My Favourite Books of 2016.

books

It’s the time of year when everyone releases their end-of-year best-of lists. Normally I write about the best books I’ve read over the course of the year in August for the National Reading Hour, but this year I decided to fit in with the literati.

It’s important to note that some of these books weren’t necessarily released this year, but I just read them in the past twelve months or so. There were also plenty of great books that came out this year that I haven’t yet gotten around to reading, in which case they’ll probably make my list next year. So, without further ado, my five favourite books of the past year.

Friendship by Emily Gould.

I loved how unapologetically human and ugly the characters were at times. Though neither of the two protagonists were likeable, I found myself relating to both of them, perhaps Amy more so, who I somehow feel is the one you’re supposed to dislike most. I could totally see Greta Gerwig playing her in the movie version. The open-ended conclusion was great, too.

Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

There are no words I could write to describe this book. Just read it.

Room by Emma Donoghue.

For some reason, I’d never gotten around to reading Room when it was released in 2010 but it had always been on my list. With the movie adaptation hitting cinemas (which I saw four times in cinemas and thought was the rare film that was better than the book), I thought I’d finally see what it was all about.

Told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy who never knew anything outside the titular room in which he was born to his captive young mother, I struggled sometimes with his voice (I don’t like children at the best of times, let alone when they’re trusted with an escape plan and attempting to adjust to a brand new world with rules and social norms they’ve never encountered before) but it was never at the detriment of the truly compelling story.

Hush by Eishes Chayil.

I just put this one down and it left enough of an impression on me to include it in this list. Eishes Chayil is a pen name meaning “woman of valor” and protected the identity of the author when this book came out in 2010. (The author has since been revealed as Judy Brown.) It deals with sexual assault and youth suicide in the Hasidic Jewish community and, although young adult fiction which I’m not usually a fan of, it doesn’t take away from the impact of the story.

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire.

This was definitely my favourite book of the year. The characters were so fully realised, the story familiar but still original, and the way Maguire writes about something we’re all too familiar with—the rape and murder of women—is far removed from the salacity with which it’s often covered.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood.

This one deals with similar topics to most of the books on this list, (I’m often wary to recommend books I’ve loved to friends and colleagues because they’re usually about gendered abuse!) but the way it’s written and the almost spec-fic context sets it apart. I would recommend this one to more serious readers as the themes and tone of the book is more literary than others like it.

Image via Barrington Books Retold.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

The beauty of Milhouse.

Mercury’s in retrograde. No wonder everything in my life has been up shit creek lately: friends, family, home life and, especially, work life. Here’s how to survive it.

Lots of good stuff on Musings of an Inappropriate Woman this week, where Rachel Hills writes on friendship and sameness in the life of an expat, “lessons in feminist activism” and her thoughts on teens and sexuality on TV:

“… The New York Observer’s Nate Freeman…, bafflingly, draws from this exchange that the characters on Skins get laid more often than the actors who play them because they don’t own web-enabled mobile phones. I’d be more inclined to suggest that they get laid more often because they’re fictional, and from a narrative drama perspective, having sex is more interesting than not having it. As one of my interview subjects put it: ‘Television is not an accurate portrayal of real life, but that’s kind of what we all like it for.’”

The joys of op-shopping for party favours.

“Giving The Big Bang Theory a Fair Chance.”

Spoiler Alert: Big Love Was About Feminism All Along.”

Control underwear is “Just a Girdle By Another Name”. Thoughts?

Gwyneth Paltrow puts her foot in it… again!

One of my favourite past Australian Idol contestants, Em Rusciano, who now presents for The 7pm Project, writes—hilariously—on the self-help book for MamaMia.

Also at MamaMia, Rick Morton on the app to “cure” homosexuality:

“Mobility guilt, yours for free.

“The app is mostly a direct port of information available on the website but, importantly, it’s available while you’re out and about in case you are overcome with sexual urges and need to keep your hands busy fiddling with an iPhone instead of, you know, the same sex.”

Mel Evans doesn’t like Belle de Work Expérience‘s take on Cosmo.

Image via Simpson Crazy.