Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Favorite {Grown-Up} Reads of 2016

When I wrote this list last year I said that I wanted to start doing more book posts and that actually happens!  Partly due to linking up with Quick Lit every month but also just writing about some of my favorites.  When I was going through my list of possible favorites for 2016 I realized I had previously posted about almost all of them.

I read 140 books this year and probably double that in children's books (different books, not number of times each book was read...).   I don't consider rereads when picking my favorites for the year and 18 of mine were ones I had first read before this year.  Obviously I like all of those enough to reread them so if I was picking my favorites of everything read in a year, a lot of the same books would pop up every year!  Here's the complete list of everything I read this year and below are my top ten favorites (in no particular order)!  If you made a New Year's Resolution to read more, these might be a good place to start (although I have a lot more posts planned about that topic coming this month!)

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
Right off the top of my head I couldn't tell you much about the plot of this but I remember that I enjoyed reading it.  It's another of her sweeping novels that covers multiple time periods, from World War II through the 60s with two different (but connected) heroines, I loved it.  Also, a perfect book to judge by it's cover. 

Sandy Toes by Robin Jones Gunn (previous post)
I debated pretty hard about if I should include this one because it is a very sentimental pick but it was also one of my favorite reading experiences of the year so it made the cut.  If you've been following Christy & Todd's love story over the course of a decade (in their lives), two decades (in my life), and 30+ books, you'd get the excitement of another story about them and their "forever friends".  This is the first book in a new "baby series" and so while it was obvious how the book was going to end, it was so enjoyable catching up with the characters, ones that almost feel like friends.  I also thought this book was better written and edited than the previous, Married Years, series which made it even more enjoyable.  I plan to write a whole post about these series but for now, let's just say I'm a huge fan.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (previous post)
This is my favorite of her books (I think I've read them all).  Tells the story of a woman put in a seemingly impossible situation: has epic love, gets married, husband disappears on one year anniversary, he's presumed dead, she falls apart, years later she falls in love again, husband reappears, stuff happens.  I went back and forth so many times on what I think should have happened but it's so well written that either option seems completely logical.  It was fascinating and hard to put down.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (previous post)
I read more middle-grade books this year than any year of my life since I was in that actual target audience.  This was my favorite of the bunch - a 7th grade boy thinks his teacher hates him and is out to make him miserable with Shakespeare.  That's not true and a sentiment some teachers could relate to.  Set during the Vietnam War but felt very current, other than lack of technology.  Captured all the wonderful and horrible feelings of middle school so perfectly.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (previous post)
Sometimes the right book comes along at just the right time and I think that was the case for me with this one.  I read it while we were in Boston while included some lovely sunny afternoons spent relaxing with Luke in our hotel room and then most of our 2 hours flight back home while my husband was sitting with Luke.  I so rarely get a solid two hours to read, especially with snacks delivered, so it was a real treat and enhanced my reading experience.  Also the cover really appeals to me with the blue and the charms.  I realize those reasons might not transfer a good read to you but I did also enjoy the story.  It's an older gentleman whose wife died one year prior.  He's cleaning out her things and finds this charm bracelet that he's never seen before.  He goes on many adventures to find the sources of the charms and ends up also finding out about all these adventures his wife had before they were married.  In turn, he starts to live a bigger life and not just stick with his boring routine day after day. 

The One That Got Away by Leigh Himes (previous post)
A very rare random library pick-up that turned out to be very enjoyable, maybe partially due to no expectations?  An alt world stories - woman wakes up and finds herself married to "the one that got away".  She misses her old life.  Makes you realize whatever life you have, you'd miss if it was different.  Perfect, enjoyable summer read.

The More of Less: by Joshua Becker (previous post)
After reading this and another of his books, I listened to many podcast interviews and am pretty fascinated with the whole idea of minimalism.  It'll look different for everyone and I don't know that I'll ever get the house quite to my ideal level but I'm certainly willing to try.  This book outlined various benefits and completely sold me on the topic.  Now to make the time and find the emotional strength to part with more stuff.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (previous post)
My favorite YA read for the year and the first one in 3 years to come close to Eleanor & Park for me.  A charming story of two teens who meet in New York and their adventures over one, long day in the city.  It also tells the story of a few periphery characters and how little decisions or actions can have a big impact.  Also, some random science lessons thrown in that were interesting and not boring.  I loved it.

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig (previous post)
A rare 5 star book (I gave out 14 last year and 7 were rereads).  I've enjoyed most of Beatriz Williams' book and even though she only co-authored this, it was no exception.  Told through multiple time periods, multiple characters, all centered around one room in one house/hospital/boarding house.  I so enjoyed it.  I even made my first family tree/flow charts of sort while reading, just to make sure I got all the connections.  Don't let that be a turn off, this was very enjoyable.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert  (previous post)
Another rare 5 star book.  It inspired me to keep blogging (so you can either thank or blame it) and to keep doing my own "art" in whichever form it takes.  While others may do it (whatever "it" is) better, nobody will do it quite like me.  I have my own unique voice/spin/take and that's worth pursuing.  Definitely something I would like to read at the start of every year!

Worst books I read this year: The Nest immediately comes to mind.  And SweetbitterIt All Started with Paris was my sole 1 star rating on Goodreads (this year at least).

What was the best book you read this year?  Worst?  If you are looking for anything to read to start off your 2017 I'd recommend any of my top 10 above!  Let me know what you think if you do try (or have already) any of them! 

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