9 Of The Best Books I Read In 2016 (And 3 Of The Worst)

the best books I read in 2016

I read so many brilliant books in 2016, and I’m pleased to say that most of them were by women. I really got into non-fiction and feminist texts this year which really confirmed for me what I believe in and what I stand for.

BASICALLY, WOMEN FOREVER.

I used to love gritty crime thrillers and drama, mostly written by men, and there isn’t a male-authored crime novel on this list ANYWHERE. That’s not to say I don’t read books by men anymore, because I totally do, but I’ve definitely branched out a little, and I think that can only be a good thing.

Here are nine of the best books I read in 2016, along with three of the worst. Feel free to let me know what your favourite (or not so favourite) books you read this year were in the comments at the bottom!

The Best Books I Read in 2016

books-2016-landscape

1. Everyday Sexism | Laura Bates

I read this book for the first time recently and to be honest I’ve no idea why I didn’t buy it before. It’s fantastic. I mean, it kind of made my blood boil, but it also made me even more determined to continuing doing what I can to spread the word about how important gender equality is and I’d encourage any woman, young or old, to read this very powerful, and at times very poignant, book.

2. Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman | Lindy West

Shrill, Lindy West

If you’ve ever been told that you’re too much, too loud, too ‘you’, then you’ll LOVE Shrill. Addressing issues like fat-shaming, trolling, and the obstacles she has had to overcome in a society that doesn’t believe women (especially fat women and feminists) can be funny, Lindy West’s book is frank, funny, and provocative, and one of the best books I read in 2016.

3. Fates and Furies | Lauren Groff

Every relationship has two perspectives and every story has two sides. And every marriage? Well, turns out that sometimes it’s the secrets that hold everything together, not the truth. Fates and Furies is beautifully written, almost poetic, and an absolute joy to read. If you’re looking for a story to really lose yourself in, I’d definitely recommend this book.

4. Girls Will Be Girls | Emer O’Toole

Girls Will Be Girls, Emer O'Toole

Sometimes I think we forget just how much gender stereotypes are still embedded into society. It’s in the roles we play, how we dress, what we do to our bodies, and what we say. Emer O’Toole investigates this in a book that is intelligent, witty, and thought-provoking. I loved every minute of reading it.

5. Becoming | Laura Jane Williams

If you’ve ever felt a little bit lost, this is the book for you. Laura’s memoir is heart-wrenching and relatable and had me in tears as I remembered that awful, hollow feeling you experience when you get your heart broken and have to suddenly rebuild yourself from the ground up. It’s not all doom and gloom though; Becoming is funny and touching, and you’ll no doubt see yourself in Laura’s words.

6. Sweetbitter | Stephanie Danler

Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler

This coming-of-age novel follows a twenty-something girl as she moves to New York City and takes a job in one of Manhattan’s most exclusive restaurants. What I loved about it most was how Stephanie Danler manages to perfectly capture lust, loss, and what it’s like to start again in a brand new city whilst also navigating the exhilarating world of working in a restaurant.

7. Notes From A Small Island | Bill Bryson

It’s 1995 and before he leaves his home in North Yorkshire to move back to the States with his family, Bill Bryson takes one more trip around Britain and produces Notes From a Small Island, a book that had me laughing out loud as I read it in bed and full of pride as Bill describes the wonderful oddities that make living in Britain so unique.

8. Paying Guests | Sarah Waters

Set in 1920s London, Paying Guests sees a widow and her spinster daughter take in lodgers; a young couple who change the lives of both women in ways they could never have expected. Sarah Waters is never afraid to be explicit, and that’s kind of what I love about her writing. It’s bold and yet there are so many subtleties in her work as well. So many things that don’t need to be said because her characters feel so real.

Sarah Waters is my favourite historical novelist, and if you’ve never read any of her books before Paying Guests (or The Night Watch, I love The Night Watch!) is a great starting point.

9. Bird By Bird | Anne Lamott

Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott

Bird By Bird was recommended to me by my wonderful friend Fiona and is packed full of writing advice delivered in a funny, relatable way. No boring lists of tips in this book. Brilliant for any aspiring writer.

And…The Worst

amy-schumer

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo | Amy Schumer

I really wanted to like Amy Schumer’s book, but to be honest I thought there were way too many asides which distracted from the narrative and made the book feel jumpy and disorganised. It didn’t read well. I thought I would relate to Amy, but in reality it just felt as though she was shouting at me.

The Other Son | Nick Alexander

I was disappointed with this book. I don’t know if it was Nick Alexander’s intention to make most of the characters unlikable but that’s what it felt like, to me. I thought Natalya was brilliant, although I think the reader is supposed to hate her: she seemed to me to be the only one who had a pair of balls.

The Primrose Path | Rebecca Griffiths

I bought this book in a rush at a train station when I realised I hadn’t brought anything to read so, I mean, I guess panic-buying books just isn’t my forte. To be fair, had I been observant enough to spot the massive “RECOMMENDED BY THE DAILY MAIL” on the front cover I almost certainly wouldn’t have bought it at all.

The plot could actually have been really great. There’s crime, a bit of stalking, a bit of running away from problems and moving to the countryside. There’s an evil mum, an abusive boyfriend, a past that no-one, least of all the main character, wants to talk about.

But, honestly, nothing really seemed to happen for absolutely ages. And when it did it felt like we were only scratching the surface. That there had been so much preamble to the action that there wasn’t room to go into any kind of detail.

***

What were your favourite (and maybe not-so-favourite) books you read in 2016?

Beverley x

 

Comments

  1. says

    This post has made me realise how few books I managed to get through in 2016! Definitely need to make more time for reading especially as my arse is sat on a train for 40 mins most days.

    But my favourite book was Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – a great study on the modern world of dating with his humour thrown in to keep it from being a dull sociological study.A

  2. says

    Thanks for all the recommendations of great female authors. I’m always on the look out for more!

    I’ve just finished Year of Yes by Shona Rhimes and really enjoyed it. It’s quick a quick, easy read and particularly if you’re a fan of her style of writing (which I am from her shows).

  3. says

    1. I just bought Shrill and will add many of these to my list! 2. I will agree that Amy Schumer’s book was uneven, but I enjoyed it overall. I think I like her so much because of her support of veterans. Girl is basically printing money and doesn’t have to give back, but does. But is she a writer? Perhaps no.

    If you’re looking for many more books, I buy them cheap on BookBub, a daily email announcing Kindle deals. Not sure if it works in the UK, but I’ve bought at least a dozen that way.

    Happy 2017! xx
    Caroline Eubanks recently posted..The Beauty of America’s National ParksMy Profile

    • says

      Oooh thanks, love! I’m so glad you just bought Shrill, I think you’re gonna love it. TBH a lot of the books I’ve read recently have been actual paperbacks or hardbacks; now I have my own place I worry less about having to carry books everywhere I go, but I still use my Kindle for travel so BookBub is an awesome tip. I’ll see if it works in the UK, thank you! :) xx

  4. Zoe says

    I didn’t even manage to get through a chapter of Amy Shumer’s book – for much the same reasons as you. I thought that I would love it but not so much!

    Have you read Clementine Ford’s fight like a girl? That has been a massive hit here in Aus.

  5. says

    Maan, I really need to read more, it’s shocking. I always used to have my head in a book, but I find that every time I sit down and relax with a book now, I just fall asleep! You’ve inspired me to crack open some of the books I’ve had on my shelves for months 😉

    • says

      Awwww I’m so glad, Emily! To be honest, the past few weeks I’ve been so exhausted that I’ve fallen asleep with whatever book I’m reading in my hands. But I honestly prefer reading in bed than scrolling through my phone, I feel like it’s a little healthier since I spent most of the day at one screen or another :)

  6. says

    I usually read these lists and have maybe one or two I’d like to read, but I honestly am putting every one of the good ones from this list on my Amazon list.
    Here’s one for you in return – now, this may be a bit namby pamby for you but it has some really good messages in it – You Are A Badass. I think you’d like it!

  7. says

    My favorite reads of 2016 have to be the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. My least favorite was The Kindness of Strangers. I just couldn’t get through it. My favorite re-read and book by a female author has to be Anne of Green Gables. It never gets old. And I love the fact that L. M. Montgomer’s books are the only account of female home life in Canada at that time leading up to WWI.

  8. says

    I spent 2016 reading the Man Booker Prize shortlist. There’s some terrific books on there but the one that I couldn’t put down was A Little life. It’s pretty harrowing but you really can’t stop reading.

  9. says

    The Other Son was rubbish! I kept waiting for the story to kick in… it never came. Glad I’m not the only one who disliked everyone in the novel :)

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