2016’s Top Ten New-To-Me Authors

It’s Top Ten Tuesday and this week it’s Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time in 2016.

I thought this list would echo my ‘best book of 2016’ but actually it doesn’t completely (I wonder which book Hag-Seed might dislodge?). Plus, the year isn’t totally over yet is it?  I’ve still got at least three weeks of reading time, completely uninterrupted except by Christmas concerts, Christmas shopping, Christmas decorating, Christmas chat, Christmas office parties, Christmas cooking, Christmas travel, Christmas manic excitement (kids), Christmas meltdowns (me).

Anyway without further ado, this year’s top ten new-to-me authors are:

10. Jennifer Clement (Prayers for the Stolen)

WHY? Jennifer Clement has done a remarkable job in presenting a really engaging narrative, based on interviews with Mexican women, imagesabout the impact of the drugs trade and human trafficking.  Moreover, she has cleverly woven humour and really likeable characters into the pathos, which means that despite its bleak story, the book is a hugely gratifying read. (See here for my full review).

9. Anthony Doerr (All The Light We Cannot See)

WHY?  This book is beautifully crafted.  It feels like every word has been especially chosen for its purpose in that sentence and in that paragraph.  9780007548699The language is fluid, and it’s the language that makes the book so easy to consume. It won the Pulitzer Prize last year. If that’s not enough for you, check out my review here for four (other) reasons to read it.

8. Leigh Hobbs (Mr Chicken Goes to London)

WHY? It only look a few months of moving back to Australia to come acmr-chicken-lands-on-london-600x600ross Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs, author of Mr Chicken’s exploits (among other things). Mr Chicken really is hilarious.  For my kids’ review of this book, click here.

7.  Ellen Van Neeran (Heat and Light)

WHY? With Heat and Light, Ellen Van Neerven has created something that is mystical, real, engaging and edifying.  hight and lightShe deftly weaves Indigenous heritage into the narratives in a cohesive way, and successfully captures the intersectionalities of race, sex and sexuality.  This book and her writing is a total delight, as I explain more fully in my review.

6. Kate Tempest (The Bricks that Built the Houses)

WHY? Kate Tempest is a poet, a musician, a playwrite,tbtbth-jacket-sq-paper a novelist and a bloody genius. I didn’t ever get a chance to write a review of this book, and looking back I’m not sure why (work? kids? Better Call Saul, season 2?). Kate Tempest is surely a prodigy, and if this debut novel is anything to go by, she is going to be around for a while.

5. Han Kang (The Vegetarian)

WHY? The Vegetarian is to vegetarianism what Trainspotting was to heroin. That is, it hardly commends vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice.  getimageI really wanted to write a review for this book – the characters, the setting and in particular the writing literally took my breath away – but I still can’t figure out how to sum up this book.  Just take my word for it.

4. Jane Harper (The Dry)

WHY? I predicted back ingetimage August that The Dry would be one of my top books of the year; quite a call for only 8 months in. (It can get pretty intense here at Words and Leaves). This book is a scorcher. Be wary of reading it on public transport though – you could well miss your stop, as I mentioned in my review here.

3. Elizabeth McKenzie (The Portable Veblen)

WH109122-fc501Y? There’s a lot to love about Elizabeth McKenzie’s novel.  It’s quirky and entertaining but earnest and warm.  It has solid characters, humorous episodes, grizzly moments, sharp social commentary and come-uppance for those who deserve it. Need further convincing? See my full review here.

2. Melissa Lukashenko (Mullumbimby)

WHY? I really, really enjoyed this book.  mullimbimbyI loved the characters, the writing and the story came to a surprisingly tense climax that was a real page-turner. Melissa Lucaschenko has delivered a book that is smart, entertaining and culturally educative  – as well as being full of warmth and humour.  Want to know more?  Read my full review here.

1. Charlotte Wood (The Natural Way of Things)

WHY?  Oh my god I loved this book. The Natural Way of Things is unlike any other book I’ve read.  Charlotte Wood has taken the concept of misogyny and has constructed a literal monument out of it. She has breathed life into it and given it a beating heart and working lungs.  I can’t believe this book didn’t win more international prizes, although it did scoop a tonne of Aussie accolades.  You can read my gushing review here.



**Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fiendishly popular The Broke and the Bookish You should check out their musings…

This is a site about books and about tea, and how we should read more books and drink more tea. Sometimes, it's hard to know what books to read and what tea to drink. This is where I can help out.


  1. Great timing! I’m looking for some holiday reads (and Christmas presents), this list will be very helpful – I haven’t done nearly enough reading for pleasure this year…

  2. I’ve not heard of any of these authors before, but I might have to check them out. Hope you have a great week!

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

    • The bulk are Australian which might explain a little of that. But yes, you should! It was great going over the year and remembering all the fab books I’d read- brought a smile to my face.

  3. Anthony Doerr is one of my all time favorite authors heheh 😀 Glad you discovered him this year hehe 😀

  4. The Vegetarian was such a powerful read for a small book. I struggled with reviewing it, so I understand completely. I am so glad I read it though. I have not read these others, so you have given me some new authors and titles to look into 🙂

    • Did you manage to review it? I saw reviews by big magazines and newspapers but no blog reviews. I will look yours up for inspiration on how to tackle tough books.

  5. Oh my goodness, how did I leave Anthony Doerr off of my list!?! I absolutely loved ” All The Light…” such a great read from 2016!

    • I agree! We did it in one of my book club’s though, and it wasn’t a love shared universally. Which I still don’t really understand.

  6. I’m with you on Elizabeth McKenzie and Charlotte Wood, and I thank you for introducing me to the latter. It is still the best book I’ve read so far this year. I want to read The Vegetarian but I have 127 books on my TBR following a birthday of books given and books bought with vouchers and a few irresistible splurges. One of which was Melissa Lukashenko’s book! Doerr’s book is on my radar, but the person I was going to borrow it off has gone on a 6 month career break and I haven’t been to the library in a while.

    • Wow. 127 books will keep you going for a bit! I hope you’ve got a good system to keep track of them all – I am starting to insitute a new one, as my current system (of just reserving them at the library when I hear of them) is not working out for me. The good thing about The Vegetarian, other than it being a really unusual and brilliant book, is that it’s short.

      • 127 is more than a year’s worth! I use LibraryThing to keep track of books. My library service has a good online list option as well that helps with keeping track of what I want to reserve and which branch it’s likely to come from.

  7. I loved The Dry too – and I agree that it does suck you right in. I think I read it over the space of a weekend. It was impossible to put down.
    And The Natural Way of Things… I love it so much. One of the highlights of my year was going to see Charlotte Wood talk about the book after she’d won The Stella Prize – if you ever get the chance to go see her speak then you should take it. It’ll be well worth it!

    • I saw Charlotte Wood in Melbourne – she did a talk here much like the Sydney one a couple of days after her win. She was pretty much running on pure adrenalin. You’re right, she was so inspirational. It made me love the book even more. I tried to put a bet on her winning the Stella at the TAB – the guy almost killed himself with laughter (‘we don’t do book prizes’)….

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