What I Read in 2016

So, here’s a list of all the books that I’ve read so far in 2016. This is more for my benefit then yours (but if you are genuinely interested, have a gold star and a hug) so a) I don’t forget what I’ve read and b) so I don’t do that awkward thing of getting halfway through a book and then suddenly remembering every single conversation and plot twist.

Click the underlined titles to read my reviews, and if you want more of what’s on my to-be-read, currently reading and what I’ve loved, check out my Goodreads!

The Storyteller by Jodie Picoult (sad, but brilliant)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (super-duper interesting to learn about another culture, breaks down stereotypes)

Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes (fearless, satirical approach to a taboo subject. Took me ages to finish, not quite my sense of humour but still decent)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (unfinished – scared the living daylights out of me)

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene (absolutely loved it – satirical novel about an anti-spy)

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman (alternative New Testament novel – will trigger many questions)

Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe (for the second time round, and still hilarious)

Uncle Vanya by Chekov/Robert Icke (I LOVE IT.)

1984 by George Orwell/Duncan Macmillan/Robert Icke (Still manages to screw with my mind, despite the fact that I’ve seen and read it multiple times. The production’s back in the West End until October, so run! Get tickets! Now!)

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I needed to read this very, very quickly, and I managed it in a day. Impressive. It’s been yonks since I’d read this, and I’d forgotten how intriguing and exciting it was. Feeling like I should have another re-read of his entire works.

The Empty Space by Peter Brook (a brain-acher, but a must-read for anyone with a vague interest in theatre. ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING. Hard to understand at first, but well worth it.)

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (GOD HOW I LOVE MURAKAMI. ENOUGH SAID. WHIMSICAL, SLIGHTLY CREEPY, BUT AN ENTICING READ! There are talking cats – enough said.)

Of Mice and bloody Men by John bloody Steinbeck (No. Never again. The exam is over and done with. The book that shall not be named. Bring on results day.)

His Dark Materials trilogy (Northern Lights, Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman. Reading three books in two weeks in the middle of exam season would never be a good idea; but I really needed to withdraw into another world to stop me stressing out so much. One of my absolute favourites, for both children and adults alike.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I read this for the first time just over a year ago, and I raced through it because I was so desperate to find out what happened. This time, I found that I was able to appreciate both the plot and Atwood’s style so much more.)

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (A book on the Reading List, I didn’t enjoy it as much as expected. I guess that’s partly because I was unused to the language, and once I realised I wasn’t a fan, I sped through because I knew that I should finish it. Albeit, in the second ‘half’, I was drawn into the story a lot more – I think that this was the first dystopian novel that I wasn’t head-over-heels in love with.)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hussein (Yet another book on the Reading List. Didn’t expect to learn so much, or be as emotionally engaged with the characters. Set in Afghanistan, and then in the USA, it documents the childhood, puberty and adulthood of Amir, and is as much about the journey of Afghanistan as Amir’s story. Fascinating, and it will also rip your heart out.)

The Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus (Loved it. I’d never read anything Greek before, and I would still love to see a Greek play actually being performed. Blood, sex and rock ‘n’ roll, dahling.)

People, Places and Things by Duncan Macmillan (JESUS CHRIST. It’s often too expensive for me to travel to London, therefore I couldn’t see it, and so the next best thing was for me to read it. Honestly, this is one of the best plays that I’ve read this year. It’s just so… fluid and intense and bloody hell.)

NW by Zadie Smith (First Zadie Smith book that I’ve read, and DAMN! was this good. So totally, utterly different to anything I’ve read recently. In a word – colourful.)

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (Don’t read this if you’re weak-stomached – I was excruciatingly close to throwing up at one point. It’s an interesting book (I enjoyed looking at it more critically) about a Wall Street worker/psychopath, Patrick Bateman, who goes round torturing and murdering women, mainly. I totally understand why it was banned. I also really, really need someone to listen to the musical soundtrack. It has True Faith on it, for crying out loud!)

Medea Hecabe Electra  and Heracles by Euripides (Nothing like Greek tragedy to make you realise that your life could be a hell of a lot worse. Predominantly featuring vengeful murders, there’s also promiscuity, sacrifice and dragons. Could be Game of Thrones!)

The Collector by John Fowles (A hauntingly beautiful, slightly disturbing novel about a man who kidnaps a young woman, told from both of their perspectives.)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (I read this around a year ago, but having to read it again as part of The List. I love this novel – it has hedonism, murder, art… What’s not to love? I’m so (SO!) excited to be studying this.)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (I have chapter seven from this pinned up on my wall from a Year 10 English lesson, and I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much is because I feel like I can relate to Esther – not because of her mental illness, but because there are several points where she has NO IDEA what to do with her life. Me too girl, me too.)

Othello by Shakespeare (Initially, my thoughts were simply comprised of ‘who is this person speaking and what actually are they trying to do’, because it takes me a while to get into the swing of iambic pentameter. Despite my reluctance to start, I genuinely love this play – tragedy and a scheming villain always go down well with me. It’s Shakespeare, what else can I say? )

On Beauty by Zadie Smith (This is pretty good, in a more traditional form compared to NW. Although I preferred NW, I enjoyed the mish-mash of academia/spoken word/art/Rembrandt, and witnessing the aftermath of events that apparently destroy this ‘perfect’ family. Not satisfied with the ending, alas.)

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier ( It’s okay. I got angry at one point, binge-watched Real Housewives, felt my brain cells dying, and then returned. A bit romantic for me. It’s still a beautiful novel with beautiful descriptions (and a Colin Firth-Cumberbatch Maxim de Winter, in my case), but not really my thing, sadly.)

Room by Emma Donoghue (Meh. In theory, it should have been incredible, but I felt that there was something missing. About a boy and his mum – he was born and raised in Room, and thinks that the outside world is ‘just TV’. It was decent, but most certainly not one of my top reads this summer.)

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (One of my new favourite books (I know, I couldn’t believe it either), this is about a young man who gives deserts the majority of his earthly possessions, and decides to live out the summer in Alaska. It’s inspiring, mind-screwing, and I bawled my eyes out on more than one occasion. It may just change your life.)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Despite the fact that I can barely pronounce the title even when I’m sober, I’m still nurturing my passion for Russian literature. A searingly brutal account of life in a ‘special’ camp, it highlights the courage of the human spirit, and also makes one realise how much one takes for granted.)

Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman (I read this as part of the Guardian Children’s Book Award, and to be honest, it was better than expected. An easy, fast-paced read about corruption and smuggling (with some imaginary Poldark lookalikes thrown in).)

Cleansed by Sarah Kane (Love in the face of adversity. Violent, graphic, strangely magnetising.)

Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman (Don’t bother. I didn’t enjoy it – too simple, too obvious. A futuristic space-age romance, with some deaths and action thrown in to spice things up.)

Medea by Euripides (Writing. Again.)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare (GUESS WHO IS ACTUALLY, DEFINITELY ASSISTANT DIRECTING?! Your favourite piece of theatre trash has got one foot on the theatre directing ladder!)

Oresteia by Robert Icke (I don’t understand who would give this to a charity shop, where I found this copy. Read it and question everything about justice – one of those ‘spine-tingling’ texts with an undefinable, indescribable atmosphere.)

The Federalist Papers by A. Ham, John Jay and James Madison (Admittedly, I didn’t read all of them, but the ones that I read were pretty interesting. Especially Paper 68, about the electoral college – very useful, post-election. *shudders*)

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte (The all caps represent my utter elation at having finished this novel, and, joy of joys, it’s not that bad. I’m a secret Heights fan now. Thank Christ, considering I have an exam on it.)

 

So I’ve done it. I survived 2016. Unlike Victoria Wood, or Bowie, or A.A.Gill… I think I’ll stop now.

 

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