The Review Of My 2016 Book Trends Review, Reviewed

It’s the time of the year where we look back on my predictions for 2016, which I cunningly disguised back in January as a futuristic review of what had already happened.

Because, you see, this was supposed to be funny. For the past few years each January, in a shameless gimmick, I have been doing my review of the year past before it’s happened. And in general, it was a right old wheeze. Haha, said the lovely blog readers, at what amounted to a satirical news story. It’s funny because it is quite possible that all these things might happen, they said, such as publishers creating a new craze for cookery books made out of macramé, or the book world consumed with the story of the $3 million publishing deal for Johnny Depp’s dogs.

But then the rest of 2016 happened.

The Review Of My 2016 Book Trends Review, Reviewed

I don’t wish to get maudlin on this blog, or take up with subjects which polarise fundamentally decent people. But this year’s combination of the loss of icons past, together with the now uncertain future for people with an actual sense of humour – particularly women – makes funny more challenging.

Satire must find a new place in the era of fake news. After all, satire only works, if cynical people such as myself find something positive in what they lampoon. You’ve got to love it to laugh at it. And I did not love 2016. I’m going to give it a bash, though.

So, on with the show. First off. What did I predict for January?



The Fourth Estate … decided to abandon the big blockbusters altogether and focus upon the most obscure titles they could find.

I got this 100% right, only not entirely in the way I meant… so does that mean it’s 82.7%? Oh, who cares. Anyhoo, while many big publishers still went for churning out the same old tat as everyone else between the covers, they at least tried to make some other book titles obscure. This is presumably how we ended up with The Portable Veblen, The Met Office Advises Caution, and The Book Title Without A Girl In It.



Readers shunned fiction in February, turning their attentions instead to ‘shelf-help’ books, also known as ‘holistic space therapy’… Clean Your Goddamn House, You Slattern! was a surprise smash hit, followed shortly by It’s Not You, It’s The Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath In Your Living Room; along with the award-winning tear-jerker subsequently made into a major film, The Girl With The Wrong Duvet Cover.

Again, I got this right, only with the teeny tiny exception of the time of year. It wasn’t February: it was October when the vast majority of those 34,597 bloody Danish hygge books hit the shelves, blissfully unaware that underneath those cosy sock-strewn covers, they were cannibalising each other in a frenzy of vegetarian bloodshed. Ah, the warm Danish fun we had. Can’t wait to see the sales figures!



After a lacklustre first quarter, publishers breathed a sigh of relief when the next big literary craze – called Science Fiction 2.0 – became apparent, following the stampede for the tills with the smash hit Neil deGrasse Tyson Licked My Aardvark.

I don’t think I can spin this in any way which would make me win. I lost, with this prediction. Neil deGrasse Tyson did not lick my aardvark, and I think we can all agree that science was the big loser in 2016.

The Review Of The 2016 Book Trends Review, Reviewed


The search for the next Gone Girl/Girl On A Train was deemed to be over with the release of This Book Has A Girl In It, a thriller about an author being stalked by six unreliable narrators. She’s then forced at gunpoint to identify which one of them is telling the truth before she can bank £950,000.

Hmm. Unreliable narrators are popular… then we get all that fake news… Ha, ha! See, I can laugh at my own jokes. And I also had a hell of a lot of fun with unreliable narrators myself this year. You see? Every girl has a silver lining.



Earning The End was the major talking point of May 2016. John E. Smith’s book, available in digital format only, caused a scandal when it became apparent that its final chapters could only be downloaded once the reader had left 5-star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads.

I was on to something here, but only until about April. 2016 was another year of consternation over fake reviews online, until everyone stopped worrying about fake reviews, in order to worry about fake news instead. My dearest wish for 2017 is that we will find ourselves once again in a position to worry about fake reviews. And I can get back to poking fun at erotica. Ooh, Matron!



In another example of uncannily choreographed coincidence… self-publishing service providers owned by the major publishing houses all suffered technical difficulties in the second quarter, meaning that some of the year’s most high-profile indie books had to delay publication and thereby completely missed the all-important summer holiday market.

I said last year I was going to stop preaching, or making ham-handed points about nefarious practices in the book industry, or the world. It would appear I lied. But because this is 2016, I did not in fact lie, and Twitter proves it. So there, and nuts to you.


July and August

Tables were turned on the press when the silly season produced the biggest book story of the year: the revelation that Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin had … transitioned to writing YA Romance, which he described as “literally an aching, painful process of getting to know the real me”.

I’m not sure whether this is false. 2016 was the first time when the TV series of Game of Thrones surged ahead of the books, and didn’t seem to suffer in the slightest for it. And his next book is still not out. How do you know he hasn’t been holed up making Jefferson and Shaya pasodoble their way into love? How do you know??

The Review Of The 2016 Book Trends Review, Reviewed


Following the hugely successful re-release of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in early 2016…… a slate of new re-releases were announced in September for, amongst others, Zabiba And The King by Saddam Hussein; The Green Book by Colonel Gaddafi, and and See Spot, Run, the much-loved children’s book long unmasked as an explosive manifesto for Kim Jong-il, the dictator most famous for his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Hmmm. I have no idea whether or not this is true. Okay, so we may not have seen the hardback edition of See Spot, Run. But did the general gist of this prediction not blockbust its way through 2016 otherwise? I think the point of this is that you all need to pay me to not make these sort of dangerously foreboding predictions for the years to come.

I accept all major currencies and will release any small children I kidnap for jelly beans.



The popularity of so-called ‘real’ women – irreverent comediennes and actresses who purportedly don’t care what you think of them – reached its peak… Unfortunately, this deluge resulted in a backlash against the ‘real woman’ trope, and spawned an additional five Kardashians nobody had ever heard of before.

Here is a case of an event I kind of wished we had but we didn’t, followed by a result I never wanted but which we largely got (through Instagram, mainly). And of course there was the whole female Ghostbusters revival thing with that nasty social media backlash, too.

I dunno, folks. It appears I am all-powerful. Do I need to exercise more care? Answers on a postcard please. You know the address. Yeah. That one.



Wednesday November 2nd became known as “Launch Of The Walking Dead” after no fewer than fifteen posthumous titles were published on this day alone.

I’m sorry. It’s like, OMG. HOW MUCH DID I REALLY KNOW? We may never know. Or I may never tell you. But in a year when it feels like we lost more good people than ever before, my prescience of posthumous titles for Christmas is just SPOOKY. And that’s enough capitals.



Nobody was surprised when This Isn’t was declared the must-have gimmicky book for the Christmas 2016 market. Described as “refreshing” by the Guardian; “a truly original idea” by the Telegraph, and “grand” by the Irish Times, this blank, unlined book, with its plain brown cover, invited readers to enter their own thoughts, in order to form their own relevant narrative of what it means to be a human being alive today.

I’m big enough to take the hit on this one. It didn’t happen. I wasn’t to know that after a year of abject insanity, book buyers would flock to the shops looking for comfort, not empty space. Millions of people are now on the hunt for a book which will make everything good, just like the way it used to be, when E.L. James was the world’s top selling author and we had a tent to bake in. Just wait for me, folks. I’ll have it for you soon. I swear.


The Review Of The 2016 Book Trends Review, Reviewed

And that’s that for another year. I can safely say I have never been so clairvoyant as I was this year. Neither I have never been so depressed, to be so clairvoyant. Just you wait. If I can muster the fun in January to have another bash at this for 2017, it will be sunshine and (dangerous) bunnies for everyone in the audience.

(Again, just to remind you, I take all major currencies. Please do not send cheques, or small children. Thank you.)

And now, over to you. Can anyone even remember a favourite book-related happening of 2016? And if so, what was it?

  43 comments for “The Review Of My 2016 Book Trends Review, Reviewed

  1. Liberty On the Lighter Side
    December 9, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Yes I do! Local Wexford gal Cat Hogan had a great year with her frst published novel ‘They All Fall Down’. Please make some predictions about more Irish writers hitting top of the charts with their wonderful books, poetry etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Well, you can’t beat the Wexfordians for sticking together, so I’ve no doubt you don’t need me! I’ll consider it, Liberty, but as this is a global blog, I’m aiming low by trying to bring happiness to the world at large 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. December 9, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Do you take I.O.U.s perchance? For next year’s predictions, that is.

    Just discovered recently that we are living in a “post-truth” world. I mean, I knew it empirically but was unaware of the phrase. But that’s me, always late to the party.

    Liked by 2 people

    • December 9, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      There are some parties I’d be happy to miss altogether – I’m sure you’re the same. Let’s hope the New Year brings a stop to a lot of such nonsense, eh? I’ll do my best to predict along those lines. And I’ll take your I.O.U., just because I knows you. I won’t even demand the small child.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. December 9, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I know this is a tad parochial – September was a great month for book publishing my book of poetry and short stories Same Train, Different Track published by Boland Press, some copies still available. Well you did ask Tara, the plaudits are in the post!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • December 9, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      Now, C.J., I have warned everyone about self-promotion tactics on this blog! I’m not sure if I’d call it parochial, but as you’re an old friend from the parish I have to let you away with it again. But I may instate a three strikes and you’re prey tactic. You’ll be glad to hear I’m too jaded with the state of the world to react straight away…

      Liked by 1 person

      • December 9, 2016 at 4:32 pm

        I do profoundly apologise and will continue to spread the gospel according to Tara Sparling. Still friends?

        Liked by 1 person

        • December 9, 2016 at 4:42 pm

          Of course, C.J. And there’s no need to spread my gospel, it won’t win you any more friends (who are nicer than I am anyway). Just keep the promotion to Twitter!!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. December 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Reblogged this on Same Train, Different Track.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. December 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    You make me laugh. Which is good. Certainly these days, when there doesn’t seem to be as much to laugh about as one would like, someone who CAN make you laugh is worth their weight in gold. You’ve done that a lot for me this year. Thank you, Tara! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 9, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Hmmmm. Worth my weight in gold, you say? Any chance we could test that theory, Lorraine? Because as much as such nice words from you clear the cloud of despondency following me around, Christmas is coming, and I’m not getting any thinner.


      • December 9, 2016 at 5:13 pm

        We’ll think of you like the Christmas goose, fatten you up for the weigh-off. Eat, my dear, eat. The gold will be your gift! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • December 9, 2016 at 6:31 pm

          I’ll blame you for the self-loathing in January, so, if you don’t mind. I certainly don’t 😉


  6. December 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Reblogged this on | Rock+Paper+Music | and commented:
    Tara Sparling​ is a writer/blogger who never fails to make me laugh. Maybe it’s her Irish cleverness, maybe it’s her absurd take on the world, particularly the book world, or maybe it’s just that she’s damn funny. Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • December 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Oh, dear, I seem to have been temporarily overcome with a warm fuzzy feeling. Someone call the important people.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. December 9, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I agree with Lorraine. Can’t say I’m looking forward to your 2017 predictions. Maybe ban the word apocalypse of apocalyptic from the post so as to spare the nerves of your more weedy readers!

    Liked by 2 people

    • December 9, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      I know what you mean, Vicky, because I’m not looking forward to my 2017 predictions either. Perhaps if I go on retreat beforehand? Bikram mindfulness with knitting, or something? Do you think the world would thank me?

      Liked by 2 people

      • December 9, 2016 at 4:40 pm

        I think I would be more worried about your predictions after a bit of Bikram mindfulness knitting than if you just slugged down a bottle of wine and got on with it!

        Liked by 1 person

        • December 9, 2016 at 4:43 pm

          Oh, what a tremendous idea. *pop* Now excuse me while I get down to business…

          Liked by 1 person

  8. December 9, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Perhaps you could predict a return to sanity and intelligent thinking for 2017? Or at least not so many icons popping their clogs. 2016 – what a long, strange year it’s been. I can’t remember any book stuff other than my own, and I won’t clog your comments with that 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 9, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      You may go down in history as one of the few (well, just three so far) who didn’t, Helen, so I am more grateful than you realise. But I’m still a bit sad that nobody can remember any good news from the book world at large. I’m hard pushed to think of any myself, and I didn’t even do anything noteworthy this year.

      ….nope, still haven’t thought of anything. Leave it with me. I’ll have a drink and think about it some more.


  9. December 9, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Your predictions are uncanny! You obviously must have an inside track to the big publishing industry.

    2017 – Will it be the year every book must have A Boy in it? Or is this the year of A Dog?

    Actually, based on other trends, I would image that the next big thing will be modern retellings of 80s / 90s books. Sequels no one thought they needed such as Return to the Cider House Rules or Madison County, with even more Bridges.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 10, 2016 at 12:58 am

      I remember those bridges, Allie. I remember thinking if another one of them cropped up, I was going to find that family and tell them to stop snivelling and hanky-waving, arsing around with a perfectly good story under their misplaced illusions of literary grandeur. Otherwise I have no problems with bridges in general. Honest.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. December 9, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Nice, Tara. I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings. I’m predicting lots of doomsday sci-fi novels to psychologically prepare us for a Trump presidency. They will be best-sellers all over the world. Titles to watch for: “Great Rodent Recipes”, “DIY Surgery”, and “How to Live Comfortably in an Abandoned Shed.” Happy Holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 10, 2016 at 12:59 am

      Oh, Diana. I would pay money to see those titles on my shelf. Can’t you see your own potential? Don’t deny the world a little comfort.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. December 9, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Never mind 2017… I know you’re a time traveler, Tara. Please take a moment and quantum leap to the year 2020… the year that stands for PERFECT VISION and tease/inspire/warn us with one teensy prediction so a few of us indies can get a head start. Will we be seeing machines ghost-writing books for other machines? Will dogs (please please) stop writing their biographies? Will human authors become phantoms in the publishing machine? I’m pretty sure my laptop has a mind of its own because last month it ate one of my chapters or is Windows 10 just using me as a ruse… I mean muse? Only you can save us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • December 10, 2016 at 1:02 am

      Well, by 2020, Veronica, it’s quite possible all books will have been outlawed and burned, let’s face it. So unless you fancy a life in the underground rational movement, I’d buy some stock in combustibles if I were you.


  12. December 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Loved the humour. I too am sick of the word hygge. Everywhere I look its used and by people who probably have no clue what it means but hell it sounds trendy so lets adopt it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 11, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      Absolutely! And it only became trendy because so many publishers all seized on the one newspaper article at one time and saw the pound signs from jumping on the next big thing – thus perpetuating the next big thing which nobody would ever have heard of, otherwise. Apparently Danish people are utterly perplexed by the whole thing!


      • December 12, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        Its not even a word that people can easily define… the retailers and publishers can throw any old junk together and label it as the new trend

        Liked by 1 person

  13. December 12, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Hygge – If ever there was a marketing director chancing his/her arm it’s with this! Sure, we’ve been lighting candles and hibernating by the fire for years. Someone is rubbing their hands in glee since mid-October with that one.
    “When E.L. James was the world’s top selling author and we had a tent to bake in” aka the good old days. It all seemed so easy when E.L. was the biggest enemy we had in the world.
    Take it easy with the 2017 predictions will you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      I will if I can, Donna. It’s getting the mental strength to look into the future at all that’s worrying me. Someone asked me at lunchtime yesterday what I wanted for dinner, and I nearly fainted.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. December 13, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Hmm, this is on the chilling side, particularly September, but it didn’t stop me laughing, which was the purpose fulfilled. My favourite book this year was Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (truly). Next year I’m thinking The White House Bug (a friller in which both the internal organs and the computers of several selected shakers and movers suffer terminal collapse), meanwhile renovations at the House of Commons prove so costly that we go begging to Europe to let us kiss and make up.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. December 15, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Well, Tara… now I don’t know what to do. Will I read your ‘prediction’ for 2017? That’s a ghastly idea…

    And yes, this was indeed a horrible year in so many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • December 15, 2016 at 11:28 am

      I’m sure it’ll be the blogging equivalent of car-crash television, Sarah! Let’s just hope I have a happy Christmas, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. kgupta21
    February 16, 2017 at 5:36 am

    Heh Heh..”Clean Your Goddamn House” indeed…..

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: