Clemence Poles' Top 8 Books of 2016
From memoirs to fiction, non-fiction, short stories and philosophy this list is bound to snag your interest. It was hard for us to limit the list, but we fought our Rory Gilmore instincts and refined the list to a somewhat manageable number. So end 2016 and start 2017 off right by treating yourself to the works of some of todays most brilliant minds.
1. The Girls By Emma Cline
Emma Cline's first novel is a fictional telling of the late 1960's in Northern California. Our protagonist is a young teenager, called Evie, and her temptation and ultimate induction into a Manson Family inspired cult. Though Cline cites this as fiction, this is primarily due to her creation of the narrator and Evie's personal story. The details of the cult she joins directly align with the notorious stories of the formidable Manson Family. For a little pre-reading research be sure to check out the book Helter Skelter written by the head prosecutor on the Manson trial, Vincent Bugliosi.
2. Frantumaglia: A Writer's Journey By Elena Ferrante
Okay Ferrante fans, here you go. This may not be a new installment in the Neapolitan series, but it does give us great insight into the mind of the otherwise enigmatic Italian author. Through decades of letters, and notes readers will learn about the writers process and her decision to remain anonymous.
3. The Glorious Heresies By Lisa McInerney
The Glorious Heresies is one of the greatest novels to come out of Ireland this decade. Lisa McInerney - Ireland's contemporary pride and joy - tells a story of four dysfunctional strangers united by an unlikely event. This deep delving and darkly humorous novel is sure to become a favorite.
4. Please Kill me: 20th Anniversary Edition By Legs McNeil
Okay, we know this isn't technically a new book in 2016 — okay, it isn't at all. However, we do want to add this punk bible to our list because the recently released 20th Anniversary Edition includes new interviews and sections previously unpublished. If you've read it already, this update is definitely worth it and if you haven't read it before, stop what you're doing and start right this second.
5. Swing Time By Zadie Smith
Award-winning author Zadie Smith's new novel story will make an imprint on your heart. Swing Time tells the story of best friends Tracey and Aimee. As we read we go through their journey alongside them. We watch them create their identities, pursue their passions and face the sometimes difficult realities of growing up and growing apart. Tracey remains in London whereas Aimee heads to West Africa straining their lifelong friendship. Swing Time is a tribute to female friendships, the pursuit of dance and the bittersweetness of time.
6. At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails By Sarah Bakewell
This biographical and philosophical work by Sarah Bakewell takes us to the Parisian cafés where De Beauvoir, Sartre, Camus and other profound existentialists gathered and inspired one another. We learn the sources and connections between these iconic thinkers works, their love affairs and the other lesser known - but no less important - people who contributed to the way of thinking.
7. Patience By Daniel Clowes
Ghost World creator Daniel Clowes is back again with his new graphic novel, Patience. This nearly 200 page work is presented in Clowes signature aesthetic. The storyline is once again told in a surreal, distant and yet somehow still welcoming tone that is reminiscent of Ghost World, but is by no means repetitive.
8. Eyes on the street: The life of jane jacobs By Robert Kanigel
Jane Jacobs is an iconic figure every woman should know about, she was an absolute force of nature, and somehow this is one of the only biographies ever to come out on her. Jacobs was an urban theorist whose activism and initiatives were imperative to the rescuing of Manhattan's Greenwich Village during which she fought against Robert Moses — who is also worth a Google search to learn more about a few of his less than convenient projects. One of the great works of urban theory was written by Jacobs entitled Death and Life of American Cities. Jacobs was one of the only woman in a field made up entirely of men, despite this she fought - and was arrested twice - and is without a doubt worth reading about.