2016 was a difficult year, with celebrity deaths, the EU Referendum and the American election shaking things up, but what doesn’t change is our love of books. At the start of the year, we canvassed the opinions of Information Store staff to see what sort of books they would be challenging themselves to read this year. So, how did we do?
In 2016, we challenged ourselves to read…
A book that has been adapted into a film or TV show – this is a really great way to get more out of a film you love, and you can join in the conversation when someone talks about the adaptation.
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes (QUICK READS – GRAPHIC NOVELS 741.5973), adapted for film in 2001, a classic exploration of 90’s teen ennui.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, with an adaptation currently being filmed, a futuristic novel about an epic treasure hunt through an immersive virtual reality computer game. For another high-tech teen thriller set in the near future, try Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (QUICK READS 823.91).
A classic we’ve always meant to read – the idea of something being a ‘classic’ usually makes it seem scary, but classics often became popular because they were good reads to start with. Don’t be intimidated by their reputation!
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (BOOK ZONE 823.91), a poignant adventure that imagines the impact humans would have if they had discovered Mars was habitable.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (BOOK ZONE 823.91), a classic (and often-banned) tale of prejudice, racial inequality and hope in the American South during the period of racial segregation. Check out our review of the film here.
A book that has been banned in the past – banned books are often seen as threats to the status quo, and sometimes their banned status makes them infamous classics. When governments try to silence authors, sometimes that’s the best time to make sure their voices are heard.
Howl and Other Poems by Alan Ginsberg (BOOK ZONE and NORFOLK HOUSE 821.91), banned for obscenity, mostly because it talked about homosexuality at a time when it was illegal.
A book from another country – if you need inspiration for this one, try this blog, in which a reader challenged herself to read her way around the world, or this website designed to inspire international reading.
Attack on Titan Volumes 1-3 by Hajime Isayama (QUICK READS – MANGA 741.5952), a Japanese graphic novel about a future where giant creatures called Titans roam the land eating people and humanity has been forced to retreat to walled cities for protection.
A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure – it’s easy to feel ashamed of our reading choices, but there’s no reason to. Choose something fun to read without guilt or pressure!
Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come Volumes 1-3 by Geoff Johns (QUICK READS – GRAPHIC NOVELS 741.5973), a DC comic about an alternative Earth Superman coming to the Justice Society of America from another world to warn them about the rise of a terrifying super being called Gog.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, a young adult dystopian novel about a world where people with silver blood are seen as superior and have powers, whereas those with red blood are forced into terrible conditions.
The Selection series by Kiera Cass, another YA dystopia about potential brides for a prince competing for ‘selection’. For some other great dystopian reads, check out our blog post on A Short History of Dystopian Fiction in 9 Books and our review of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (QUICK READS 823.92).
A book published in the last year – there are more books being published than ever, but they’re quite often relevant to current trends and have more diverse representations. Picking up something published more recently can also mean you can form your own opinion of it, because you haven’t read dozens of other people’s opinions.
Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman, a young adult science fiction romance based on Shakespeare’s play Othello. Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series is a great dystopian adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and well worth a read (QUICK READS 823.91).
Barkskins by Annie Proulx, a family saga set in seventeenth-century America by the author of The Shipping News, That Old Ace in the Hole, Heart Songs and Accordian Crimes (all in the BOOK ZONE at 823.91).
A book that was originally published in another language – books in translation are becoming more and more common, as the English markets discover genres and trends in the fiction of other countries that appeal (like the Swedish Detective genre). And this can also give you a different perspective!
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, the writer of the Moomin books, a gentle novel about a woman and her grand-daughter living on a tiny island in Finland through different seasons.
The Three Body Problem and The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu. The Three Body Problem is a science-fiction novel about first contact set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, and The Dark Forest, the second in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy.
We have loads of books by authors from across the world in the Book Zone or at Norfolk House, as well as a number of books translated from English or in their original languages. Ask a staff member for more information!
A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture – a lot of indigenous cultures haven’t had their voices recognised or widely publicised over the last century, but every year that changes a bit, and the more we make efforts to seek out literature or poetry by people from oppressed cultures, the quicker it happens. Leave your preconceptions at the door!
Darker Than Night by Owl Goingback, which seems like a classic haunted house story, about a horror novelist returning to their childhood home – but something else lives in their house now, trying to break through into this world, and it’s not going to let the protagonist and his family go without a fight, all informed by Goingback’s extensive knowledge of Native American folklore and ritual.
A non-fiction book about science – loads of science writers have engaging styles that make hard subjects fun, and this can really expand your mind.
Fun Science by Charlie McDonnell, the non-fiction book by a vlogger who has become famous for Youtube videos that break complicated science down into simple explanations.
Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon, which looks at the role of genetics in our development and how traits are passed down.
From Eternity to Here: the Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll, which builds on Stephen Hawkin’s seminal A Brief History of Time to understand the nature of time.
Other scientific communicators who are great at explaining complicated concepts in accessible terms are Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time (BOOK ZONE 529), Brian Greene in The Elegant Universe (BOOK ZONE 539.7258) and Brian Cox in Why Does E=MC2 (and why should we care?) (BOOK ZONE 530.11).
The first book in a series by a person of colour – challenge the traditional bias in publishing and seek out books by writers of colour. Things might have improved over the last ten to twenty years, but we’ve still got a long way to go on representation.
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due, the first book in the African Immortals series, about immortal supernatural creatures based on African folklore.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights) for a modern audience, where Shahrzad vows to stop the murderous Caliph once and for all, and the first in a series that continues where the ancient tale usually leaves off.
A book about religion – religion is a loaded subject right now, but learning more about a subject can help us empathise with people who have different views and beliefs from us. It’s worth making sure the author knows what they’re talking about, though!
The Wicked + the Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, a graphic novel set in a world where gods and devils incarnate into human vessels and become celebrities.
Often compared with Neil Gaiman’s incredible novel American Gods, the TV adaptation of which is starting this year. Check out some of our other fantastic graphic novels, from superheroes saving the day to more serious subjects like the immigrant experience (The Arrival by Shaun Tan, found in QUICK READS – GRAPHIC NOVELS at ) or the Holocaust (Maus by Art Spiegelman).
Fiction about cults and the often disturbing power they hold over cult members were a big deal this year. Victoria read The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oake, The Girls by Emma Cline, The Beloved by Alison Rattle and In The Dark, In The Woods by Eliza Wass.
Look out for our reading resolutions for 2017, coming soon!
For some reading resolution inspiration, check out our past years: