After writing all about my top 10 beauty products of 2016, I realised that I really wanted to chat to you about some other things that have made my 2016 a little better. So, without further ado, here are my top five books, TV series' and documentaries of 2016.
Top Five Books
5.) The Tenant of Wildfell Hallby Anne Bronte. It's no secret that I'm a big lover of Victorian fiction, and this lady's two sisters. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a novel that really pushed the boundaries of what was deemed to be good social and moral conduct in its time. The main female protagonist has fled from her abusive husband, and moved into Wildfell Hall. Her refusal to attend church, and the fact that the landlord of the hall is a man unleashes some ugly rumours in her community. Through her, we see that there is no strict right or wrong, and the guidelines for a Victorian woman's conduct get blurred. I've reviewed this on my secondary blog here.
4.) The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. I used to love Philippa Gregory, but I haven't read one of her books since my pre-uni days. It was an absolute joy to go back and get down and dirty with one of history's most-talked about eras: the time of the Plantaganets and Tudors. The White Queen is all about a common woman who is fortunate enough to have a king fall in love with her and legitimately marry her. Well, sort of anyway. Soon however she discovers that being a Queen is not as easy as it seems, especially when you truly love your husband. You can read my full review of this here.
3.) Me Before Youby Jojo Moyes. This one has been plastered all over the internet this year, mostly because of the (slightly offensive to say the least) movie version, which featured an able-bodied actor playing the part of the disabled male protagonist. The book however really opened up another side to disability for me. Usually it's glossed over, or the character is displayed as being incredibly positive despite the challenges they face. In Me Before You Will really struggles with some severe mental health problems as a result of his accident and life-changing injuries. I've reviewed this in full here.
2.) Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. I really found a love for thrillers in 2016 and this was definitely (obviously) up there with the best. Christine Lucas, the novel's protagonist, essentially suffers from short-term memory loss, and has been doing so since she was in her early twenties. Every night when she goes to sleep she forgets any of the memories that she's amassed in the second half of her life. She considers herself to be a burden to her loving husband, and seeks help from a psychiatrist. The secrets that she unearths are utterly terrifying. Read my full review here.
1.) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I read this and Before I go to Sleep back to back and they were both so good that they've filled the top two spots of my favourite books of 2016. The Girl on the Train has been all over social media because of the release of its film version, and it's something I NEED TO SEE. Rachel, aka the girl on the train, takes the same train journey every single day, and is obsessed with the same street. When she hears that a woman has gone missing from the road she becomes obsessed with finding what happened. The problem is that Rachel is an alcoholic. No one will take her seriously, and the novel even questions whether we as readers can either. My full review is here.
Top Five Documentaries
5.) Life of Mammals. We all love a bit of Attenborough. Mammals to me are the most interesting type of animals, and I loved watching this series. There's just something so soothing about watching David Attenborough talk about creatures on our planet when you're all bundled up in a dressing gown with a roaring hangover.
4.) The cost of cute: the ugly side of the puppy trade. If you're not following Grace's blog then that's something you really need to sort out. This woman has done some amazing things over the past year, and making this documentary for the BBC was one that I loved seeing her do. This documentary made me weepy in parts as I began to realise how cruel humans can be to animals purely to make profit from them.
3.) Planet Earth II. Need I say more? Seriously though, the footage on this, the most recent of Attenborough's documentary series', was absolutely insane. It captured so much detail of the lives of animals in different climates across the globe. My personal favourite of the series was possibly the cities episode, as it really opened my eyes as to how urban and natural lives merge in cities around the world.
2.) Clean Eating's Dirty Secrets. For starters, the name of this is kind of epic. Secondly, it's another of Grace's documentaries for the BBC. I'm a little obsessed with both this and 'The cost of cute'. This one completely opened my eyes to what's going on behind the scenes of the clean eating trade. For so long I duped by it: I actually started Nourish ME because I wanted to get more involved in 'clean eating'. Although I've come to see the truth a little bit in the past couple of years, this truly made me realise how disturbing and dangerous the trend is.
1.) Blackfish. I couldn't leave this out could I? I'm actually not a big watcher of documentaries. Unless you count the odd ones on TLC, or Tattoo Fixers. This, however, was something I knew I needed to watch. In case you haven't heard of it, 'Blackfish' is a doc all about the use of orcas in entertainment in America, particularly at Seaworld. With the death of Tilikum (Seaworld's most famous, and most dangerous orca) last week, Blackfish is more relevant than ever. The popularity of the documentary was a large factor in Seaworld's decision to officially end the use of orcas in shows once the generation of whales that they currently have dies out.
Top Five TV shows
5.) Orange is the New Black. You can tell how good this list is going to be just by the fact that this is last in the top five. OITNB is something I've watched for a couple of years now and I loved the new series, even though a lot of people found it a bit meh. Can we just talk about that ending though? No spoilers, but jheez I need to find out what happened already. This was possibly my favourite series of OITNB yet.
4.) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This is one of my favourite TV shows ever, and the new series was just as great as the first one. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a satirical comedy about a girl trapped in a bunker for over a decade by an extremist reverend. When she's rescued she moves to New York and must learn to adjust to modern city life.
3.) Stranger Things. This was all over the internet back in September/October, and when I finally submitted to the hype I could see why. 'Stranger Things' is set in a small town in which a boy goes missing. We see him disappear, as if into thin air, despite being seemingly chased by something that is very much real. His group of friends do their best to find him, and soon realise that Will's disappearance has a lot more to do with the supernatural than anyone first considered.
2.) Gossip Girl. How did I make it into my twenties without watching this? This was practically life changing. If you've ever watched and enjoyed shows like One Tree Hill or 90210 then this will be right up your street. This is a series that I would 100% rewatch, and it made me keep on watching endlessly. The last episode was a little ... odd though. If you've watched to the end then let me know what you thought of it!
1.) Homeland. I feel like I've had a real mix of shows on here. 'Homeland' focuses on an FBI agent called Carrie Mathieson who works on gaining intelligence in the Middle East. She is effectively part of an anti-terror unit and is one of the best. Sergeant Brodie is a soldier who was held by a terror cell in Afghanistan for seven years. When he's released, Carrie is the only one who considers that he might not be as innocent as he seems. Yet she's proved wrong. As she begins to trust herself less, the audience gets an insight into how somebody who struggles with bipolar disorder behaves under intense stress.
So there we have it, my top fives of 2016. What would yours be?