12 Favorite Books I Read in 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016


In 2016 I read 87 books and reread around 15. It's the most I've finished in the seven years I've been keeping track, and I owe the high number to audiobooks. This was the first year I was really into audiobooks and they made it so easy to rack up more books.

The books on this list were the standouts that I read from January 1st until this week, and are definitely my favorites from 2016. In no particular order, here they are:

Fiction
1. Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
While this book is technically middle-grade fiction, its themes struck me more poignantly than I think they would have when I was younger. It made me think about who Thomas Jefferson the person was, and who Sally Hemings was, and what it would have been like to be their child. I actually read it twice this year because of how much I loved it.

2. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
This book came as such a surprise. It's a classic written in the 1860s in England, and I was expecting something hard to get into like Wuthering Heights. Instead, it was an easy-to-read mystery with fascinating characters and more twists than I saw coming.

3. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
I've mentioned this book on here at least twice but I obviously loved it. It's a short read but the story and experiences ring so true. As I read I kept marveling on how well Strout understands human nature, especially aspects like longing and loneliness.

4. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
In general, I love long novels that delve deep into the characters and span decades of their lives. This unforgettable Australian saga tells the loves and losses of three generations of the same family. It almost feels like a soap opera in book form because how could so many bad/crazy things happen to one family?

5. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
I finished this book a month or two ago and sometimes as I fall asleep I'll still run over the various plot points and stories in my mind. The way that Atkinson told Ursula's story of living and dying over and over again, with so many variations and surprises, completely captivated me. It is a unique book that was an amazing read.

6. The Brothers K by David James Duncan
This novel is so brilliant and deep and its strength comes out in the character development. The Chance family captured my imagination and through them comes discussions of family ties, marriage, the war in Vietnam, baseball, religion, and more. It is long and intricate and right up my alley.

Nonfiction
1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
If I had to make a list of "Books Every Woman Should Read", this would be at the top. This book is the foremost authority not just on fertility, but on everything from female anatomy to menstrual cycles to menopause and anything in between. I felt so empowered and knowledgeable after finishing it. Don't let the size of it scare you off, it's easy to skip chapters that don't apply to you and focus on the ones that do.

2. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
My cousin recommended this to me and it was a perfect, heartbreaking book. Stevenson works with people in the most dire legal circumstances, including those on death row and those wrongly condemned. The stories can be hard to read but teach important, eye-opening lessons.

3. Walkable City by Jeff Speck
Another book that I have talked about a lot (specifically right here), this one changed the way I look at cities around me. Their planning, execution, and how they fall short in terms of fostering pedestrians are now things I think about on a daily basis. It was a fascinating read.

4. Going Solo by Roald Dahl
I will never understand why I hadn't heard of this amazing book before I happened to see it on Overdrive. It is Dahl's story of working in East Africa before WWII and then his time as an RAF pilot in the war. He is a master storyteller and his experiences are one-of-a-kind. I didn't want it to end and am putting this on my reread list.

5. Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
Friendships are complicated things but Patchett manages to tell the story of her friendship with Lucy Grealy in a true, uncompromising light. She doesn't shy away from either of their negative sides and conveys a beautiful story of love and strength.

6. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Of the books on this list, I finished this one most recently. It resonated with me in a way I wasn't expecting. Aging and mortality are subjects that typically scare me, but Gawande deals with them in a humane way that gave me a lot to think about.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I'm into

4 comments :

  1. I've heard so much about Just Mercy.
    And I admire your ability to pick 12 favorites. I really need to read with that in mind for 2017!

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  2. Just Mercy and Being Mortal also made my favorites list when I read them. Such powerful things out there that I still need to learn more about! Thanks for sharing your list. I love seeing the favorites that everyone has.

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  3. I'm interested in several books that you mentioned. Going Solo sounds interesting. I read Walkable City and loved it!

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  4. Life After Life is one of my all-time favorite books! I remember reading the final chapters in my car because I just couldn't wait any longer to finish it.


    Here's my "what I'm into" post, if you'd like to check it out: http://newberyandbeyond.com/im-january-small-goals/

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