Best Books 2016

By Dunedin Public Libraries | Posted: Wednesday January 18, 2017

What will you be reading in 2017? Choose from our library staff’s Best Books of 2016 list.

Faraway nearby. Rebecca Solnit
I read this near the start of the year, and it is a hard book to describe (hence the range of subject headings) but its outstandingly beautiful prose has stayed with me all year. It is part memoir and part a reflection on life and death and how we interact with each other at different stages along the way, and also about the impact of good writing upon us. Solnit is a beautiful writer and she communicates deep ideas simply and also at the same time with a shape, repeating and revisiting ideas from different angles and she is very playful with words.
- Jackie M

Retribution falls. Chris Wooding
I had great fun reading the Tales of the Ketty Jay this year, particularly Retribution Falls. Chris Wooding clearly enjoyed himself writing these, and took me along for the ride. I’m a huge Firefly fan, and have watched and re-watched the short-lived TV series. Whilst not purporting to be based on the show, these books were most definitely inspired by them, and it was wonderful to immerse myself in that crazy universe of anti-heroes where feckless thieves end up saving the day. A real swashbuckler with lots of steampunk flavour. In the year I had all good intentions of reading War & Peace, this was my guilty pleasure.
- Kay

This must be the place. Maggie O’Farrell
A beautifully written novel that crosses time and place and tells an intensely emotional story from several points of view . It is mostly a love story between Daniel (a linguistics professor)and Claudette (a famous but now reclusive movie-star) whom we first meet in a remote farmhouse in Donegal, Ireland in 2010. As the story unfolds, you learn so much about Daniel and Claudette through the past sequences introducing families and previous spouses, and the events leading up to the farmhouse. Nothing is straightforward, and there are lots of surprises.
- Shirley

The Essex Serpent. Sarah Perry
Based on an actual 17th century legend, this historical novel is set in Victorian London and an invented rural Essex village. It is the time of the battle between church and science, the intense interest in fossils and the beginning of the women’s rights’ movement. The writing is superbly descriptive and centres on the life of Cora Seaborne, an independent, intelligent woman who is set free when widowed. She travels to Essex with her companion Martha and her young son Frankie, in search of the serpent that is terrorising a village. What develops is a story of intense friendships with memorable characters and a beautifully realised tale of changing times.
- Shirley

The Museum of Curiosity (Audiobook)
It is from the same stable as QI and combines the usual quirky facts with a huge range of guests including, but not limited to: scientists, philosophers, writers, and comedians Fun and fascinating.

The Mandibles : a family, 2029-2045. Lionel Shriver

Barkskins. Annie Proulx
A wonderful book, compulsive reading, telling the story of the felling of the great forested areas of Canada through several families – with a trip to New Zealand along the way.
- Jackie H

The Toymaker. Liam Pieper
This was a dark, dark read. An examination of how far people will go in order to survive. I definitely didn’t see the twist at the end coming.
- Jill

Born a crime. Trevor Noah
The host of the Daily Show tells the story of his life growing up in South Africa during apartheid. Trevor’s mother is the hero of this book – an incredibly smart, brave and determined woman.
- Jill

Barkskins . Annie Proulx
The Joyce girl. Annabel Abbs
The Wonder. Emma Donaghue
The Riviera Set. Mary S Lovell
Blitzed! drugs in Nazi Germany. Norman Ohler
Born to Run. Bruce Springsteen
The Pigeon tunnel . John Le Carre
- Colleen

Exposure. Helen Dunmore 
The stylist. Rosie Nixon
The Summer before the war. Helen Simonson
All the stars in the heavens. Adrian Trigiani
At the edge of the orchard. Tracy Chevalier
Falafel for breakfast: modern Middle Eastern recipes for any time of the day from Kepos Street Kitchen. Michael Rantis
Simple: effortless food, big flavours. Diana Henry
Reckoning. Magda Szubanski
- Robyn S

Sweet dreams are made of this: a life in music. David A. Stewart
Reckless. Chrissie Hynde
Hunger makes me a modern girl. Carrie Brownstein
Girl in a band. Kim Gordon
Boys in the trees: a memoir. Carly Simon
In love with these times : my life with Flying Nun Records. Roger Shepherd
- Susan S

Reckoning: a memoir. Magda Szubanski
Ruthless: Scientology, my son David Miscavige, and me. Ron Miscavige
The lovers: love and vengeance in Afghanistan : a true story. Rod Nordland
Excellent daughters : the secret lives of young women who are transforming the Arab world. Katherine Zoepf 
Crossing the river: a life in Brazil. Amy Ragsdale
- Susan S

Real modern: everyday New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s. Bronwyn Labrum
Modern retro: from rustic to urban, classic to colourful. Caroline Clifton-Mogg
Sixties house. Catriona Gray
Life unstyled: how to embrace imperfection and create a home you love. Emily Henson
- Susan S

© Copyright Dunedin City of Literature