Book Awards 2016

2016 has been a great year of reading for me, and I’ve totalled 68 books this year! Of course, that has made choosing the winners of 2016’s book awards much harder, so I’ve added a couple of extra categories and there’ll be a few more honourable mentions than there were in the 2015 Book Awards.

Right then, let’s get into it! Here are my favourite books from 2016…


Best Translated Book

Winner: Skylight by José Saramago

Saramago’s ‘lost’ novel is a fascinating exploration of the lives of the people that inhabit a 1940s Lisbon apartment building. It is violent, philosophical and touching.


Best Non-Fiction Book

Winner: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

A feminist classic that I can’t believe I haven’t read before. Woolf addresses the problems historically faced by women writers in a compelling way that is still relevant today.

(Honourable mention: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall)


Best Graphic Novel

Winner: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This moving, true-life story about Satrapi’s life growing up in war-torn Iran is absolutely incredible, and it kick-started my love of chunky graphic novel autobiographies.

(Honourable mention: The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger)


Best Poetry Collection

Winner: Undying: A Love Story by Michel Faber

death and madness undying a love story michel faber poetry

Faber writes about his wife Eva’s gradual decline and death from cancer in poems filled with rage, sorrow and heartbreak.


Best Short Story Collection

Winner: The Fahrenheit Twins by Michel Faber

Another award for Michel Faber! This delightfully eclectic collection of realism and magical realism, sci-fi and fairytale explores the dark side of the human soul in a thoroughly absorbing way.

(Honourable mentions: The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson)


Best Series

Winner: The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

I devoured the first book in this series, A Natural History of Dragons, and promptly bought all the rest. It’s fun feminist fantasy and I can’t get enough.


Best Newcomer

For the best author I’ve read for the first time this year.

Winner: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Image result for chimamanda ngozi adichie

Image by TED

This year I have read Adichie’s novel Americanah, her short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck, and watched her TED talks about stories and feminism. I am quite in love with this woman.

(Honourable mention: Sarah Moss)


Lifetime Achievement Award

For the best author I have read this year, and before, who continues to impress me.

Winner: Michel Faber

Image result for michel faber

Image by Eva Faber

Last year Faber’s novel The Book of Strange New Things won my Best Book of the Year. In 2016 I’ve read another of his novels, The Crimson Petal and the White, and tried his poetry and short stories – all fantastic.


Best Book to Movie Adaptation

Winner: Arrival, based on ‘Story of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang

Image result for arrival movie

Image from PopSugar

This movie – about aliens, language and time – is different from your usual sci-fi fare. It’s quiet, thoughtful and complex, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Chiang’s original short story.

(Honourable mention: Room, based on the book Emma Donoghue)


Most Beautiful Cover

Winner: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

a natural history of dragons marie brennan

The covers in the Lady Trent series are just so pretty, perfectly combining awesome dragons with a scientific depiction of their anatomy (just like the story inside!)

(Honourable mentions: The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss, At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson)


Worst Book

Winner: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

Image result for hard-boiled wonderland

Murakami is at his worst when he’s trying to write about computing, and this book is all about a cringeworthy invented computing system. It’s also a blatant fuck-fantasy about overweight younger women. Yuck.


Best Book

Winner: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I don’t think I’ve stopped thinking about this book since I read it on holiday in the spring. It’s sweeping and important and just so cleverly written. It doesn’t get better than this!

(Honourable mentions: Room by Emma Donoghue, A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan)

I hope 2016 was a fantastic reading year for you too, and here’s to finding more new favourites in 2017!

Have you read any of my winning books? Let me know your thoughts with a comment down below.

4 Comments on “Book Awards 2016

  1. Hello
    68 books is a lot.
    My own favourite this year [because I only read it this year] was The Book of Strange New Things; thought it was fabulous. Everything that David Mitchel isn’t. I have just ordered Americana on your recommendation; I never fancied it to be honest but your recommend is so strong I will give it a go. Have you read another novel called Lament for the Fallen? Also set in Nigeria. I have just put a 5* Review up on Amazon for it; I thought it was amazing.


    • Oh I’m so glad you liked Strange New Things! Such a great book, and I hope you like Americanah too.

      I don’t think I’ve even heard of Lament for the Fallen, but it sounds like exactly my kind of thing – thanks for the recommendation :)

      • Hello again
        Since I posted my comment I have gone through your 2016 choices. I have to say Clare, your taste is remarkably similar to mine, particularly surprising in that you are a young woman and I am an old geezer. I have read quite a few of them:
        Dune I read it [twice] when it came out [1965] and I still have my original copy. I tried re-reading it a couple of years ago but had to throw in the towel around page 50. It’s a young persons book; all those names and different characters were beyond me this time. I have to say however that as a young man it remained on my all-time best books list for many years.
        Even the Dogs again I read when it came out and still have my original copy [there are some novels I will never part with]. I absolutely loved it and the main thing I thought was, ‘wish I could write like this’. [I can’t actually find your review but you mention purchasing a copy around May].
        There are others I read but pretty much hated [Ruth Ozeki; Cloud Atlas; the Nick Hornby] but I won’t go into the details.
        Based upon your reviews, I have purchased Americanah and a True Story Based on Lies.

        I read 44 books last year. If you are at all interested in my reviews you can read them on my blog go into each month and scroll down to RECENT READS. There are three or four in every month. But assuming you won’t manage that, these were my favourites:

        Leftovers by Laura Weiss. An American NA [New Adult] book which always tops every list of NA novels; it has sold millions of copies and I thought it was fabulous.
        Boyhood Island by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Brilliant, brilliant book. Okay it’s a bloke writing about blokes and that might put you off but I can’t recommend it highly enough. I had a father like his: beat the shit out of my brother and me and you never knew what it was you had done to annoy him.
        Six Months on Ghazza Street by Hilary Mantel. My favourite author, ever. I have read this three times and adore it. I was prompted to read it for a fourth time by the serialisation on Radio 4 in the summer.
        Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie. Brilliant book: loved it, loved it, loved it. It’s a series of essays about nature and the countryside in the most beautiful prose.
        My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. You have probably read this? I am late getting to it but if you haven’t read it, you should. It is everything they say about it.
        The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota. Last years Booker runner up. Really liked it; right up my street.
        The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth. An unusual novel about 1066 and the Norman Conquests. The first fifty pages are a bit of a trial but once you are in to it, it is incredibly gripping.
        The Sympathiser by Viet Than Ngoyen. This won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015. It is terrific [and if you are a writer, you will thrill at the structure].
        Colorless Tsukuro Tazaki by Haruki Murakami. Super book. I know it has mixed reviews but I couldn’t fault it.
        Plus of course, The Book of Strange New Things. I don’t know if you know but someone has given this one star on Amazon.

        Best wishes

        • Yes, we do seem to have very similar tastes! The ones that stand out to me from your recommendations are The Wake and Colorless Tsukuro Tazaki – both of which I own and have never got round to reading!

          I’ve also heard lots of controversy around My Brilliant Friend – seems to be a love it or hate it book – so I’m definitely intrigued by that one. Will probably get it based on your recommendation :)

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