Best Books of 2016: The Definitive Collection

by |January 20, 2017

Here at Booktopia we’ve done the hard work for you. We’re read countless books this year, flicked over thousands of pages, and forgone sleep, all in search of the very best books published this year.

Below, you’ll find all the books we haven’t stopped talking about. The books we can’t stop re-reading, can’t stop bragging about. Buy, borrow or steal yourself a copy. Either way, these stories need to be read and shared.


Best Book of 2016


The Good People
by Hannah Kent

Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference.

Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow’s house.

Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheál. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken… Learn more.

PODCAST: Hannah Kent chats about her latest book


Popular Fiction: Winner


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The Four Legendary Kingdoms
Jack West Jr. Series: Book 4
by Matthew Reilly

Jack West Jr and his family are living happily on their remote farm… when Jack is brutally kidnapped and he awakes in an underground cell to find a masked attacker with a knife charging at him. Jack, it seems, has been chosen – along with a dozen other elite soldiers – to compete in a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual.

With the fate of the Earth at stake, he will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight cruel assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him like he has never been tested before. In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms… Learn more.

PODCAST: Bestselling author Matthew Reilly chats about his latest book.


Popular Fiction: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, A Distant Journey by Di Morrissey, The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns, This Was A Man by Jeffrey Archer, and Southern Ruby by Belina Alexandra.


Literary Fiction: Winner


good-peopleThe Good People
by Hannah Kent

Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference.

Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow’s house.

Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheál. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge… Learn more

PODCAST: Award-winning Hannah Kent discusses her latest book.


Literary Fiction: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Nutshell by Ian McEwan, Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift, The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes, and Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson.


Historical Fiction: Winner


The Birdman’s Wife
by Melissa Ashley

Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. The Birdman’s Wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man.

Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate, and mother to an evergrowing brood of children. In a golden age of discovery, her artistry breathed wondrous life into hundreds of exotic new species, including Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches.

In The Birdman’s Wife, the naïve young girl who falls in love with a demanding and ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer… Learn more.


Historical Fiction: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, Virgins by Diana Gabaldon, Maggie’s Kitchen by Caroline Beecham, The North Water by Ian McGuire, Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall, and To the Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey.


Crime: Winner


The Dry
by Jane Harper

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well…

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret… A secret Falk thought long-buried… A secret which Luke’s death starts to bring to the surface…Learn more.


Crime: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: End of Watch by Stephen King, Maestra by L.S. Hilton, Night School by Lee Child, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta, Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, and The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly.


Speculative Fiction: Winner


The City of Mirrors
The Passage Series: Book 3
by Justin Cronin

Prompted by a voice that lives in her blood, the fearsome warrior known as Alicia of Blades is drawn towards to one of the great cities of The Time Before. The ruined city of New York. Ruined but not empty. For this is the final refuge of Zero, the first and last of The Twelve. The one who must be destroyed if mankind is to have a future.

What she finds is not what she’s expecting. A journey into the past. To find out how it all began. And an opponent at once deadlier and more human than she could ever have imagined… Learn more.

 

 


Speculative Fiction: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier, Vigil by Angela Slatter, A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Heran, and Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie.


Romance: Winner


The Hating Game
by Sally Thorne

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together forty (ok, fifty or sixty) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything-especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking… Learn more.

 


Romance: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: Dark Promises by Christine Feehan, One with You by Sylvia Day, The Angel’s Share by J.R. Ward, Craving by Helen Hardt, Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn, and Beautiful by Christina Lauren.


Biographies and Memoirs: Winner


Working Class Boy
by Jimmy Barnes

A household name, an Australian rock icon, the elder statesman of Ozrock – there isn’t an accolade or cliche that doesn’t apply to Jimmy Barnes. But long before Cold Chisel and Barnesy, long before the tall tales of success and excess, there was the true story of James Dixon Swan – a working class boy whose family made the journey from Scotland to Australia in search of a better life.

Working Class Boy is a powerful reflection on a traumatic and violent childhood, which fuelled the excess and recklessness that would define, but almost destroy, the rock’n’roll legend. This is the story of how James Swan became Jimmy Barnes. It is a memoir burning with the frustration and frenetic energy of teenage sex, drugs, violence and ambition for more than what you have… Learn more

PODCAST: Listen to Jimmy Barnes chat about writing his memoir.


Biographies and Memoirs: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carre, Songs of a War Boy by Deng Thiak Adut, The Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton, Victoria by Julia Baird, Release the Bats by DBC Pierre, and The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke.


History: Winner


Victory at Villers-Bretonneux
by Peter FitzSimons

On Anzac Day 1918, when the town of Villers-Bretonneux falls to the British defenders, it is the Australians who are called on to save the day, the town, and the entire battle.

It’s early 1918, and after four brutal years, the fate of the Great War hangs in the balance. On the one hand, the fact that Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks have seized power in Russia – immediately suing for peace with Germany – means that no fewer than one million of the Kaiser’s soldiers can now be transferred from there to the Western Front.

On the other, now that America has entered the war, it means that two million American soldiers are also on their way, to tip the scales of war to the Allies. The Germans, realising that their only hope is striking at the Allied lines first, do exactly that, and on the morning of 21 March 1918, the Kaiserschlacht, the Kaiser’s battle, is launched – the biggest set-piece battle the world has ever seen… Learn more.


History: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler, True Girt by David Hunt, The Age of Genius by A.C. Grayling, Error Australis by Ben Pobjie, Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba, and A Handful of Sand by Charlie Ward.


Trailblazing Non-Fiction: Winner


Talking to my Country
by Stan Grant

In July 2015, as the debate over Adam Goodes being booed at AFL games raged and got ever more heated and ugly, Stan Grant wrote a short but powerful piece for The Guardian that went viral, not only in Australia but right around the world, shared over 100,000 times on social media. His was a personal, passionate and powerful response to racism in Australian and the sorrow, shame, anger and hardship of being an indigenous man.

‘We are the detritus of the brutality of the Australian frontier’, he wrote, ‘We remained a reminder of what was lost, what was taken, what was destroyed to scaffold the building of this nation’s prosperity.’

Stan Grant was lucky enough to find an escape route, making his way through education to become one of our leading journalists. He also spent many years outside Australia, working in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, a time that liberate… Learn more.


Trailblazing Non-Fiction: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: No to Feminism by Rebecca Shaw, Forces of Nature by Brian Cox, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, Speaking Out by Tara Moss, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**ck by Sarah Knight, and Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford.


Food and Drink: Winner


Neighbourhood
by Hetty McKinnon

When Hetty McKinnon uprooted her beloved Arthur Street Kitchen from Sydney’s Surry Hills and relocated to Brooklyn, NYC, she left behind legions of devoted fans. These fans found solace in Community, Hetty’s immensely popular cookbook showcasing the delicious, seasonal salads so adored by her customers.

Now Hetty is back, with a second cookbook that is equally sure to delight and inspire. Neighbourhood takes its cues from Community and ventures a little bit further. These salad and sweets recipes are inspired by many different places, journeying from Brooklyn to the greater Americas, the Mediterranean, Asia, France, Australia and many other places around the world for inspiration… Learn more.


Food and Drink: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: Street Food Asia by Luke Nguyen, The Cook’s Table by Stephanie Alexander, The Complete Gut Health Cookbook by Pete Evans, More Please! by Manu Feildel, Basics to Brilliance by Donna Hay, and Sweet! Celebrations by Elise Strachan.


Lifestyle: Winner


Amazinger Face
by Zoe Foster (Blake)

Fully revised and updated! Over 60 new pages! New longer title! Sometimes a lady just needs to know the most flattering lipstick for her skin tone, or how to correctly use sunscreen, or a very quick hairstyle to conceal her unwashed hair. And there’s no reason she shouldn’t know which foundation or mascara is best for her, either.

All the answers are here, in this top-to-toe beauty extravaganza. Former Cosmopolitan and Harper’s BAZAAR beauty director, and the founder of Go-To skin care, Zoë Foster (Blake) suggests makeup colours and brands for every occasion, useful, practical skin care routines and products for every age, and step-by-step instructions for winged eyeliner, arresting red lips, foolproof tanning, simple up-dos, sexy second-day hair, and much, much more… Learn more.

 


Lifestyle: The Shortlist


The Shortlist: The Simple Home by Rhonda Hetzel, Penguin Bloom by Cameron Bloom, The Art of Reading by Damon Young, The Travel Book by Lonely Planet, Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, and Live a Beautiful Life by Jesinta Campbell.

 

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