Books are simply one of my great loves. I love the feel of a book, the smell of it whether new or old, and the fun of placing of it on my bookshelves in different locations. Deciding where a book should sit is always a pleasure – is it part of a set or a series, or has it got friends or relations with similar subjects? Or is it simply in my too read pile next to the bed?
2016 was a great year for new books – and also for my reading. Over the course of the year I managed to devour 74 titles and write a large number of reviews of those titles too. My resolution for 2017 is to read a little less and write a good deal more of my own stories.

I thought that I would pick my top five reads from 2016. In the end, I couldn’t settle on five and had to go for six instead. Doing this made me consider the whole list of 74. I have spent more time with shorter novels this year and have put aside a couple of books with 800+ pages, in the hope I would find time for them in the holidays.

So here are my top six, in order of preference:
1. The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon
2. Grief is a thing with Feathers by Max Porter
3. The Many by Wyl Menmuir
4. Trust No One by Paul Cleave
5. Nutshell by Ian McEwan
6. The North Water by Ian McGuire

The thing that I notice straight away is that five of the six are English writers and that two of those are new writers (Max Porter and Wyl Menmuir). One of the them already has two books on my 27 all time Favourite books (Ian McEwan). Two were longlisters for the 2016 Man Booker Prize (McGuire and Menmuir), three of them are short books and one is a collection of short stories (Mark Haddon). One is an odd man out – Trust No Oneis a crime novel by New Zealander Paul Cleave.
If I had to pick something about them all that set them apart from the other 68 I read this year, it would be that have something different that marks them stand out. They have a different quality to most. Those qualities themselves can be different things. For example Ian McEwan’s book Nutshell owes its brilliance in part to the wholly different take on the choice of a narrator. The unborn foetus is not something I have ever come across as a character before, let alone a narrator. And yes, it is utterly implausible to have a foetus that has such a fine command of the English language and a wide vocabulary, but as a novel it works because it makes a simple murder plot so intriguing. Paul Cleave’s novel, Trust No One, is the story of a crime writer developing Alzheimer’s. At first he forgets things and then begins to think that he has committed some the crimes that featured in his novels. I liked the book because the narrator became more and more unreliable, which gave lots of scope for the plot to twist and turn.
My favourite by far was a collection of short stories by Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh-time. These were darkly different and very well crafted. For my full review, have a look on

For more about these and other books you will find my reviews on:
You can also find a short review of every book I read this year, search for Marcus Hobson on