My top books of 2016

I planned to write this post last week, but somehow it didn’t happen. However, although time is going at snail’s pace this cold, wet January, it’s still only the 16th day of 2017, so I don’t think it’s too late to come up with my favourites of the sixty odd books I read for the first time last year.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I’m not normally much of a non-fiction reader, but this memoir of a British journalist’s move to Denmark and what she learnt about the Danish culture and way of life was absolutely fascinating. Apart from the cold and dark, it all sounded pretty idyllic and made me want to up sticks and move to Copenhagen pronto. Failing that I’ll just make another batch of cinnamon buns.

The Cazalet Chronicles Elizabeth Jane Howard

This is actually five books, but I couldn’t possibly choose between them. I found this epic saga of four generations of a large upper-middle-class family’s experiences of the sweeping changes of the 20th century simply mesmerising. The characters continue to live in my head nearly a year after I finished reading, and I know they will be books I return to again and again as well as recommending ad nauseum to anyone and everyone I think might listen.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop  by Veronica Henry

You know when you go into a restaurant and there’s a dish the menu which combines all your favourite foods? For me this is on the brunch menu at Bill’s and it’s their veggie special – mushroom, and guacamole, and houmous, and tomato, and chilli, and toast, with poached eggs to top it off. Anyway, this book was the literary equivalent. A small town, a variety of people with secrets, problems, heartache, all finding comfort and resolution through the books they read and the friends they make in the local independent bookshop. Heaven!

Who Do You Love by  Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner writes sharp, funny, observant and moving novels. She’s one of my absolute favourite authors, and this was one of her best novels in my opinion. A bit like One Day in its theme but *whispers* far, far better.

The Girls by Lisa Jewell

Another favourite author of mine, and the kind of writer I aspire to be when I grow up. The Girls is a darker subject matter than many of her other novels, and it was absolutely gripping. She writes with such vivid immediacy, taking you straight into the head of the character she’s describing. This was absolutely unputdownable.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

This was the first novel I’ve read by Liane Moriarty, and if they’re all this good I’m so looking forward to reading some of the rest in 2017. This story of a woman who loses her memory after a head injury and wakes up believing she is 28 and happily expecting her first child with her husband when in actual fact she is nearly forty and a soon-to-be divorced mum of three, is totally compelling. It’s a really thought-provoking read, forcing you to consider how the tiny niggles or compromises that affect you every day can actually end up ruining your life if you allow them to.

So there’s my round-up of the year. I’ve decided to carry on with my monthly book reviews on the blog, with a rough aim of reading around fifty new books again this year. That feels like a realistic number, stretching me to try new things, but at the same time allowing me plenty of time to enjoy my favourite comfort reads when I feel the need.




  1. Gosh, I haven’t read any of these. I remember you mentioning the year of living Danishly and at the time I said I’d read it. Well these are all titles I will put on my kindle watch list (not meant to be buying any new book books, like you. But as you said in your last blog post – ebooks don’t really count.)

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  2. Helen, thank you so much for your recommendations. I am pleased to say that at long last, and well overdue, I am now reading my way through Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles. She writes so well, but my big problem is that when I read at home, I tend to manage only a few pages [or strokes of the page on my Kindle] every night and there are so many characters that I do find it hard to keep up, even although I have bookmarked the list of characters page. They deserve to be read in big chunks so you can lose yourself in them. I too loved Victoria Henry ‘ How to find love in a bookshop’ …such a good read, and will note the other authors for future downloads onto my Kindle. Thank you again

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    • So glad you like the recommendations! I agree that Cazalet needs to be read in chunks. My children were shamefully neglected for a couple of weeks…


  3. I’ve been looking forward to reading this! Some of my favourites there too The Girls was superb, wasn’t it? And The Year of Living Danishly practically left me wanting to pack my suitcase! Ha! Some others that I haven’t read though so they’ll be getting added to my to be read list! Thank you!

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