My Year in Books: 2016

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m looking back on a much less bookish year than usual for me, but I thought I’d summarise it anyway.


12 of the 30 books I read were fiction. Three of those were whoppers comprising the Ken Follett trilogy of the 20th century –  not a series I would ever have picked up without a strong personal recommendation.  William Boyd also took me on another life lived through the 20th century, as did the two linked Kate Atkinson stories.  As is usual with me, several of my fictional reads had other country settings: the former GDR, the Third Reich, Baltimore, the American Deep South, and Indian immigrants in England. The war years theme was rounded off with Helen Dunmore’s wonderful spy novel set in London and Cambridge.

Here’s the list of fiction titles: The Year of the Runaways (Sanjeev Sahota), The Fall of Giants/Winter of the World/Edge of Eternity (Ken Follett), Stasi Child (David Young), When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (Judith Kerr), The Invention of Wings (Sue Monk Kidd), Life after Life/A God in Ruins (Kate Atkinson), A Spool of Blue Thread (Anne Tyler), Sweet Caress (William Boyd), Exposure (Helen Dunmore)


So that means 18 of my books read in 2016 were non-fiction. A third of these I could classify as ‘vicars’ books’ – books I read either to help me grow in my Christian faith and personal discipleship or to help me become a better vicar. Another third were about the life/culture/history of other countries, 4 were about the craft of storytelling and/or nonfiction writing and 2 were about TED storytelling and talks.  So a mix of learning more about other countries and cultures and learning stuff for life and ministry.

So this is the non-fiction list: Autopsy of a Deceased Church (Thom Rainer), God Dreams (Will Mancini), All the Places to Go (John Ortberg), The Nail (Stephen Cottrell), Dust and Glory (David Runcorn), Quantum Leap (Grove Books); The Road to Little Dribbling (Bill Bryson), The House by the Lake (Thomas Harding), Stasiland (Anna Funder), Vietnam: Rising Dragon (Bill Hayton), River of Time (Jon Swain), Ghosts of Spain (Giles Tremlett); The Art of Memoir (Mark Karr), Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott), Storycraft (Jack Hart), Experiential Storytelling (Mark Miller); TED talk: Storytelling, How to Deliver a Great TED talk

Thoughts on this list . . .

As tends to be the case with my reading there’s more non-fiction listed than fiction
Other countries, cultures and languages figure prominently
I did less faith-related reading than in other years
I can’t point to any one best read among this year’s list. I really enjoyed most of them, but a few (of the novels) were a bit of a struggle and took me ages to read, ,earning I didn’t get very much read overall.  All the books I read were good to OK but nothing really stood out massively.  My favourite read was The House by the Lake – the story of a house on the western side of Berlin which spent several decades behind the iron curtain. I also enjoyed Jack Hart’s Storytelling and would love to put his teaching and wisdom into practice and write that kind of inspiring narrative nonfiction (I feel a new year’s resolution coming on!)
I only read 30 books, but it felt a lot less than in previous years and I have literally piles of books of all categories, fiction and nonfiction, paper and electronic copies and I long to get so much more read – I feel another new year’s resolution coming on for all those train journeys ahead now that I weekly commute to work . . .

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