Top 10 Reads of 2016

It’s that time of year again! If you’re looking for ideas on what to read in 2017, here’s a round-up of the books that stood out to me this year. If you’re looking for tips on how to read more in 2017, check out this earlier post on ‘4 Easy Ways to Read More’.

There were a few stand-outs for me this year in my reading list, including my first ever read of the Harry Potter series (what?! How could I have never read them before? I know…), and a successful second attempt at reading Thomas Piketty’s 700-page book on economics and inequality, ‘Capital in the 21st Century’, which I had tried and failed to finish when it came out a couple of years ago. I’m so glad I gave it a second try, because it turned out to be SO fascinating. I also started reading a few of the titles on the list of ‘A Year of Reading the World’, which gives suggestions for books translated into English from each nation in the world.

Here are the top 10 books that I found most impacting, significant or enjoyable, along with the rest of my reading list for the year –

My Top 10 Reads of 2016

(in no particular order)

1.The Culture Map: Breaking through the invisible boundaries of global business (Erin Meyer)

“Each of the eight scales represents one key area that managers must be aware of, showing how cultures vary along a spectrum from one extreme to its opposite. The eight scales are:

• Communicating: low-context vs. high-context

• Evaluating: direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedback

• Persuading: principles-first vs. applications-first

• Leading: egalitarian vs. hierarchical

• Deciding: consensual vs. top-down

• Trusting: task-based vs. relationship-based

• Disagreeing: confrontational vs. avoids confrontation

• Scheduling: linear-time vs. flexible-time”


2. The Martian (Andy Weir)

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”





3. The Name of God is Mercy (Pope Francis)

“God awaits us with open arms; we need only to take a step toward him like the Prodigal Son. But if, weak as we are, we don’t have the strength to take that step, just the desire to take it is enough.”





4. Discontent and its Civilisations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London (Mohsin Hamid)

“On our globalizing planet, where the pace of change keeps accelerating, many of us are coming to feel at least a bit foreign, because all of us, whether we travel far afield or not, are migrants through time. Even if you are eighty and have never left your hometown, yours has become another country from that of your childhood.”




5. Present over Perfect: Leaving behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living (Shauna Niequist)

“Now I know that the best thing I can offer to this world is not my force or energy, but a well-tended spirit, a wise and brave soul… My regrets: how many years I bruised people with my fragmented, anxious presence. How many moments of connection I missed—too busy, too tired, too frantic and strung out on the drug of efficiency… You don’t have to damage your body and your soul and the people you love most in order to get done what you think you have to get done.”




6. Chasing the Scream: The first and last days of the war on drugs (Johann Hari)

“A few years before his trip to camp, the United States government—determined to achieve Harry Anslinger’s mission of spreading the drug war to every country on earth—had decided to train an elite force within Mexico to win the war on drugs. The United States brought them to Fort Bragg to provide the best training, intelligence, and military equipment from America’s 7th Special Forces Group. Their motto was “Not even death will stop us.” Once it was over and they had learned all they could and received all the weapons they wanted, these expensively trained men went home and defected, en masse, to work for the Gulf Cartel. These breakaways called themselves the Zetas. It would be as if the Navy Seals defected from the U.S. Army to help the Crips take over Los Angeles—and succeeded.”


7. The Life of I: The new culture of narcissism [updated edition] (Anne Manne)

“Simone Weil thought that if one had empathy, or the ‘ability to see another person’s perspective on the world, one could not act unjustly’. In contrast, empathy in narcissism is crucially attenuated or missing altogether. It is not only at an individual level; group narcissism underpins racism, sexism and homophobia—refusing to extend empathy and a common humanity to those who are different from oneself, seeing them instead as inferiors one is entitled to exploit. Empathy is deeply involved in overturning longstanding injustices caused by hierarchical notions of people, replacing such group narcissism with another of Weil’s profound insights: ‘Respect is due to the human person as such and is not a matter of degree.’ It is such an essential ingredient in moral conduct, friendship, love, getting along with others, philanthropy, considerate behaviour, generosity, altruism and what the Greeks call caritas, or loving kindness, that we need to take seriously the kinds of upbringing that allow it to flourish and those that leave it to wither early on the vine.”

8. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)

“I always loved you, and if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be”






9. Capital in the 21st Century (Thomas Piketty)

“When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.”





10-16. The Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling)

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”


And the rest…

17. A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear (Atiq Rahimi)

18. Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear (Elizabeth Gilbert)

19. Palace of Dreams (Ismail Kadare)

20. Born Standing Up: A comic’s life (Steve Martin)

21. What’s Best Next (Matthew Aaron Perman)

22. The Fifth Wave (Rick Yancy)

23. The Attack (Yasmina Khadra)

24. A Grief Observed (CS Lewis)

25. The Prodigal God (Tim Keller)

26. Counterfeit Gods: When the empty promises of love, money and power let you down (Tim Keller)

27. The Happiness Industry (William Davies)

28. Crazy Busy: A (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem (Kevin DeYoung)

29. The Abolition of Man (CS Lewis)

30. Man Disconnected: How technology has sabotaged what it means to be male (Philip Zimbardo and Nikita D Coulombe)

31. It Can’t Happen Here (Sinclair Lewis)

32. Mud, Sweat and Tears: The autobiography (Bear Grylls)

33. Where Love Is, There God is Also (Leo Tolstoy)

34. The Way to Wealth (Ben Franklin)

35. Rip Van Winkle (Washington Irving)

36. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

37. The Inferno (Dante)

38. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

39. The Mark of the Beast (Rudyard Kipling)

40. Simplify: Ten practices to uncluttered your soul (Bill Hybels)

41. Survival Guide to Life (Bear Grylls)

42. The Weapons Shop (AE van Vogt)

43. No Woman Born (CL Moore)

44. The Life you’ve always wanted: Spiritual disciplines for ordinary people (John Ortberg)

45. The Leadership Challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organisations (James Kouzes and Barry Posner)

46. The Beauty Myth (Naomi Wolf)


If you’re interested in more inspiration for your reading list, you might like to check out-

Top 10 Reads of 2015

Top 10 Reads of 2014