Fictional Year

OK, we did the non-fiction, now it’s time to dive into fiction!

The year isn’t quite done but I will try not to read anything life changing in the next couple of days so that this list stands.

My reading (like the year) has been kind of up and down. When it’s been good, it’s been great. When it’s been not great, it’s kind of been infuriating.

Again, I’m not really one for a numbered list so it’s going to be a list of books that I kept thinking about long after I finished the last page. Not all of these books have been published in 2016 and they are in the order I read them.


The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips. This one was outside of my comfort zone but this short, quirky tale of young urban professionals trying to find their groove stands out for me still.

Sweetland by Michael Crummy. This one caught me off guard. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it the way that I did. If you like stories about cranky old men losing their way of life, read Sweetland.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez. Loved this novel about immigrants trying to forge a new life for themselves in the face of poverty, discrimination and devastating events.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin. This book sent me down an internet rabbit hole and to the library to find more books about the events described. In 2017, I want to read the Capote short story it’s based on! Am also looking forward to the mini-series.

The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer. A story about a brilliant female mathematician and how her male colleagues worship her in death? Yes. Please.

Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz. This story of two sisters struggling to make their way in the world despite the hurdles they face (mental illness, the loss of their mother, teen pregnancy) was the book I hoped would win Canada Reads. I still haven’t read the “winner”, The Illegal.

The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins. This magical tale of how the modern Western world was born of a war between the Roman Church and the magical ancients in Ireland deserves to be a series. I hope there’s more coming – especially about the French witches coven.

Dietland by Sarai Walker. This book brought me a great deal of joy. A young woman learns to love her body in a world that makes her feel unacceptable while a group of guerrilla feminists make the world pay attention to the treatment of women.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. The story of two branches of the same family told over 200 years. Loved. It.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne. A young boy is taken in by his aunt when he becomes an orphan. His aunt just happens to be the housekeeper at the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat. Hitler begins to take an interest in the boy, who must choose which path to follow: in the footsteps of his mentor or forge ahead on his own.

The Radleys by Matt Haig. A book that encourages you to be your own strange self, that celebrates the decision to colour outside of the lines. More Matt Haigs in the world please.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book taught me that I still have a lot to learn about the world. Started out rocky but when I had the time to devote to it, I fell in love.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar. Normally I don’t go in for stories told via diaries and letters but this one was perfection. Vanessa is Virginia Woolf’s sister and the book looks at the challenges of having a sister who needs you so much, who is struggling with her mental health.

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi. This book stayed with me so long I’m in the process of signing up to be a mentor to refugee families. If everyone read this story of a boy desperately trying to be reunited with his family after they flee Afghanistan, we’d all be more likely to extend a helping hand.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. This book was a delight from start to finish. If you’re on the hunt for a delicious thriller with the MOST delightful ending, look no further.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. This one is dense but if you have the time, it’s so worth it. It’s the story of a small community in the days leading up to the Great War and how it changes everything.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta. A woman growing up in Nigeria struggles with her lesbian identity in a country that criminalizes who she loves.

Sarong Party Girls by Cherl Lu-Lien Tan. I expected a light, frothy read a la China Rich Asians and ended up reading about the gender relations and unforgiving class system in Singapore.

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia. Read if you enjoy offbeat characters and a dose of mystery.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I had written off Picoult but this is a ballbuster of a book. She forces her readers to confront uncomfortable truths and tells a great story at the same time.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett. This book was gorgeous. Beautifully written, it’s one of my favourite books this year. It’s not easy to write about abortion and not make the book about abortion, you know?

I See You by Clare Mackintosh. I don’t think I’ve taken the bus since I read this 😉

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I haven’t posted about this but everyone else has, right? What more to say? It was engrossing, educational, fraught, unflinching, courageous and beautiful.

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall. In Canada, everyone is talking about this one. Not sure if it’s crossed borders in the same way. A prep school teacher is accused of sexual misconduct with a minor in a wealthy community. The book follows the fallout from the perspectives of his daughter, wife and son. Powerful. I loved it.

Well if you’re still here, thanks for sticking it out. If you can find 24 books that you’re still thinking about at year’s end, it’s been a pretty decent year for reading!

Just one final thing – this wouldn’t be half as fun if it weren’t for all of you that stop by, read, like and comment. Thanks for continuing to enable my habit.



23 thoughts on “Fictional Year

  1. There are a lot of books on your list that I’m hoping to read in 2017, especially The Radleys, When the Moon is Low, and The Summer Before the War. I love having such good reads to look forward to! 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh – Sweetland! I felt the same way about it – totally crept up on me. It made my best of the year list maybe last year? And glad you loved Swans – but have to warn you that the short story is kind of a disaster. I read it right after Swans and you can tell he was in a depression/alcohol/drug spiral when he wrote it. It’s just vicious and mean and doesn’t have all the brilliance that made his previous work what it was.

    • Sweetland was an unexpected winner, for sure. It also doesn’t feel like I read it this year, but I definitely did.
      It’s a short story though right? Maybe I should start with In Cold Blood and then read the short story, see how far he fell.

  3. So many books here I still have to read! But I’m thrilled to see Sweetland on this list, as well as The Best Kind of People and Bone & Bread! 🙂

  4. All the love for Vanessa and Her Sister! I don’t know many people who read it, but I thought it was amazing.

    We actually have a fair amount of overlap in books we loved- great minds think alike! Plus, you’ve given me 4 new titles for my TBR. Not sure if that is a good thing or not…

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