2016 is over–hooray!! What a weird year. My reading goals were the same as last year: Read more classics and read books that I already own. Unfortunately, my reading habits were also the same as every other year since college: forget the classics and read those hyped-up debuts/bestsellers/thrillers. Also, don’t forget about those books that are going to become movies–must read those. Ha! I also joined a Facebook group this year called SortaLiterary–hundreds of people talking about the great books they are reading–and that also influenced what I chose to read this year.
My reading goal this year was 50 books. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I read 35 plus several read-aloud novels to my kids. Looking back at it, I don’t think making a goal of books is a great idea for me if my goal is to read more classics. Those usually take me months! That being said, I read so much more this year than any year previously, because I finally have a smartphone with my library’s Overdrive on it. I have a hard time with audiobooks, but I can easily read on my phone while putting kids to bed and scroll through some pages while stirring dinner.
Surprisingly, the best books I read this year were books that I didn’t expect to love. Their topics were heavier, and most of them made me cry. I had a hard time towards the end of the year dealing with family medical issues and anxiety, so I find it interesting that these are the ones that resonated with me the most.
Here are my favorite reads of 2016.
1.) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Oh, I loved this book! It is kind of a fractured fairy tale about a childless couple living deep in the Alaskan wildreness who build a girl out of snow and soon find a girl at their doorstep. I loved all of the characters in this book–everyone was kind and noble–and I loved the magical realism and description of the snowy forest. This is a perfect winter read, although the ending is slightly heartbreaking and kind of ambiguous. The author’s notes on this are awesome.
2.) Everyone Brave if Forgiven by Chris Cleave. Also slightly heartbreaking with an ambiguous ending! This novel is so beautifully written–I found myself wanting to highlight so many passages–and it was the author’s sixth draft of the book. This tells the story of a soldier serving in Malta and a woman he is writing in London and how they are affected, both as friends and individuals, during World War II. Again, the author’s notes are amazing–he based this book on letters that his grandparents had written to each other during the war.
3.) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This debut novel about generations of slaves descended from two separated sisters had me ignoring my family and reading through every free minute. Each chapter is written from the perspective of a different generation, spanning from the slave trade’s beginnings in Africa to present day. It is definitely heavy stuff, but it is also probably the most incredible storytelling I have read this year. The ending ties everything together so well, and it ends on a very hopeful note.
4.) The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. This thriller was a super fun, fast read. It hooks you right from the beginning, and there is an awesome ending that makes you cheer. I love when despicable characters that get their just desserts! Highly recommended for some mindless reading!
5.) Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I tried to read her first, Carry On Warrior, and I didn’t like it at all. This memoir is also heavy reading as the author deals with bulimia, alcoholism, infidelity and more, but she has a spiritual awakening near the ocean that is beautifully written and so interesting. There is a good lesson here about motherhood, forgiveness, and standing firm in your trials. Nice pick, Oprah!
Alright, I am only picking 5 this time. I really liked a lot of the other books I read, but these are the ones that I LOVED. In 2017, I am going to take the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to try something different. Besides that, my only goal is to finally read Frankenstein (I know!) in October and at least 5 good non-fiction books. Cheers to reading!