Our Christmas Top Picks: Best Books of 2016

Our Christmas Top Picks: Best Books of 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.

The Tale of Kitty in Boots

Told with Beatrix Potter’s trademark dry humour and wry observations, this brilliant tale is sure to become as popular as her original classics and is illustrated by the best-loved Quentin Blake.

The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door announces a major new talent in thriller writing. You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary

A new unique Roald Dahl Dictionary from Oxford. This is not an ordinary dictionary. After all, you wouldn’t expect an ‘Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary’ to be ordinary, would you?

The Muse

The Muse is an unforgettable novel about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception – a masterpiece from Jessie Burton, the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist.

The Outrun

At the age of thirty, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life.

Born To Run

Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir.

Keeping on Keeping on

Keeping On Keeping On follows in the footsteps of the phenomenally successful Writing Home and Untold Stories. This is an engaging, humane, sharp, funny and unforgettable record of life according to the inimitable Alan Bennett.


With an enthralling combination of story-telling, research and personal accounts of his own struggles to overcome fear, Sir Ranulph Fiennes sheds new light on one of humanity’s strongest emotions.

Zog and the Flying Doctors

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are at their sparkling best in this fabulously original sequel to the bestselling ZOG. Meet the Flying Doctors: Princess Pearl, Sir Gadabout and, of course, their trusty ‘air ambulance’, Zog the dragon.

I See You

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation, no website: just a grainy image and a phone number.

Odd and The Frost Giants

A thrilling, wintry Nordic epic from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell, weaving a tale of legend, magic and adventure which will grip and enchant readers from beginning to end.

I’m Travelling Alone

When the body of a young girl is found hanging from a tree, the only clue the police have is an airline tag around her neck. It reads ‘I’m travelling alone’. In response, police investigator Holger Munch is immediately charged with assembling a special homicide unit.

The World’s Worst Children

From Number One bestselling author David Walliams comes this collection of wickedly funny, deliciously mischievous tales, illustrated in glorious colour by the artistic genius Tony Ross.


arc Dane is a MI6 field agent at home behind a computer screen, one step away from the action. But when a brutal attack on his team leaves Marc as the only survivor – and with the shocking knowledge that there are traitors inside MI6 – he’s forced into the front line.

The Girls

California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life.

Palace of Treason

With the brilliant Palace of Treason, CIA veteran Jason Matthews confirms his position as the most exciting spy writer alive. This is as good as it gets.

The Fireman

With the epic scope of The Passage and the emotional impact of The Road, this is one woman’s story of survival at the end of the world.

Fool Me Once

Dark secrets and a terrifying hunt for the truth lie at the heart of this gripping new thriller by the ‘master of the double twist’, Harlan Coben.

The High Mountains of Portugal

In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomas discovers an old journal. It hints at the location of an extraordinary artefact that – if it exists – would redefine history. he High Mountains of Portugal takes you on a road trip through Portugal in the last century – and through the human soul.

Anatomy of a Soldier

Anatomy of a Soldier is a moving, enlightening and fiercely dramatic novel about one man’s journey of survival and the experiences of those around him. Forty-five objects, one unforgettable story.

The Wicked Boy

In The Wicked Boy, Kate Summerscale has uncovered a fascinating true story of murder and morality – it is not just a meticulous examination of a shocking Victorian case, but also a compelling account of its aftermath, and of man’s capacity to overcome the past.

The City of Mirrors

Prompted by a voice that lives in her blood, the fearsome warrior known as Alicia of Blades is drawn towards to one of the great cities of The Time Before. The ruined city of New York. Ruined but not empty.

The One in a Million Boy

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood is for anyone who loves to laugh, cry, and think about how extraordinary ordinary life can be.

The Romanovs

Written with dazzling literary flair, drawing on new archival research, The Romanovs is at once an enthralling story of triumph and tragedy, love and death, a universal study of power, and an essential portrait of the empire that still defines Russia today.

End of Watch

Both a stand-alone novel of heart-pounding suspense and a sublimely terrifying final episode in the Hodges trilogy, End of Watch takes the series into a powerful new dimension.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

England,1976. Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands. And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined.

Three Sisters, Three Queens

When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined – with Margaret’s younger sister Mary – to a sisterhood unique in all the world.

How to Play the Piano

Learn to play one of Bach’s most exquisite preludes in just 6 weeks, even if you have never played the piano before. Now with a beautiful new cover! An accessible and inspiring guide by the pianist and international bestselling writer James Rhodes.

Mothering Sunday

Beginning with an intimate assignation and opening to embrace decades, Mothering Sunday has at its heart both the story of a life and the life that stories can magically contain.

The Christmasaurus

The magical, moving and bestselling first children’s novel from Tom Fletcher. Forget everything you thought you knew about the North Pole, and set off on a Christmas Eve adventure with boy named William Trundle.

Love You Dead

An ugly duckling as a child, Jodie Bentley had two dreams in life – to be beautiful and rich. She’s achieved the first, with a little help from a plastic surgeon, and now she’s working hard on the second.

The Noise of Time

A story about the collision of Art and Power, about human compromise, human cowardice and human courage, it is the work of a true master.

SAS: Rogue Heroes

an exhilarating tale of fearlessness and heroism, recklessness and tragedy; of extraordinary men who were willing to take monumental risks. It is a story about the meaning of courage.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers

This extraordinary debut, full of unexpected humour and emotional truth, marks the arrival of a thrilling and significant new talent.

Orphan X

Someone’s on Evan Smoak’s trail. Someone who knows his past and believes that the boy once known as Orphan X must die 

Lean in 15: The Shape Plan

The new book by the record-breaking bestselling author Joe Wicks. Lean in 15: The Shape Plan introduces a new way of eating and training to build lean muscle and burn more fat.

Mary Berry: Foolproof Cooking

In this brand-new, official tie-in to Mary’s much anticipated series, the nation’s best-loved home cook will teach you to cook with confidence, with over 120 delicious recipes.

Deliciously Ella Every Day

With Deliciously Ella Every Day, her easy-to-make food will become a natural part of your life. Ella’s much-awaited second book is packed with 100 more of her trademark simple yet tempting plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free recipes.

Super Good Skills (Almost…)

Look out! Tom, Delia and the whole Gates family are going on holiday. How will Tom manage to keep himself busy on the most boring campsite ever? By doodling, of course!

The GCHQ Puzzle Book

Whether they’re recruiting new staff or challenging each other to the toughest Christmas quizzes and treasure hunts imaginable, puzzles are at the heart of what GCHQ does. Now they’re opening up their archives of decades’ worth of codes, puzzles and challenges for everyone to try.

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: A Memoir

In his rich, lyrical and emotionally exposing memoir, Chris brings to life his childhood in the 70s, from his bedroom bursting with fox skulls, birds’ eggs and sweaty jam jars, to his feral adventures. 

The Unmumsy Mum

This is not a parenting manual. This is real life. The Unmumsy Mum writes candidly about motherhood like it really is: the messy, maddening, hilarious reality, how there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and how it is sometimes absolutely fine to not know what you are doing.

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled

Outrageously witty, smart and accessible, Ruby Wax shows ordinary people how and why to change for good. With mindfulness advice for relationships, for parents, for children and for teenagers, and a six-week course based on her studies of Mindfulness.

Sirocco: Fabulous Flavours from the East

The eagerly awaited follow-up to top 10 bestseller Persiana. From the golden girl of Middle Eastern cookery, Sirocco will bring tastes of the East to Western-style dishes in a collection of 100 delicious and accessible recipes.

When Breath Becomes Air

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.


Be swept away by airships and flabbergasted by dastardly plots in this extraordinary and wildly imaginative debut, bursting with invention and adventure.


Fifteen-year-old Wulliam is dreading taking up his family’s mantle of Riverkeep, tending the river and fishing corpses from its treacherous waters. But then everything changes.


Survival. It’s all down to who you trust. Aiden O’Hara has been head of the family since he was kid, and he’s going to keep it that way. Jade Dixon is the one who watches his back. Mother of his son.

Vinegar Girl

Anne Tyler’s retelling of The Taming of the Shrew asks whether a thoroughly modern, independent woman like Kate would ever sacrifice herself for a man. The answer is as individual, off-beat and funny as Kate herself.

Lady Midnight

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

What is Not Yours is Not Yours

The stories collected in What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours are linked by more than the exquisitely winding prose of their creator: Helen Oyeyemi’s ensemble cast of characters slip from the pages of their own stories only to surface in another.

What Belong to You

Lyrical and intense, it tells the story of a man caught between longing and resentment, unable to separate desire from danger, and faced with the impossibility of understanding those he most longs to know.

Bourne Enigma

Jason Bourne is in Moscow to attend the wedding of his old friend and fellow spymaster General Boris Karpov. But amid the celebrations, the General has an important message to deliver to Bourne.

Modern Lovers

Straub packs wisdom and insight and humour together in a satisfying book about neighbours and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions – be they food, or friendship, or music – never go away.

The Assistants

Behind every successful man is a busy assistant and Tina’s boss is very successful. But Tina is tired of being overworked and underpaid. She’s bored of her damp flat and her mounting debts.

The Nest

A sharp and funny debut about a wonderfully dysfunctional New York family and the three grown-up siblings fighting to save the family money pot – the ‘nest’ – as their oldest brother threatens to lose it all.

Hitman Anders and The Meaning of it All

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All is an outrageously zany story with as many laughs as Jonasson’s multimillion-copy bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

The highly anticipated first book from award-winning comedian, writer, producer and actress, Amy Schumer. Amy shares stories about her family, her relationships, her career, recounting the experiences that have shaped who she is today.

The Ornatrix

Kate Howard’s stunning debut novel is painted against the vivid historical landscape of sixteenth century Italy, tackling issues of belonging, female identity and the perception of beauty. A beautiful, lyrical and visceral read.

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107 thoughts on “Our Christmas Top Picks: Best Books of 2016

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed child because it gave me the opportunity to learn more about one of My Teenage Daughter’s favourite book/film series and opened up discussions with her about it.

  2. I haven’t read many new books, so I have to go with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I really want to read End of Watch, and I’m sure my daughter would like Zog and the Flying Doctors. Actually, most of these books look amazing.

  3. I found “When Breath Becomes Air” to be a beautifully written, moving memoir, written by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who found out he had terminal lung cancer. Although the outcome is known from the start of the book, and of course it is a sad story, there are some wonderfully uplifting parts. He doesn’t look for pity, but wants the reader to appreciate life while they have it.

  4. My favourite book of 2016 was Cal Flyn’s Thicker Than Water. So many from this list that I’d love to read, Frazzled, The Girls and The Outrun especially.

  5. My favourite would always be Philippa Gregory, Three Sisters, Three Queens. She brings history alive with her vast knowledge of the periods she covers and breathes life into the characters with her on inimitable style of storytelling.

  6. I See You by Clare Mackintosh is my favourite book this year. I really enjoyed I Let You Go and was unsure how it would compare, but it exceeded all of my expectations by far. I loved it.

  7. Out of that list, The Christmasaurus is my book of the year, hands down. But some of the others are high on my TBR list so would love to win a bundle. 🙂

  8. Oh this year has been massive for David Walliams – our kids are huge fans (as are the adults). His writing is excellent, funny, captivating and so imaginative – for us the book of the year is The World’s Worst Children. We are a book loving family and I’m so pleased that both kids enjoy their books!

  9. Best book I’ve read this year was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins but appreciate that it isn’t on this years list. From the above though my “go for” book for Christmas would be Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen.

  10. this has made me realise how few books i’ve read this year…but i have read the Mary Berry Foolproof Cookery one…so I have to say this one!! will try harder next year…

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