With the year drawing to a close, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my top ten favourite reads of 2016. I have read a lot of amazing books this year and so it has been difficult to choose, but here is what I have come up with.
#10 – RISK
Risk by Fleur Ferris was an engaging read about the danger of talking to strangers on the internet. One of my favourite things about this book was that it felt so real – all of the characters were interesting and multi-dimensional. The main character, Taylor, deals with a wide range of emotions after her beautiful best-friend Sierra disappears. The storyline is both exciting and haunting, and the author’s 17 years of experience working with the police amongst these kinds of cases is evident. You can check out my full review of Risk here.
#9 – FANTASTICALLY GREAT WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
Obviously this one is a little different to my usual YA readings, but Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is an awesome kids book that is bound to inspire feminism, gender equality, and will help to encourage young girls to follow their dreams. This vibrant book details the lives of 13 women who have had a strong influence on the world – from fashionistas to spies, from writers and scientists to activists for women’s rights. This book is inspiring, informative, and fun to read. For my full review, click here.
#8 – Highly Illogical Behaviour
Highly Illogical Behaviour follows the story of Sol, a boy who suffers from agoraphobia, whose life begins to open up when Lisa mysteriously turns up at his house and declares that she wants to be his friend. Lisa introduces Sol to her boyfriend, Clark, and the three teens form a close bond. But there are secrets brewing just beneath the surface that have the power to ruin everything. This book deals with friendship, love, and mental illness in a sensitive but also humorou way. Check out my full review of Highly Illogical Behaviour here.
#7 – Promising Azra
At sixteen years old, Azra has a bright future ahead of her; she is smart, science-obsessed, and can’t wait to begin studying at university. But her family has other plans for her. Azra’s uncle has arranged for her to be married to a distant cousin who lives in Pakistan. Azra knows that if she fights against her uncle’s wishes it will tear her family apart – but will she give up on her dreams just to keep her family at peace? Promising Azra is a poignant, heart-wrenching look at arranged marriages in Australia. To read my full review on Promising Azra, you can click here.
#6 – How To Be Happy
How To Be Happy isn’t a self-help guide, it’s a captivating memoir about David Burton’s life growing up with depression and anxiety. There is a lot going on in David’s life as he deals with his sexuality and identity, his younger twin brothers, school bullies, and the trials that life tends to throw. This memoir is raw, honest, and humorous. I read it in a single night, not putting it down until I had finished it at 2 A.M and was a blubbering, sobbing mess (in a good way). For my full review on How To Be Happy, click here.
#5 – PIECES OF SKY
If the beautiful cover isn’t enough to make you want to read Pieces of Sky, then you are quite possibly crazy and I will just have to try to convince you to read it anyway. When Lucy’s brother Cam dies in a surfing accident, her family completely falls apart. This story is both heart-breaking and heart-warming, written in beautiful and elegant prose. Pieces of Sky is a stunning debut novel that deals with loss, grief, and friendship. To read my full review of Pieces of Sky, click here.
#4 – Running Like China
This heart-wrenching and brutally honest memoir provides an open account of Sophie Hardcastle’s life with Bipolar 1 Disorder. Initially misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue, then major depression, then temporal lobe epilepsy, Sophie feels like her skin is shrinking as waves of hopelessness roll over her. This memoir was at times very sad and dark, but also uplifting and hopeful. Sophie Hardcastle weaves words together very eloquently, creating vivid descriptions that are so real that you feel like you are walking beside her on her journey. My full review of Running Like China can be found here.
#3 – The Graces
The Graces is a smart and mysterious novel that will keep you guessing right up until the end. River is obsessed with the Graces – a family of beautiful and rich people, who may or may not be witches. I loved the characters in this book, particularly River who is a very unreliable narrator. Everything she says is cold and calculated, and we can never be sure if she is telling us everything. There was so much mystery and tension in this book that I couldn’t put it down. I read all 400+ pages in one day and didn’t even care that my eyes were stinging when I was done. My full review of The Graces can be found here.
#2 – THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS
Women being shamed for their sexuality? Women getting blamed for being raped? Women getting sent off to a strange camp to punish them for the actions of the men who assaulted them? It’s surprisingly hard to draw the line between the dystopian elements of this story and the world that we actually live in. In The Natural Way Of Things, Charlotte Wood puts rape culture under close scrutiny. This book is brave, daring, disturbing, and really, really important. You can read my full review of The Natural Way Of Things here.
#1 – Mother Tongue
Mother Tongue surpassed all my expectations and completely blew me away. Out of all the amazing books I have read this year, this one completely drew me in and engaged me on so many levels. After a brutal terrorist attack shakes her hometown and claims the life of her younger sister, Darya struggles to reclaim her life and find out who she really is. My favourite things about Mother Tongue are the world building and the characterisation – there is just so much detail in this book. Darya is a complex and interesting character, she feels so realistic because she has so many layers of personality and nuances. Her story was mind-blowing and is an amazing portrayal of growing up in a war-torn society and discovering your place amongst all the chaos. For my full review of Mother Tongue, click here.