15 January 2017

Favourite Books of 2016

I'm a couple of weeks late with my annual post, I know, but better late than never - right?!

In no particular order (well, maybe a vaguely chronological order), here are my favourite books that I read last year.  Same rules as usual - it doesn't matter what year the book was first published, only that I read it for the first time in 2016.  There is some fiction, some non-fiction, some school books, some "fun" books.  If I reviewed the book, I've linked to my review.

I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith) - This book was loaned to me by one of my professors over the Christmas break last year but I didn't read it until January.  When I read it, my first reaction was, "How have I lived for almost 40 years without discovering this book?"  Seriously - if you haven't read this book, you need to read it now.  I returned the borrowed copy, but next time I was ordering books, I bought myself a copy.  This is one that I want to have in my permanent book collection.

Come, Thou Tortoise (Jessica Grant) - Seriously, who doesn't love a book that is partially narrated by a tortoise, especially when the tortoise is the most reliable narrator in the book?  This was a recommendation from the same professor who loaned me I Capture the Castle, and was another delightful Christmas-break read last year (disclaimer:  I started this book in 2015 but didn't finish it until 2016, so I'm including it in my 2016 list).

God in Creation (J├╝rgen Moltmann) - This was a textbook last winter for a course I took on the theology of Moltmann.  It was the sort of book that made me want to stop after every sentence and ponder what I had just read; but unfortunately with 75-ish pages to read each week (in addition to the reading I was doing for my other courses), I didn't have the luxury of doing that.  It is one that I want to go back to at some point to read at a more leisurely pace.

When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi) - I heard the author's widow interviewed on CBC radio last January, and this was the first book I read after the end of the winter term.  It is a memoir of life and death, written after the author was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  It is beautifully written, and while sad at the end, it left me feeling buoyant.

The Heart Goes Last (Margaret Atwood) - I wasn't sure what I thought about this book when I first read it, but it has stuck with me over the months since - I find myself thinking about it frequently - so I am including it on this list.

The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl (Sue Goyette) - This narrative told through poetry has also stayed with me since the summer.  It made me think, it broke my heart, and the language delighted me.

Wenjack (Joseph Boyden) - Another story that made me think and broke my heart.  There is no happy ending in this book, but then there is no happy ending that can be found in the death of an 11-year old boy who froze to death trying to find home.

Dust or Fire (Alyda Faber) - A longer review of this book is coming soon.  This is a book of poetry that was published last year by one of my professors (the same one who recommended the first two books on this list).  The poems are short (mostly 1-2 pages), but I found this book to be as un-put-down-able as a good novel.  I read it twice, back-to-back, as bedtime reading, and it was the cause of more than one late night.

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (P. D. James) - I was a big fan of mystery writer P. D. James, and was sad when she died a few years ago at age 94, because I knew that there would be no more new books from her.  So I was very excited when I was at a bookstore before Christmas and discovered that 4 short Christmas-themed stories that she had written for publication in the newspaper had been published as a book.  I devoured the stories on Boxing Day - a perfect Christmas present from the "Queen of Crime"!

An eclectic list this year - a mix of fiction and non-fiction, short stories, with a couple of books of poetry thrown in (I think that this is the first year there has been any poetry on my list).  There seem to be a number of melancholy books on the list this year - I'm not sure if that is because I was reading more sad books in 2016, or whether these were the books that caught my attention.

Now over to you.  What was your favourite book that you read in 2016?