It has been a wonderful year of reading for me! Trying to just pick out a few superlatives turned into a LONG list I had to sort through, mainly because I enjoyed so many books this year. I was absolutely shocked to see that I had read 111 books this year, especially since I had a three month old at the start of this year, which I assumed would put a big damper on my reading (apparently not).
A few things that really helped my reading this year? I got a Kindle Paperwhite as a baby gift, and it has been life changing for me, especially when I was feeding my son so many times a day. Instead of scrolling through my phone, I read a TON on my Kindle. The other thing I enjoyed so much this year was joining the Book of the Month club. My parents were members over 30 years ago, and I remember when they would get books in the mail. It is fun to pick a newish book and receive it each month; it also pushes me to read things I wouldn’t normally pick out.
Here are my 2016 Books Superlatives; make sure to check out my favorite reads from 2014 and superlatives from 2015.
Book I feel like I could recommend to anyone:
Hope Heals by Katherine and Jay Wolf: This book was just so very good and one that I think everyone would love. Young, old, married, single, feeling like things are going well in life, or having a hard time - this book is a great story of redemption, hope, and love. When I think through my list of friends, I can’t think of anyone I wouldn’t love gifting this book to this year.
Runner-up: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Hardest to read:
A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold: A very difficult read about a horrible tragedy… the mother of one of the Columbine school shooters gives her account of her family, her son, and the tragedy that unfolded. Being in high school during this tragedy, I remember it well; reading it from the mother’s point of view gave an entirely new way of seeing this tragedy. I think it is so very easy to be judgmental of the killer’s family in a situation like this; however, this book truly gave me a new perspective.
Runner-up: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (slavery) and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (mental illness)
Book I talk about the most with others:
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: This book was just captivating to me. Looking at how social media has refueled public shaming as a form of punishment, the author delves into specific individuals who were slaughtered publicly, telling first hand accounts from these shamed individuals. Seeming shame in such a stark light was incredibly heartbreaking and fascinating.
Runners-up: An Unhurried Life by Alan Fading and Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson: I bought this book three years ago and have been wanting to read it for quite some time; but, at 1280 pages, the mere size held me back from even starting it. This year, I finally tackled this one and am so very glad I did. I enjoy books like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, and this fit right into that category. I didn’t know it was the beginning of a series, which means keeping up with it signs me up for thousands upon thousands of more pages.
Runner-up: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
Book I’m glad I read but would have a hard time recommending to others:
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan: A National Book Award Finalist, this was a difficult read due to the subject matter and unfolding of events. Following the lives of people involved with and affected by a small bomb exploding in a Delhi marketplace, the many lives and their unfolding can only be seen as tragic. I am glad that I read this; however, I would have a hard time recommending this to that many people.
Runner-up: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (slavery)
Book I read this year that everyone else read too:
The Martian by Andy Weir: While this came out in 2014, I didn’t jump on the wagon until early in 2016 with about everyone else. I wasn’t expecting to like this after hearing what it was about, but I enjoyed it so very much. Very thankful I read it before seeing the movie too. I’m glad I jumped on the bandwagon on this one.
Runner-up: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Best Children's reading:
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo: I just adored this book. Great characters, wonderful illustrations, a fun story. I have no doubt why this book was a Newberry Medal winner. This book is worth picking up, even if you’re not in middle school, as it is just a fun and delightful read.
Runner-up: The Midnight Fox by Betsy Byars
Book that gave me a new perspective on something that I thought I understood:
The Enduring Community by Brian Habig & Les Newsom: Written by one of our pastors, this book was a phenomenal look at the importance of the local church. The audience for this book is really anyone, but leaned more towards young adults, specifically the college-aged, looking at why investing in and committing to a local church, even during college years, is necessary. Really eye-opening to me about your local church in general.
Runner-up: When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett
New release I was most looking forward to that didn’t disappoint:
She Reads Truth by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams: I was so excited to see the authors of She Reads Truth writing a book this year, and pre-ordered it as soon as I heard about it. The cover is beautiful, but the words inside? Outstanding! I really loved this book - very relatable and easy to read, as well as encouraging.
Runner-up: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Best audio book:
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander: This middle-grade book was fantastic on audio. Told in a very poetic, lyrical type of language, I absolutely loved listening to this. A Newberry winner and a very short listen!
Runner-up: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben: I have had some mixed opinions of Coben’s books, but I really enjoyed this one. I was hooked right at the beginning and just wanted to keep reading and reading to find out what happened. And, with the storyline being about a wife seeing her recently murdered husband in their nanny cam, the premise of the book just got me from the beginning; with us having a baby monitor in our house, I just kept imagining what I would do if I saw something like that in our monitor!
Runners-up: The Likeness by Tana French and Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Most enjoyable literary-fiction read:
One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood: This book really shot up everywhere after Modern Mrs. Darcy started recommending it to everyone. When it went on sale on Kindle, I snagged it quickly, and then proceeded to read it very quickly. The story was a mix of hope and sadness, joy and defeat, longing and ending - a great, more literary-fiction type of read with some excellent characters, a fun plot, and a look into some deep issues.
Runner-up: The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Christian book I keep going back to as I loved it so much:
Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst: This was hands-down my favorite Christian read of the year, and I find myself going back to it over and over again. I have so many sections underlined and starred, and I just love how TerKeurst points you towards Scripture over and over…makes for a great companion when doing my quiet time.
Runner-up: Fervent by Priscilla Shirer
Book that I still don’t know how I feel about:
Fates and Furies by Lauren Goff: I don’t even know how to describe my feelings about this book. While reading it, I felt kind of bored. It was long, not a lot going on, tons of description, characters with really cruddy personalities - I just didn’t get into it. Even with the big “reveal” in the middle, I was intrigued, but more excited to finish; and when I did finish, I thought “I just don’t like this book.” However, I keep thinking about it and feel like I can definitely see the genius in it now. Would I want to read it again? No. But I feel like the author is way more brilliant than I originally gave her credit for when reading.
Runner-up: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Book I just didn’t like:
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante: I actually read quite a few books that other people LOVE that I just couldn’t get into. This is definitely one of them. I saw this book all over social media and heard friends talk about loving the series; I could hardly make it through this book I disliked it so much. The characters were annoying to me in ways that I just couldn't get over, and the story just dragged for me. No interest in reading any more of these at all.
Runner-up: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
What books did you enjoy this year? Let me know below!