The top books read in 2016 from my total list of 36 - 5 favorites and 2 more that I couldn't leave off the list, plus what books are on my list for early 2017.
Guys, I read a total of 36 books in 2016 - that's about 3 a month! While that may not seem a lot compared to other bloggers I follow who regularly read 50-100 books a year, it's amazing for this girl who didn't read one book in the year before setting my first, modest reading goal of 1 book a month. I smashed that goal and then set a 2/month goal for 2016 which I'm happy to say I smashed again.
About half of the books I read were audiobooks from the library - this is such a wonderful way to get more reading into our everyday lives, it's pretty much revolutionized my reading life. I can listen to books while doing chores, gardening, canning, and making dinner. LOVE. I use the Hoopla app, which I find much easier to use than Overdrive.
Why read? Books help me to grow, laugh (maybe when I'm not feeling like laughing), ponder, and see the world from another point of view. And sometimes it's just fun to escape into another world for a bit.
I have to admit, though, that selling our home, packing, and moving put me back a bit in my reading. Our internet isn't as good where we're staying (harder to stream books from the library) and just the break in our routine has thrown me off. So I'm setting a goal to increase the books I read for 2017 to 40 - just a few more that I think will be doable in this year of transition.
Most of the 36 books I read were good (a few weren't, like one in this list) - but there are a few I keep thinking about, that taught me something, or that play often in my memory. It's these that made my list of top reads from this last year. These are the books I highly recommend and that you may want to add to your TBR (to be read) lists.
I'm also sharing what I'm reading now and the books that I already have waiting to be read in this first part of 2017 (I'm really looking forward to them, too!). Note: affiliate links are included below for your convenience - if you use them I thank you for your support!
My 5 Top Books Read in 2016 + 2 Runners-Up
In no particular order:
I read (actually listened!) this on many blogger’s recommendations while working on "the chairs" last spring. Luckily they had mentioned it was a bit hard to get into – mainly because the main character isn’t a very nice man at first and you’re wondering what’s going on – so I knew to give it a couple chapters before making any conclusions. And I’m glad I did – while there are hard situations, unpleasant thoughts, and a bit of bad language, it is one of the most heart-warming stories I’ve read in a long time.
The book alternates between the past and present of Ove’s life (this is set in Sweden and his name is pronounced, “oouva”) and you begin to understand a bit of why he thinks like he does. It’s also a great study of ageism and what part in our society older people have. The end is thoroughly satisfying – I may or may have not cried. I've been recommending this book a lot.
I read this as part of mentoring a young woman in preparation for her wedding, but I think this may have impacted me more than her! I learned things about actionable love that work in all areas of life, not just marriage, and many other “ah-ha” moments. I especially enjoyed the emphasis on the meaning of marriage from a Biblical view. No matter how long you’ve been married – or even if you’re not married at all (there’s a chapter on singleness as well as understanding God’s view of marriage)- I highly recommend this book!
Ready Player One is a fun sci-fi-ish novel set in a dystopian near-future where most of the poor people escape real life in a virtual reality called The Oasis. There’s a lot of 1980’s references to movies, video games, and books as the players in a contest work to find a hidden ‘Easter egg’ left by the deceased creator. Brian, Emma, and I all listened to this as we drove to Central Oregon and then continued listening to it when we got back home. It was like we were gathering around the radio like they did in the 1940s! It's fun and exciting as well as illustrating how we need to be connected with people in real life. Can’t wait to see this one brought to the big screen – by Steven Spielberg, no less!
I listened to this book by Francis Chan while gardening (don’t you love being able to do two things at once?) and immediately wanted to listen to it again, it is SO good (actually to read it, so I can really soak it up). It has forever changed the way I view the Holy Spirit and I realized that Christians just don’t talk much about Him today. Mr. Chan encourages us to really listen for and act on the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives, with inspiring examples of people who've followed His leading. I highly recommend this book (and the audio version is read by the author, which I always enjoy).
This book hooked me in from the title as I was browsing through Hoopla. What did slim by design mean? It turned out to be very interesting. It’s written by a scientist at an ivy league school who has made a business out of finding out how environments affect the way we eat, and then changing them so we eat less without thinking about it. (Fun side note: he’s hired by celebrities to make their kitchens and homes “slim by design.”)
Some of his statistics were mind-boggling: women (not men) who had cereal where they could see it in their kitchens weighed 20+ pound more than those who had their cereal behind doors. 20 pounds? Really? Wow – Kon Mari-ing everything is looking better and better! It's a book that has continued to stay with me, making me think about my environment with regards to food more.
And 2 Runners Up
I love the She Reads Truth website and find that I can’t wait to dig into the Bible each morning with my fellow She Reads Truth-ers. (It was one of my 2016 goals that’s been very easy to keep!). This book feels like a wonderful extension of that, just using Raechel’s and Amanda’s personal stories along with the Bible to continue to point us towards Jesus. It’s like an encouraging memoir, if that’s even a thing.
But the part that continues to stick with me is the emphasis on God's permanence - no matter my personal circumstances or what is going on in the world around me. Such perfect timing for the year we've had!
I had never heard of this book, but was looking for something to listen to while picking and freezing green beans one weekend on Hoopla and this looked good (seriously, I can't believe how many good books I just stumble upon there!). And I LOVED it – it is just one of the sweetest, most charming books I’ve read in awhile! It ranks right up there with A Man Called Ove.
Arthur is a widower in England who even after a year is having a hard time moving on with his life. He finds an old charm bracelet of his wife’s that he didn’t know about and sets out to discover the meanings of the individual charms. He finds out surprising things about her – and he finds himself again. I’m telling everyone to read this – it’s very life-affirming!
Books on my current list for 2017
Reading right now (I like to be reading one fiction and one non-fiction at a time):
- Ross Poldark, a novel of Cornwall (very good, especially because I watched the PBS version and can easily picture everyone - and keep them straight! I'm about 3/4 of the way through.)
- Finding Faith in the Dark, Laurie Short (helping me to focus on HOPE)
On my bookshelf and Kindle for the new year:
- The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp (looking forward to being encouraged again by Ann)
- Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist (I keep reading amazing things about this book!)
- The Magnolia Story, Chip & Joanna Gains (I just think they're so cute - and full of integrity)
- Hillbilly Elegy, JD Vance (again, on many 2016 "best of" lists that I'm looking forward to)
- The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, Beth Moore
What books have you loved or are you looking forward to reading?
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