Books to Review in 2016

This Christmas, I had imagined, was going to be a relatively bookless one, and on Christmas Day my suspicions were confirmed by the fact that I only received one book (the D.E. Stevenson volume that my mother traditionally gets me as “safe reading”, in this case a sweet story about a grande dame and the property she leaves to her nephew, Celia’s House). Oh well, thought I; I’ve already sent loads of request emails to publishers and there’ll be plenty of pre-pub copies when I get back, plus the spreadsheet of releases throughout the year, and the Women’s Prize project. I’m sure I’ll stay busy.

Then, on Boxing Day, my father said, rather shrewdly, “You only got one book this year, yes?” I confirmed this. “Are you sad about that?” he inquired. I confirmed that I was, a bit. And my dad said, “Well, why don’t you write me a list.”

So I did, and he bought me three more. Then, when I returned to England, the Chaos presented me with my Christmas present: Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy in its entirety. Then we went to his parents’ place for the weekend and I bought more books. Not to mention that I already had seven pre-pubs piled up on the shelf.

2016 is going to be a great year, you guys.

The next few months:

American Housewife, a sharp, dark collection of short stories by Helen Ellis, is first up to be reviewed, shortly to be followed by Merritt Tierce’s story of small-town single mother and drug addict Marie, Love Me Back, and Shirley Barrett’s whaling love story Rush Oh! I’m also hoping to snag copies of The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, Dinosaurs On Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin, and The Heart Is A Muscle the Size of a Fist, by Sunil Yapa. That gets me into at least February in new releases. *pauses to wipe sweat from brow*

The Women’s Prize for Fiction project:


At the moment, I’ve got copies of Larry’s Party by Carol Shields, A Crime In the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne, The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville, When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant, and The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. Most of these are from the ’90s and I’m excited to discover early work by writers who, like Shields and Grenville, are now very well known, but whom I didn’t come of age reading.

Aaaaall the rest:

*deep breath*


Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie (reading the first one now). Birthday Letters, by Ted Hughes. Faber Selected Poems by Sylvia Plath. Collected Poems 1934-1953, Dylan Thomas. The Cutting Season, by Attica Locke (I read Black Water Rising on the plane back to the UK, on New Year’s Eve. I read the whole damn book in under six hours. It was that good.) Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta (“Nigerian lesbian coming-of-age story” on a blurb kind of does it for me). Celia’s House, by D.E. Stevenson (of course). A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki (at last). A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lucia Berlin (awkwardly behind-the-times). And I still want to attack A Notable Woman, the Mass Observation diaries of Jean Lucey Pratt, despite having the volume in hardcover and it being about 900 pages long and weighing as much as a good-sized cat.

I am in love with Larousse editions. In LOVE with them, do you hear.

I also brought back two of my AP French lit texts (Candide and Maupassant’s Pierre et Jean), and bought Manon Lescaut and Lettres persanes while visiting the Progenitors Chaotic. (They aren’t chaotic, you understand…oh never mind.) I am hoping against hope that 2016 is the year I start reading in French again. It’s about time.

21 thoughts on “Books to Review in 2016

  1. You have some great reading lined up Elle, Larry’s Party is fantastic, I hope you enjoy it. I have a NetGalley copy of the Danielle McLaughlin which I really should save for Ireland Month but can’t wait to read! And how sweet is your Dad?

    1. Yes, I’m quietly looking forward to Larry’s Party a good deal, and the McLaughlin too. Short stories are usually pretty hit-and-miss for me, but I think this could be special. (My dad is *the sweetest*. He bought me a book every Friday from the time I was two until I left home. Explains a lot.)

  2. I hope to get back to my project of reading all works that have been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize. I only discovered Kate Grenville a few months ago, and I am looking forward to reading The Idea of Perfection (soonish).

  3. Every Friday since you were two? So sweet! (And a great idea, actually – too bad I have 3 kids…)
    I am so looking forward to hearing what people have to say about Rush Oh!. Who will be the first to read it and let me know? Maybe you! American Housewife sounds good, too. In fact, I can’t wait to hear about it all!
    Happy reading!

    1. I know, a brilliant idea and my brother and I were both very lucky. (Also lucky that my mum, comptroller of household finances, signed off on the whole scheme.) Happy reading to you too!

  4. ‘The Idea of Perfection’ is, in fact, one of the most perfectly written and constructed books I have ever read. I really envy you the pleasure of coming to it for the first time.

  5. Can I just add my hooray re. Ancillary Justice to Stephanie’s? HOORAY! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. The first book is definitely my favourite, but the other two are brilliant too.

    Sounds like you are going to have a very busy start to the reading year. I’ve hardly heard of any of your new releases – except The Outrun – so am looking forward to finding out more about those. And I think you’ll enjoy The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver; it’s such a lush untamed sort of read.

    1. Yes!! I’m hoping to do a bit of swapping off (one review book; one Leckie book; one review book; one Leckie book) until I’ve finished the trilogy. I agree with you that it’s silly to draw out an author’s backlist, and although I’m not often in a position to read them all one after the other, when I do have the books, I should take advantage of it.

      Excited for both The Outrun (Orkney, alcoholism, check) and The Lacuna–have always liked Barbara Kingsolver.

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