Best reads of 2016 – Part II

I enjoyed a lot of books this year. Therefore, I had difficulty narrowing down to only 10 books for my Best Reads of 2016 list. So here is a continuation of my Best Reads of 2016 list!

Note that there is no particular order to this list.

  1. The Book Thief by Markus ZusakIMG_20160428_211435

Goodreads summary: HERE IS A SMALL FACT: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with her foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. SOME MORE IMPORTANT INFORMATION: THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH. It’s a small story, about: A girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter and quite a lot of thievery. ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW: DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES.

The most unique thing about this book is that Death is the narrator. I have never come across such a creative and distinctive way of writing. I must admit, I haven’t read many World War II novels. The general theme that follows in these books is just too hard for me to digest (and I am saying that! cue gasp). But as heart wrenching as this book was, I am so glad I read it. I would be missing out on some great literature if I hadn’t. If nothing else, you must read it for the curious narration!

  1. And Then There Were None by Aghatha Christie IMG_20160422_124020

Goodreads summary: First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

This book is often lauded as one of Christie’s greatest works. I last read Agatha Christie as a kid and even then I hadn’t read many mysteries by her. So I was excited to delve into this one. All I can say is, THIS IS THE GREATEST MYSTERY/THRILLER THAT I HAVE EVER READ. If you haven’t read this one, what have you been doing?! Go get your copy NOW and read it!

  1. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi PicoultIMG_20160407_142158

Goodreads summary: Sara Fitzgerald’s daughter Kate is just two years old when she is diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. Reeling with the helpless shock of it, Sara knows she will do anything — whatever it takes – to save her child. Then the tests results come back time and again to show that no one in their family is a match for Kate. If they are to find a donor for the crucial bone marrow transplant she needs, there is only one option: creating another baby, specifically designed to save her sister. For Sara, it seems the ideal solution. Not only does Kate live, but she gets a beautiful new daughter, Anna, too. Until the moment Anna hands Sara the papers that will rock her whole world. Because, aged thirteen, Anna has decided that she doesn’t want to help Kate live any more. She is suing her parents for the rights to her own body.

I have read only 2 books by Jodi Picoult (including this one). I gather that she writes about ethical dilemmas that play with your mind and leave you questioning your own ethics. And for this reason, I love her books. I definitely plan to read more work by this author. If books that make you think is your thing, then pick this one up. (The other book that I have read by her is The Pact).

  1. The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff12923246_10154019378218698_1043196257410350233_n

Goodreads summary: The Danish Girl is a shockingly original novel about one of the most unusual and passionate love stories of the 20th century. Loosely inspired by a true story, this tender portrait of marriage asks: What do you do when the person you love has to change? It starts with a question, a simple favour asked by a wife of her husband while both are painting in their studio, setting off a transformation neither can anticipate. Uniting fact and fiction into an original romantic vision, The Danish Girl eloquently portrays the unique intimacy that defines every marriage and the remarkable story of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history, and the woman torn between loyalty to her marriage and her own ambitions and desires. The Danish Girl is an evocative and deeply moving novel about one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the 20th century.

This book is an important read for all ages. It’s messaging about being empathetic about things that you may not understand is an important one in today’s world. If I ever start teaching, I will definitely be making my students read this one.

  1. We Were Liars by LockhartProcessed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Goodreads summary: A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.

This small book, a novella almost, has a very And Then There Were None vibe. The plot twist will leave you gawking. If you like a good, contemporary thriller, pick this one up and you wont be disappointed.

  1. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filerfullsizerender

Goodreads summary: ‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

From Goodreads – There are books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night. There are books, which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real. There are books, which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days. The Shock of the Fall is all of these books. The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary portrait of one man’s descent into mental illness. It is a brave and groundbreaking novel from one of the most exciting new voices in fiction.

There really isn’t much that I can add about this book. When mental illness is delicately, empathetically, sensitively as well as bravely portrayed, it becomes an explosive narrative. That is what The Shock of the Fall is. It is a book that you will not get over easily.

  1. Me before You by Jojo MoyesIMG_20160308_172932

Goodreads summary: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Apart from being a love story, Me before You is about certain very important things. (I will not mention those things here. It is for you to read and decipher). But, I will say this, this book left me in tears and very very few books have ever done that. 

  1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield10603938_10153905129593698_3530853114899904979_o

Goodreads summary: Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie, her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates … Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has the house been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic author Vida Winter? And what is it in Margaret’s own troubled past that causes her to fall so powerfully under Angelfield’s spell?

I picked this book up in Bangkok as part of my 1-book-shopping-haul-on-a-holiday activity. I was absolutely torn between at least 10 books and I finally decided to go with this one for reasons unknown to me. And my instinctual pick was not wrong! I devoured this book! So much so that my husband and I fought about how we were not actually spending time with each other because I was too busy reading! OOPS!!

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 12508939_10153846829348698_4032807507036969065_n

Goodreads summary: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

This book has gotten extremely mixed reviews. Many believe that Hannah was just selfish and negative and she took small things that happened to an extreme. Some believe that it is an important read about how actions have consequences that we cannot anticipate. I am part of the second group. I believe that there is a fine line between letting everything affect you and getting bullied. And this line is different for different people. I hope you read this book to understand suicide a little more.

  1. Norwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiIMG_20160303_113355

Goodreads summary: Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman. A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.

Murakami is one of my favourite authors. But I also can’t read more than one book by him at a time. If you have ever read his work, you know why that is. And if you haven’t, you should to know why I say so! Norwegian Wood was the 3rd book I have read by him and it did not disappoint. If you like dark, philosophical reads, Murakami is the one author you need to be reading!

This concludes my list of Best Reads for 2016. I hope you read some of the books mentioned here and enjoy them as much as I have!

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