My Top Books of 2016

At the start of 2016, I set myself the goal of reading 50 books over the course of the year. By the end of the year, I had read 52 books, averaging a book a week. I read so many brilliant books, some of them from authors I had never come across, some from authors I have been reading for years, and some that seemed to come out of nowhere and steal my heart.

So, to celebrate all these wonderful books, I thought I would share my top picks (in no particular order) from the list of 52 books I read in 2016.


What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi9781447299363What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

I think that this might just be the book that sticks with me the most from 2016. A gorgeous collection of short stories that sit somewhere between fairytale and real life, I always find myself coming back to the magic that this book held for me. I want to press this book into the hands of everyone I know.

Read the full review I wrote for it last year here.



Fight Like A Girl – Clementine Fordfight-like-a-girl-cover

Fight Like A Girl was the book I didn’t realise I needed until I read it. Clementine Ford’s unapologetically upfront and blunt take on modern feminism is more than just a manifesto, it is a battle cry. It also taught me one of the most important lessons I learnt in 2016 – “It’s okay to be angry.”

Read the full review I wrote for it last year here.



Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin1000x2000

Lauren Elkin’s brilliant book is just one of the many feminist books I read in 2016, but it is one of the best of them. Part memoir, part cultural history, part commentary, Flâneuse recounts the experiences of women artists and their relationships with the cities they lived and worked in. As a female writer in a very male dominated city, this book really struck a chord with me.

Read the full review I wrote for it last year here.


Licence to Quill by Jacopo Della Quercialicensetoquill

In amongst all the very serious literature I read last year, I definitely needed a good laughter filled adventure, and Licence to Quill was just what I needed. As an avid fan of Shakespeare, there was no way I wasn’t picking this book up. A clever mix of Shakespearean style mystery and history with a James Bond edge to its humour and adventure, I giggled my way through this brilliantly written story. I still smile just thinking about it.

Read the full review I wrote for it last year here.


Hide by Matthew GriffinHIDE2

Books like Hide don’t come along very often, but when they do, they break your heart. This brilliant book tells the story of Wendell and Frank and their relationship, from just after the war, to their old age. It is more than a tale of struggling with sexuality in a time that discriminates against your love, but also a tale of watching the one you love slip away whilst they are standing right in front of you, and the brutality of deterioration. It was one of the most harrowing books I read in 2016, and it has stuck with me ever since.

Read the full review I wrote for it last year here.


Portable Curiosities by Julie Koh9780702254048

I cannot sing my praises loud enough for this book. Julie Koh has quickly become one of my all time creative crushes and I loved this collection of short stories for all the wit, humour and intelligence she brings to them. I implore everyone to go out and get yourself a copy, if only so when people are talking about Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them you keep accidently replacing beasts with breasts in the back of your mind (damn you Julie).

Read the full review I wrote for it last year here.


The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti 9781472234377

I was lucky enough to be given an uncorrected proof copy of the upcoming The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by the lovely folks at Hachette Australia and it was completely addictive. The day after I finished it, I had a book hangover – the mark of a truly amazing book. I don’t want to say too much about it other than it is the kind of book that everyone will love, regardless of their taste in books, it is that sort of book. Keep an eye out for it when it is released in April 2017.



Honourable Mentions

  • Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Parts One and Two by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

There was no way I could not write a list like this without mentioning at least one of the new editions to the Harry Potter Universe. Whilst I have not read Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them as yet, I am so grateful for J.K. Rowling’s new books and potentially my favourite line in Harry Potter history – “Ethel. Cancel the goblins.”

  • Browse edited by Henry Hitchings

This brilliant collection of essays about books, bookshops and the magic of those spaces is one of my favourite yet. I devoured it in a few train trips.

  • Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisago Buchanan

A beautifully enchanting tale combining themes broken family, art, parenthood, relationships, immigration, the sixties, New York, Berlin, Japanese culture together to create one of the best books I have read about art and identity in a while.

  • Soft In The Head by Marie Sabine Roger

This is a book that climbs into your heart and sets up camp there for long after you have turned the final page. The whole time I was reading it, I was mesmerised by the gentle and understated loveliness of it. Perfect for lovers of The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time and The Rosie Project.

  • The Man I Became by Peter Verhelst

I came across this book in one of my favourite indie bookshops. Whilst it gifted me with an incredible fable like story, it also re-ignited my passion for literature in translation and introduced me to the brilliant work of London based publishing house Peirene Press.


I read so many great books in 2016, and while many of them aren’t listed here, I am incredibly grateful for all the people who worked to write, edit, translate, publish, and sell them. Stories are one of the best things in the world, and I can’t wait to lose myself in more of them in 2017.

So what were your favourite books of 2016? Please share them with me in the comments below, and tell me what books you are looking forward to reading in 2017.


© Hayley New 2017



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