Listicles: Best books

listiclesI’m a sucker for end of year lists – making order out of chaos, taking stock, did I miss something? For the last six years, I’ve kept a notebook of the books I’ve read, with a short summary on each. Last year I wasn’t very motivated to write them up and may have forgotten a few, but I got there in the end. I know Goodreads and LibraryThing are there for this exact purpose, but my notes are not coherent reviews that I would post online.

A spreadsheet would probably be much easier, but this has been my system to date. First some stats:

Books read

Reading Stats

Themes that stand out: historical fiction (especially about circuses, amusement parks, and ballooning as background reading for my novel) and in 2016 I read seven books from David Bowie’s reading list, not to mention a few Bowie biographies.

At the end of each year, I rate my top ten books. Often I know my book of the year the minute I’ve finished reading it because I’m awash with awe, euphoria, and a tinge of regret that it’s over. I have one slightly arbitrary rule – an author can only feature once in my top ten for that year, in case you are wondering why Wise Children instead of Nights at the Circus etc. Other authors that I’ve binged on are Michael Chabon, Rose Tremain, Howard Norman, Hilary Mantel and Robertson Davies.

Completely subjective, since you don’t know what else I read during that year, but I hope you find something that whets your appetite for this year’s reading list.


Bring up the Bodies

  1. Bring up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel
  2. John Saturnall’s Feast – Lawrence Norfolk
  3. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  4. A House for Mr Biswas – V. S. Naipaul
  5. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
  6. Pure – Andrew Miller
  7. Wise Children – Angela Carter
  8. The Forrests – Emily Perkins (NZ)
  9. The Cleansing of Mohammed – Chris McCourt (AUS)
  10. The Hungry Heart: Journeys with William Colenso – Peter Wells* (NZ)



Siege of Krishnapur

  1. The Siege of Krishnapur – J. G. Farrell
  2. A History of Silence – Lloyd Jones* (NZ)
  3. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  4. The Shiralee – D’Arcy Niland (AUS)
  5. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  6. The Hours – Michael Cunningham
  7. I, Hogarth – Michael Dean
  8. The Mannequin Makers – Craig Cliff (NZ)
  9. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
  10. Falling Upwards: How we took to the air – Richard Holmes*




  1. Longbourn – Jo Baker
  2. The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson
  3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot*
  4. The Memory Palace: A Book of Lost Interiors – Edward Hollis*
  5. Stoner – John Williams
  6. The Bright Side of My Condition – Charlotte Randall (NZ)
  7. Arctic Summer – Damon Galgut
  8. Crusoe’s Daughter – Jane Gardam
  9. Carter Beats the Devil – Glen David Gould
  10. Offshore – Penelope Fitzgerald



Station Eleven

  1. Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel
  2. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
  3. Epitaph – Mary Doria Russell
  4. Church of Marvels – Leslie Parry
  5. Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan (AUS)
  6. An Amateur Marriage – Anne Tyler
  7. The Golden Age – Joan London (AUS)
  8. My Brother Jack – George Johnson (AUS)
  9. Mrs Engels – Gavin McCrea
  10. The Ordinary Acrobat – Duncan Wall*



Golden Hill

  1. Golden Hill – Francis Spufford
  2. Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
  3. The Bird Artist – Howard Norman
  4. Wonder Boys – Michael Chabon
  5. Beatlebone – Kevin Barry
  6. My Father’s Island – Adam Dudding* (NZ)
  7. The Discovery of Jeanne Baret – Glynis Ridley*
  8. Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the 20th Century – John Higgs*
  9. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen*
  10. A Life Discarded: 148 diaries found in a skip – Alex Masters*



Museum of Modern Love

  1. The Museum of Modern Love – Heather Rose (AUS)
  2. Restoration – Rose Tremain
  3. A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888-1893 – Redmer Yska* (NZ)
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  5. The Strays – Emily Bitto (AUS)
  6. Moonglow – Michael Chabon
  7. The Sparsholt Affair – Alan Hollinghurst
  8. Victorians Undone – Kathryn Hughes*
  9. Commonwealth – Ann Patchett
  10. Drawn Out: A Seriously Funny Memoir – Tom Scott* (NZ)


* Denotes non-fiction/memoir

2 thoughts on “Listicles: Best books

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: