Oh this is going to be hard to narrow down! I have read 43 non-fiction books this year. A great achievement for me and I’m so happy to be reading a lot again after years of not finding the time (answer: I watch less TV). I am aware the year isn’t done yet. If I read any amazing books in the last two weeks of December I’m going to have to add them to next years list!
Click the images to go to my longer review of each book. Here we go:
The Power – Naomi Alderman
Women develop the power to give deadly electric shocks. Goodbye patriarchy. This winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017 is a visceral, shocking look at a complete reversal in the power balance between men and women. I absolutely loved reading The Power and you would too!
Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
An emotional look at a family who are terrible at communicating with each other. 1970s America, white mother and Chinese Father, with three children. We meet them on the morning that the middle child, Lydia, goes missing and is found drowned. This book was such an emotional read and I loved it.
Also, one of the main characters shares my name, and that was really weird.
Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders
Abraham Lincoln mourns the death of his beloved son, Willie. He visits his coffin twice during a night where Willie is residing in the Bardo – the middle place between life and death, along with a host of other ghosts, all with their own shit to deal with before they can move on. A beautiful poetic exploration of grief and parental love. I finished Lincoln in the Bardo feeling uplifted, and much more educated about Lincoln and the American Civil War.
It won the Man Booker Prize 2017 and I am not surprised at all.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Firefighters no longer put out fires in this dystopian future. They cause them when someone is found to be in possession of books, any books, they are all illegal. The population have been taught that thinking deeply is a bad thing and they are kept distracted and dumb with frivolous soaps and constant entertainment. Written in 1953, it felt like it could have been written last year. Brilliant.
Living the Dream – Lauren Berry
Late 20-somethings hilariously navigate life and friendship. Sharp and sarcastic, they are a fairly aimless group of friends approaching 30 and dealing with their lives not being what they expected they would be by this age. Funniest book I have read for a long time.
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad is made physical in this story of Cora escaping slavery from a plantation in the Southern USA. Cora stops off in several states during her journey North and in each one the laws and atmosphere around slavery are different, but equally awful. Cora is trying to make it North, but is being hunted…
The Underground Railroad hits you in the gut with it’s stark and immersive description of Cora’s life on the plantation. It’s part thriller and we have to consider, will Cora ever be free?
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Man creates monster. Man abandons monster. Monster starts out loving and intelligent but is changed by his treatment by humans and, more devastatingly, his creator. Monster wants revenge. The wretch! #teammonster
Beloved – Toni Morrison
This book will break your heart. Sethe was born into slavery and she will do anything to protect her family from suffering this same fate.
This is the first Toni Morrison book I have read and I’m so glad I did.
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
A crisis with human reproduction means women capable of bearing children are forced to live with ‘important’ men and their wives. They are raped in an official, state sanctioned ceremony to try and save the population. Fear and control are everything.
Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
I came away from Bel Canto feeling like it was the most beautiful exploration of love I’ve ever read. I didn’t want it to end and yet I needed to know what happens! A group of internationally important people are taken hostage while attending a party in a South American country. I don’t want to give any more of the plot away here!
These are all the fiction books I’ve read this year. Click to go to my longer review of each book.
- The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
- The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
- Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
- Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
- Beloved – Toni Morrison
- The Girl On the Train – Paula Hawkins
- A Winter Book – Tove Jansson
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
- Galapagos – Kurt Vonnegut
- American Gods – Neil Gaiman
- Angels – Marian Keyes
- Vinegar Girl – Anne Tyler
- Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
- The Spy Who Came in From the Cold – John le Carre
- The Man in the High Castle – Philip K Dick
- It Can’t Happen Here – Sinclair Lewis
- Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – C S Lewis
- The Secret to Not Drowning – Colette Snowden
- The Awakening – Kate Chopin
- The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
- Queen of Spades- Michael Shou-Yung Shum
- Living the Dream – Lauren Berry
- The Power – Naomi Alderman
- Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor
- Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
- Holidays On Ice – David Sedaris
- The Unseen – Roy Jacobsen
- All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg
- The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
- The Seed Collectors – Scarlett Thomas
- How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne
- The Beautiful Bureaucrat – Helen Phillips
- Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders
- The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
- Autumn – Ali Smith
- Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
- History of Wolves – Emily Fridlund
- Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller
- Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie
- Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley
- The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
What were your favourite fiction reads this year?