What I Read in 2016

For as long as I can remember, I have loved reading. As a kid and teen, I always had my nose in a book…at the dinner table, while watching tv, riding in the backseat of the car. I could finish a novel in a day. I went through a season during college and early married life where I didn’t quite read as much, but thankfully that season was short and I am back to devouring as many books as my schedule and children will allow.

I love using Goodreads to track my reading as well as my TBR (to be read) list, which is constantly growing thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy. At the end of last year, I counted up that I had read 23 books in 2015. I wanted to be intentional about reading more in 2016, so I set a goal to read 30 books this year. As of writing this post, I am at 29 finished books and 4 books that I am about half-way through. I should probably be trying to finish one of those right now instead of writing this, but I also read-aloud several chapter books to the boys this year so that would technically move me past the 30 mark. Right?

So just in case you are wondering what you should read in 2017, here are some of my favorite recent reads.

Non-fiction

This was a big year of reading fiction for me. I ended up only read 5 non-fiction books. But two of these were 5 star in my opinion.

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor is one of my absolute favorite books of 2016. Amazon says…With the honesty of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and the spiritual depth of Anne Lamott (Grace, Eventually), Taylor shares how she learned to find God beyond the church walls by embracing the sacred as a natural part of everyday life. In An Altar in the World, Taylor shows us how to discover altars everywhere we go and in nearly everything we do as we learn to live with purpose, pay attention, slow down, and revere the world we live in.

Make It Happen by Lara Casey was another favorite of 2016. Lara is all about living on purpose for God’s purposes. I love her honesty in sharing her story and her practical tips for goal setting and achieving. This is a great and easy-to-read book for anyone who wants to live life with greater purpose and intention in 2017!

 

 

I also read Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines and Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman. Both were good, but not favorites or ones that I would necessarily recommend.

For an auto-biographical non-fiction, I read Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley. It was very interesting, but I found the title a little misleading. It seemed that the author wrote in favor of Franklin over Eleanor. I’d like to read more about Eleanor Roosevelt to see if my feelings about her change based on perspective of the author. I have You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt on my Kindle, so perhaps I will read that in 2017.

British Mysteries

I read And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Series) by Dorothy L. Sayers. Both were good, but neither necessarily made me want to read more by the authors.

WWII Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer is the probably the most beautifully written book I have ever read. I think I read some where that it took the author 10 years to write this book, and his work and passion is evident. I recommend this to everyone. If you haven’t read it, it needs to be on you TBR list!

 

 

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson was another fantastic WWII novel written from a very unique perspective. I love the Todd family and also enjoyed A God in Ruins by the same author, but not quite as much as Life After Life. If you are a WWII fiction fan like myself, you will probably enjoy both.

 

 

I also read Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, but I have to say I was disappointed. It was good, but definitely my least favorite WWII fiction so far. I enjoyed his novel Little Bee so much more.

Jane Austen

Last year I stared reading through all of Jane Austen and I had two left for 2016. Mansfield Park was my least favorite Jane Austen novel and Northanger Abbey surprised me as a mid-level favorite. After reading all 6, my rankings are as follows:

  1. Persuasion
  2. Emma
  3. Pride & Prejudice
  4. Northanger Abbey
  5. Sense & Sensibility
  6. Mansfield Park

Science Fiction

I don’t know if I have ever really read science fiction before, but after watching The Walking Dead this year, I guess I was more open to post-apocalyptic scenarios.

Although many of the 80’s pop-culture were lost on me (I was a teen in the 90’s), I really enjoyed Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It was unlike anything I have ever read before and I think it will make an awesome movie.

 

 

I enjoyed many aspects of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, but I was a little disappointed overall. There was a really interesting character and plot line that I wish she had developed further.

 

 

I also read books 1 (The Passage) and 2 (The Twelve) of The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin. I really enjoyed them but completely lost interest by the time I came to the third book. Maybe I will pick it up at a later date.

Random Fiction

I read 7 books I could categorize as random fiction. Two of my favorites were actually inspired by real people and real events.

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart was such a fun read. It was based on the true story of Constance Kopp, one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs in 1914.

 

 

 

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin is based on the story Truman Capote and his “swans” of high society. I knew nothing about Capote before this novel, and found his life and story to be very interesting. He is the writer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Harper Lee’s best friend and the inspiration for the character Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

For a complete list of the fiction I read in 2016 as well as my ratings, you can visit my Goodreads page.

Murder Mystery Series

After hearing several readers gush about the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny on the What Should I Read Next podcast by Modern Mrs. Darcy, I finally picked up the first book (Still Life) back in April. I have to admit I was less than impressed, but I did remember them saying that the series really got good around book 4. Since the second book (Fatal Grace) was set during Christmas, I wasn’t really motivated to pick it up until the end of November. Now I am speeding through the series, and books 4 and 5 are by far my favorite! My library has most of them on CD so I have really enjoyed listening to them on my morning runs. The series is set in a tiny French village in Quebec and the audiobook narrator has a wonderful voice and French accent. If there is such a thing as a charming murder mystery series, this is it.

So that is what I have been reading in 2016 and I can’t wait to get started on my 2017 TBR list! I think I’m going to shoot for 40 books in 2017. I just have to stop visiting Pinterest and Instagram when I pick up my phone to read on my Kindle app. Feel free to leave any book recommendations in the comments!

I wish you a Happy New Year full of great books!

Always,

Amanda

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