4 Most Underrated Books of 2016


2016 has been a bit of a year in a lot of ways, but one thing it hasn’t let us down on is the number of quality books that have been published. We’ve already told you about some in other articles, such as my October release line up, but of course there’s more.

In fact, there’s so many of them that you’ve definitely missed some gems. I know I certainly have, and I’ve actually been trying to keep track of them all! Some big names have released titles this year; Yann Martel, PD James, Ron Chernow, Margaret Atwood and Philip Roth, to name but a few. There is, of course, a ton of others. So, in the spirit of sharing, here are some of the books you should be putting on your Christmas list. There’s little sadder for a reader than finding out too late about an amazing read.

1. The Muse – Jessie Burton
Jessie Burton’s first book, ‘The Miniaturist’, was a resounding and award winning success. In fact, if you haven’t read that yet, go away and do that first. Done? OK. ‘The Muse’, Burton’s second novel, is almost as brilliant, and I haven’t heard an awful lot of noise about it. ‘The Muse’ is a powerhouse of a book, one of those stories you look at afterwards and marvel at the sheer skill it took to build.

Set half in London in 1967 and half during the Spanish Civil War, ‘The Muse’ has buckets of mystery and intrigue, as well as a cast of complicated and interesting characters, many of whom are women and ballsy too. It’s a combination that worked spectacularly well in ‘The Miniaturist’, and that winning streak continues here.

2. The Long Cosmos – Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
The Long Cosmos’ is the last in a series of five books by Pratchett and Baxter and I’ve included it here for one reason only. This is likely to be the last book with Sir Terry’s name attached to it that he actually had a hand in writing, and I think that is pretty momentous.

This series, beginning with ‘The Long Earth’ has never been as popular as the other books Pratchett produced and I think that’s a real shame, because there is some seriously clever writing here. Don’t expect Discworld, but you can expect a very clever premise and echoes of Sir Terry’s voice that should please any fan. Get hold of ‘The Long Earth’ first and work your way on from there!

3. To The Bright Edge of the World – Eowyn Ivey

Like Jessie Burton, Eowyn Ivey is an author I won’t stop shouting about until she becomes a household name. Her first book, ‘The Snow Child’, was an Alaskan fairy tale, a heart-breaking and uplifting story that left me reeling from page one all the way through to the end. ‘To The Bright Edge of the World’ is also set in Alaska, but told through very different mediums, such as journal entries, newspaper articles and love letters. The book follows a colonel on his journey to ‘open up Alaska’, and his wife who is back at the barracks waiting for him.

Ivey is no less loving to the harsh Alaskan landscape than she was in ‘The Snow Child’ and proves again why she is Pulitzer Prize nominated. If you’ve never heard of her, you’re definitely missing out.

4. A History of Britain in 21 Women – Jenni Murray
This list has turned kind of feminist hasn’t it? (I am not going to make a comment on women being underappreciated in general and especially, still, in the arts. I am not going to do that. Ahem.).

A History of Britain in 21 Women was written by the host of ‘Women’s Hour’ (which is apparently a radio show?) but don’t let that put you off. This is a highly accessible book, celebrating some of the most important women in our history. The book is in fact dedicated to young people, so it is up to us to read and appreciate. You’ve heard of some of the women here, like Mary Quant and Margaret Thatcher, but have you ever heard of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson? I thought not. Pick up a copy of this and get reading – you won’t regret it.


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