Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Reading the World: Best of 2016

I did a lot of reading in 2016, much more than usual. Which gives me ample choice for a "top ten" list. I'll interpret that fairly loosely, though. I always find ranking books difficult especially when they are quite diverse. So this will be a list of ten books I liked and would be happy to re-read, in no particular order (except for my number 1 which really stood out). Some of these I have already blogged about, some I read before I started recording my reading here.

1. The Gamal, by Ciaran Collins
This is the one that really stood out for me out of my year's reading. From Ireland

2. Gold Fame Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins
I read this early in the year. It's a dystopian novel set in a future California, where water is scarce and a huge shifting sand dune has cut the state off from the rest of the country. Military deserter Ray and his girlfriend Luz set off into the desert in the hopes of finding their way out past the giant dune. A credible and well-imagined look at the future.

3. That Other Me, by Maha Gargash
From United Arab Emirates

4. Purge, by Sofi Oksanen
The author is from Finland, but I listed it as Estonia, as she is of Estonian heritage and the book is set there.

5. The Bones of Grace, by Tahmina Anam
Set in Bangladesh

6. The Many Selves of Katherine North, by Emma Geen
This is the debut novel from a young British writer. It is set in a future when technology allows people to be projected into the minds of animals. So far, this has been used for scientific study, but the profit motive will soon see it expanded to tourism. Katherine North (Kit) is the longest serving phenomenaut at ShenCorp. At the start of the book, she's a fox. Later we see her as a bird, a spider, an octopus, and more. But what is the cost to her identity of all this species-hopping? And do her employers have her best interests at heart?
A wholly original and immensely readable novel.

7. Stork Mountain, by Miroslav Penkov
Set in Bulgaria - a Bulgarian student in the USA returning home. I really loved this book, though thought it had an American flavour to it.

8. Down Among the Fishes, by Natalka Babina
From Belarus. A fascinating insight into a little-known country.

9. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
Delightful historical novel from the United States.

10. The Elephant's Journey, by Jose Saramago
From Portugal.

When I started to write this post, I had over twenty books on my preliminary list, so there may be a follow up post with the "next ten" (or twelve). It could well be, that on another day, my preferences would be different.


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