2016 Books

I’m only…oh…six months behind on posting this, but didn’t want to give it up since 2016 gave me three of my top five favorite books of all time. Here’s the list of all the books I read in 2016, and while the total number is lower than I’d like (I always shoot for 20+ books a year), the quality is spot on. (All links will take you to the Amazon listing of the book—not affiliate links.)

  1. The Nightingale {Kristin Hannah}: 10/10 stars
    Top three books I’ve ever read. This story about two sisters in Nazi Germany still sticks with me today. I absolutely cannot recommend this novel enough. It’s haunting and beautiful and just so well written.
  2. The Thing About Jellyfish {Ali Benjamin}: 4/10 stars
    So I didn’t actually realize this was a young adult novel? I mean, it is a story about a young girl, but I guess I didn’t assume anything. I don’t even know how I found this book? It’s a story about a young girl dealing with grief when her friend accidentally drowns. Wouldn’t really recommend it, unless you’re 12 and dealing with something similar.
  3. Bittersweet {Shauna Niequist}: 10/10 stars
    I can’t imagine giving anything Shauna writes less than a 10/10. This compilation of essays is summed up here: “Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness.” Definitely read this, and save it for a friend who might be going through a tough time.
  4. The Reader {Bernhard Schlink}: 6/10 stars
    I’ll pretty much read any fiction involving WWII/post-WWII Germany. This is one of those, but didn’t really stick with me. It’s an international bestseller, so if this description calls to you, maybe give it a try: “When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.”
  5. Bossypants {Tina Fey}: 5/10 stars
    What can I say? I just didn’t love it. If you love SNL or Tina Fey, though, this is probably right up your alley.
  6. The Screwtape Letters {C.S. Lewis}: 9/10 stars
    This theological classic (religious satire, really) is kind of hard to get through, but sooooo well worth it. I bought this book in 2007 and just now read it, so there’s that. But guys I promise you won’t be disappointed, and the deeper you get the more the story makes sense. I underlined a billion quotes in this book. It’s truly an eye-opener. Not sure what it’s about? It “entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to ‘Our Father Below.’ At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.”
  7. Wild and Free {Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan}: 10/10 stars
    Also in my top five books, ever. It’s highlighted throughout, with lots of “YES!” notes in the margins. Gals, I cannot recommend this book enough. When I finished reading it I immediately bought three other copies to give out to friends. It’s just that good. The subtitle is “A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Not Enough,” so, yeah. Get it.
  8. Outlander {Diana Gabaldon}: 9/10 stars
    I’d honestly give this a 10/10 if it weren’t such a dark book that left me depressed and mopey for weeks. It’s REALLY good, and I absolutely could not put it down, but be prepared for all the feels. It’s because of that that I chose not to continue reading the series. But if you’re up for a binger, this might be the stuff for you. And don’t let the length intimidate you—it’s a quick read because you can’t. put. it. down. Basically it’s about a woman in the 1940’s who gets magically transported to the Scottish Highlands and has to stay alive and try and figure out how to get back home, but circumstances along the way both prevent her from doing that and confuse her on whether or not she really wants to go home.
  9. Present Over Perfect {Shauna Niequist}: 10/10 stars
    See Bittersweet. All of Shauna’s writing gets a 10/10 from me, but this might be my favorite of hers (other than Bread & Wine). Subtitle: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
  10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks {Rebecca Skloot}: 10/10 stars
    Okay, I *personally* think everyone should have to read this. (Oprah also just made it into a movie, because duh, but you still need to read this.) I’ll just grab the Amazon description to enlighten you: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.
  11. It’s Not Fair {Melanie Dale}: 8/10 stars
    This was really, really good at a time when I really, really needed it. When MTR and I were struggling to get pregnant, this gave me some hope. I’d give it a higher rating if I could remember more about it, though. It’s basically a collective “me, too” sigh of angst and frustration at the unfairness that we’re all dealt at some point.
  12. The Magnolia Story {Chip & Joanna Gaines}: 10/10 stars
    I loved reading about Chip and Joanna’s story and how much their faith plays into their business and fame. If you’re a fan like me of ship lap and Waco, TX then add this to your list.
  13. Proof of Heaven {Eben Alexander, MD}: 9/10 stars
    This is a wow book. This is a story about a neurosurgeon’s journey into the afterlife when his brain unexpectedly shut down. As someone who was not really a believer in Near Death Experiences (NDEs), he was shocked by his experience. And I was shocked to read what he experienced. It’s beautiful and encouraging, and maybe a little too scientific in parts, but such a great book if you have questions about heaven.
  14. Heaven is for Real {Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent}: 8/10 stars
    Same as above, except from a four year old’s perspective. I’d give it higher stars if it wasn’t mainly written by his pastor dad, but I was surprised at how much there still was to convince me that Colton’s experience was legit. There’s also a kids’ version of this book, so could be great if you experience a death in the family.

That’s it for 2016! What books did you read? Here’s a list of some I (hopefully) have on tap for 2017/books that are on my wish list:

  • Bringing Up Bebe
  • The Magic of Motherhood
  • Commonwealth
  • Dance, Stand, Run
  • Into the Water
  • Sisters First
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • The Life Giving Home

xo, Amanda