Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Best of 2016 so far

Hello! Can you believe we're halfway through the year already? It must be time to review my favourite reads of this year so far.

Top Ten Tuesday is the brainchild of the Broke and the Bookish.

  1. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Anyone who was with me on the London Book Crawl in February won't be at all surprised to see this book on my list; it's a wonderful science fiction saga that follows a wonderfully diverse spaceship crew, and not the military or the elite, but the workers in charge of building a wormhole from one part of the galaxy to another. It's a space opera that doesn't revolve around the human race, but one that celebrates difference, empathy and everyone's common person-hood throughout everything, with well-realised characters and species, people I loved spending time with, a very well-built story universe. I've been putting it into everyone's hands and making them read it if they like sci-fi.
  2. Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik. This was my first impulse-buy of the year, the story of a Muslim woman commissioned with writing a dating book just after a break-up. Sofia is smart, stubborn, witty and likeable, and I felt as though she was a friend after reading just a few pages. Her family and friends are flawed but good-hearted, and I laughed aloud many times reading about their exploits and misadventures - although I shed a few tears as well. 
  3. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. One of the most unusual and imaginiative works of twenty-first century fantasy, set in an alternative Regency England where the world of fairies is just a step away. It is dangerously easy to lose yourself in this tale of two magicians awakening forces that might be more powerful than they anticipate.
  4. The Stand by Stephen King. A truly frightening apocalyptic thriller and tale of survival after a killer flu wipes out most of the world's population. Perhaps not one to read while suffering from flu yourself, as I did! King does what he does best: makes us care about his characters before throwing his arsenal of horrible things at them. At it's heart, it's a tale of good versus evil.
  5. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells: The original time-travel story; it is funny, scary, and an interesting commentary on contemporary Victorian class divides; without this novella, science fiction as we know it today would be unrecogniseable. Yet it's more than just the prototype; The Time Machine is as fresh as if it were written recently.
  6. Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller: Part family drama, part dark fairytale, Our Endless Numbered Days tells the story of a girl smuggled away from civilisation by her father, and brought up as a survivalist in the woods. I found it a little slow to start, but it grew into a twisty tale of secrets and lies at the heart of a family.
  7. When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson:  The story of two best friends who have grown apart; their shared experiences leading to very different lives and choices. Not always an easy read, but one with a humanity that softens the blow. The mysteries and the characters make this a "one more chapter" book, and it was unusual to have a main character who had spent many years as a nun.
  8. Breakfast At Tiffany's by Truman Capote: We all know the film, but reading the book, a novella of 100 pages, I felt like I was discovering it for the first time. I'm not sure I like Holly Golightly, but she's an interesting character, for the flashes of vulnerability beneath her glamorous, "manic-pixie" persona. It is a friendship story, not a romance. The novella feels sadder than the movie, untidier in plotting - things don't necessarily work out the way that the rules of story dictate - which I appreciated. 
  9. The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring: A creepy gothic novel, a story-within-a-story, somewhat based on real events and people, though told from the perspective of a fictional secretary and assistant to the titular ghost hunter, Harry Spring, who is sceptical about the "supernatural activity" he investigates, and exploits those who turn to him for help. But can he have an answer for everything? 
  10. There But For The by Ali Smith: I'm not sure I should include this as I'm only halfway through, but there is a wonderful poetry to Ali Smith's writing. She plays with language seemingly effortlessly, and the narrative flows through the lives and minds touched by one individual. An absolute joy to read.


  1. I really really REALLY want to read The Stand. You know how I love a good enviro-dystopian novel! I haven't really been reading much at all recently - binge watching TV series instead, lots of British stuff (Flowers? AMAZING) - but I keep hoping that eventually I'll pick something up and it'll just click back into place again...

    1. The Stand was excellent. I didn't know what to expect, but it definitely earned its place as one of Stephen King's masterpieces. I either love his books or am pretty indifferent to them; this was one of the "loves," and I enjoyed reading along with Judith as part of our book club of 2.

      I haven't read that much recently, by my standards at least. But it's for good reasons - I finished writing my children's novel! Now for the editing...

  2. What an interesting list! The Stand is the only one I've read, decades ago while living in Latvia, and I still remember that opening. The two classics (Wells and Capote) are the only others I've even heard of. The first three sound especially interesting to me.

    1. The Stand has such a memorable, haunting beginning, doesn't it? That's going to stay with me for a long time.

      The first three were by far the best books of this year, all very different and well worth reading.

  3. I forgot to do this top ten! I might just do it on a non-Tuesday instead :)

    Angry Planet and Our Endless Numbered Days were faves from last year for me. I'm quite tempted by Sofia Khan is Not Obliged.

    1. I don't do many Top Ten Tuesdays but I like to keep track of my favourites halfway through and at the end of the year. And yes, do read Sofia Khan! It's wonderful. SHE'S wonderful!

  4. I love HG Wells' The Time Machine, it is such a wonderful classic. :) Have you ever read The Invisible Man? That was one of the first books I read by him, and it really drew me in. Nice choices so far!

    1. I haven't, but I really must. The first Wells I read was The War of the Worlds years ago, but I hadn't read anything else until this year. The Invisible Man is definitely one to add to my wishlist.


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