This year more than any other has been “the year of books” for me, which is odd considering I hardly wrote any book reviews for the blog. Not sure how that happened. I guess I was too busy reading and moving on to the next!

I definitely fell in love with reading all over again in 2016. The great part about it is that the more I read, the better/more easily my writing comes to me. It’s a win win! Plus, Nathan and I have our own little book club, so it’s a lot of fun discussing them with each other. (I’ll denote books we read for our club in purple throughout this post if you’re interested.)

I like posting my favorite books before the end of the year in case anyone needs recommendations for the cold winter months ahead or ideas for Christmas gifts for your favorite bookworms. If you need more specific recommendations, just ask – I’m an open book 😉 Heheh.

This year’s goal was to read more than last year, when I read 36 books total. I’m writing this on December 1 and have read 69 so far so…mission accomplished!

Here are the most notable books of the past year in the order that I read them:

TOP 10 BOOKS FROM 2016

  1. Circling the Sun, Paula McLain (I also enjoyed her book The Paris Wife)
    circling-the-sun
  2. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
    a-man-called-ove-9781476738024_hr.jpg
  3. The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown
    boys-in-the-boat
  4. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
    breath
  5. The Kitchen House, Kathleen Grissom
    the-kitchen-house-9781439153666_hr.jpg
  6. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett (I also enjoyed her books Commonwealth and State of Wonder)
    happy marriage.jpg
  7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
    tree.jpg
  8. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
    bad-feminist
  9. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
    homegoing.jpg
  10. The Mothers, Brit Bennett
    mothers.jpg

The book I enjoyed most: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I read it for the first time 10 years ago and re-reading it this summer reminded me why it is quite possibly my favorite book of all time. I plan to read it every 5-10 years from now on because it is one of those books that hits you differently depending on what phase of life you’re in.

Runner up: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Culturally relevant and a powerful look at racial tensions throughout history. This book gave me something to think about long after I finished it, and its message is one that has resonated more and more over time.

Here are some other books I read from various genres. I enjoyed the variety!

HISTORICAL FICTION

Paula McClain is to blame for this one. I began with her two novels listed above (some of my favorite books EVER, and I even had the chance to meet her this year which was ridiculously cool!). Those led me to The Aviator’s Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin, and Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry.

MOTIVATIONAL

Sprinkling these in among my fiction/non-fiction books was so refreshing! I read: 10% Happier by Dan Harris, Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling, You Are Loved No Matter What by Holley Gerth, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, This is Awkward by Sammy Rhodes, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, and more.

MEDICAL

This is where Nathan’s world mixes with mine 🙂 Books with a medical bent included: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

CLASSICS*

I try to read a classic every so often, especially focusing on them in the summertime. I started doing this in high school and have kept it up ever since. Some of the classics I read this year include: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (a bucket list book for me!), Night by Elie Wiesel, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

*Nathan always asks me: What makes a book a classic? I don’t have a solid answer, so let this be a disclaimer that I consider the books above classics simply because I say so! 🙂

Other books Nathan and I both read together this year include Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

My goal is to read at least 72 books this year (so a few more to go), and I’m hopeful that one of those will sneak into the top 10 above. But, as of now, those are the best I’ve read this year. Spending time in each of those worlds was a treat, and I look forward to visiting them in the future!

What are some of the best books you read this year? 

7 thoughts on “My Top 10 Books of 2016

  1. I agree with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I finally read it for the first time this year and wish I hadn’t waited so long. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, a pick in my book club, is a good insight into end of life issues. For a fun read that somehow also manages to tackle some serious social issues, anything by Liane Moriarty.

    1. Yes! You are the reason I picked up A Tree Grows in Brooklyn again and I can’t thank you enough. So glad you enjoyed it too ❤ I'll have to read Being Mortal – sounds like a good pick for me and Nathan's book club 😀

  2. R,

    Thanks for sharing! I’m going to use this to help my book club pick some books for 2017.
    Love the complexity and breadth of your reading interests, very cool!
    By the way, Book Club for this month is Terrorist by John Updike, I think you’d like it.
    A classic is anything Rachel says is a classic, very much a reflection of the bubble we have all come to know and love!

    Dad

    1. Dad,
      I’ll be adding Terrorist to my list. Would love to hear what your book club has to say about it! And you know how the Rachel bubble works better than anybody 😀

      Thanks for reading. Love you!

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