2016 was a great year for books. Which is lucky really, because it’s been a pretty shit year on a global scale.
Here are my favourite novels I’ve read this year.
The Mirror World of Melody Black
My friend gave me this one, and it’s raced up the ranks to join my favourite books of all time. Telling the story of a woman who finds her neighbour dead and ends up being committed to a psychiatric ward, it’s a poignant and at times terrifyingly realistic depiction of what it feels like when sanity starts to slip out of your grasp.
If you like psychological thrillers, crime novels, books with twists in the tail, or just really good hard-hitting fiction, this is an excellent read.
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
A lovely, gentle book that will probably make you cry, Lost Lake tells the story of a woman who has felt numb ever since her husband died a year earlier.
When one day something pokes through the haze enough to remind her that she has a daughter who might need more attention than she’s currently being given, she bundles said daughter and a load of bags into a car and heads to the lake where she spent her teenage summers.
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Not a new release, but anything by Joanne Harris pretty much automatically gets added to my Books of the Year list, and Five Quarters of the Orange is no exception.
I notoriously hate anything that’s set in either of the World Wars, and yet I read this because Harris wrote it and she’s awesome, and it was brilliant.
I think it’s her excellent characterisation that does it? Or maybe her descriptive storylines. Or maybe just a special brand of magic that can’t quite be defined. In any case, she’s great; read all her books, including this one.
beside myself by Ann Morgan
I picked this up because the cover was intriguing, and because I was half-heartedly browsing the charity shop shelves for something to read in the bath at the weekend, and it sort of dropped into my hand without me really thinking much about it.
And then I read it and ohmygoditwasamazing.
Have you guessed yet that I like a nice descent into madness story? Well, good. Because this is another one of those.
It’s about identical twin girls who, as children, decide to swap one day and each pretend to be the other. But then one of them doesn’t want to swap back… and the consequences are catastrophic.
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter is one of those authors whose books I pick up when I want to know what I’m going to get: a good solid novel with a little hint of evil.
Pretty Girls is no different, except that it’s the best book of hers I’ve ever read.
Two sisters, whose other sister went missing when they were teenagers, haven’t gotten along all that well in their adult lives. But when it seems like there might be a way to find out what happened to their sibling, they set aside their differences and start to work together. And then they discover some horrible secrets that – naturally – were lurking just below the surface the whole time.
L’Incroyable Histoire de Wheeler Burden – Selden Edwards
Infinitely quotable, the kind of book that’ll make you want to stop and scribble lines in your notebook every five minutes, making it take a fucking age to read but being wholly worth the time.
L’Incroyable Histoire de Wheeler Burden is, as the name suggests, a book I read in French, but it’s actually a translation of an English book, The Little Book. If you can read it in French, though, I recommend it. The translator has done an excellent job with turns of phrase and pretty language.
Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley
I’ll be honest, this one surprised me. I didn’t expect it to be good at all, and I put off reading it for ages for that reason, and then once I’d picked it up I couldn’t put it down – I even read it while I was walking down the street.
It’s the story of two sisters who live on opposite sides of the world. Following a family dinner, they decide to become penpals, and this only serves to draw them closer. But then one of them makes a big mistake that threatens their whole relationship. Can they get through it?
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
There are some books that just seem important somehow, and I can’t always quite put my finger on why.
This is one of those.
It tells the story of a teenage girl who’s in a coma, hovering on the borderline between life and death, trying to decide which way to cross. I read it in one sitting.
What were your favourite novels this year?