The best books, according to me

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I’ve stopped using Goodreads to review books. I thought I might read in private for a while and see how that went. So far, pretty well.

Still, you have to tell people your favourite books at the end of the year, right? So, in no particular order, these were my top 8:

  1. Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (2016)
  2. Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill (2016) (Aust)
  3. The Dig Tree by Sarah Murgatroyd (Aust)
  4. The three books of the Captive Prince series by CS Pacat (Aust)
  5. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
  6. Beatlebone by Kevin Barry
  7. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  8. How to be Both by Ali Smith

I don’t know if they have that much in common – three Goldsmith’s Prize winners are in there, I think, and if Ryan O’Neill was published in England it’d probably be four – Their brilliant careers is one of the cleverest and deeply thought out Australian books I’ve read. So I suppose most of them are trying to do something a bit different with form, and mostly succeeding. They’re also an emotional bunch of books – Aurora, BeatleboneThe buried giant, Solar bones and How to be both all had me in sudden and surprising floods of tears. They all made me want to try harder and be a better writer. The Dig Tree achieved something I’ll probably never attempt – making a boring old story you think you know backwards into something fresh and intriguing and very, very entertaining. And The Captive Prince is that best of all things, a book that you cannot stop reading. Nothing else mattered while I was reading this series.

‘Aurora’ had to go back to the library



I loved a lot of books this year – it’s been a great reading year. The rest of my favourites, according to my secret and private spreadsheet, were:

Because I’ve been keeping a secret and private spreadsheet, I will still be thrilling the world with this years ‘Books I read, unnecessarily graphed’ in the next couple of weeks: something to look forward to.

15 thoughts on “The best books, according to me

  1. haha Jane, you always make me laugh. My list – not so secret except I never put rantings or rankings on my blog – won’t come out until the New Year. Of your top ten, I’ve only read The dig tree and I can certainly agree with your high rating for it. What a shame that young woman died so young. And I’ve read books by your 6, 7 and 7 authors.

    I haven’t even heard of many of your next group, but I have read Jane Gardam – a long time ago now.

    Anyhow I look forward to seeing more delights from your “secret and private spreadsheet”.

  2. Two words that get me excited. Unnecessarily graphed!
    I read a Jane Gardam for the first time this year and was quietly blown away. Will seek out more. Just finished Autumn by Ali Smith and found it brilliant, relevant, funny. Beatlebone and Barry’s City of Bohane are also in my top reads.

    1. Which Gardam did you read? I’m keen to read more. It’s so not of this time or place, but still felt immensely important. I can’t believe I STILL haven’t read City of Bohane, what is wrong with me?

      1. The Gardam I read was “God on the Rocks” – it was quietly intense and yes – if a different time and place but utterly absorbing. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was so tight. Have borrowed more of her books from the library – and I’m in the library queue for a few books on your list. I attempted “This Island Will Sink” but wasn’t in a good headspace for it. And yep – READ BOHANE!

  3. Thanks for this list Jane. Love the sound of Solar Bones and Beatlebone in particular. And I always love Ishiguro but haven’t got to this one yet. Have added to my Xmas wish list. This year I also enjoyed Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa, you might like it too.

  4. Can you give us the formulae for this spreadsheet? And criteria on how you judged? I read the post about how you graphed it but as you read how do you ask and rate it? Sorry if that is a daft question – am trying to get my head around how you go about it.

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