Best Books of 2016

The Best (And Worst) Books I Read In 2016

Best Books of 2016

I love books. I love words in general, writing them down, molding them into sentences and paragraphs that say what I think and feel. I try to read and write every day, even if its just for five minutes. I’m quite good at falling asleep with my Kindle in bed, or else waking up face down in a book the next morning.

I read a lot of books in 2016, so many I can’t keep track of them all. Maybe that will be a goal for 2017 – write down all the books I read. Here are some of my favorites (and least favorites) from 2016.

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain 

The Paris Wife was perhaps one of my favorite books I read all  year. It tells the story of Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, often referred to as his “Paris wife.” There are definitely some liberties taken with their story, but it is written in such a way that you almost forget these are real people as you invest in their relationships, careers, hopes, dreams, and failures. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and many others are represented. This is Paris during prohibition, when this generation of writers was on the cusp of greatness. I highly recommend it.

A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway 

I was gifted A Moveable Feast by a co-worker after I raved to her about The Paris Wife. I read it on the train to Paris (how appropriate) and was just completely swept up by it. It’s Hemingway’s memoirs of his time in Paris and I would be lying if I said it didn’t heavily influence how I spent my time in Paris. It also sparked a fresh wave of inspiration and creativity.

I Said Yes

I Said Yes by Emily Maynard Johnson 

As a fan of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, I had to read Emily Maynard’s I Said Yes. I knew her story well before she was on the reality show and I appreciate the journey she’s been on. It was a quick read that bolstered my faith. She doesn’t just say “yes” to a marriage proposal. She says yes to all of it – joy, heartbreak, devastation, motherhood, whatever God throws at her. I would recommend it for anyone who may need a pick me up or a reminder of God’s love and grace.

Big Magic

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m just going to sit over here with my unpopular opinion and say I hated Big Magic. People love it. I have friends who RAVE about it. I made it two-thirds of the way through and gave up. I should have known. I didn’t like Eat, Pray, Love. To me, she hit a rough patch, gallivanted around the world rather than deal with it, and wrote a book about it that gave her the audience to write more books about “life” for. I found Big Magic to be repetitive and boring. She rambled a lot, jumped around, and didn’t finish a complete thought.


The Girl on The Train

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

Confession. I was the girl on the train reading The Girl on The TrainI packed this in my bag to London and read it while on trains to Windsor, Bath, and the Harry Potter studio. I admittedly took the jacket off so it wasn’t that obvious, given that I was in the same train stations as mentioned in this book. While I liked the story well enough, I hated the characters. I think that was the point, but none of them had any redeeming qualities. I also felt like the book just ended. She got us all invested and then just – ends it. I could have used a little more, but I’d still recommend the book as a beach or travel read.

Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight 

I was really excited to read Reconstructing Amelia after reading several good reviews and having a few friends recommend it. I don’t know that we read the same book, however. It had a lot of potential, but I found the characters lacked development and it felt like the author struggled to write from the teen POV. It was a relatively quick read about a mother who doesn’t believe her daughter’s death was a suicide, and a good way to pass the time in an airport during long flight delays, but I wouldn’t add it to my Amazon wish list.

Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob is one of those books that hooks you in from start to finish. I really didn’t know what to think or believe. The assistant DA’s son is charged with murder, and he is convinced his son didn’t do it. It delves into the idea of the “murder gene” and looks into whether violence is hereditary. The ending really packs a punch. Buy or download this one the next time you have hours to sit and read, because it’s hard to put down.

It Starts With Food

It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig 

I’m starting my first Whole30 on Monday, and a friend who finished her first right before Thanksgiving with great results advised that I read It Starts With Food ahead of beginning the program. I’m about halfway through after starting it Monday night and I’m fascinated. It really breaks down in simple terms how food works for and against our bodies. Even if you aren’t up for a Whole30 anytime soon, I’d still recommend this book if you’re interested in learning more about nutrition.

Start With WhyStart With Why by Simon Sinek 

I have friends who rue the day I read Start With Why because that’s my answer for everything now – but WHY? This book stresses the idea of knowing why you’re doing something, particularly in business. You know what you’re doing – selling a product – but why are you doing it? About halfway into the book I texted my friend Hanna who owns the barre studio and asked if she’d read this book, because this is exactly how she runs her business. She texted back that she had – I knew it! I’m not going around questioning my very existence by any means (well, I am…) but I am using the book as cornerstone in some of my work philosophies.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones (Book 1) by George R. R. Martin

I read a lot when I was in Scotland this summer. I didn’t have television for three weeks, so when I wasn’t with our groups or exploring Edinburgh or the Highlands, I was probably reading. I wasn’t sure I’d like Game of ThronesI’m pretty hit or miss on fantasy and sci-fi work. But, it was around the time the season finale had aired and all my friends were up in arms about it, so thanks to a case of FOMO, I downloaded book 1 to read on the plane home since the book is (almost) always better than the show or movie.

I think I’ve fallen in love with Jon Snow.

It took me a long time to finish book 1 – they aren’t exactly short and I was reading other books in between – but I read a little every night, which turned into staying up way past my bedtime, and finished it on the way to Venice. I downloaded book 2 and my Kindle says I’m 50% of the way through. I’m so hooked into this story. I’m so worried about these characters. No one is safe!

That’s a mere smattering of the books I read in 2016. I can’t help but wonder how many more I would have read if I hadn’t spent so much time reading textbooks for my ACE personal trainer certification. I’ve already got a few books cued up for 2017. I plan to finish book 2 of Game of Thrones (and move on to all the others!), I’ve started Faulkner’s Soldiers’ Payand I downloaded All The Light We Cannot See to start once I finish It Starts with Food. 

Other books I’ve got on my list:

What else should I add to my list?

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One Comment

  1. I have been reading a lot too, and none of these are books I have read except Girl on a Train, which I couldn’t put down, and A Movable Feast, which I read years and years ago. Some of my favorites that I have read recently are Room (seriously AMAZING), The Cuckoo’s Calling (all 3 books in the series), and I just finished re-reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which I consider a must read.

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