2016: My Top 5 Books of the Year

2016: My Top 5 Books of the Year

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good book after a long day living and working (or travelling!) in the real world. From history books to travel guides to the latest bestseller, anything that lets me escape the real world for a while is a winner to me.

Before starting my degree, I used to read a LOT. But then studying history and having to spend literally all week reading some weeks meant that I didn’t really have time for reading what I wanted to anymore. I know, student life right? So since finishing my degree in summer 2014 I’ve set myself the challenge to increase the number of books I’m reading to get back on track with my pre-degree years and I’m happy to say that so far, so good! 10 books in 2014, 12 books in 2015, 15 books in 2016. This year’s target is 20 books and so far I’m already 3 books ahead of schedule! So let’s hope I can keep that up…

So in case you were wondering what I was reading last year, here’s a quick roundup of my favourite reads of the year in no particular order and why I loved them. Want to know more about any of the books? Then click on the links I’ve provided to go to Goodreads, my favourite book sharing website.


My top 5 books of 2016


Red Notice by Bill Browder

I was absolutely fascinated by this book and soon got caught up in the tale of Bill Browder and his experience of Russia under the rule of Putin. Having always enjoyed learning about Russian and Soviet history, it was interesting to read a more recent account of what’s been going on, even if that account was more than a little terrifying and ended in the 2012 ban of US adoptions of Russian children. This book reads like a fiction novel but is all true and I would one hundred percent recommend it to anyone who has an interest in modern day Russia, political corruption or foreign investment. It’s a really interesting read – read it!


Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

This one still seems to cause confusion when I talk about it as people automatically assume that I mean the 50 Shades of Grey book, which I definitely don’t. The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy does not interest me in the slightest but this book? Well this book was excellent. It’s a novel based on a dystopian future where social class is based on the colours that people can see – being able to see violet being at the top and only being able to see grey being at the bottom. Admittedly it did take me a while to get into this book as there was a whole bunch of new terms and phrases to understand in the context of this book but I thought it was a really clever and well written book. The only downside? The next book in the series isn’t published yet! Which I was super disappointed to find out as I immediately went to buy the next one after finishing this one… I’d read this book again for sure.


The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

This is such a heartwarming little book! I was initially drawn to this book because of my love for penguins but soon fell in love with this story. It documents Tom as he works and travels in Argentina and South America and is based on Tom’s own recollections from the 1970s. Not only does this book focus on the most brilliant little penguin, Juan Salvador Pingüino, it also focuses on so many other topics and really leaves you with something to think about afterwards – the social situation in Argentina at the time, human impact on the world and nature, the beauty of travelling the world, the rewarding feeling that comes with teaching – so much! I loved this book and expect I will be reading it again some day. A definite must read.


The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Before last year this book had been on my to-read list for way too long so I decided it was time to take the plunge. And right from the start, something about this book just drew me in. Maybe it was the character’s love of books. Or maybe it was the descriptions of post-civil war Barcelona. Or maybe it was just the way it was so beautifully written? Whatever it was, I knew I loved this book and I know I’ll definitely be reading the others in the series.

“I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.”


1984 by George Orwell

This is one of my all time favourite books and if you haven’t read it yet, why-ever not?! You’ll soon be drawn in to the dystopian world of Big Brother and the totalitarian superstate that has been created by Orwell. This was the second time I read this book (having first read it at college after my English Lit teacher recommended it) and I loved it just as much the second time round. I had decided to re-read it for a recap as I was about to go and see 1984 performed as a ballet at the theatre with some old college friends – which sounds super weird but it was so so good, despite how middle class that sounded… Seriously, go and see it if you love this book as much as I do.

And there you have it; my favourite books that I read in 2016.


Want to know what else I read last year to take my total up to 15 books before you go? Well…

  1. Hannibal, Thomas Harris
    This was rubbish, don’t bother. Other books in the series are better written!
  2. The Rules of Attraction, Bret Easton Ellis
    I don’t think I understood the point of this book enough to enjoy it. I might need to re-read it one day.
  3. Inferno, Dan Brown
    I pretty much only read this as I had already read the others in the series. An enjoyable story but not very well written in my opinion.
  4. Alone in Berlin, Hans Fallada
    I loved this insight into Berlin during the Nazi regime and the Nazi resistance. Great if you enjoy history but a little hard to get into at first.
  5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
    A super short book based on her Tedx Talk on feminism and what it means today.
  6. The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
    I loved this book way more than I thought it would. Very heartwarming! Looking forward to reading the next one.
  7. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Gabrielle Zevin
    This one had been on my to-read list for more years than I can remember, probably since I was the same age as the main character. Definitely should have read it when I was that age… Not really my cup of tea these days.
  8. The Girl in the Spiders Web, David Lagercrantz
    I LOVED the Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson so I knew I had to read this one when it came out. Not quite the same style as Larsson but still a really good story line and an enjoyable read. A series I will re-read one day!
  9. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
    I read this one to see what all the fuss was about but read it all it one go after the in-flight entertainment failed on my 8 hour flight to Canada. I think I rushed it a bit too much to enjoy it as much as others did but I didn’t manage to guess the story line which was good!
  10. Agent 6, Tom Rob Smith
    Another book series that I was trying to finish off but I much preferred the first in the series – Child 44. That’s worth a read for sure. I did enjoy this series though as it was based in Soviet Russia which has always been an interest of mine.


Have you read any of these books? What are your favourites? I’d love some new recommendations!

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