A non-definitive list of the books I loved in 2016

Dec 13, 2016


There’s a lot of ‘best of’ lists going around at this time of year. They serve multiple purposes: reminding me of the many books I failed to read in the previous 12 months, guiding me with Christmas shopping and giving authors a much-needed psychological boost when they see their book on such a list (see Readings Top 10 Fiction Books of 2016).

This particular ‘best of’ list has a specific purpose – it’s for Heidi – the amazing kinder teacher who has nurtured our oldest child through the past two years of kinder, and who works so incredibly hard (as all pre-school teachers do!) and who will finally have some time to read over the summer break and has asked me to compile her a list. And because the books I would recommend to Heidi are all ones I have loved this year, and would recommend to anyone, I’ve decided to multi-task and roll it into one.

Books that made me cry

Between a Wolf and a Dog – Georgia Blain (the last book I read, which is still resonating deeply within me like a chime. So saddened to learn that Georgia Blain died just this week. What an extraordinary writer. And an incredible loss to the world.)

La Rose – Louise Eldrich

Wasted – Elspeth Muir

Books that will change the world

Fight like a girl – Clementine Ford

The Hate Race – Maxine Beneba Clarke

Books that I couldn’t put down

The Road to Winter – Mark Smith

The Dry – Jane Harper

Books that I want to read again

Ruins – Rajith Savanadasa

Swallow the Air – Tara June Winch (about 10 years after everyone else!)

And a whole lot more that defy my arbitrary categorisation

Goodwood – Holly Throsby

The Girls – Emma Cline

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy

The Turner House – Angela Flournoy

The Good People – Hannah Kent

The Last Painting of Sara de Voss – Dominic Smith

Wild – Cheryl Strayed (also many years after everyone else!)

Everywhere I look – Helen Garner

My own Summer To Read list includes

Talking to my Country – Stan Grant

An Isolated Incident – Emily Maguire

Where the Trees Were – Inga Simpson

The Healing Party – Micheline Lee

Fine – Michelle Wright

Syrian dust – Francesca Borri

The Birdman’s Wife – Melissa Ashley

The World Without Us – Mireille Juchau

Gilgamesh – Joan London

The Blue Plateau – Mark Tredinnick (again – because I can not read this book enough)

The Boy Behind the Curtain – Tim Winton

Their Brilliant Careers – Ryan O’Neill

The Boundless Sublime – Lili Wilkinson

The Bone Sparrow – Zana Fraillon

And I’ve totally forgotten some. But that’s a start!

So there you go, Heidi, hope that you have a wonderful summer. Thank you for nurturing our girl through the last two years. I know she shares your love of play, and deep belief that good stories, told well, are one of the best things in the world.

For other readers, please do leave a comment and let us know the books you loved in 2016! xx


<a href='https://www.facebook.com/marksmithwriter/' rel='external nofollow ugc' class='url'>Mark Smith</a>

Mark Smith

Great list Kate! I have to do something similar for Better Reading: Favourite Recent Debuts. I reckon Skylarking might find its place close to the top of that list.

December 13, 2016 at 2:17 am
Jo Monigatti

Jo Monigatti

Great idea Kate. Thank you for your reading list.
I’ve also enjoyed-
The Last Runaway-Tracey Chevalier
Salt Creek-Lucy Treloar
Nine Days-Toni Jordan
Return to the little coffee shop of Kabul- Deborah Rodriguez

December 13, 2016 at 5:54 am
    <a href='http://katemildenhall.wordpress.com' rel='external nofollow ugc' class='url'>Kate Mildenhall</a>

    Kate Mildenhall

    Thanks Jo! Yes, Salt Creek was one of my highlights that I got in at the end of last year – loved it. And Nine Days too – have you read Toni Jordan’s new one – Our Tiny Useless Hearts – it’s a hoot. A bedroom farce (rumoured to be set in Eltham or a town quite like it…) very different and very funny.
    I’ll have to put the other two on my list – thanks for sharing xxx Have a lovely Christmas with the fam xxx

    December 13, 2016 at 10:31 am

Kate’s first book, SKYLARKING was published in Australia by Black Inc. in 2016 and in the UK by Legend Press in 2017.