Aisling Ehrismann: My Favourite Books from 2016


This post is part of a series of posts in which students of the English Seminar present their favourite books they have read in 2016. The lists are not restricted to books that were published this year. If you want to participate as well, send your list to

Today’s list comes to you from Aisling Ehrismann.

To be honest, I have no idea how many books I’ve actually read this year. I’m not the type to strategically analyse how many books, pages or words I read, and I don’t set myself a particular goal to achieve – especially when my reading has to compete with my series watching. So for me, it’s not the number that counts but the quality of books read. With some captivating and beguiling works, here are my top five of 2016.


Malala Yousafzai: I am Malala: The Girl who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban


Beautifully written, intricate and heartbreaking, I was already brought to tears just by reading the three page long foreword. This is a must-read for all. Brush up on your Pakistani history knowledge and understand the deep impact the Taliban are having on the area. Now more than ever, it is essential that we inform ourselves about all facets of Islam and, although, at times it is highly critical of patriarchal aspects of this religion, I think this books speaks for Islam.


Harper Lee: Go Set a Watchman


There are a lot of conspiracy theories and controversies surrounding this book. But in the end, it doesn’t matter how this book came to be when it offers such a deep understanding of the civil rights tensions in the south. Almost better than her landmark novel To Kill a Mockingbird, this book, which can be seen as a sort of draft of her most famous novel, manages to give a more politically charged insight into the iconic characters of Jean Louise “Scout” and Atticus Finch, set 20 years later.


Mike McCormack: Solar Bones


I didn’t choose this book mainly for its content but because of its interesting format. With no complete sentences and no full stops, Irish author Mike McCormack explores the boundaries of what is possible with this medium. Its innovative style is what makes this book so astonishingly extraordinary.


Gabriela Kasperski: Die gefallene Schneekönigin


This is the perfect crime novel to snuggle up to in bed during winter. The setting, a sharp and freezing winter landscape, contrasts with the cosy living rooms of the village people, who just love a bit of gossip. And the whole novel is lightened up by Kasperski’s sense of humour. The crime scene is blood-curdling and the investigation following psychology student Zita and police officer Meier enthralling. This is the perfect winter read for your semester break.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a very impressive account of events surrounding the war of secession between Nigeria and the short-lived rebel country of Biafra in the late sixties. In a story which combines love and acute descriptions of the gradual degradation of life for civilians, Adichie writes a moving account which is loosely based on first-hand accounts of her grand-parents and friends. The change of attitudes to war from the excitement over independence to the disaster of a lost war is captured brilliantly. The negative effects of Western colonialism on the Igbo struggle for self-determination is described in a way which is reminiscent of Chinua Achebe’s work.

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