Every year I list and detail a bit about the books I’ve read. I had a resolution in 2016 to read more women and subcontinent authors, and I think I followed it for most of the year. However, after my mother passed away in September and I decided to move to england, I realised I wouldn’t be able to take the majority of my physical books with me. So my priority switched to reading the books that were on my shelves. Despite that I think the majority of books I read last year were people of colour, from the subcontinent, and/or women, and I’m quite proud of that.
1. The Goldfinch – Donna Tart – this was a mammoth of a novel that I surprisingly really enjoyed. Normally I dislike intensely books that go on pointlessly for chapter after chapter, and I dislike protagonists that won’t make up their mind and just do the right thing. But I still loved this book. The vivid descriptions and living characters made up for the long winded story.
2. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories – Angela Carter – not a super collection – worth one read only. None of the stories were particularly noteworthy or memorable.
3. A Case for Justice – P.D. James – your typical Dalgliesh mystery, nothing very special.
4. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman – P.D. James – I enjoyed this one, solely because of Cordelia Gray. She makes a much more interesting lead character than moody Dalgliesh.
5. 11-22-63 – Stephen King – I read this one because a client required me to summarise the chapters – normally I dislike historical fiction, even if its by the King. I loved it immensely, even though I hated the ending, which seemed like a copout. Still, great read.
6. Fen Country – Edmund Crispin – cosy old-fashioned mystery novel. Nothing special.
7. White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi – I started the year with this book, but it took forever to finish. It was a good book, magical realism, almost fairytale-like, but it was quite dark as well, which made it a bit difficult at times. I love Oyeyemi’s work normally – read two more of hers in 2017 – but I wouldn’t list this as my favourite.
8. The Skull Beneath the Skin – – P. D James – More Cordelia Gray, yay!
9. The Martian – Andy Weir – hands down one of the best books of 2016. Movie wasn’t even a tenth as funny. Absolutely loved the hilarity packed into every page, along with the realism of the science.
10. The Moonlit Garden – Corina Bomann – this was another novel I was required to read by a client. I quite liked it, even though it wasn’t very well-written, still, the premise was quite interesting.
11. Sourland – Joyce Carol Oates – All I recall is that the stories were painful and difficult and I didn’t like them.
12. A Simple Plan – Scott Smith – loved this book. A short thriller absolutely saturated with suspense, enough to give those with IBS a case of the runs.
13. Real World – Natsuo Kirino – I don’t know how I stumbled across this book, perhaps while looking up female mystery authors. But I’m SO glad I did. This book was so weird and surreal and thoroughly enjoyable. I love how none of the teenage girls in it are typical, and how the entire thing rushes along to its finish.
14. Monkey mind: a memoir of anxiety – Daniel Smith – as someone who suffers from anxiety, I didn’t find this book helped with the anxiety so much as gave me really good quotes to describe it to other people. For that, I am glad I read it.
15. Crows – Candace Savage – I love crows, they’re my favourite animal, and this little nifty description of their various types and their habits is fantastic.
16. The Scatter Here is Too Great – Bilal Tanveer – Karachi will always be my first and last love, and therefore I have a huge bias towards any writing about it. That being said, this collection of stories was actually really good. Quite enjoyed it.
17. On Writing – Stephen King – This was surprisingly practical as a book, which I wasn’t expecting. I love King’s non fiction almost as much as his fiction (read Danse Macabre several years ago and wished I lived in the radio era), and this was no exception. Will definitely reread it when I start my novel (heh).
18. Vampires in the Lemon Grove – Karen Russell – I loved the title story in this as well as a few others – it was a very imaginative collection. None of the stories stuck very hard, but all of them were quirky, weird and good to read.
19. Bag of Bones – Stephen King – this ended up being a reread, because I saw it in my “read” folder on my computer, couldn’t remember reading it, and ended up rereading it in the attempt to recall reading it. Was just as good as the first time, in my opinion.
20. Introducing The Honourable Phryne Fisher – Kerry Greenwood – I LOVED these books. The first three that introduce Phryne, a promiscuous, rich, gorgeous young female detective in 1920s Australia. The stories were good too, and the setting and characters quite quaint but realistic. Adored Phryne the most though.
21. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – I read this because everyone else was reading it, but the plotholes were big enough to put my size 13 foot through, and the writing was stilted, slow and boring. Haven’t disliked a pop book so much since I read Gone Girl.
22. Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood – I normally love Atwood stories and these were a good read, but none of them stuck in my head and by Atwood standards the book overall was meh.
23. The Tracy Beaker Trilogy – Jacqueline Wilson – it’s been ages since I read Wilson, a childhood favourite, and it was a total pleasure reading this set of books. Her characters are so alive and the story so engaging that its easy to forget she wrote her books for children. Absolutely loved this.
24. The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell – after The Goldfinch, this was the second long novel of the year, and I loved it way more than the Goldfinch, mostly because it turned out to be such a surprise. A fantasy novel but set across a really vast timeline, it had good characters and enough of a twisty plot and surprises to keep me going right to the end. The writing was great too – I saved bits of it on my kindle.
25. The Wave in the Mind – Ursula K. Le Guin – the essays at the start of the novel were more interesting, the ones on writing at the end were less so. I still enjoyed the book though, but it was one to be sampled over a long time rather than devoured, the essays digested slowly.
26. Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell – I probably read this because I wanted a classic after so many modern novels, and it didn’t disappoint in its classic classicness, however, would never read it again or recommend it to anyone. Too fucking depressing and stupid and with none of the redeeming qualities of the great classics.
27. The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes – this is the novel that’s gotten me hooked onto Barnes, because it was so, so good. I’m a sucker for unreliable authors, but this was still one hell of a twisty tale right to the end. Want to catch the new movie out for it too because it looks fab.
28. Maps for Lost Lovers – Nadeem Aslam – an absolute heartbreaker of a novel, that made me both intensely happy because of the lyrical nature of the prose, and intensely sad because of the broken characters and tragic plot. Would take with me to a desert island to reread forever.
29. Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt – weird little book but still funky, a quick read and yet oddly insightful about how immortality has its consequences.
30. Bazaar of Bad Dreams – Stephen King – I can’t recall a single story from this, which is usually a bad thing. Even when I brought up the wikipedia list of stories I couldn’t recall any details about them from their titles. Definitely not one of his recommended collections.
31. A Man Lay Dead – Ngaio Marsh – I was, again, looking for female mystery authors and stumbled across Marsh. This was surprisingly good, and I couldn’t guess the ending. I’ve ordered a set of nine Marshes now, will be indulging in them this year.
32. Mysterious Skin – Scott Heim – I remember that this book was fantastic and I read it in huge gulps – had to bring up the wiki to remember the plot though. Highly recommended, mostly because I can now recall the way the stories come together in the end in perfect harmony.
33. Death in Holy Orders – P.D. James – I like the characters, I think, most in PD James’ books, and this was no exception.
34. Snakes and Ladders – Gita Mehta – a non fiction series of essays on India, and an absolutely delightful read on development, politics, population, and history in india. Quite a few of the observations fitted in with pakistan as well, which made it relatable.
35. The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon – Stephen King – I read this in just one day, in the last few days before leaving Pakistan, and it was worth the all-nighter it took to finish off.
36. Castle Dor – Daphne du Maurier – not one of her best-known books, and I can sort of see why? It’s got a good intriguing plot like they all have, but I still didn’t quite find it engaging.
37. The Daydreamer – Ian McEwan – surprisingly, nothing very tragic happens to anyone in this, possibly because it was written for children. I liked this little snack of a book, it’s playfully yet solemnly written, quite recommend it.
38. The Words – Jean-Paul Sartre – I liked this too, although I never usually like memoirs, but it was entertainingly written.
39. The Reader – Bernhard Schlink – I wasn’t sure about this novel, especially because it literally starts off with a pedophilic relationship between a teenage boy and an adult woman. But it turned out to be quite an unexpectedly good read. Highly recommend.
40. The Green Mile – Stephen King – I’d tried reading this several times but kept getting stuck cos the start is so slow, but it’s one of his better novels and definitely worth sinking into.
41. Ice Candy Man – Bapsi Sidhwa – I don’t know why I gave Sidhwa another chance, I never liked her novels and this didn’t change my mind.
42. On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan -I want to say I liked this, because I did, but my current romantic mood makes it a little harder for me to say so because its such a sad story, even if painfully realistic.
43. Broken Verses – Kamila Shamsie – people kept telling me this was an overhyped book but by God I love Shamsie so much, and this only proved my love. The mother-daughter relationship and how the girl couldn’t get over it was so true to life that it made me ache. Loved the book so much.
44. The Last Don – Mario Puzo – always fun, reading his little drug mafia novels. This wasn’t as fast paced as the godfather but still a good read.
45. Collected Stories – Gabriel Garcia Marquez – this was the last book for the year and it was weird as fuck. I vaguely recall some of the stories and strongly recall that all of them were confusing and difficult to get through. If you are like me and loved Love in the Time of Cholera but weren’t a fan of One Hundred Years, then steer away from his short fiction.
Thanks for reading guys! Will hopefully post the next year’s list a bit sooner than almost-June 😛 See you guys soon ❤