Of the 62.5 books I read this year, here are my top 10 reads of 2016 - plus one - in the order in which I read them. They are not all recent; I base my choice on the impact they had on me, those that stay with me. I choose books to make me think, books to make me smile, books to make me cry. This selection has some of each. I had to add the last selection because although I haven't finished it yet I couldn't wait until the end of next year to include it. It might make my best of 2017 as well!
A Song for Issy Bradley - Carys Bray.
My introduction to Carys's writing was a reading one of her short stories on a blog or competition website. It was one of those stories where I thought: ' I wish I'd written that.' I read more of her short stories and knew I had to buy this, her first novel. A family is struck by tragedy - how does each member cope?
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
A lighthearted read but it might help people to see other people more clearly. I loved it.
Hotel Arcadia - Sunny Singh.
Sunny spoke at this year's Finchley Lit Fest - where I interviewed her discussing this, her latest novel about a terrorist attack on a hotel and the reactions of two people involved. This book is in the 'thought provoking' category and is one that deserves a second read.
Anatomy of a Soldier - Harry Parker.
Harry also came to Finchley Lit Fest. He talked about the book and we actually had to persuade him to read bits. It was the opening page that got me. Different, stark and tender it was a gripping and emotional read. How does a soldier on a tour of duty cope when his life is threatened and turned upside down?
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra - Vaseem Khan.
Another FLF speaker - Vaseem's book is definitely in the make me smile category. I loved it and am looking forward to the next in the series. Retirement looms for the inspector but he receives a strange gift. Will he accept and is he ready to hang up his badge?
A Cupboard Full of Coats - Yvvette Edwards
Yet another author from FLF, this is Yvvette's first novel. Word has it that her second is every bit as good! How does a woman come to terms with bereavement and family secrets?
Patchwork Planet - Anne Tyler
I've read a number of Anne Tyler's books, some I've loved, some not so much. This is one of my favourites.
A Month in the Country - J.L.Carr
This slim classic, bought from a charity shop, had been sitting unread on my bookshelves for years. It was time I remedied that!
No Other Darkness - Sarah Hilary.
Murder and crime stories aren't my usual reading matter but Sarah's books go deeper than many. Dark and disturbing, this one kept me turning the pages. Four books in the Marnie Rome series have now been published and a fifth is underway.
The Year of the Runaways - Sunjeev Sahota
Topical and insightful, this book examines the lives of four people who caught up in illegal immigration. How far would you go to help someone who is desperate?
Owl Song at Dawn - Emma Claire Sweeney
I recently attended a literary evening organised by Emma and Emily Midorikawa. The title of Emma's book intrigued me and I'm very glad a bought a copy! People with disability are overlooked in literature as they often are in life, but not in this novel where they demonstrate strengths as well as the weaknesses we see all too readily.