully warm and engaging biography must be the ultimate work on Oscar Wilde. Wright manages to get right into the mind of this incredible genius with an endearing obsessiveness, intelligence, and warmth.
Written with flair, honesty, and scintillating detail, Zamoyski’s latest work looks at Europe during the paranoid and anxious post revolution period. While reminiscent of one of Zamoyski’s earlier works (‘Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries 1776-1871’) ‘Phantom Terror’ is still a must read for any lover of grippingly written history. Zamoyski is a master historian who consistently manages to bring the past to life with a new and important perspective.
Want more reading recommendations for the best of the year? Check out our bumper Best Reads of 2016 post.