Monday, January 2, 2017

Top Reads of 2016


It was a hectic year for me, and I didn't get nearly as much reading done in 2016 as I had hoped.  I guess my excuse is the big overseas move which took a lot of mental energy. Still, I managed to read 75 books in 2016, and I've picked out some of my favorites for an end of the year list. I think I only reviewed three of these online but in chronological order, here are some of my reading highlights:


1.  The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse. One of the most popular Bertie and Jeeves stories, and considered by many to be the best. Lots of mayhem, silliness, and a silver cow creamer. I knew the plot from the BBC series but it was still hilarious.

2.  Phineas Redux by Anthony Trollope. Book #4 of the Barchester Chronicles. I figured it would be a bit of a slog since Phineas Finn wasn't my favorite, but it was great -- I suppose putting the main character on trial for murder would perk up any Victorian novel!


3.  The Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett. I haven't read much middle-grade fiction the last few years but this had been hanging around the TBR shelves and I needed a fun, light read last spring. I'd only read one other book by Terry Pratchett (Good Omens) and I absolutely loved it. It was laugh-out-loud funny and I definitely want to read more of his works.



4.  The Mapp and Lucia series by E. F. Benson. I read five of the six novels in the series this year -- I really needed some levity with all the stress (not to mention the election). Mapp and Lucia, the fourth novel, was my favorite but they are all wonderful. Sadly, I only have one left to read but I know Benson wrote quite a few more books.

5.  The Chateau by William Maxwell. A delightful find at a small used bookstore on the military base. A young American couple take an extended visit to postwar France. It's really not about much, plot-wise, but I loved the characters and all the descriptions. A slow, thoughtful book but definitely worth reading if that is your cup of tea.


6.  Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. A lovely book. I'd seen the Oscar-nominated film, which I loved, but the book was even better.

7.  Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch. Another book I've owned for years but never touched. It was a little slow starting but Child's life was even more fascinating than I expected. If you liked Julie & Julia or My Life in France I highly recommend it.


8.  The Skin Chairs by Barbara Comyns. A quirky little Virago about an eccentric but endearing family. It was just the sort of book I like.

9.  Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. One of the books from my Classics Club list, I'd been putting it off forever and I was so glad I finally got around to reading it! A wry satire of a young librarian who moves to a small town in Minnesota and attempts to bring some culture to the locals.

10. The Quincunx by Charles Palliser. A big, fat, historical novel, just the thing if you're a fan of Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins. I know I could have finished three or even four books in the same time but it was worth every minute.

So -- an eclectic list, but that's me! I have lots of good reads on the horizon, plus another challenge. Bloggers, how was your 2016 in books? What are you looking forward to reading? And have any of you read these books?

16 comments:

  1. The only one I've read is Brooklyn, but it was a favorite of mine, too. Glad to see Trollope here and learn that Phineas Redux was more enjoyable then Phineas Finn! I plan to start the Palliser series in a few weeks:)

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    1. I hope you like The Pallisers! I liked all of them, though my favorite so far is The Eustace Diamonds (Phineas Redux was a close second). I want to finish the series this year, and there's a newly restored version of the final Palliser novel -- it was only available in a very expensive edition from the Folio Society, but now Everyman's Library is printing it and it's very affordable.

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  2. Great choices. I also enjoyed Phineas Redux last year and must try to finish the Palliser series in 2017! I'm pleased to see The Quincunx on your list too - I loved that one.

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    1. I loved The Quincunx, it was so Dickensian. And I've just started The Claverings with an online group so The Prime Minister will be my next Trollope after that.

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  3. I don't believe I've read a single one of your top books. Huh. I was thinking I'm going to have to finally try Trollope again soon. He scares me! I know he shouldn't, but he does.

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    1. I think you'd really enjoy The Bromeliad Trilogy. It's very irreverent and funny. I'm not sure if you'd like Trollope -- a lot of his novels are really domestic satires, and I know that's not really your thing. A lot of his novels are set in country houses and quite a few have fox hunting scenes. I know you liked Downton Abbey and parts of it are a bit like that. Or you might prefer the political novels. The Way We Live Now was the first one I read, it's considered his masterpiece. It's very long but not a difficult read, no worse than Wilkie Collins or M. E. Braddon. He's not as melodramatic as Dickens and I think his female characters tend to be more well-developed.

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  4. I loved Mapp and Lucia! Such great characters...and so funny. Being an eclectic reader is the best kind to be. :)

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    1. I loved them all and really want to read more books by E. F. Benson. I've read some of his short stories, some of them are surprisingly creepy. I know he's written a lot of other books and some of them are on free digital downloads.

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  5. I'm so pleased to see Barbara Comyns on your list - and with The Skin Chairs too, which more people need to know about. And the wonderful Mapp and Lucia series, of course.

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  6. Any list that starts with Wodehouse and Trollope must be a good one. You've reminded me of my annual resolution to read something by Maxwell - perhaps 2017 will be the year I actually manage it!

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  7. That is an eclectic list! I really enjoyed Brooklyn also, though I have yet to see the movie, but it's on my tbw list :)

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  8. I've read and thoroughly relished The Dinner, The Bridal Wreath by Sigrid Undset, which is the first in a trilogy of a woman in medieval Norway (Undset won the Nobel Prize), Hotel du Lac was one of my favorites of the year in 2013 or 2012, and Alone in Berlin by Fallada is excellent as well. Not a dud in the books you've mentioned that I've read. I have read several Arnaldur Indridason novels--they are good, but although I've read several, I have no memory of them. It was four years ago or so, but they have not been impressed on my brain.
    Your list is wonderful. I have the Undset novels on my Classics Club List. I read The Bridal Wreath in the early 1990s, but am thinking I should read it again before reading the other two.
    You've got some good reading ahead!
    Best wishes,
    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

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  9. Pratchett's rabbit hole is a great one to fall down! I can highly recommend Dodger and Nation as standalones.
    And The Quincunx is an absolute favorite. Disappointingly, I haven't found another Palliser that I've liked as much. This one is definitely his best. In fact, I'm kind of in the mood to reread it but I'm in the middle of another chunkster right now -- The Old Curiosity Shop. I'm really enjoying that one as well!

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  10. I love the gargoyle by the books. I have wanted to read Pratchett and Trollope forever, hopefully 2017.I didn't know Main Street is about a librarian, all of the sudden, that book has become very interesting.
    I have read one Wodehouse book only, but he is so much fun!
    2016 was great for me. You would like to know that from 2015, my first year doing your challenge, along with books I know from some friends, the quality of my reads has increased. Thanks for this you do for us.
    I hope you are settled now.

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  11. I forgot to subscribe to the comments.

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  12. Loved this summary of your year! There's a couple I'll have to add to my TBR (Main Street and The Quincunx).

    As for Pratchett, good friends recommended that I start his Discworld series with "Guards! Guards!" and after reading a bit of the series, I still think that's the best place to start!

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