My Favourite Books of 2016

Huge props go to those I see on Good Reads who read 100 books in a year-I salute you! Although an avid reader, recently I haven’t polished off many books at all. In 2016 I read only 4 books (but started two more!). Here’s a run down of what I managed to read and some of what I hope to read in 2017, including setting myself a January challenge!

The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel (which is in fact older than I am!) follows handmaid Offred’s new life under the Gilead regime and was a very on point gift from my best friend. As a feminist especially, this novel was as depressing as it was insightful. I had to read it in chunks so I could appropriately process the books themes and messages. It’s a fascinating mirror in which to see oneself and ones societal shortcomings. One of the most powerful books I’ve read since reading Norwegian Wood. I’m very interested to watch the TV adaptation, especially as Joseph Fiennes will be playing the Commander!

The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald
This book has been on my shelf for some time and I turned to it after long admiring the Baz Luhrmann film. Opinions are strongly divided on this novel. I can see how the traits of American literature around this time can be grating, but I in fact quite like the level of detail, the flowery language and the grand philosophical ideas. The summer setting and iconic love story drew me in immediately. Nick as the storyteller and writer is also very appealing. Similarly to Far From the Madding Crowd, the film served as a wonderful introduction to this novel.

Harry Potter- JK Rowling
Now I’ve mentioned before my desire to read all of the Harry Potter books and I’m pleased I managed to knock off two more from the total, The Chamber and Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban. I find these books a joy to read; they are imaginative, tender in their values and relationships and provide a wonderful escape from reality. What’s life without a little magic? People often mention Rowling to me, friends, family, colleagues, to give me hope. Her books are certainly full of hope and as I read them, not only do I enjoy a great story, but I am reminded that anything is possible.

The Nutcracker- E.T.A Hoffman
I finished another book which I started in 2016 earlier this month, The Nutcracker. One of my prized possessions from my childhood is a pop-up book of the story, which I absolutely adore and always have. I danced as a flower girl in my school’s production and have always longed to see the ballet. As an adult I realised I had never read the original story and my father bought it for me in Christmas 2015. It was all I had hoped for and more. Short and sweet, it was wonderful reading about the children, the gift of the Nutcracker, the war with the Mouse King and the fairy tale behind the Nutcracker’s beginnings as the cursed nephew of Drosselmeier. When Marie and Nutcracker arrive into his world, it is just sublime. Reading this has only impassioned my enthusiasm for this tale.

And now on to my January challenge. After a particularly spectacular failure at public speaking last summer, a dear colleague of mine let me borrow his copy of Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo. Perhaps it is because I tend to lean more towards fiction than non-fiction but after having had this book in my possession since then, I am only 80 pages in. The advice given and the stories told in the book are completely sound. However, I feel it is a little long winded. So, I have set myself the January challenge to either finish it by the end of the month, or give it back unfinished. This way my colleague (finally!) gets his book back and I can move onto other books.

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In particular, I’d like to read Dick Van Dyke’s My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, The Goblet of Fire and The Fellowship of the Ring. I look forward to providing an update in a year’s time to see how I get on in 2017!

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