Stuart Clark

Our favourite reads of 2016

We’re always being told that no one reads anymore. Well, it’s certainly not the case here at Red C. So without further ado, here are the stories we’ve taken from our bookshelves to our hearts in 2016.

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

“The best book I’ve read this year (and OK, I’m stretching it a bit, as I started reading it last Christmas Day) is without doubt Terry Pratchett’s last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown.

For probably at least 10 years now, one of my regular Christmas presents would be the latest Terry Pratchett novel, so this has a special poignancy as the great man died in 2015, so this will be my first Christmas for a long time without a new Terry Pratchett.

I have always loved the gentle humour that pervades all his writing, his great empathy with humankind – these aren’t really books about dwarves and goblins so much as books about human relationships. I like the fact that every story ends on an upbeat, positive note. And of course this one is special because it is a return for the Nac Mac Feegles, the six inch high clan of hard-drinking, ferocious-fighting, thieving reprobates with a strong moral code!

Strictly speaking, it’s a ‘young adult’ book, but I don’t care! It’s a great Christmas read.”

Adrian Rowe, Chairman

The North Water by Ian McGuire

“2016 was a great year, reading-wise. I finally got round to reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which is easily one of the most harrowing, yet life-affirming books I’ve ever read. I rediscovered the incredible imagination of David Mitchell, first through Slade House, which was one of our Red C Book Club picks, and then through The Bone Clocks.

But my favourite read of the year was The North Water by Ian McGuire. I devoured it more or less in one sitting, staying up until 3am to finish it. It’s an absolutely exhilarating, historical tale of an ill-fated voyage aboard a whaling

ship. The crew is a mix of broken men and downright degenerates, forced to soldier on as their situation becomes ever more desperate.

It’s not a novel for the faint-hearted, the easily offended, or the squeamish. As things go from bad to worse, all kinds of abominations are committed, in stomach-churning detail. The writing is vivid and visceral – “the noxious, sulphurated reek of rotting whale blubber” – yet there’s a beauty to it as well.

It will doubtless be made into a movie at some point. But quite frankly, no amount of cinematic wizardry could come close to rivalling the sensory experience achieved by the author.

The book is always better, and this is one is exceptional.”

Stuart Clark, Head of Copy

Fables by Bill Willingham

‘Fables’ are creatures from fairytales and folklore. The characters from Brothers Grimm tales, urban legends like the Japanese Kuchisake-onna, and obscure fantasy beasts from old myths, that kind of thing.

Their hometown has been taken over by “The Adversary” so they have been forced to flee to modern New York City.

Here they live in a community called Fable Town – unless they don’t look like humans, in which case they have to live on The Farm, upstate.

I like it because it is what you might call a ‘childhood ruiner’. It’s all the loveable characters I remember as a kid, but in horrible, gritty situations. Prostitution, political murders, bar fights, terrorist attacks… lots of alcohol and drugs!

There was also a videogame adaptation released – Tell-tale: The Wolf Among Us – where you play as the wolf from Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, who is a detective trying to solve a series of murders. Love it.

Luiza Oranici, Digital Designer

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

“My book of the year would have to be, ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou. I finally finished it this year after buying it following her death in 2014.

Maya is a brilliant writer and it is evident how her poetic nature lends itself to her writing in other formats, such as this – her first autobiography. It was a

must read for me as I find Maya very inspirational and her story is gripping, very open and honest.”

Jess Williams, Senior Account Manager

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

“I’ve read some of the classics this year, like To Kill A Mockingbird and The Bell Jar, but the one I couldn’t put down was The Girl on the Train, which a Red C colleague lent me. Told from the first person perspective of an unreliable, drunk fantasist the plot keeps you in suspense from cover to cover. I’m definitely intrigued to see how this psychological thriller translates to film…”

Jem Connor, Account Manager

Boy/Going Solo by Roald Dahl

“I love autobiographies and I’ve read Roald Dahl books since I was a little girl!

I loved how you met people in ‘Boy’ and ‘Going Solo’ that he clearly used in his other stories later in life, such as Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to resemble different characters.

I’ve recommended it to a lot of people! I just wish the book could have gone on and I could have found out a lot more about him, like when he started writing his children’s books and how that all happened.“

Megan Sharp, Junior Account Executive

Sex and The Citadel by Shereen El Feki

“This book was truly eye-opening and provided me with an interesting insight into the sex lives of Egyptian women. El Feki’s account of her adventures around Egypt and more specifically Cairo, are fascinating as both the reader and author learn together.

As the author gains trust and delves deeper into the complexities and formalities of the Arab culture you can’t help but be captivated by a time foregone from our westernised world.

I would definitely recommend this book to all but be prepared for the disapproving sniggers and looks if you’re brave enough to read this on public transport. If the title isn’t enough the cover art most certainly will raise some eyebrows.”

Maz Hoy, Junior Account Executive