I cannot believe it is the last day of 2016. Where in the world did this year go? I know we say that every year. This one felt both really fast and pretty awesome. There were so many fun things I experienced, lots of great things I accomplished, and some pretty cool small moments with my family and friends.
This blog grew a lot this year, I ran my first full marathon, went on a fun vacation with my family, used the KonMari method to declutter a significant portion of our stuff (though I still hope to actually finish this one day), redesigned this blog, added 366 days to my running streak, read 25 books, and a whole host of other things.
I have some big plans and goals for the coming year. I’ll be sharing more about that in the coming weeks. Today, I wanted to share the books I read in 2016. Many of them have influenced the direction I’m planning to go in the New Year. I always hope to read 52 books each year, knowing that that is a steep goal. Some years I get close and some years I end up quite far from my goal. This year I read 25 books, which is still pretty significant. (Here are my tips for finding time to read more books.)
This year I discovered audiobooks late in the year, which has made a big impact on the number of books I’m able to read. It is so easy to turn on a book while I’m driving in the car, making dinner, or going for a run. I have a subscription to Audible, but when I run out of Audible credits I use the free service provided by my local library to find additional audiobooks to listen to. If you are looking to read more books in 2017, I highly recommend giving audiobooks a try. (Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks)
I figured I would share all of the books I read, so you can see what I liked and what I didn’t like. Here are the books I read during 2016:
Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkenmade. I could not put this book down. This is a historical novel about a young orphan who is subjected to medical experiments as a young child that have lasting effects on her health. As an adult, she is confronted with the doctor responsible for the experimentation and begins to realize the complexities of how our destinies come to be. (4 stars)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I read this book as part of a book club. I normally would not have picked this book on my own, so it’s nice to be part of a book club that expands your reading preferences a bit. This book is really long. It is also umm, intense? I’m not exactly sure how best to describe it without giving away some details. I’ll just say that if you are easily offended, this may not be the book for you. There is drug use, sex, language, and some pretty dark times. However, it was another one I could not put down, which was a bit dangerous since it’s 771 pages. (3 stars)
The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers. This is the book where I was reminded once again that I have no long-term memory. Turns out, I read this book years ago and didn’t even realize it until I found the book hiding on my bookshelf during my KonMari sessions. I wondered why I could predict this story so well! This book does a fairly good job at showing some of the complexities of the unwanted pregnancy/abortion debate. Parts of it felt like the author was putting a lot of effort into getting her point across about the abortion debate instead of telling the story, but overall it was a good book. (4 stars)
How to Work for Yourself: 110 Ways to Make the Time, Energy and Priorities to Start a Business, Book or Blog by Bryan Cohen. I picked this one up because it is a free kindle book. I’m glad it was free. Some of the ideas are good, but there wasn’t anything earth shattering for me to learn. (2 stars)
48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller. I kept hearing about this book in different Podcasts and blogs I follow, so I figured I should read it. If you are looking for a new career and want to launch an intense job search to find the perfect career, then this is probably a very useful book. I am not looking for a new job in that way, so I didn’t find it all that helpful, but again, I’m not really the target audience for the book. (4 stars)
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I read this back in March and I don’t remember any of it! Haha! This is how terrible my memory is. I remember reading the book and I remember the characters after reading the book summary on Amazon, but that’s about all I remember. I rated the book with 3 stars on Goodreads, so apparently, I wasn’t all that impressed and my lack of memory seems to agree. (3 stars)
Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. The basic premise of this book is how to work with children to meet their needs to guide them into becoming healthy, caring, and responsible people. It provides an alternative to the usual rewards and punishment style parenting. I love the book and the concepts it teaches. I just wish that I was better able to remember all of this amazing information in the difficult parenting moments. I am a work in progress. (5 stars)
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This is an old book. But I think the concepts it teaches are timeless. This book is all about social skills and in my opinion, how to be a good person. People like good people. I don’t know that I agree with everything in the book, but overall there are some good concepts. (4 stars)
Rising Strong by Brene Brown. This book is all about how to recover from our falls, failures, and hard times. By pressing into our emotions and experience to truly overcome them and rise stronger. I love Brene’s work and hope to read her other books soon. (4 stars)
Not by Sight by Kate Breslin. I love historical fiction. I also love romance, so of course I really love historical romance novels. This one did not disappoint and was another that I could not put down. (5 stars)
No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy. I had really high hopes for this book. I mean, it’s Brian Tracy, it must be a great book. But I just didn’t feel like it was all that helpful or really taught me anything I didn’t already know. It also didn’t really excite or inspire me. Maybe I just expected too much. (3 stars)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is a historical novel set in Nazi Germany that follows a young foster girl. I really enjoyed this book. (4 stars)
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. I had no idea what to expect from this book but ended up loving it. The story is about the life of a young woman who becomes a very famous, in demand chef. (5 stars)
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller. I’ve been looking for a book on prayer that really discussed how to make prayer a priority as well as the ins and outs of a good prayer life. This book did a great job of covering how to develop a strong prayer life. There were lots of suggestions, some I’ve implemented and others I’ve passed on. (5 stars)
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. This is a great story about family, money, and ambition. It was funny and very engaging. I was hooked and fascinated. (5 stars)
Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook by Abby Lawson. This would of course only be a great read if you are a blogger or hope to become one, but for me, this was a fantastic ebook. Much of the information in this book I also learned from Elite Blog Academy, but it is great to have multiple perspectives. (5 stars)
Belgravia by Julian Fellowes. If you loved Downton Abbey, you’ll probably love this book as well. Same author, similar setting, different story. (5 stars)
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. This is a memoir of Glennon’s life and marriage. From the outside looking it, she appeared to have a perfect life, until her husband revealed his ongoing infidelity. Glennon has a way of truth telling that is raw and honest and vulnerable and hard to find in other books. My story is drastically different from hers, but yet her raw honesty helped me to see myself in her story. Love this book. (5 stars)
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I listened to this in audiobook form with the kids on our commute to and from school every day. So far, this is the only long audiobook I’ve found to hold their attention for the entire book. (5 stars)
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright. I really struggled through this book. I felt like I needed a seminary degree in order to understand a lot of the words he used. I feel like I’m a reasonably intelligent person, but there were so many big theological words. However, if you can get passed the big words and overly complicated theological speak, the information presented in the book was fascinating and really helpful to read. (4 stars)
Freedom by Jaycee Dugard. I was fascinated by Jaycee’s first book, A Stolen Life, so I thought I would love this book too. But it was simply not a good book. The writing is incredibly juvenile and the stories are somewhat boring. I think the incredible story was what made her first book so good. This book is all about rebuilding her life after her captivity and it’s just simple things like getting a dog, riding a plane for the first time, buying horses, etc. Eventually, I just skimmed the last several chapters. (1 star)
The Noticer Returns by Andy Andrews. In all honesty, it took me over a year to finish this book. I kept losing interest and putting it down. I loved The Noticer and this book is very similar, but just not quite as addicting. The concepts you can learn through the story are still good, it’s just that the story itself wasn’t as interesting. (4 stars)
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I just read this book this month in preparation for next year (my theme for the year is not “Yes” but similar, I’ll explain more in a future post). Shonda Rhimes is the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal. She set out to have an entire year of saying “Yes” to everything that scared her. Some parts of the story are hard to relate to since she’s a fancy Hollywood person who gets invited to dinners with the President of the United States, but overall this is a really great book about bravery and facing our fears. There is some language, but it’s fairly mild. I highly recommend the audiobook because she reads it and it makes it feel like she’s just sitting next to you telling you the story. (5 stars)
Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie F. Downs. There were parts of this book I really liked and I love the overall theme. However, I think the target audience for this book is young, single, possibly college or just post-college-aged women. Everyone has a different story and being brave looks differently for each person, but I just found Annie’s stories to be hard to relate to since I’m in a completely different season of life. She talked about her weight and her singleness a lot, which are not issues that I personally deal with, but if you do, then this would be a great book. (3 stars)
Thinner Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews. One of my goals for 2017 is to get stronger (yes, I have a more detailed actual goal than that), so I picked up this book to help me get started toward this goal. The information was really good and the program is heavily based on scientific research studies. I learned a lot. The only thing I didn’t like is that he really focuses on looks. His entire purpose for working out and weight lifting seems to be to have a really impressive body, which in my opinion is the worst reason possible for working out and makes me want to gag. But as long as I could get passed that, it was a very informative book. (4 stars)
Phew! That was a long list. This next year my goal will again be to read 52 books. However, I’m going into the year with more of a plan than ever before. I’m creating a list of books that I want to read now so I can jump right in and start reading them. A goal without a plan is just a dream, so for my reading goal, I want to actually have a plan.
I have quite a number of books on my list so far, but I’m looking for additional recommendations. Please leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite books are so I can consider adding them to my list.
As I hinted at, I have some really big goals and plans for the coming year. I’ll be sharing more about these goals and how I developed them in the coming weeks. If you want to make sure you don’t miss it, be sure to subscribe to our email club to get our bimonthly newsletter with all of the latest and greatest.