Sunday, January 15, 2017

Top 10 reads of 2016

This list is a bit late, but I was in New Zealand for a while cavorting in caves and chasing dolphins so the normal rules didn't apply. Belated as it may be, here are the 10 best novels I read in 2016, in no particular order:

1. Sad Peninsula by Mark Sampson
2. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
3. The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt
4. The Performance by Ann Ericksson
5. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
6. The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
7. Teardown by Clea Young
8. The Captain of Kinnoull Hill by Jamie Tennant
9. The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
10. Problems by Jade Sharma
** I also LOVED Fishbowl by Bradley Somer. A remarkable, beautiful, funny novel. I was nervous about including his book here since he blurbed mine. Conflict of interest and all that. But then I remembered, this is my list! I can do whatever I want! And I got all power-hungry. Anyways, you really need to read Fishbowl is what I'm saying.

This year was a big one for my own book too. It came out! And, despite my lack of luck with prize nomination committees, I reached a bunch of goals I'd set for myself: Read at IFOA, get on a plane for my book, get a couple good reviews in mainstream sources, do a fun Q&A interview. I’m grateful for all the support I received from everyone, especially Freehand Books, and my family and friends. Thank you! Thank you a million times over! I also feel quite lucky for the two reviews I got from Quill & Quire and The Winnipeg Free Press. Hopefully some more to come. But honestly, I have no idea what happens when a new year begins. Does the bookish press simply ignore the 2016 titles they didn't get to?

As for what's to come in 2017.... As a writer, I’ll be working on my next book whole hog. I have no idea if this book will succeed in terms of my actual creative output or a publishing contract, but there’s only one way to find out...

As a reader, there is so much to look forward to this year! The brilliant Rebecca Rosenblum, Deborah Willis and Mark Sampson have books coming out! I’m also excited to dig into Breath by Tim Winton, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai, The Strays by Emily Bitto and and and.

As usual, I'll be ranting and raving about all these things on this blog. Until then, here’s some photos from my New Zealand trip. They have nothing to do with writing but like I said I'm power-hungry so...

The Remarkables in beautiful, breezy, tourist-overrun Queenstown. 

Black swans in a crystal clear river in Rotorua.

The tiny bananas were delicious!

My sister got married on the beach, as it turned out!
Boy was I overdressed!

Dolphins! Hurrah!

My Kiwi nephew steering my Canadian husband. Keep left, Anthony!!

Some mountains en route to Milford Sound. Also pictured: most of my face.

Redwoods meet Anthony's red shirt in Rotorua.
Scary beautiful cave adventures in Waitomo.
PS - wet suits are not as slimming as one would hope.


  1. I found a mistake.

    1. The Weather Inside by Emily Saso
    2. Sad Peninsula by Mark Sampson
    3. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
    4. The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt
    5. The Performance by Ann Ericksson
    6. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
    7. The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
    8. Teardown by Clea Young
    9. The Captain of Kinnoull Hill by Jamie Tennant
    10. The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
    11. Problems by Jade Sharma


    1. Ha! Thanks Matt! (And also, can I just say how mature it was of you not to add something like "The Erotic Adventures of Willy Chapman" to the list.)

    2. That was #12. Didn't make the cut.

  2. The books on this list that I've read, I loved too. Need to check out the others. Also, yeah for whole-hog writing. Though, as a vegan, what does that mean exactly? (Sorry. Couldn't help myself.)

    1. Great question, Erin. I hug the hog, pet it, feed it noodles and beer from a Rubbermaid container, and let it snuff around the yard.

  3. Thanks so much, once again, for your kind words, Emily. I feel so honoured to be on this list!

    1. I'm a big fan, obviously. Looking forward to your next!

  4. Love this, and love your trip photos! The lit press doesn't, in fact, forget about fall books in the new year, though as spring books start to be released the fall ones do get less coverage. I found out this year that January actually counts as part of "fall" in the literary world--little known fact. But coverage can extend far beyond that, especially in smaller venues. Take heart!

  5. Love the pictures from your trip! And great top 10 list. :)

    1. I know we're biased, but Clea's book is just SO good!