Monday, 2 January 2017


If I had to pick one thing about 2016 that I'm most pleased with it would be the books I read/the amount I read. My Goodreads challenge for 2016 was 50 books, and I managed to read 48. Being so close to completing my challenge but failing to do so (I got a little lazy once uni started up again in September) is a little frustrating and I know 48 books is not much for some super awesome book bloggers but it's an achievement nonetheless. For me, it was more important that I read consistently and that was one goal I certainly accomplished. When I finished one book I immediately picked up another, and I was always excited to do so. Scanning my shelves and having so many different options to choose from for my next read is always a lovely, indulgent feeling. 

I do my best to ensure that the books I buy and read are worthy of my time and interest by reading reviews by bloggers whose opinions I trust. But, as a literature undergrad I don't always get to choose what I read, luckily for me I enjoyed everything I got to read this year, some more than others of course.

I scanned my shelves this morning and picked a few of my absolute favourite reads from the past year. I rated all of these 5 stars (although I'm sure at the time I would've rated them more if I could) and would recommend them wholeheartedly.

I've listed them here in order of when I read them, from the beginning of 2016 to the end:

1) Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

It's almost impossible to pick one, but if I had to I would pick Burnt Shadows as my favourite read of 2016. It's everything I truly love and admire in fiction: informative, diverse, unique and absolutely beautifully written. From Japan during World War II to India pre-partition, Istanbul, Pakistan, Afghanistan and finally the USA, Shamsie covers an impressive scope of time and place and manages to tie the stories of her characters together with impressive ease while simultaneously shattering stereotypes and challenging the perspective of her readers. 

2) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The book that gave me a new-found appreciation for contemporary fiction. It also helped me realise the story I want to tell, the novel I want to write would also be written, and told best as a contemporary. You can read my full, and gushing review of Fangirl here.

3) Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

I find Cassandra Clare's writing to be rather hit and miss but Lady Midnight was a definite hit, a total gem of a book! IT WAS PERFECT IN SO MANY WAYS but also very painful and angst-y and pretty much everything lovers of YA & fantasy would want in a book. You can read my full review of it here and you can also have a look at the Pinterest board I created specifically for Julian Blackthorn immediately after I finished reading the novel because I was so deep in the feels :') 

4) Another Country by James Baldwin

Ah, Baldwin. It's not often that bibliophiles are able to pinpoint a favourite author, one they admire above all other writers, a writer whose work they can pick up and know without a doubt they will love it.  James Baldwin is that author for me. Every time I read something of his I am utterly blown away by the beauty of his prose. I think the thing I love most about Baldwin is the way he writes of utter despair and anxiety. It sounds morbid I know, but I've yet to come across a writer who describes extremely complex and heavy emotions with the intricacy and elegance with which Baldwin managed to do so. Another Country is a dark, heavy, often depressing novel. But it is undeniably a work of art. And I just have to add, not only was Baldwin a remarkably talented writer, he was also a passionate civil rights activist, and a highly charismatic and intelligent man. He was, and remains to this day a person worthy of admiration. I am so deeply moved by his work that my dissertation is actually focused around his portrayal of the psychological trauma which inflicted African Americans in the 20th century. 

5) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

Toni Morrison wrote 'I've been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagues me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.' If you managed to read the rather lengthy paragraph above you'll understand why I didn't hesitate to buy this book after such high praise by another estimable 20th century writer. Between the World and Me is essentially a long letter addressed by Coates to his 15 year old son. Within it, Coates explores ideas of the 'black body' in a country as hostile towards blackness as the USA. A moving, powerful read. 

6) From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor 

Most of what I read between September - December was for my dissertation hence the similar theme between books 4, 5 & 6. I would really recommend this book to anyone with any interest in the systematic oppression which has plagued the lives of African Americans, and which has stunted the social development of many. Taylor discusses how brutality and increasingly high rates of black incarceration can still exist in an era of a black president, as well as other themes. A truly eye-opening book, and an easy read too!

7) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 

Now, I never read books outside of my university reading during the academic year but I was lucky enough to have some actual free time this christmas and this duology has been on my list for SO LONG. I read it in the last few days of December, and it is without a doubt a truly fantastic, fun and thrilling read! Fantasy at its finest to be honest. Leigh Bardugo is an impressive writer. I'm currently reading Crooked Kingdom and loving it just as much! 

So there you have it. My top 7 reads of 2016. This list was only supposed to consist of 5 books but trying to restrict myself to only 5 favourites was a rather too challenging task for me :') 

Have you read any of the books on this list? Any that have caught your eye? What were your favourite reads of 2016? Wishing you a year full of wonderful and diverse literature! 


  1. Alliyah! I just stumbled across your blog via Safah's comments on her latest post and I'm so glad i did because a fellow muslim blogger/reader?! YES!!
    Do you mind me asking what your dissertation is on because from the books you're reading it sounds really interesting!
    also I loved Fangirl so so much and the Six of Crows duology is one of my favourites ever! It's so cleverly written and i love the character development and dialogue!


    1. Hi Hawwa! I get what you mean there's not a lot of us on here so it's always nice to find fellow creative sisters!
      So the focus of my dissertation is the idea of 'Rage'. James Baldwin once said 'To be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.' This points to the psychological condition of African Americans many of who suffer from anxiety, paranoia and depression (particularly pre-civil rights) SOOO my dissertation is basically exploring Baldwin and Toni Morrison's portrayal of this rage in their novels and then comparing that to 21st century African American literature, and exploring to what extent that has or has not changed! Hope that was a clear overview :')
      And YESSSS Fangirl and the Six of Crows duology are definitely some of the best YA books I've read! Pure genius.
      JazakAllah Khair for stopping by!


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