Does exactly what it says on the tin, right? I managed three whole blog posts in 2016; I might try for four in 2017. Aim high, eh. And I couldn't help but feel a little irate that I only read 72 books last year - I used to easily top a hundred - but then, while the previous three years had the PhD as a limiting factor, 2016 had finishing the PhD, renovating a house, submitting the PhD, having another baby (a boy one, this time), the viva (the horror), our wedding and the PhD corrections (thankfully minor). So I guess I shouldn't feel too bad. Anyway, let's see how 2017 goes. I've got a huge pile of books that have been accumulating for years and if I get through even a quarter of them, plus review books and new buys, I'll be happy.
34. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara. Late to the party with this one. Totally blew me away.
33. The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry. Captivating.
32. To Be A Machine, Mark O'Connell. Fascinating non-fiction look at transhumanism.
31. The Dogs of Inishere, Alannah Hopkin. Story collection; review here.
30. The Portable Veblen, Elizabeth McKenzie. Nails the whole family/in-law dynamic. A lot better than I expected after the first couple of chapters.
29. The Iron Age, Arja Kajermo. Deceptively brutal story of a Finnish childhood.
28. The Living End, Stanley Elkin. The Inferno, sort of updated. Mostly very funny; one unfunny rape joke. Hmm.
27. The Night Visitors, Jenn Ashworth & Richard V. Hirst. Properly creepy ghost story.
26. The Blood Miracles, Lisa McInerney. A reread for research. What book!
25. Making Space, Sarah Tierney. Debut novel. A girl adrift falls for a hoarder.
24. The Glorious Heresies, Lisa McInerney. Interviewing Lisa soon, so this was a research reread. Still brilliant!
23. The Lauras, Sara Taylor. Road trip novel. Good stuff on gender but didn't grab me much otherwise. Preferred The Shore.
22. The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth. Totally fantastic. Brutal and inventive and compelling, and man, an object lesson in characterisation and the intricacies of first person narration and voice.
21. Cold Water, Gwendoline Riley. Second time in a row - wanted to get the nuances before I taught it.
20. Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders. Pretty odd, quirky, sad - I prefer his short fiction but I did enjoy this.
19. Cold Water, Gwendoline Riley. Short but intense; very Mancunian.
18. NW, Zadie Smith. A reread for teaching purposes; just as good as I remembered. Still her best, though I haven't yet read Swing Time.
17. The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith. A good story but packaging as a hardback book is a bit cheeky imo.
16. Hangsaman, Shirley Jackson. Horrendously realistic and tense (as you'd expect).
15. The Witchfinder's Sister, Beth Underdown. Fantastic first novel - literary historical, massively tense and beautifully written. Prize nominations ahoy, I reckon.
14. Veronica, Mary Gaitskill. Interesting, but not my favourite of hers.
13. Rockadoon Shore, Rory Gleeson. Captivating debut novel about a bunch of teenagers on holidays. Funny but very sad, too.
12. Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter. Just as sad as I expected it to be, but hopeful too.
11. The Notebook, Agota Kristof. Chilling story of wartime.
10. The Blood Miracles, Lisa McInerney. Fantastic second novel; review to follow...
9. Leaving is my Colour, Amy Burns. Really funny debut novel; especially great on family tensions.
8. Hame, Annalena McAfee. Very, very long novel; the history and writings of a fiction Scottish poet on his island island.
7. A Line Made By Walking, Sara Baume. Her second novel; clever and sad.
6. Orange Horses, Maeve Kelly. Super collection. Review here.
5. The Nix, Nathan Hill. Really entertaining, a great read, but not the Most Amazing Book Ever as per some US reviews... My review here.
4. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi. Fascinating novel if you're interested in black history and the slave trade (read it!) or if you like family sagas. Review here.
3. Chelsea Girls, Eileen Myles. Fabulous novel-slash-memoir. Loved it.
2. You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine, Alexandra Kleeman. Very weird but captivating novel. Review here.
1. The Outrun, Amy Liptrot. Memoir about alcoholism and recovery, but really great when it comes to talking about Orkney and island life/history.