My Top Ten Books of 2016

There’s something magical about books. They have the power to take you to a different place, another world entirely. I’ve visited countries, scenes and worlds that I would never have otherwise stepped foot into, discovered concepts that have revolutionised the way I see myself and others and become inspired to try new things…

The podcast ‘What Should I Read Next‘ with Anne Bogel has been really helpful for introducing me to titles that I wouldn’t normally have stumbled upon, and Cara Meredith’s ‘31 Books I Can’t Live Without‘ had me placing lots of books on my list as well.

I have begun using the library queue function on my account to great effect, and have found that a lot of titles are available this way, if you are willing to wait. Dave and I used to love the book subscription service Scribd, but the changes to the system to limit the titles to one book per month has been frustrating and I’ve stopped using it altogether now.

On the whole, this year has been a great one for delving into different types of literature – novels, memoirs, inspirational non-fiction. There have been riveting ones, disappointing titles and books that I would heartily read again. The ‘What I’m Reading’ component of the monthly recaps helps me to keep track of the titles I have read and inspires me to keep up my reading throughout the month.

Here is my list of top ten titles for this year:

1. Wonder (R.J Palacio)

I loved this book. I really couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it off in 24 hours. The story of August and his facial abnormalities was so beautifully woven to evoke such empathy and connection. This is a book I am definitely going to get my kids to read when they are old enough. The setting of the high school and the casting of the other students who interact with August is superbly done – particularly in avoiding setting them up as one-dimensional. Definitely a new favourite.

2. Navigating Early (Clare Vanderpool)

Vanderpool is an exceptional storyteller and I loved this book and the way she wove through threads of different tales. Early Auden is a compelling and lovable character and I was so engrossed in the final chapters of the book that I did not even register that the doctor had called our names. Twice. I came across the book on the What Should I Read Next podcast by Anne Bogel. A definite must read.

3. Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert)

After listening to Elizabeth’s interview with Krista Tippett, I was very keen to read this book. It finally came up on my library queue and I was hooked instantly. Inspiring, profound, insightful – a definite must-read for anyone interested in following the spark and honouring creativity as a powerful form of human expression.

4. Love Warrior (Glennon Doyle Melton)

I’ve been a long time Momastery fan, but this book was something else entirely. The writing, story-telling, vulnerability made it such a compelling book and one that I didn’t want to put down. I laughed, I cried, I felt connected to the whole story and simply enjoyed the experience. Rarely do you get such an honest picture into someone else’s marriage, and I felt like I learned a lot through their struggles to connect. Ultimately, however, the focus of the story on being brave enough to listen to yourself and not construct a ‘you’ that everyone else wants was super challenging and inspiring.

5. Present Over Perfect (Shauna Niequist)

It is no secret that I love Shauna’s writing, I devoured her previous books and they have each considerably shaped my thinking in a myriad of ways. Her latest offering was well-written and clearly came from a place of keen personal experience as she learned the hard way how important it is to slow down and savour the reality of life and family. I feel like the message of slowing down is a crucial one for our culture right now and it echoed a lot of what I have been listening to in podcasts recently.

6. The Road Back to You (Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile)

Did you know that I love the Enneagram? It’s not like I talk about it all the time or anything… This is one of the best books I’ve read on the topic, mostly because the authors so comprehensively cover the nine types by telling interesting stories about the people they know who exhibit qualities of that category. It is such an interesting read and I feel like I learned even more about myself and the others around me of different types, despite the fact that I have done a lot of reading about the Enneagram in the past. There are also great takeaways of things to avoid/aim for for each type. Definitely recommend if you are interested in this topic.

7. The Joy of Poetry (Megan Willome)

This memoir and ode to poetry was a generous gift from a great writer friend, Christina Hubbard, and I soaked it in. Having now been introduced to the ingenuity of poetry I cannot turn away and Willome shares poignantly about experiences with her dying mother as she undergoes treatment for cancer. She incorporates poems seamlessly in a way that highlights the beauty and meaning without feeling as if you returned to an eighth grade English class.

8. Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark (Addie Zierman)

Addie Zierman is an exceptional writer, making mostly mundane locations come alive through her vivid linking of memories, thoughts and insights. I’m awed by her brave vulnerability and the willingness to share so deeply about her flaws and failings. It cannot have been an easy book to write (or release). Definitely a book to read if you are struggling with coming out of adolescent faith assumptions and willing to delve into uncomfortable questions of spirituality.

9. The Lake House (Kate Morton)

The size of this book was a little daunting at first, but Morton’s writing soon drew me in – her characters were interesting and engaging and the scene of the Lake House itself was vividly crafted. I loved the way the story spanned multiple generations and that characters I initially wrote off as one-dimensional became the ones I most resonated with when the story shifted to their perspective. The case of the missing child was well woven in, though I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending but don’t want to say too much for fear of giving it away. I would definitely read more of Morton’s work, and particularly appreciate that she is a fellow Australian.

10. Very Married (Katherine Willis Pershey)

Pershey is a good writer and conveys her story of marriage ups and downs with brave vulnerability and authenticity. The way she delves into emotional connections outside of marriage and the struggle of fidelity was well handled and something that is not often talked about frankly. A compelling, honest account of the struggles and joys of marriage and the profound joy that can be unleashed if both parties are willing to do the battles required for a healthy relationship.

What book/s did you read this year that you would recommend? I’m always looking for great titles to add to my list!

This post is part of a link-up with the Five Minute Friday community of writers. Click here to check out more top books of 2016 posts. 

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