2016 was my first year out of education, yet I honestly feel as though I’ve learned so much more this year than any other, mainly thanks to the large doses of literature I have consumed throughout the last twelve months.
In total, I’ve completed 50 books this year and have many more on the go, so it’s just not possible for me to review them all individually. Instead, I have split them into the most important categories and offered a few comments on each, as well as listing my other equally ranking favourites at the bottom.
Overall, I have named twenty-three of what I believe to be the most important/best books I have read. It is imperative that you add them to your reading list for 2017.
Music: Everything (A Book About Manic Street Preachers) – Simon Price
Having read five books on the Manic Street Preachers, five on Punk/Post-Punk, two on Britpop and one on Grunge (all of which were brilliant) I unsurprisingly found it difficult choosing a favourite from the pile. However, the Manics have been my biggest obsession for almost two years now. Through them, I have been introduced to a lot of the literature that I cherish now (some of the books I found through them have even made this list – see ‘Philosophy’, ‘Book of the Year’ and ‘Honourable Mentions’).
Simon Price is, without a doubt, one of my favourite personalities in music journalism – he is one of the main inspirations behind my career aspirations – so having him tell me the story of my favourite band from his own perspective with personal experiences and encounters is pretty special. It is definitely a book I will be returning to in 2017.
Horror: ‘Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
Horror has been the genre I have loved the longest and I’ve been a HUGE King fan for forever, so I’m ashamed to say that I only read ‘Salem’s Lot for the first time this year.
Vampires are my favourite mythical creatures, yet the imagery is so vivid that it still managed to give me nightmares! It left me itching to pen my own vampire novel.
Philosophy: The Myth of Sisyphus – Albert Camus
Albert Camus and Søren Kierkegaard have been my two focus philosophers over the last year and, while Kierkegaard is extremely fascinating, I feel like my own philosophy is better reflected by Camus’ writings.
I really enjoyed Camus’ novels too, but I feel that The Myth of Sisyphus is the perfect summary-of-my-own-philosophy essay.
History: The War Behind The Wire: The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War 1914-1918 – John Lewis Stempel
To those who know me well, it will come as no surprise that the bulk of my historical readings was made up by world war one literature, with some Welsh history and Suffragette books chucked in.
The War Behind The War is highly factual piece of writing which offers insight into a section of the war that is often overlooked. Sometimes, books that are so packed with facts can feel like a bit of a chore to read, but that wasn’t the case with this book. It was highly readable, informative and empathetic.
Politics: The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It – Owen Jones
Without a doubt, the most captivating piece of political writing I have read this year is Owen Jones’ The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It.
I had the pleasure of listening to Jones speak with Andy Parsons at Leeds Festival this year whilst most people were nursing hangovers or drowning in mud. He constantly motivates me to do more politically and The Establishment stoked the flames that had already been ignited within me. It is a passionately critical and angrily sophisticated piece of work. Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class is up next on my reading list.
Book of the Year: Novel With Cocaine – M. Ageyev
I read Novel With Cocaine right back at the start of the year, but it has been at the top of my mind ever since. Not only is it a deliciously obscure read, the context in which the novel was penned and the mystery surrounding the identity of the author makes it an even more tantalising story.
It is a controversial novel, not without its criticisms. Vladimir Nabokov – rumoured author of Novel With Cocaine and writer of his own fair share of controversial novels (Lolita is on my list for 2017) – even described it as ‘decadent’ and ‘disgusting’ – though in my view, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it makes it all the more thrilling.
- The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – Yukio Mishima
- Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell
- The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
- The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
- The Stranger – Albert Camus
- The Fall – Albert Camus
- Fear and Trembling – Søren Kierkegaard
- Junky – William S. Burroughs
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
- Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century – Greil Marcus
- Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
- Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock – John Harris
- Rip It Up and Start Again – Simon Reynolds
- Anger is an Energy – John Lydon
- Stephen Fry – The Liar
- So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson