Top Books 2016

It’s that time of year – where bloggers look back over the books they’ve read during the past twelve months to pick their favourites. I always look forward to – reading the lists that other people compile, and choosing my favourites.


This year, I’ve managed to keep it ten – even though that meant leaving off some books I really liked by notables like Elizabeth von Arnim, Vita Sackville-West, Muriel Spark, Ivy Compton-Burnett, E.H. Young, Elizabeth Bowen… basically, the list could have been much longer. And the top book – well, it’s not the one I’ve been telling everyone it would be, because I hadn’t remembered my favourite book of the year had slipped into the first few days of 2016, rather than the last few of 2015.

My usual self-imposed rules apply – no re-reads and only one book per author. Click on the title to take you to the review!

10. Daisy’s Aunt (1910) by E.F. Benson

A frivolous, funny, and entirely delightful novel that reminds me that there’s so much more to E.F. Benson than the (wonderful) Mapp and Lucia books.

9. Poor Relations (1919) by Compton Mackenzie

This was a lovely surprise – one of the books I took with me to Edinburgh, and an extremely funny and sharp book. Another author to explore more…

8. Over the Footlights and Other Fancies (1923) by Stephen Leacock

A return to one of my favourite authors was a definite success – and makes me glad that I kept off making my list until the end of the year.

7. Greengates (1936) by R.C. Sherriff

I only just finished this one, and haven’t reviewed yet – but the next episode of ‘Tea or Books?’ podcast will cover it. For now, I’ve linked to Rachel’s review of this observant, gentle, rather beautiful tale of a couple entering retirement.

6. Americanah (2013) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I wasn’t sure which Adichie book to choose – I’ve read three of hers in 2016 – but it’s this one which has stayed with me the most. Her novel of Nigerian ex-pats in the UK and US is thoughtful, poignant, and brilliantly told.

5. Terms and Conditions (2016) by Ysenda Maxtone Graham

I’m far from the only person who’s fallen in love with this Slightly Foxed offering – an anecdotal history of girls’ boarding schools 1939-1979.

4. The Museum of Cheats (1947) by Sylvia Townsend Warner

I’ve not read any of Warner’s short stories before, but absolutely loved her touch with these when I read the collection during the #1947Club. (#1951Club to come in the spring!)

3. Cider With Rosie (1959) by Laurie Lee

This was the first book I read especially for ‘Tea or Books?’, and I’m so glad I did! This charming memoir is rightly beloved by many.

2. The Lost Europeans (1958) by Emanuel Litvinoff

The novel I thought would be the top one on my list – a brilliantly written portrait of two men trying to come to terms with Germany and their pasts after the Second World War.

1.The Lark (1922) by E. Nesbit

Once I’d remembered that this was one of my first reads in 2016, how could anything else come top of my list? It’s rare to read a novel this funny, joyful, and charming – about two young women setting up a flower shop, and their witty adventures. Even better – it’s coming back into print from Scott and the Furrowed Middlebrow imprint at Dean Street Press!

11 thoughts on “Top Books 2016

  • December 30, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Sigh as I head to my reading wishlist to add yet more books to my groaning shelves…

  • December 30, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    There’s four there that I have read but I think all the others are now on my wishlist. My list has taken me hours to complete (posting tomorrow) but it isn’t as fascinating as yours. Your end of year post is one I look forward to.

  • December 31, 2016 at 2:39 am

    I’ve only read three of these, but I loved The Lark. This gives me some books to check out.

  • December 31, 2016 at 3:12 am

    Lovely list! I need to get my hands on Greengates especially!

  • December 31, 2016 at 3:25 am

    Only I’ve read is CIDER WITH ROSIE, but I will track down several others. In the U.S. libraries always focus on American authors to the detriment of foreign offers. The only way I can find most British books is on Amazon and my library is already too large.

  • December 31, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Your end-of-year list is always my favourite, Simon. There’s a couple on here that will be on my own list and the rest are all on my TBR list! I’m especially keen to read The Lost Europeans, thanks entirely to you.

  • December 31, 2016 at 11:35 am

    That’s a great list Simon – so many good ones! I find it hard to pick favourites, and now I wish I’d included The Lost Europeans on my list!

  • December 31, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Great list, Simon. I have you and Rachel to thank for Cider with Rosie. I tried it several years ago and didn’t get on but picked it up again after that episode and loved it. Especially nice listening to Laurie Lee read the audiobook. Thank you for a great year of books and tea and blogging! A very happy New Year to you and your family!

  • January 1, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Happy New Year, Simon! I’m looking forward to reading Terms and Conditions after so many glowing recommendations but have to wait for them to print up more copies. Greengates is a must for this year as well after reading Rachel’s review.

  • January 2, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Ali gave me Greengates for Christmas so I’m looking forward to that making my top ten of this year! Americanah was on my list for last year, a fab book. And I have The Lark on my Kindle but will be buying the reprint instead. A lovely selection!

  • January 4, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    You’ve certainly sold the Lark to me, will look out for reprint. I loved Terms and Conditions, and ended up giving it to several happy recipients for Xmas.

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