2016 Books ~ Chapter 4

2016 was one of my best years yet on the reading front. I finally managed to smash my target of 12 books over the year (one book a month) and even read of total of 15 books. I think it was a mixture of determination, a reasonable amount of travel, some great books and discovering new ways to find my next book. I’m hopeful for 2017 and I’m looking forward to seeing what books make the reading list. In the meantime, here are my last books of 2016!


His Bloody Project

I spotted this book when scrolling through the shortlist for the Booker Prize 2016. The story involves the recounting of a brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish community in 1869 by a quiet young boy. It’s not the kind of book I’d usually pick up, which is why I chose it. I couldn’t remember having read a book set in Scotland in that era and the psychological aspect intrigued me.

Roderick Macrae is guilty and there’s no doubt about it. Or is there? Between the court room transcripts, medical reports and psychological evaluations, the reader questions what really drove him to do the deed or if he was capable of it at all. It’s a real page turner and I devoured it quite quickly. Whilst obviously gruesome in parts, the interplay of different narratives is very clever.

You’ll like this book if you’re not afraid of a few pages of pillow-hiding content.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

I chose this book from a reading list I found on Pinterest and was largely drawn in by the fact it was described as heart warming.

Shortly after the death of his wife, 69 year old Arthur Pepper finds a charm bracelet that belonged to her, which takes him on an adventure and forces him to change how he sees the world and his relationships with his children.

It is overall a heart warming book, a little bit like ‘Up’ but without the Pixar delights. But it felt a little bit too twee for me. The scenes in London were a bit cliche and there were some details that just weren’t needed.

You’ll like this book if you fancy a nice easy read.


I loved the Victoria series on ITV last year, it filled the period drama gap left behind from Downton Abbey so perfectly. It’s a complete dramatisation of Queen Victoria’s early reign but I really liked the characters and of course all of the scenes in London. I decided to download the book by the screen writer Daisy Goodwin because it was only 99p at the time and I was sure to enjoy it.

The book follows pretty much the same plot line, but it excludes the stories of the household and ends at an earlier point than the TV series. I think what I liked about the book version is how much easier it is to picture those places in London as they’re down in writing rather than made in passing reference on screen.

You like this book if you liked the TV series.

The Penguin Lessons

This was possibly my favourite book of 2016. I spotted the cover as someone was reading it on the tube and immediately checked out Goodreads to find out the plot line. I mean – penguins, how could I not.

The Penguin Lessons is about a passion for travel and a penguin named Juan Salvador. Tom Mitchell has a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school and uses the school holidays to travel. On one such trip he rescues a penguin from an oil slick, although he tries to return him to a safe place Juan won’t leave his side and he decides to smuggle him back to school. It’s such a lovely book, which also might make you want to back up your bags and go travelling to South America.

You like this if you like penguins or travel.

So that’s 2016 books. For more books from the year read chapters one, two and three.

Now for 2017. I’m going to aim for 18 books, 50% more than my last target. I really want to get back into some classics (please so share your favourites!) and continue with some more non-fiction books.

Do you have any book goals for 2017?

As ever, if you have any book recommendations please share them!



  1. January 8, 2017 / 8:12 pm

    His Bloody Project is waiting on my Kindle for me – probably to be started on the NZ flight! I just finished Homecoming and really liked it. I’m aiming for 3 a month which could be way too ambitious with the amount of course-reading I also have to do – but we will see!

    • ThisCityLifeLondon
      January 19, 2017 / 9:52 am

      Thanks for the tip on Homecoming! I need to revisit your other recommendations! 3 sounds like a good challenge, I’m hoping to work my way up to 2 books a month eventually!

  2. Anita
    January 20, 2017 / 5:09 pm

    LOVE both penguins and travel so that book is going right on my list!!! my favourite book of 2016 was ‘Living Danishly’, about a British woman who moves to Denmark (for her husband’s job) and spends a year finding out why its people are consistently found to be the happiest people on earth. It’s interesting, funny and is the reason why our summer holiday this year is Scandinavia!

    • ThisCityLifeLondon
      March 30, 2017 / 9:11 am

      Sorry for the slow response Anita!! I had some trouble with commenting and then totally forgot. oops! You’ll have to let me know what you think of Penguin Story it definitely sounds like it’s a book you’d enjoy. It’s just so uplifting. I’ll have to look into Living Danishly, it sounds intriguing and I’ve never read anything set in Scandinavia before.