Last year, I really got back into the swing of reading. And this year I kept up a steady stream of reads, except this year I have been much more critical about what I read.
I’ve DNF’d a lot of books this year. Double figures.
Maybe it’s been my wobbly reading mojo (caused a lot by my medication-inducted inability to concentrate, but more on that another time), or maybe it’s the amount of great literature out there that makes books that are only OK difficult to stick with?
My list below also doesn’t include all of the fanfiction I’ve read this year, many of which were novel-length and better than a lot of books.
But! In reverse order, here are my Top Ten Books of 2016:
10. IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo
IIWYG scored huge points for me. It’s own voices, it’s happy (enough), and it’s wish-fulfilment without being cheesy. Best of all, it includes crib notes for trans and cis readers – an inclusive and beautiful book.
9. THE SLEEPING PRINCE (Sin Eater’s Daughter Book Two), by Melinda Salisbury
I adore Melinda’s writing, and though the sequel to The Sin Eater’s Daughter had a lot to deliver, the book really went above and beyond. Fantasy sequences that involve travelling and twists are almost always difficult to pull off, but Melinda made it look easy. And as for those twists… Trust no one. I can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy next year.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter Series so far...
8. THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson
I’d heard such wonderful things about TAOBN in 2015, but never got around to reading it, but oh, I’m so glad I finally did. TAOBN is a fantastic story aout identity, class, growing up, and family. It has a happy ending, and Leo remains one of my all-time favourite characters.
UK cover left, North American cover right!
7. THE SONG RISING by Samantha Shannon (coming 2017)
Oh, it’s been a long wait for this one. Well, it probably was if you read The Bone Season as soon as it was first published, but as I am a heathen, I did not. I was, however, lucky enough to score an early proof copy of The Song Rising, which helped slake my thirst for Scion after a summer of re-reading TBS and TMO pretty much on repeat. I’ve said before that this series has replaced Potter as my favourite book series, and it isn’t a lie.
6. THE LIE TREE by Frances Hardinge
The book that made me cry in Starbucks. I love Faith, and her story is so original, and feminist, and creepy and awesome. This is one of those rare books where the story is even better than all the hype that surrounds it. A classic in the making, for sure.
5. THE BONE SEASON by Samantha Shannon
I have a real problem with hyped-up books, in that I find it difficult to pick them up. I will often buy them and then fail to get ‘in the mood’ to read them. This happened with TBS, for ages. I had it on my shelf, lonely, and yet earmarked to read ‘one day’. Then one day, a friend on twitter started raving about it. And not in the usual hyping-up way. This was full-on emotion. The book had, they claimed, destroyed them.
Colour me interested.
I picked up TBS a few days later, and took it on holiday with me.
I read it all on the first day, and then again. And then, I was hooked.
4. THE MIME ORDER by Samantha Shannon
This Top Ten is pretty dominated, isn’t it? But I dont care, it’s my Top Ten. TMO is, if its possible, even better than TBS. The only real reason The Song Rising isn’t up here with the others is because of The Lie Tree.
3. ON THE MERITS… by An Obscure Writer (and Samantha Shannon)
Ok, so, how can a tie-in mini-book be better than the actual novels, Lucy, you fool? Look, I love world-building. I love falling head-first into someone else’s world. It’s amazing. And Shannon’s world is so deep that the fact a pamphlet written in it has crossed over into our world is perfectly plausible, and also extremely awesome. On The Merits is a complete work of genius – it manages to exist in a fictional universe whilst showing the sheer scale of the research done in our own to enable it to exist in the first place. There are also tiny ‘oh no you didn’t’ Easter Eggs dotted through the text that make you love and hate the ‘obscure writer’ even more than you already did.
2. THE CALL by Peadar O Guilin
I picked up The Call at YALC, thinking the premise sounded a bit weird, tbh, and I struggled to imagine how it could be executed. Omg, I have never been more pleased to have my dumb ass schooled. The Call is Artemis Fowl meets The Hunger Games. It’s scary, it’s creepy, it’s Hogwarts in a war zone. The sidhe are shockingly frightening, and the whole premise is flawless and damn-near believable. I can’t stress enough how different, and how awesome, this book is. (Bonus points for having a main character with a disability)
1. PAPER BUTTERFLIES by Lisa Heathfield
I read this as a proof early this year, and sobbed buckets. The story of June is only fictional to a point – for many people, this is their reality. And that’s why this book is so good, and so needed. Heathfield’s flawless prose and unflinching storytelling lets us see into June’s life -the good and the very, very bad – and the scarily wonderful ‘Before’ and ‘After’ timeskips letting you only begin to guess what is about to happen until the bal drops. This book stayed with me all year, and I think it will stay with me for years to come. I haven’t mustered the courage for a re-read, yet, but I plan to do so, soon.