TOP TUESDAY: Top Reads of 2016

Since I disappeared by the end of 2016 I never got around to telling you about my favourite books of the year. So here is a slightly late top 10 of books I read in 2016.

In 2016 I managed to complete my Goodreads challenge of reading 50 books. That does not count the books I did read most of, but for various reasons did not finish and there were a couple of those.

  1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    A couple of years ago I saw this comic based on a quote from Plath’s The Bell Jar. At the time I had tried reading the book, but had gotten stuck about 50 pages in. When I read that comic and the quote it was based on I knew I had to give it another try because I had never related more to a book quote in my life and I suspected that this would be one of my favourite books of all time. Not only that, but after reading this quote I was able to admit to myself that I have a depression.
    And this was the year that I finally read the book and of course as I expected it became a favourite of mine.

2. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Up until this year, I had not read a lot of Margaret Atwood. In fact, I had read none. I then read an excerpt of MaddAddam for one of my courses and kind of liked it and later the release of the Hogarth Shakespeare series – and its Danish translations – started, so I figured I would check out her retelling of The Tempest, which got the title Hag-Seed.
I loved this book so much that it really got me hooked on Atwood’s work. So much so that I started reading The Handmaid’s Tale by the end of the year and finished it just a couple of days into 2017. I predict that I am going to read a lot of Atwood’s works over the next couple of years.

3. The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson
Winterson has been one of my favourite authors for a couple of years by now since I read her books Written on the Body and Oranges are not the Only Fruit. They deal so well with questions about sexuality and gender identity which is of great importance to me as a queer and genderfluid person.
So when I heard that she was participating in the Hogarth Shakespeare series I knew I had to read it, even if I had not read The Winter’s Tale which the story is based on. Fortunately, the book had a short summary of the original play at the beginning helping me get an outline of the story before venturing into it. And of course she managed to work in issues of gender identity, feminism and sexuality into the story which made it a complete delight to read – okay, not complete delight, there are still some horrific scenes in it, but you know what I mean.

4. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
I love graphic novels and I love cooking/food, so naturally, when you combine the two you have a really good chance of creating a winner for me. The recipes at the end of the chapters just made it even better because it feels like an inclusion of your readers and food is something most of us can relate to in some way and gather around. Just do not read this if you have not eaten within the last couple of hours; believe me, when I say that you will regret it deeply.

5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
One of the most visceral and horrific tales I read this year, yet it stuck with me in all the best ways. Inspecting themes of gender roles, women ideals and body dysmorphia, this book really digs into some terrible aspects of family life and society that was bound to cause some commotion when it was released. The very deserving winner of Man Booker International Prize and definitely one of my favourite reads of 2016.

6. Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
After having read Fun Home I figured I would read Bechdel’s other autobiographical graphic novel and as much as I loved the former, I ended up relating to this one even more. For that reason, it was also an incredibly tough read for me, but I needed it more than I knew. It charts the relationship between Bechdel and her mother and Bechdel’s own dealings with her mental health in a very deep and profound way which cannot help but touch the reader, especially if they themselves are dealing with conflicting feelings in regards to their parents.

7. 1Q84, Vol. 1 by Haruki Murakami
I finally started reading Murakami this year, even if it was only one, and I ended up almost beating myself over the head with the book because I had waited so long since this book was so good! I cannot wait to read the rest of the series, which I plan to do this year.

8. Carol by Patricia Highsmith
Having watched the film, which I loved, I was kind of nervous to go read this. I am not quite sure, maybe I was afraid that because it was a book from the 50’s and I would not be able to relate to any of the characters due to other ideals of the time. Fortunately, I was proven wrong in my fears, I actually related quite a lot to Therese and I get how it filled a void for the LGBT women of the time as one of the few books about a romantic relationship between two women that did not end badly.

9. A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
I started reading Darker Shade of Magic because I thought it was a standalone – and the way it ended it very well could have been. So imagine my surprise when I found out a second one was to be released. I have a strict rule of not starting series until all books have been released – hence why I have not yet read Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles or George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire – so I was a bit annoyed when I found out I had accidentally broken the rule. That does not mean I do not enjoy this series, it is probably one of my new favourite series and I cannot wait to read A Conjuring of Light, which is the third and last book in the series.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
It feels like a bit of a cop-out to put this on the list as it is such a classic, but it really was one of the best books I read this year. I completely understand its status as a classic and certain passages from it had me holding my breath, even though I have already seen the film. I managed to read it as part of Booktubeathon this past summer, and I just barely finished it by the end of the week by the sheer power of determination in order to add it to my wrap-up.

Top Ten Tuesday is a post type that combines lists with the love of literature. It was started by The Broke and The Bookish and I learned about it from my friend Regitze over at Bookish Love Affair and I decided to join in on this trend. I know that I will not always be able to come up with ten answers so I will just refer to it as Top Tuesday.

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