2016 is coming to an end. So, this is the perfect time to reveal my favourite books among the ones that I read during the year. I have only rated two of these books with five stars, since, apparently, I expect a five-star read to fulfil a lot of requirements. But some of the books mentioned below are quite high four-star reads (in a way I regret having decided not to give half-star ratings) and, thus, deserve recognition.
I chose five books as my favourites from the nineteen I read in 2016. In comparison with other bloggers, I don’t read that many books per year, but some of them were quite long, and I also don’t listen to audiobooks, since it’s hard for me to focus on what I’m listening for a long period of time. Of the nineteen books that I read, one was non-fiction, 3 can be considered as children’s books, and 3 were poetry collections.
In reverse order, these are the best books I read in 2016:
Vinte e Zinco by Mia Couto
Vinte e Zinco takes place in Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, during the last days of the dictatorship that lasted from 1933 to 1974. It was published in 1999 for the 25th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, which brought the regime to an end in the 25th of April in 1974. We get to know Lourenço, an inspector of the Political Police (PIDE), whose cruelty doesn’t stop his aunt to express feminist views and socialise with the natives.
At first I was a bit surprised by how different the sentences sometimes sounded in Portuguese from Mozambique in comparison with European Portuguese. However, I quickly adjusted to that difference and completely enjoyed the great characters that Mia Couto created and the surprising revelation at the end.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
This is not a perfect book, but it definitely is extremely entertaining, atmospheric and conveys a fantastic alternate history. Two practical magicians, different from each other, get involved with the war against Napoleon and the French Invasions, as they restore magic to England, a process that has some undesirable consequences. You can read my full review here.
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
In A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson takes the reader on a voyage through Teddy Todd’s life. While growing up, he didn’t like it when people killed animals and wanted to be a poet. However, he ends up becoming a bomber pilot during the Second World War. Through a non-linear narrative, I got immersed in his life and became quite interested in his relationship with his family, while acquiring noteworthy knowledge about some historical events. You can read a more thorough review here.
The Dumb House by John Burnside
The Dumb House is a disturbing story that was beautifully written by John Burnside. Luke’s obsession with the tale of the Dumb House, but also with the matter of life and death, and the existence of a soul launch him on a series of dark and twisted actions. I adored being utterly shocked by this book. For more on my thoughts about the novel, read my review here.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
I became quite invested in both the story and the characters shortly after starting to read The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton’s debut novel. It had remained on my shelves for a long time before I decided to pick it up. But I am so glad that I finally read it. Accompanying Nella Oortman as she uncovers the mysteries of her new home was both engaging and heart-breaking. This is a page-turner festooned with beautiful language that I couldn’t stop thinking about for a long time. Can’t wait to read Jessie Burton’s second novel, The Muse, next year. You can read a more in-depth review of The Miniaturist here.
Which were your favourite books of 2016? Tell me in the comments!