My Top Ten Fiction Reads 2016


At the start of 2016 I was undecided on what to set my Goodreads target at so I asked my husband to pick a number between 150 and 200 – he chose 180 (we were possibly watching darts on the telly at the time!). I was on target for the first part of the year and then over the summer I hit a horrible reading slump. I just couldn’t get into any books at all and barely read a thing for about three months. Eventually I got back into the swing of things but was fairly convinced I’d never make my reading goal. The thing that got me back into reading again was re-discovering my love for non-fiction and that joy led me to ending the year having read 211 books! I’m thrilled with what I’ve had the chance to read this year but it has made narrowing it down to a top ten near impossible. I’ve decided that as I read a real mix of fiction and non-fiction that I’d do a top ten of each – I don’t really consider it cheating seeing as 20 books in total is still under 10% of what I read this year.

Before I do my top ten I do want to do a couple of honourable mentions.

The first is to Katey Lovell for the wonderful The Boy in… series. I’ve spent a fair bit of time feeling rotten as my pain levels left me unable to concentrate and Katey Lovell’s series of short stories have got me through some really horrible days. They take 5 or ten mins to read and have honestly always left me feeling that little bit happier than I was before. These stories hold a special place in my heart and I love knowing I can always re-read one to cheer myself up.

Also, this is the year that I decided to try giving graphic novels a go. I’ve always felt a bit odd about them as, having never looked at one before, I assumed they were just like comics (and I never liked comics even when I was a child). However, I picked up Raymond Brigg’s Ethel and Ernest during my hideous reading slump and it was the perfect read in that moment. I couldn’t believe how much detail could be packed into a book with very few words and it really opened my eyes to this genre. I also bought my husband The Gigantic Beard that was Evil as a sort of joke and when I read it I couldn’t believe what a brilliant social commentary it was.

So now for my top ten fiction books of 2016! These books are in no particular order but I have picked two books that are my joint favourite books of the year!

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

I adore Maggie O’Farrell’s writing – I read her first novel After You’d Gone on the day it was released and it’s still one of my all-time favourite novels. I greatly look forward to a new novel by her and was thrilled to receive a proof of this one ahead of publication. This Must Be the Place is a brilliant novel, one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

You can read my original review here: This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

This is the first Sarah Moss book I’ve read and it absolutely won’t be the last. I picked this up when I was in a major reading slump in the summer and somehow this grabbed my attention from the very first page and held me right until the end. I read this during my blogging break so I sadly haven’t reviewed it but I can assure you that it’s a stunning read and highly recommend you pick it up if you haven’t already.


Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

This book is stunning and simply had to be part of my top ten of 2016, I knew it would make it as I was reading it. It’s a beautiful read and I recommend it to everyone.

Final front cover

The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

This is a fascinating novel about Lucia Joyce, the daughter of James Joyce. It’s a book that will hook you in and will hold you in its spell right to the end. It made me want to learn more about Lucia Joyce.

You can read my original review here: The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs


Autumn by Ali Smith

This is one of the more recent reads in my Top Ten but it absolutely had to be included. Ali Smith is an incredible writer, I’ve loved everything that I’ve read of hers. Autumn is a book that got to me in so many ways on so many different levels and I’m sure it will stay with me for a very long time to come.

You can read my original review here: Autumn by Ali Smith


The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

This book just captured me from the very start – I loved the two main characters and the bond they formed over such a short space of time. I think the thing that moved me most in this book was the idea of how life can be lost in an instant but the legacy, the memory left behind can still have such great impact on those that remain. This is a book I will definitely re-read in the future.

You can read my original review here: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

museum of you HB front

The Museum of You by Carys Bray

I loved Carys Bray’s first novel and so was very excited to be sent a proof of this one ahead of release. I read this over a couple of days, finding it very hard to put down. The idea of a young girl trying to piece together the memory of her mother in a tangible way is heart-breaking, and I felt so much for her. The reader knows more than the daughter, which makes it even more poignant to read her journey to put together what she knows of her mum. It’s a beautiful story that is ultimately heart-warming and one I still find myself thinking about months after I finished reading the novel.

You can read my original review here: The Museum of You by Carys Bray


The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

I only read this novel recently but it had such an impact on me that I couldn’t not include it in my Top Ten of the year. A novel that explores assisted suicide, and yet is never mawkish and at times has a fair bit of black humour on the subject was always going to make for a fascinating read.

You can read my original review here: The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

And my joint favourite books of 2016 are…

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

I read Ghostbird way back in March and fell completely and utterly in love with Carol Lovekin’s writing. It’s such a beautiful, moving and, at times, devastating novel with magical elements weaved throughout. It captured me from the very first page and I devoured it. It’s one of those novels that seems to cast magic from it, it made me feel soothed and healed as I read. I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I know since I read it, and I’m going to say it again here – if you haven’t already read it then please go grab a copy now, I promise you won’t regret it!

You can read my original review here: Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

How to be Brave by Louise Beech

This is a lesson for me in not getting my Top Ten books of the year done too early in December! I had this post prepared and ready to go and then I read How To Be Brave and knew there was going to have to be a re-jig as this novel went right to the top of my list! It’s a beautifully moving debut novel, that weaves together the story of a young girl and her mum coming to terms with serious illness alongside her grandfather’s battle for survival on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. It’s a novel that had such an impact on me and I keep finding myself thinking back to it. It’s another novel that gave me great solace when I really needed it and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

You can read my original review here: How To Be Brave by Louise Beech

So, that’s my Top Ten fiction books of 2016. What have your favourite reads of this year been? Have you had a good reading year?

Look out for my Top Ten non-fiction books post coming up tomorrow!

51 thoughts on “My Top Ten Fiction Reads 2016

    • Thank you. It was so hard to pick just ten but I guess that just means I was very lucky to have read so many great books in 2016. The Museum of You is a gorgeous read, isn’t it? I think it will be one that I re-read at some point. I hope you read lots more fab books in 2017 too. x

  1. Some fabulous choices Ive just downloaded one, Everyoe Brave is Forgiven, need to add a few to wishlist and have one on my tbr. Loved your way of choosing your challenge. 😊

  2. Great picks! I remember your review of This Must Be The Place. I was gutted that the library had lost its copy. It’s nicely waiting on my wish list now 🙂

    • Thank you. I adored This Must Be The Place – my review could easily have been three or four times as long, there was so much more I could have said about it. It’s an incredible novel. I hope you manage to get a copy to read soon. x

  3. Hayley, I am honoured. To be on your list anyway in the company of such wonderful books & to share the top spot with Louise! Thank you for your ongoing support of Ghostbird. Our books would be far less successful were it not for reviewers & bloggers, not least the ones who do it with such love & so professionally. Every good blessing for 2017! xXx

    • I knew as I was reading Ghostbird that it would be in my top books of 2016, it’s such a stunningly beautiful novel. I still find the characters and quotes from the book swirling around my head even now, months after I read it. I will continue to keep recommending it to everyone. All good wishes for 2017. xxx

  4. Great list, Hayley. Thank you for introducing me to The Joyce Girl – I really enjoyed it. I’m currently reading This Must Be the Place. It’s making me wish there were more hours in the day to read! All the best for 2017!

  5. You have some great choices here! I keep hearing such good things about The Museum of You. I’m going to have to move that from the radar to the TBR, no doubt about that. Happy New Year!

  6. It’s amazing that you can read so many books in a year!! 211 – that’s phenomenal! I love the selection you’ve made – it’s interesting how varied it is – something for everyone. Thank you!

  7. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the number of books you read! I love Maggie O’Farrell, too, and enjoyed This Must Be the Place…I didn’t love it as much as some of her other books, so it didn’t make my Top Ten.

    I am eyeing The Joyce Girl….so I want to know more about that one.

    • Thank you. Which Maggie O’Farrell novel is your favourite? I’ve loved everything she’s written but will always have a real attachment to After You’d Gone. This Must Be The Place didn’t have the same emotional resonance for me but I adored how it was written. I highly recommend The Joyce Girl, I think there is a link to my review in this post if you want to know more about it. It had such an effect on me and made me want to read more about Lucia Joyce – I love it when a book does that. 🙂

  8. Ooh, these books sound really good. I’m particularly interested in Autumn and The Museum of You.
    I loved Ethel and Ernest when I read it about ten years ago. I keep meaning to find it, but it’s packed away at my mum’s house and too awkward to get at. I’m planning to watch the animated film at some point. It sounds very well done!

    • They were all such brilliant reads, I highly recommend them. The Museum of You and Autumn are so good – I hope you enjoy them as much as I did if you decide to read them.
      I’d never heard of Ethel and Ernest until earlier this year, I’m not sure how I’d missed it but I adored it. It was so moving. I really want to see the animated film too, I heard only good things about that from friends who saw it.

  9. You’ve got some books on your list that sound really good to me…I need to get a hold of The Museum of You for sure. And I just got a copy of Everyone Brave Is Forgiven. Hope your 2017 is filled with more memorable reads!

    • Thank you. The Museum of You was such a gorgeous read – I hope manage to get a copy and that you enjoy it. Everyone Brave is Forgiven was a book I genuinely couldn’t put down, it’s beautifully written and such a great story. I hope you enjoy your 2017 reads too.

  10. Congrats on 211 books!!! That blows my mind. My super secret goal this year is 150. Reading slumps are sometimes hard to get out of. Glad you are back in the groove!

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