As an avid reader, I try to read a variety of genres. I ended the year having read 89 books. My original goal was to hit 100 but I didn’t do a ton of reading in November (I couldn’t focus as my pregnancy nausea made it hard to focus.) That said, in no particular order, here are ten of my favorite books from 2016. Note: A few of these weren’t released in 2016 but were my favorites read over the year.
1.) Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance – Hillbilly Elegy is 1) part memoir of one man’s journey from poverty to Yale Law School and 2) part reflection of working class white people from Appalachia. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Vance’s words shed insight on a people group we don’t often think of when considering disadvantaged Americans. I highly recommend this thought-provoking, timely read!
2.) Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – I’m typically not a science fiction reader; however, I’d heard so much praise for the latest by Crouch, I had to see what all the hype was about. I’m so glad I did because this one ended up being a real page-turner. It’s difficult to summarize but I will say that I was immediately hooked after the first chapter. At times, it was difficult to follow (quantum-physics is just a little over my head 😉 ) but I got the ‘gist’ of it. Please let me know if you end up reading this one because I’d love to discuss it with someone.
3.) Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – I absolutely loved this one. I heard blogger, Modern Mrs. Darcy rave about it on her Summer Reading Guide and knew I had to reserve it from the library. I only wish I wouldn’t have waited so long to pick it up. I always enjoy stories written from various perspectives (as the story is told from three generations of Indian women.)
4.) Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – Readers get to know Olive Kitteridge through a collection of thirteen stories. While she isn’t always a primary character, she resides somewhere within each one. Olive isn’t immediately likable but you come to ‘feel’ for her by the time the book has ended. Highly deserving of the Pulitzer it won! I loved this.
5.) Desperate: Hope for the Mom That Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae – One of the most helpful, convicting books on motherhood I’ve read. Young mother, Sarah Mae writes in collaboration with her mentor, the wise (and wonderful) Sally Clarkson. Each chapter begins with a short ‘conversation’ between the two women. Their words hit me in the most beautiful way – powerfully convicting but in a gentle tone. Practical wisdom for mothers of various aged children. I HIGHLY recommend.
6.) Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – If you’re up for a good thriller this one will quite literally…keep you up. I couldn’t put the debut by Paris down. I read several thrillers in 2016 and this was, by far, my favorite. The story shifts perspective between past and present and is told from the perspective of the wife, Grace. What really goes on ‘behind closed doors’? Sure, there were some moments that seemed somewhat unrealistic, but the pacing kept me flipping page after page. I’m looking forward to reading the authors next book.
7.) A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg – Thoroughly enjoyable. I rented this one from the library; however, I will likely buy a copy for myself as I am interested in making several of the recipes. This is rare for me as I typically skim over recipes included in a memoir. Each story that Wizenberg tells is attached to one (or two) recipes. Her friendly, conversational tone drew me in; she is a charming storyteller!
8.) The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner – Goodreads describes the story as, “A riveting, deeply-affecting true story of one girl’s coming-of-age in a polygamist cult.” I couldn’t have summed it up any better. Riveting! Deeply-affecting! My heart ached as I read about Wariner’s experience and the unjust manipulation/abuse that occurred within the ‘walls’ of the polygamist colony. This is one of those books that’ll stay with you long after you turn the last page. It truly was difficult to put this beautiful memoir down
9.) Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – One of the best contemporary, family dramas I’ve read. Heavy topics but worth pressing through. Goodreads describes it as, “A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.” Very impressive debut from Celeste Ng. I will be keeping my eye out for her in the future!
10.) You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein – Prior to reading, I had never heard of Jessi Klein. I picked up ‘You’ll Grow Out of It’ after hearing blogger, Modern Mrs. Darcy recommend it on her podcast. It didn’t seem like the typical book she’d read so I was intrigued. While Klein is far more of a feminist than I, I couldn’t help but appreciate her humor and nod my head to several of her satirical sentiments. There was one chapter I had to skim through but, all in all, I highly recommend this one if you’re up for a witty read.
And a few to skip…(most of these I found to be highly overrated.)
- Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
- Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
- The Nest by Cynthia Sweeney
- The Royal We by Heather Cocks
- Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
- The Girls by Emma Cline