My (seven) favourite books of 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 Permalink

Every man, woman and their dog seems to be doing a ‘best books of 2016’ list. Indeed… some even seemed to appear a couple of months before the year’s end.

I struggle with these favourite book lists, because I’m very conscious of the many I’ve NOT read, including non-fiction or the more scary ‘literary’ type books. Or those I’ve just not received from publishers. I’m pretty lucky and get most I request but there are a couple of publishers who are a bit hit and miss with my requests.

I’m going to take a break from ‘reviewing’ over Christmas and will try to catch up on some of the books I’ve missed this year then. Some ‘may’ be books that could have made this list, like Hannah Kent’s The Good People, but others will be by authors I love, like John Sandford.

So without further ado… my favourite – or at least most memorable – books of 2016 (alphabetically, by author):

1. The Ex by Alafair Burke
I’m a huge fan of Burke’s and really enjoyed this stand-alone by the former Deputy DA. I particularly loved our flawed but fabulous defence lawyer who finds herself defending her former fiancé, charged with a triple homicide.

2. Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
My adoration of this book was all about the writing and most specifically the dialogue. It features the eccentric Frank and his mother Mimi – a famed but reclusive author – and publishing assistant Alice who’s offered up by the editor to get a book out of the prickly author. Frank’s eccentricities are not labelled but he’s astonishingly smart, socially inept and lives and dresses as if a 1930s matinee star.

be frank with me

3. The Last Photograph by Emma Chapman
My mother read this after I raved about it and said she had no idea what I was thinking or why it appealed. It did give me pause for thought, but there was most definitely something about this multi-time-framed novel about a man returning to Vietnam (where he’d been a photojournalist during the war) after the death of his wife.

the last photograph

4. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
This was my first CoHo book and – I gather – a bit of a departure for the author of romance and young adult novels. I suspected it would one of those ‘guilty’ reads, but was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. This love-story-with-a-difference engaged me, and offers up something quite unique; approaching love and relationships with an astonishingly light and adept hand.

it ends with us

5. Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
The second in this series will soon be released but in his first outing, Evan Smoak also known as Orphan X, intrigued me and drew me in. BIG TIME! The former black ops agent has been in hiding since he developed a conscience and dodged an attack on his life. Smoak (Orphan X / The Nowhere Man) now dedicates his life to helping the underdog, and my love for this book was very much about the wonderfully complex character Hurwitz offers up.

orphan x

6. A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester
I tend to avoid historical fiction like the proverbial plague, so started this book by the West Australia author with limited expectations. I was therefore surprised when I became absorbed in the 1920s tale of socialite Evie and the battles she needs to fight to follow her dream of becoming a doctor.

a kiss from mr fitzgerald

7. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
This is another book which is all about the prose. It’s beautifully written and incredibly quirky. Ted and his 12 year old dachshund Lily are living a happy life – playing monopoly, bingeing on ice cream and debating the Ryans (Gosling vs Reynolds) when their comfortable relationship is interrupted by the appearance of an octopus. #spoileralert… it’s not really an octopus.

lily and the octopus

I’m fairly sure I’ll be later reminded of something I should have included, but I’ve trawled through my own reviews and Goodreads to come up with books I’ve rated highly AND have stayed with me.

What have been your favourite books of 2016?

55 Comments
  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    December 13, 2016

    I wish I had time to read books. I’m still not finish Magda’s autobiography.
    Now if there was a book club I was a member of then perhaps I’d be FORCED to read and I could then have a fave book list of my own each year. 🙂

  • Robyna
    December 13, 2016

    Oh, I love the look of all of these. A book that stayed with me this year was “No man is an Island”, an eye-witness account of asylum seeker camps when they still were allowed in Australia. It’s quite harrowing and very interesting.

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Oh I can imagine Robyna. I’m fairly sure I should read more non-fiction and have a vague plan to ‘listen’ to more non-fiction audiobooks in 2017!

  • nicolethebuilderswife
    December 13, 2016

    Thank you, thank you! Christmas is one of the only times in a year I get to stop and read, and this list takes all the hard work out of finding books to read. Once I do read it is nothing for me to devour a book a day, so this list of seven will be a fantastic starting point. xx

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      You’re very welcome Nicole. I hope you find something you enjoy!

  • Ruth Hillman-Booth
    December 13, 2016

    I love your book lists, and always find some I’ve missed reading through the year… These all sound fab!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      So many books, so little time…. I’ve still got quite a few to read before my Christmas break. So I’m not sure how I’ll manage that.

  • sarahdipity.com.au
    December 13, 2016

    I’ve been looking for some good books to read over Summer so thanks for the list!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      You’re welcome. I hope you find something you enjoy!

  • Katherine P
    December 13, 2016

    Be Frank with Me looks so good! It’s one I’m definitely looking forward to reading in 2017. Love your list! Lots of great sounding books and all so different!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Thanks Katherine. I worry I’ve missed some literary award winners, but these were most definitely my faves.

  • annette @afrenchcollection
    December 13, 2016

    Thanks for your list. I love reading and reviewing books myself, so I love it when I can read another reviewers ideas on books that I’ve not yet read. Sooo many books and not enough time 🙂 Orphan X and the Lily and the Octopus sound good. I’ve just finished How to be Parisian – Whereever You Are and The Paris Secret. Both recommended #IBOT

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Thanks for that Annette, I don’t think I’ve heard of either.

  • Vanessa
    December 13, 2016

    Good timing for a post – I was thinking of reserving some books from the library so I have some reading on hand for the break!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Good plan Vanessa – some much deserved reading time now you’re having a break from study!

  • Tea Time with Marce
    December 13, 2016

    I am excited to see some Top reads of 2016 started. I have the Ex on my list so great to see it here. It is about the memorable ones isn’t it. I do my Top at the end of the year as I feel I always read an amazing one in December. I have been intrigued with Colleen Hoover but wasn’t sure if it would be for me, thanks for helping me reconsider.

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      I’ve got a few December books I’ve not yet read Marce so worried I’ll read one of them and love it, but was running out of time…. Glad you loved The Ex as well. I think I saw Alafair share something on FB to say some respected newspaper had listed it in their faves as well.

  • charliegirlteachergirl
    December 13, 2016

    I am surprised that “the best” posts have rolled out so early this year. I don’t post mine until the last two weeks of the year usually. Has it always been like this? I am also like you – I’m very conscious of all the books I haven’t read. I still have not read a Hoover book – perhaps I’ll start with the one on your list.

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Yes, I think I saw some in early November. As I said I’ve got several books I’ve not yet read that are coming out in 2016 (not to mention the many MANY books I’ve not gotten to) so may need to add an addendum if I fall in love with any of them!

  • lifeatno2
    December 13, 2016

    I’m with Nicole, summertime is usually the time where I get to read most! Some of these books will be added to my ‘to read’ list this holiday, thanks!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      I think many of us decide we’re ‘allowed’ to take time out during the day to read in summer. I certainly do – whereas usually I don’t allow myself to read during the day (only in the evening!).

  • Maxabella
    December 13, 2016

    Yippee, I haven’t read a single one! I love finding new gems Thanks Deb!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Oh that’s good to hear. I hope you find something you enjoy!

  • theplumbette
    December 13, 2016

    I haven’t read any of these. But I love reading lists like these because I often have no clue on what I should read when it comes to Christmas time and I take time to stop and read.

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      I’ve also got a half-written ‘Christmas gift book ideas’ blog post Bec that I may (or may not) finish before Christmas!

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    December 13, 2016

    Such great tips – I think I’m going to have to make a pinterest board for all the recommendations! I’ve been a voracious reader since I started turning off the TV and opening a book before bed. My favourite book this year was “The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult. It’s like a moral dilemma a minute!

  • JodiGibson (@JFGibsonWriter)
    December 13, 2016

    Great list! Still quite a few on here I haven’t read. I’ve had a great year of reading, although I haven’t read as many books as I’d like, I’ve done pretty well. And the ones I have read I’ve mostly loved!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      I’m fairly quick to ditch a book I’m not enjoying now Jodi so like to think I enjoy most I read!

  • Janet Camilleri (@middleagedmama1)
    December 13, 2016

    I would be hard put to a. remember and b. narrow down the list! I love the sound of A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald, gonna request that one from the library x

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Luckily I can sort my Goodreads list by rating and year Janet so that helped! I actually only started using Goodreads in 2012 as a way to remember what I read – as I kept borrowing the same books by accident from the Bulimba library!

  • Kathryn
    December 14, 2016

    I enjoyed the Colleen Hoover book, won’t be in my list of favs but liked it. The Lester book – yes, really liked that one, I look forward to what she might present us with next.

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Yes, I’ve seen her sharing the cover etc on Facebook Kathryn. I think it’s out fairly early in 2017.

  • Nise' (Under the Boardwalk)
    December 14, 2016

    Be Frank With Me will be on my favorite list too.

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      Oh, good to hear Nise’. I adored the writing!

  • Booklover Book Reviews
    December 14, 2016

    Oooh, how did ‘Be Frank With Me’ slip past me this year, going on my wishlist right away – thanks Deb!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      No worries. I hope you enjoy it as it was a wonderfully quirky read!

  • Jan Wild
    December 14, 2016

    Lots of great options there, thanks for sharing. My favourite read this year has been Penguin Bloom by Cameron Bloom. Something quite different, more of a photojournal but just lovely.

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      I must confess I don’t read non-fiction Jan…. though am hoping to ‘listen’ to more audiobooks in 2017 and will focus on non-fiction.

  • Kate W
    December 14, 2016

    I haven’t read any of these although I do have Be Frank With Me (on the strength of our review all those months ago). Have heard good things about Mr Fitzgerald (I’m a sucker for all things remotely Gatsby-related) and Lily and the Octopus looks brilliant – another couple to add to my TBR list!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2016

      If you get the chance to read them I hope you enjoy them Kate!

  • Emma
    December 15, 2016

    I’ve just spent a chunk of the evening reading people’s top lists for the year. I have to say I haven’t read any of your list but have now added a few to my list. If I keep on reading these my to read list will probably keel over. Some really interesting sounding books though and a real range. As for me, I have quite a few that popped into my head but plan on writing my own post at some point soon so will keep you waiting if that’s ok in case I change my mind,

  • sjhigbee
    December 18, 2016

    A really enjoyable list, Deb. As you know our reading tastes don’t overlap all that much – but I particularly liked the look of Orphan X and Lily and the Octopus. Thank you for sharing. My list will probably be appearing in early January, as it takes me a while to sort out my year’s reading list and organise it:).

    • Debbish
      December 19, 2016

      Ah yes, my list comprises a sheet of notepaper with the highest starred reads from Goodreads on it and then asterisks as I shortlisted even more! (Highly technical. NOT!)

  • youhadusathellojo@gmail.com
    December 19, 2016

    OOOooo love a good book list – there’s always at least one that captures your attention – I like the look of the WA author one. Hope to read some books over the Christmas break. Last book I read was Constance’s and that was… different! #teamIBOT

    • Debbish
      December 19, 2016

      Ah yes, I would think it would be quite different. And it’s nice to support Aussie authors as well!

  • Roberta
    December 19, 2016

    “Scary literature fiction” is such a perfect description. You reminded me I had Orphan X on my shelf buried under some other books. I’m going to read it tonight.

    • Debbish
      December 19, 2016

      Oh yes, the new one is out soon. I think I’ve requested it but it’s a publisher who doesn’t really provide hard copies of books, so I need to keep an eye on NetGalley.

  • Roberta
    December 19, 2016

    I meant *literary fiction, of course.

  • Donna
    January 3, 2017

    I really enjoyed The Ex, despite finding out the truth a little too early for my taste 🙂

    • Debbish
      January 3, 2017

      Am a big Alafair Burke fan and really enjoyed this one!

  • Maria Parenti-Baldey
    January 6, 2017

    Loved ‘A Kiss By Mr Fitzgerald’. Love strong women characters.

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