BOOKS: Best Reads of 2016 – List by Joseph Surtees

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Necropolis: London and its Dead by Catherine Arnold

An engrossing journey through the evolution of the capital’s burial customs and the history of its cemeteries. Just be glad you’ll never have to visit a 17th century London graveyard.


The Tottenham Outrage by M.H.Baylis

A funny and exciting murder mystery set in London’s most unloved location. A top notch crime thriller, the writer’s energy and enthusiasm pops off the page.


Return of a King by William Dalrymple

I hate William Dalrymple but only because I’m horribly jealous of his talent. Another impeccable history from the master. This one deals with the British invasion of Afghanistan in 1839.


The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson

I was only introduced to this children’s classic this year. It’s delightful. Who couldn’t love a book where the central character is a barn owl named Plop? A must read whether you’re 5 or 50.


The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

The somewhat controversial winner of this year’s Not the Booker Prize (run by the Guardian newspaper). Probably not to everyone’s taste but I was blown away by the debut author’s scintillating use of language and her insight into the human soul.


Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain by John Grindgrod

You’d think it would be difficult to make concrete an interesting subject, but somehow John Grindgrod manages it. An in-depth look at postwar brutalism and a time when we actually build enough houses that never drags.


They Would Never Hurt A Fly: War Criminals on Trial in the Hague by Slavenka Drakulic

A good few years old now but a book that, to my shame, I’ve only just got round to reading. A devastatingly personal exploration of the Yugoslavian civil war, it’s a must-read for anybody keen to understand more about this horrific event.


Grief is the thing with Feathers by Max Porter

Completely unlike any fiction you’ll have read before. An almost unbelievably powerful exploration of loss that’s part-prose, part-poetry, part-academic text, part-abstract, freeform, memoir.


Mr Iyer goes to War by Ryan Lobo

An Indian take on Don Quixote. At turns funny, absurd and touching, this debut novel seems to herald the arrival of a fascinating comic talent. An unexpected treat.


Walking the lights by Deborah Andrews

Another Not the Booker Prize shortlisted book. Not perfect but an interesting and worthwhile attempt at exploring modern Scotland through the experiences of those who feel cast adrift by modern life.

Bonus: Guilty pleasure (not really)


The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell

The 10th instalment of the Last Kingdom series by the maestro of readable historical fiction. That sounds like damning with faint praise. It’s not. Like all of Cornwell’s books this one keeps you absorbed until the last sentence.

Tune in tomorrow to see which books made Ross Jeffery’s ‘Best Reads of 2016’ list!

Read Joseph Surtee‘s Book Reviews:

Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter


Impact by Rob Boffard


Hack by Kieran Crowley


Habit by Stephen McGeah


The Beginning of the End by Ian Parkinson


Check out our Book Review section here


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