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Author's picks of 2016

Posted on 21 Dec 2016

Tags: 2016, books, reading, recommendations

We asked our authors which books they'd enjoyed in 2016, and what an eclectic, interesting response we had! Here are some of their top picks...

Penny Knight
My favourite book was Wild by Cheryl Strayed - she was a free spirited gutsy girl who walked independently along America's Pacific Crest Trail - loved her inspiration.

I enjoyed my Lonely Planet Guide to Lombok because it meant I was on the road again and provided me with a little support and guidance on the way.

I am still enjoying Man of Everest by James Ramsey Ullman about the life of Tenzing Norgay, the Everest Sherpa who accompanied Edmund Hillary to the summit. A humble and epic read.

Simon Evans
I indulged an ambition to read Humphrey Clinker by Tobias Smollett. Humphrey Clinker is an early epistolary novel that is great fun to read and enables Smollett to tilt at various windmills. I am a great admirer of the epistolary technique, working on a novel myself employing it. Smollett was a master of the style, and very funny to boot.

Another book that kept me happy for a long read was Letters of a Dead Man by Prince Hermann von Pueckler-Muskau. The prince, an impoverished Saxon nobleman, came to England in 1826 to try and find a rich English wife. He did this at the suggestion of his German wife who divorced him so that he could repair their fortune by remarrying. Rich English girls (or their mothers) saw through his scheme and he did not find a wife, but passed two happy years spending much of his bank balance. His long letters to his ex-wife contain wicked descriptions of English society, and fascinating accounts of his visits to the great houses of the time.

Lastly I enjoyed rereading Nancy Mitford’s great novels, especially Don’t Tell Alfred, which I found wittier and sharper than when I first read it. Mitford is a joy to read, with a good eye for the comic and the ridiculous.

Carol Browne
Ruth Ware’s debut crime thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood had me gripped from the opening paragraph. I wasn’t surprised to learn that this edge-of-the-seat page-turner is going to be made into a movie. It’s creepy, chilling, surprising, cleverly plotted, and really hard to put down.

Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of the most original fantasy novels I have ever read. It reminded me of Twilight but it is far more sophisticated. No hackneyed humans-and-vampires interactions here, instead the characters are angels and demons who inhabit a multi-layered story brimful of suspense, magic, romance, and unexpected twists. It is heartachingly poignant at times. The writing is exquisite. The plot is a triumph. The world-building is epic in scale. I went on to devour the whole trilogy and was mesmerised throughout.

Life by Keith Richards is a book I encountered by accident but once I started reading, I was hooked. Keith Richards has had an extraordinary life and it has left him not only very articulate but also very wise and humane. The Rolling Stones were the wild men of rock in their heyday but much of their bad publicity was concocted by the media. Seeing this phenomenon through the eyes of someone who was part of it all was both enlightening and entertaining. Well written and humorous with plenty of interesting anecdotes—we learn, for instance, that the album Voodoo Lounge was named after a place Keith’s rescued kitten loved to hang out—this is more than a memoir. It is also a valuable historical record of the post-war music scene and popular culture.