I’m usually a lot better about telling you about the fantastic books I’m reading throughout the year. If you’ve missed that, never fear. It looks like I only posted an update in April, instead of three or four times, like I have in years past. And honestly, I wasn’t really thinking about posting a year-in-review for reading until a friend posted his list and said he was looking forward to mine! (Thanks for the motivation, Dave!)
Plus, it’s nice to go back and take a look at the books I’ve read this year and pick a few favorites. According to Goodreads, I finished 92 books this year, which is both an impressive number and slightly disappointing. As much reading as I do, I feel like it should be closer to 100. And in years past, it has. But I think some of those books in previous years were kids’ books I added because we had read them together.
So, 92 books, and I’m going to pick a few favorites. I will admit that it was a stranger year for reading for me. I ventured outside my usual genres, revisited some old friends, and spent a month reading mostly books about Africa after we went to Kenya.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorites from this year:
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty is one of the most clever and engaging storylines I’ve ever encountered and raised thought-provoking questions.
The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert. I didn’t know this book existed until it showed up on my doorstep as part of a fiction street team I joined. It’s a unique story of World War 2 and beyond and surprised me at every turn of the page.
The Martian by Andy Weir. After hearing an NPR segment about the movie and the real-life quest to put people on Mars, this book intrigued me. So well written and funny. (Language warning.)
Revival by Stephen King. It’s been decades since I read anything by King. He used to be my favorite author, even when he was freaking me out. This story is no exception, but it contains themes I love for King to address: religion, life and death, grief, addiction. It was a bizarre book, but it reminded me of so many reasons I admire King’s writing.
Best series: Two of the three books in The Song of Seare series by Carla Laureano released last year, and finishing the third one almost killed me. I hate to see a good series end, and when it ends well and unexpectedly, well, that’s even worse. Or better. I still haven’t decided. If you like the kind of fantasy that spins a tale of good and evil with magic, swords and an almost-Celtic nation with its own made up language, then this one is not to be missed.
Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber is a top candidate for my favorite book all year. She writes about faith in the context of community in a real and challenging way. I would read her stories again and again and be challenged in new ways each time. (Another language warning.)
Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison. I squeaked this one in just this week and haven’t had the chance to write a full review yet, so you get a sneak peek! If you’ve ever wondered if you’re weird or if God made a mistake when He gave you certain gifts or inclinations, then read this book and feel like you belong to a collective group of weirdos who are all working toward a coming kingdom in their own unique ways.
Coming Clean by Seth Haines. It looks like a book about alcoholism. It’s not. It’s a book about addiction. Every kind of addiction, whether we recognize our vices as such or not. And it’s a book about uncovering the pain we’re avoiding with our addictions and how we can step into the light.
Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle. Part memoir, part marriage book. And it’s Madeleine L’Engle, so really, that’s all you need to know.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I’m in awe of Hillenbrand’s writing and research process and the story she tells that reads better than some novels. She had great material to work with in the life of Louis Zamperini, but oh, what a story.
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan. One of the only books to ever make me laugh out loud as I’m reading it. I think I was in danger of spitting food or drink all over the library copy I was reading. Food + comedy = perfection.
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. More than just a memoir by a famous person, I found this book to be an empowering read for creative women. Poehler tells stories from her SNL days and beyond, but she also encourages people, women especially, to go after their creative dreams.
I’m looking forward to more great reads in 2016. What tops your list this year?