Books I loved and not so much in 2016


“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

One thing that I learned this year is that the books I loved most were the books I heavily researched, and studied the reviews, before I invested my time on them. Generally, I saw them on several favorite book lists, not just the New York Times list.

Another  thought~ anyone can become a best seller when they have a fabulous promoter. I fell for that one a few too many times this year, resulting in quite a few mediocre books.

I use Goodreads to track my books, read reviews and find like-minded readers for recommendations, this has a proven track record. I also track them here, this is where I realized that my numbers don’t match up between Goodreads and my personal list… I’m going with the higher number because I obviously read that many!

I do “read” lots of books as audiobooks, as well. I’m not sure if everyone knows this but there are a few places to get them, and ebooks, music, , for free if you have a library card and your library subscribes to the service. Hoopla is one and my favorite, Overdrive. I can listen to my books as I sew, quilt, get in my 5 miles walking… I even convinced Peter to listen to one while we were doing some never-ending paining, this summer. He enjoyed it so much we listened to another on a road trip out west. He then went on to listen to at least one on his own. It’s so fun when we both read/listen to the same book and can discuss it. I need to get him on Goodreads, he has read a lot more than usual this year!

I do still buy books, including downloadable ones, especially if the wait list is more than five people and I ram really anxious to read it. I do still buy children’s books, quilting books, cookbooks, local authors, travel, research… books. I would hate to lose any more of our locally owning book stores than we have thus far.

~Studying did pay off, this year, I read more 5 star books and lots fewer one star, or abandoned books, this year. My goal was 80, up from last year’s 76 completed. I read 102. Last time I read this many was in Mrs. Gillette’s 5th grade class. Many years, growing up, we did not have a television. I do believe the library was my best friend.

New to me this year was participating in Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge over on Goodreads. I took part in the 24-book challenge this year, exposing me to several new authors, and challenging with some rarely read genres.

Highlights from the Challenge:

~Read a Book Originally Publishes in the Decade You Were Born: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, this was a no brainer I had just bought the Kindle version for my granddaughter. Double dipping halves the cost!

~Read a dystopian novel: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline which turned out to be a favorite though I would never have chosen this book before being challenged to read this genre.

~Read a book about Feminism:  Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay which turned out to be my least favorite book of the year. Nothing against feminism. Notorious RBG is about feminism and was a very favorite, I classified it as a biography for the challenge and not listing any one book in any two categories left me with this one…

~Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: George by Alex Gino an excellent middle-grades book. What with all this talk of who can use which bathroom this was a very timely read.

~Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia: I read the Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and found it very interesting. I have always found books about other cultures to be at the top of my favorites, right up their with memoirs!

And on to the books!

★★★★★ Books I whole-heartedly recommend from this past year:

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

New York by Edward Rutherfurd

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege, Nikola Sellmair, Carolin Sommer

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Life by Keith Richards

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

Press Here by Hervé Tullet, Christopher Franceschelli

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood

1984 by George Orwell

City of Thieves by David Benioff, Ron Perlman

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The only ★☆☆☆☆ of 2016:

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Unfinished books of 2016:

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Not she why even started reading this since the reviews were all bad. But she was an early feminist, won a Nobel Prize for Literature and passed away this year. Maybe I will attempt another of her books another year.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Only time to read so many books, I just couldn’t get through this one, no matter how many good reviews there were.

What about you?
Any fabulous books in 2016?
Looking forward to reading anything in particular in 2017?

I am looking forward to the 2017 Reading Harder Challenge and, once again,  challenging myself not to list any book in two different categories!

Are you on Goodreads? I know I am friends with a few of you, but I am always looking for new friends with great recommendations!

Wishing you many fabulous reads in the New Year ahead!!

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3 Responses to Books I loved and not so much in 2016

  1. Asha says:

    I read When Breath Becomes Air too and was blown away by that story …. I have a number of books on my wishlist from your list that I intend on reading this year. Also read H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. There were others of course, but these stand out. Also enjoyed Adam Foulds The Quickening Maze but I know that is not for everyone. And read some Indian books like Jorasanko etc… My problem is I have to buy every book I read … no library here! 😦 I need to keep a list, you people are so organized … I guess I should use goodreads! 🙂


  2. I love people’s booklists, such a great way to get recommendations. I’ve been a long-time blogreader, and I too use goodreads! Thanks so much for sharing!


  3. becky moyer says:

    Thanks for all this info! I have just been challenging myself to read a number of books, but not paying attention to my ratings and types of books. I’m definitely going to check out the Read Harder Challenge!


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