As an avid reader, I was somewhat disappointed with my lack of reading this year. With almost a million commitments, work and a social life, it’s really hard to squeeze in those precious hours in a lounge with a cup of tea, immersed in a new world. With that being said, I did find some time to do reading and with it came many tears, frustrated sighs and hurling of books across the room.
Without further ado, here are the best eight books I read in 2016 in no particular order (which may or not have been published in 2016).
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
“Once a thing is set to happen, all you can do is hope it won’t. Or will-depending. As long as you live, there’s always something waiting, and even if it’s bad, and you know it’s bad, what can you do? You can’t stop living.”
This tiny tale was the required reading for my creative writing subject this year and I am so glad it was. It masterfully blends journalism and creative non-fiction to produce a haunting and fascinating read on the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. Honestly, despite being so small, it was a heavy read. You thought, you questioned, you discovered. As a reconstruction of the events, Capote’s extensive research and skill with words gives an insight into the harrows of violence and the fragility of life.
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
“Aelin had promised herself, months and months ago, that she would not pretend to be anything but what she was. She had crawled through darkness and blood and despair-she had survived.”
As the fifth installment, this book is fiery with the character development, plot points and writing. Aelin, our fire breathing bitch queen, surprised us all with her determination and self-sacifrice to ensure Terrasen is safe and in capable hands. While steamy with romance, it was the badass moments in this novel that sucked me in and have further defined the characters: Manon and her defiance against all she had believed in, Lysandra and her strength, Elide and her determination and selflessness despite her injury, and of course, Aelin. Overall, strong female leads, a strong fifth installment.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
“You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”
Dystopian world, monsters big and small, two main characters who will snatch your heart and make it ache. Just for some background, V-City is divided in two and swarming with monsters big and small. Kate Harker is the daughter of the crime lord who runs the North, and August Flynn is the son of the rebels in the South. As per usual, these two characters find each other tangled in a race to find out how to save their city and themselves. But this one was different –
there is no romance, no cliche, nothing you would have expected. It raises questions on morality, on what it means to be human, on what you’re willing to sacrifice. I also loved how dimensional Kate and August were as protagonists. An excellent read!
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
“He was good. The best fighter she’d ever faced. But Safi and Iseult were better.”
I’d been looking for a YA fantasy book that didn’t have romance as one of its main themes. I wanted something with friendship, struggle and fantasy and this book delivered exactly that (with a side dish of a blooming romance that wasn’t the crux of the novel). The concept of witches in this universe is intriguing as they have their own skillset, with Safiya’s being truth and Iseult’s being threads. What I loved was that Safiya and Iseult have a bond like sisters and it’s their loyalty to each other that drives the story as they flee from a Bloodwitch and travel with a Windwitch. The politics of their world feel like a sub-plot, but it’s made up for with action scenes and witchy goodness. Overall, Dennard has a brilliant writing style, the fantasy elements are great and the witch culture is interesting. Worth a read!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“I am haunted by humans.”
This is a re-read because why the heck not. The beauty about re-reading books is you pick up on things you missed the first time, and this time I found that this book is more wonderful than I initially thought it was. With Death as a narrator, offering a unique third person perspective, will always be my favourite thing about this book, aside from the beautiful writing and the heartbreaking plot. There’s something about WW2 books that I just can’t get enough of.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”
This satricial piece is my first Vonnegut novel (I know I’m so late to reading this) and I was not disappointed. His writing is effortless yet so powerful as he draws on his own WW2 experiences, a manipulation of fiction and non-fiction. The Narrator introduces the story of Billy Pilgrim and his story is mostly linear as we jump between his war life, life before the war and post-war life, with the bombing of Dresden, an event Vonnegut witnessed, being the reason behind the story. It’s about war, about life, about love and hate, about sanity and about death. It’s thought-provoking and it will leave you bewildered.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”
The Raven Boys is a beautifully written first installment, dusted with touches of magic and Welsh mythology. Growing
up around psychics, Blue is a unique character whose determination and kindness shines through. And we have the raven boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah. They act like a tight knit family more than school friends, and their loyalty to each other is admirable. I love their interactions varying from sassy banter to fierce arguments. The overarching quest to find Glendower is ever present, but I found myself more intrigued with the characters than anything else. Go and eat this book!
milk and honey by Rupi Kaur
As the only poetry collection I read this year, it delivered everything I could have wanted and more. Reminiscent of those poems I read on tumblr, Kaur’s writing is raw, heartbreaking, yet warms the bottom of your chest. The themes of survival, feminism, loss and love are all written beautifully and it’s a testament to modern poetry, especially feminist poetry.
My top 10 books can also be found on The Literary Casanova.
For more on books, check out our reviews on Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta, or Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.