If you didn’t already know it, I totally dig GoodReads. I love that it lets me track all the books I want to read (1,655 right now!) and challenges me to set an annual goal. Then, at the end of each year, they give you this nifty little wrap-up about what you read during the past 12 months.
In 2016, I was hoping to read 50 books. I read 58 in 2015 so that seemed doable but apparently not. I only managed to finish 44 last year.
Overall, those 44 books had me reading 10,641 pages. My shortest book was The Walking Dead, Issue 1 that my daughter gave me to read. It clocked in at a mere 26 pages and mostly pictures at that. All the Light We Cannot See was my longest book at 530 pages.
My average rating was 3.3, and the highest rated book I read was Building a Framework which, as of this writing, has an average rating of 4.53 stars. I joined more than 1 million people in rating One Hundred Years of Solitude but am one of only 6 people on the site who have rated How to Meal Plan so far.
At the end of the day…er, year…these were the five books that stuck with me the most.
Favorite Books from 2016
One Hundred Years of Solitude
I can’t put my finger on exactly why I liked One Hundred Years of Solitude so much. The book is a translated work which seems to always make for slower reading. All the characters (and there are a lot of them!) share about five names. The plot rambles its way along without seemingly any point.
It’s all a bit strange, but it really stuck with me. There was some sexual content that made me uncomfortable but otherwise, I mainly found it amusing. So much of it was ridiculous and over the top. As I mentioned in my GoodReads review, there may be some deeper meaning in the book that went straight over my head but even so, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.
If you’re up for a challenging read and don’t need realism, this book could be for you.
Little Beach Street Bakery
Little Beach Street Bakery is a fun, fun read about a woman who breaks up with her longtime boyfriend and moves into a decrepit little building located on an island. She makes new friends, finds a new love and, as you would expect from the title, opens a bakery.
As a warning, there are two widows in this book – one old and one new. I know that might bring back bad memories for some people, but it didn’t seem to bother me – likely because the book seemed to go off the wheels of realism in its second half.
Recommended as a light, summer read.
Crossing to Safety
Such an utterly charming story about the friendship between two couples. Crossing to Safety traces their relationship from when they meet at the University of Wisconsin, where both husbands are professors, and through the ups and downs of the subsequent years.
I think I liked this book for two reasons. One is that it is partially set in the ‘30s. For some reason, this has become one of my favorite time periods – probably because my parents were born in ’35 and I’m fascinated by what life was like when they were growing up. The other reason is that characters are so likeable. There is a little interpersonal conflict, but for the most part, it’s the story of four good people who are living good lives. It may sound boring but truly, it is so engaging!
Best for those who like character-driven stories and who don’t require much plot.
Over the years, I have found myself gravitating toward period pieces, and I’m starting to put my finger on why. There is something so appealing about life from long ago – before we were plugged in 24/7 to our computers and smartphones and televisions. A world in which you would go walking outside on a frosty night simply because there was nothing else to do or sit up all night writing by candlelight, without Facebook or Instagram to distract you.
I know it’s a romanticized vision of the past, but Lucy Maud Montgomery lived in the time Emily Climbs. That alone makes me feel like this and her other books have an authenticity you don’t get from current writers who are setting their stories in the past. Emily Climbs continues where Emily of New Moon leaves off and follows the title character on her exploits at high school.
If you love Anne but haven’t read Emily, you MUST add her trilogy to your reading list for 2017!
All the Light We Cannot See
This book won the Pulitzer Prize, and I can see why. I was worried All the Light We Cannot See couldn’t possibly live up to the hype, but it most definitely delivered. It follows two teens – one French, the other German – through World War II. It’s a fascinating look at how people get swept up in something bigger than themselves.
I’m considering whether to disown my oldest daughter who did not get the book at all. She thought it was pointless. There is a plotline about a mysterious artifact, and I think she may have wanted that to be more front and center in the story. However, it served more as a device to set into motion some events.
This book is a winner if you love beautiful writing and enjoy character studies.
What did you read and love in 2016? Let me know what great read I should make time for this year!
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