Save the world? Let’s all start reading again, that’s what I say. Reading a book is an intensely personal activity. It’s just you and the words, make of them what you will. People can tell you what a book means to them, but no one can tell you what it means to you. That’s between you and the book. To find out, you need to come to know the book and your own mind. Those discoveries are generated in the private act of exploration we call reading. To be immersed in a book is to inhabit a creative and enchanted space, which is no bad thing to practice doing in a world that has come to feel distressingly devoid of magic. Because what is magic, if not another word for hope?
Here’s some of the fiction and non-fiction that I especially enjoyed in 2016. One way or another all these books address aspects of health, illness and wellbeing. Most of these titles are fairly recent publications, although I’ve included several older books that were new to me. Perhaps there’s something here to keep you company over the holidays, or better still to place on your bedside table to be part of your new year’s resolution to read for half an hour every night before sleep … to read yourself to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream …
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
- What Really Matters by David Galler
- It’s All in your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illnesses by Suzanne O’Sullivan
- The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist
- On the Move by Oliver Sacks
- Late Nights on Air and Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay
- My Name is Lucy Barton and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
- Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
- The Regeneration Trilogy and Toby’s Room by Pat Barker
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
- I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Sue Wootton is co-editor of Corpus.