Best Books of 2016: Popular, Literary and Historical Fiction

by |December 14, 2016

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 the fiction 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.


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.

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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.

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