2016 Books in Review
“Reader” is not necessarily a personal attribute I would list on a job resume or use to describe myself. I love getting sucked into a good book, but when a lousy book comes along, I trudge through it and it could take me months to complete. One thing I can attest in my reading habits is that I am faithful (to a fault) when it comes to completion. Even if I hate what I’m reading, I can’t abandon a book. I will finish it, and then chuck it into a pond if I have to, but I. will. finish. it.
In years past, I have had meager reading goals; maybe 12 books per year since a book per month seemed like a reasonable and achievable goal. In 2015, I read 8. Pathetic. Luckily, 2016 has been a much more robust year for my literary consumption and at 20 books completed by October 10th, I’m feeling pretty pleased with the quantity and variety of books I’ve read. Some of them were completely useless to me and after this post, I’ll never speak of them again. Others changed my life and I have dogeared the pages and underlined more text than not. I keep a very old-school Note on my iPhone listing all of the books I have completed with the date of completion and an emoji check mark if I liked the book. Pretty basic cataloging. Also on the note I keep a list of fiction books to read and nonfiction books to read.
2016 Books I’ve Read (so far):
- Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan (F): I read this book because a friend moved to Singapore in the beginning of the year. The book was light, entertaining and a quick read.
- After You, Jojo Moyes (F): This book definitely got an emoji check mark in my Note! I loved Me Before You (the BOOK, not the movie… sorry, the movie was totally boring) so naturally I loved reading the sequel.
- For the Love, Jen Hatmaker (NF): Life changer. Jen Hatmaker is one of my favorite chicks to read, whether its just her Facebook status updates or her books (more on that later, though…). She’s a woman after my own heart with a sense of comedy and lightheartedness that I can’t get enough of. You will love this book and probably finish it in less than a week if you pick it up.
- One Plus One, Jojo Moyes (F): Boo. No thanks. Jojo did not deliver on this book and I was bored and struggling to make it to the end of this one.
- The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah (F): AMAZING. I loved it. I want to read more and more just like this book. Historical fiction surrounding WWII. This book was perfection.
- Circle Maker, Mark Batterson (NF): A life changing book about prayer (how to do it, what to expect from it, and how to boldly believe in the power of Jesus). A book I will recommend over and over and over again.
- All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (F): This book was so-so. I think I read it too close to The Nightingale and thus, it had a hard time living up to the bar that had been set by a book that is so similar in setting. Most people who read this book love it, so I’m going to chalk it up to the fact I still had Nightingale withdrawal that I don’t give it a 10.
- The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (F): Terrible. What a waste. This was a Best Seller recommendation, too. Blergh.
- Glory Over Everything, Kathleen Grissom (F): Amazing book, another historical fiction, but this one set in post-Civil War America. This is technically a sequel to another of my lifetime favorite books, The Kitchen House which I read several years ago, but I think you could read this even if you never read The Kitchen House. Still, they’re both worth reading, so don’t cheat yourself!
- Wild and Free, Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan (NF): Ummmm. It was ok? This was a hot hot book among Christian chicks, bloggers, and Instagram lit up with this book in early 2016. I thought it was just mediocre, to be honest, and didn’t walk away from reading it feeling changed. BUT I know lots of women feel differently and soaked up the text. I still think it’s worth a read for women.
- Ugly Love, Colleen Hoover (F): So, so good, this book was my first introduction to Colleen Hoover. I have since read one other of her books, but will confidently choose any of her books when I’m looking for a guaranteed satisfaction novel. Disclaimer: her style is a little spicy and romantic, so if you’re a G-rated reader, just don’t. Otherwise, I loved it.
- The Shack, William P. Young (F): I can’t believe I never read this book before, but alas, this was my first go-round with The Shack. My motivation for reading it was to have it read before the movie comes out, and I really did enjoy it. It gave me a whole new perspective of the trinity, and I loved the creativity behind it (after all, we worship a very creative God).
- Interrupted, Jen Hatmaker (NF): So remember when I said I love Jen Hatmaker and think we should be BFFs? I still think that, but this book was not as highly ranked for me as For the Love. The book shared about her life calling and mission, and I sort of felt like if I DON’T share that same calling, then maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, her prose is still super enjoyable throughout and I overall still liked this book.
- One True Loves, Taylor Jenkins Reid (F): So good. This book reminded me of the Colleen Hoover-style books.The author had me going back and forth between the two love interests and really did an awesome job of making you feel the conflict of the main character. This book left me with a hangover of withdrawal.
- Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley (F): HORRIBLE. This was the worst book I’ve read all year. Sorry to anyone who liked this book, but I literally wanted to throw my kindle in the pool. I should have liked it because it was about a dachshund, but it was WAY too fictitious and unbelievable and the prose of the author just didn’t do it for me whatsoever. Now I will never speak of it again.
- A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman (F): I really enjoyed this book. Ove is a character that will totally grow on you and leave a little impression on your heart. Unfortunately, I read this book during the busiest part of 2016 (the weeks surrounding my sister’s wedding) and I think I was a bit too distracted to fully appreciate it. Nonetheless, I liked it very much and will recommend it to anyone.
- It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover (F): Again, Colleen Hoover did not disappoint. Less steamy than Ugly Love, with a story line that had me crying a few times. Very good book, I flew through it.
- How to Party with an Infant, Kaui Hart Hemmings (F): This book is set in San Francisco with a young single mom raising her daughter in and around other children from different walks of life. I didn’t love the book, but I did like reading about raising a child in SF because my brother in law and sister in law live in San Francisco with their 6 year old daughter and it was fun for me to imagine them at some of the playgrounds and settings that were described in this book.
- Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequest (NF): My #1 non-fiction pick of 2016 so far!! This book was a life changer. I underlined so much in this book because I felt like the author was literally speaking my life story. It reminded me how so many of us can relate to the things she was saying. I told a friend, it’s amazing and so helpful when someone can put words to emotions and feelings that so many of us share but can’t quite put our fingers on. Shauna did that. I was so moved by her book I have shared it with several friends. I think this is a must-read for every woman.
- Sun Stand Still, Steven Furtick (NF): I am a total Furtick Fan. I listen to his podcasts and sermons as often as I can, so when my sister recommended this book I was excited to read it. At first, I felt like it was too lofty for my life stage. After all, I’m just a stay at home mom about to pop out Kid #3, what am I going to do to change the world and what big vision do I really possess right now? The more I read, the more I felt like Steven was just giving us tools to access God’s amazingly great plans for our lives. This book was very similar in nature to Circle Maker, and I would recommend both to anyone seeking to grow closer to God and access his greatness.
I try to divide up my reading as much as I can between non-fiction and fiction works (my non-fiction selections being nearly exclusively Christian). I also love, love, love historical fiction, so I try to throw some of that in there when I can. A lot of my selections were made based off of recommendations by friends and New York Times Best Seller lists, and coincidentally, the ones that SHOULD HAVE been the favorites according to the must-read lists were some of my least favorites. This is why I love the Amazon feature that guides you to a list of recommendations based on past books (“If you liked _____, you may like the following:”).
I’m within 3 weeks of my scheduled delivery of this baby, which means I have officially arrived at the point of obsessing over every moment of my day and night. I’ve set a few goals to help the time pass and to give me something other than delivering a baby to focus on, and one of those goals is to read as much as I can in the next few weeks. After all, my reading habits could come to a screeching halt in three weeks, and if that’s the case, I want to know I took advantage of the time I had pre-baby. If you have any book recommendations that you’ve read this year and loved, please share them with this distraction-seeking, ultra-pregnant woman!