2016 may have come to a close and we have entered a brand new year; 365 days ready to be filled with 365 new memories, but there’s still time to catch up on last year’s most remarkable, influential and simply page-turning reads.
From the memoir of a neurosurgeon’s autobiographical search for his life’s meaning to more of a lighthearted chick-lit, feel good read, the titles on last year’s bookshelves were both diverse and enlightened in their language and narrative poignancy.
There simply are never enough days in the year to read all today’s literary world has to offer, so here are our eight best books of 2016 we think you’d be most sorry to miss and to bring yourself up to speed to crack on with 2017s best reads.
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
A beautiful violinist is haunted by a very old piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop in Rome.
The first time Julia Ansdell picks up The Incendio Waltz, she knows it’s a strikingly unusual composition. But while playing the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her young daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. And when she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a dark secret that involves dangerously powerful people—a family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.
In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began.
Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humour, and originality found in his songs.
Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptised in the holy river of rock and roll.
“Let’s say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge…” This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the 22-year-old at the heart of this stunning debut. Shot like a bullet from a mundane past, she’s come to New York to escape the provincial, to take on her destiny. After she stumbles into a coveted job at a renowned Union Square restaurant, we spend the year with her as she learns the chaotic, punishing, privileged life of a “backwaiter,” on and off duty.
A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries…
Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.
1914: Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance—and their lives—in danger…
2016: Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret…
Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.
They say every marriage has its secrets. But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened …
Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.
Foster’s attempts to live like various animals is my book of the year. Funny, exuberant and courageous, nudging closer and closer to how it might feel to enter the non-human world.
He tried to be like them, choosing a badger, an otter, a fox, a deer, and a swift. He lived alongside badgers for weeks, sleeping in a sett in a Welsh hillside and eating earthworms, learning to sense the landscape through his nose rather than his eyes. He caught fish in his teeth while swimming like an otter; rooted through London garbage cans as an urban fox; was hunted by bloodhounds as a red deer, nearly dying in the snow. And he followed the swifts on their migration route over the Strait of Gibraltar, discovering himself to be strangely connected to the birds.
Moving to Italy to set up a baking club is a dream come true…
…until Libby catches her husband cheating just weeks before The Sunshine and Biscotti Club opens its doors.
With the first wave of guests set to arrive any day, Libby has no choice but to tie on her apron and get set to bake. But with a dash of sunshine and a sprinkling of old friends, Libby’s kitchen nightmare might just become the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
After all, you can’t bake biscotti without breaking a few eggs…