If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I read. A lot. And, even that may be an understatement!
So, it was a little hard to choose my favorites of the year. I am sure that I left something off the list and will want to add it in another month of two! Also, please note that these are books I read in 2016, regardless of publication date. In no particular order, here are:
My Favorite Books of 2016
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
I am officially in love with the Maisie Dobbs series! You see, I had a Downton Abbey shaped hole in my heart, and Maisie Dobbs filled it beautifully! Maisie Dobbs is a female detective in England during the 1920s. After serving as a nurse during The Great War, Maisie becomes a private investigator who uses psychology and intuition to solve crimes. The first novel sets the tone for the series, introducing Maisie’s character and establishing the setting–particularly the time period. I found that the actual mysteries themselves improved with each subsequent book, so if you’re still on the fence after the first book you should keep reading. I knew very little about World War I or the post-war Europe, and really enjoyed learning more about the time period through this mystery series. My librarian also recommended that I read the books in order. While the mysteries themselves do not need to be in order, many things in Maisie’s personal life make best sense when they are read from the first book on. If you are looking for a new mystery series, be sure to check out the Maisie Dobbs series!
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
I just finished reading this and had so much fun doing so! I described The Bookshop on the Corner to my friends as “it’s like reading a chick flick.” If you’re looking for a fun, light, easy read that (bonus!) is about books and reading, then you’ll love this new Jenny Colgan novel. Twenty-nine-year-old Nina just lost her job as a librarian because the books are being phased out of the library. The shy Nina who rarely takes a risk suddenly finds herself purchasing a van in Scotland and setting up a mobile bookstore. Along the way she meets new people, gains some confidence, and (of course) finds love. If you’re looking for a fun book to read in front of a roaring fire, this is it!
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I, like the rest of the world, have heard about this book for months. But, I just hadn’t gotten around to reading it. (Plus, I have a contrary streak in me that tends to avoid books with lots of hype!). However, I saw a copy of it in our free “little library” on the corner and grabbed it. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The book is a captivating thriller with an ending that I only suspected as I drew near to it. Even if you typically aren’t one for mysteries or thrillers, I would recommend it.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
For the last few years I had MANY people tell me that I should read this book. With all the hype surrounding it and the movie, however, I put it off for awhile. Chalk it up to my stubbornness and desire to resist trends. I am so glad I picked up the book, though. The writing was brilliant, the story undeniably inspirational, and the history fascinating. If you haven’t read Unbroken yet, do yourself a favor and go check it out today!
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
The subtitle says it all! The 1936 Olympics, held in Nazi Germany, have long since fascinated me. Many amazing stories have emerged from that particular Olympics: Jesse Owens, Louis Zamperini (whose life provided the inspiration for the book and movie Unbroken), and the rowing team from Washington. After I finished the book, I now have a new desire to watch rowing! The story of these nine young men–their struggles during the Great Depression, their coming together as a team in college, and their push to succeed–is truly inspiring. If you are looking for a nonfiction book that is as interesting as a novel, pick up The Boys in the Boat today!
Blueprints for the Little Church by Elissa Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker
Blueprints for the Little Church is a practical guide for Orthodox families that helps them integrate the faith and life of the church into their homes. It focuses on three major elements of the faith: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I found many helpful tips and ideas that I can implement into our little church right away. A fantastic resource for Orthodox Christians!
Parenting toward the Kingdom by Dr. Philip Mamalakis
This is not a book filled with empty promises of parenting techniques that will solve all of your problems. Instead it is a book filled with principles and practical examples that will help you parent with the end in mind–the ultimate salvation of both our children and ourselves.
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
I read this book because it had been recommended to me by a friend of mine who is a nurse in palliative care. The End of Your Life Book Club tells the story of the author and his mother, who share conversations about books they have read during her treatment for pancreatic cancer. Through the books they read and the conversations they have, he comes to learn more about his mother as a person and to admire her even more. I love books about books, and this certainly fits that genre. I came away with a dozen books that I want to read soon. I also was inspired by Will’s mother, Mary Ann–her amazing life of service and her perspective on death and dying. A beautiful book about the love between a mother and son.
I enjoyed Erik Larson’s Dead Wake so much, that I knew I had to read every book I could find by him! Isaac’s Storm is a nonfiction account of the 1900 Galveston hurricane–still the single greatest natural disaster in American history. While I wasn’t particularly intrigued by the in-depth description of the science behind hurricanes, the human interest stories really gripped me. I still find myself playing the “What If” game after reading this book. As in, “What would I do if a ______ hit right now?” I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in history, weather forecasting, Texas, or just great storytelling.
What is the best book that you have read this year?
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