Happy 2017! I thought I'd share something a little different today. The beginning of the year is always full of lists, resolutions, and looking back on the past year. One of my favorite things to look back at is my book list. The past 3 years I've been keeping a book list of all the books I've already READ. I have my own little review system and usually write a short description. This helps me remember what I've already read as well as have a quick reference the new time a friends asks me for a good book. I read about 35 books per year. There is a certain seasonality to reading for me, but I love to get lost in a good book at the end of the day. There is also something priceless about finding a fellow reader with similar taste. It eliminates the "what do I read next question", so I'm sharing my book list - and if you find you have the same taste - PLEASE SHARE your recommendations with me!!
Instead of just listing a bunch of books, I looked at my list and picked some of my favorites from the year. I'll include the brief Amazon description and my own opinions these are my highest rated from the year (I rate on a scale from 1-5 stars).
The following links are Amazon affiliate links to help you find what you need. Any proceeds earned from affiliate sales help support this blog :)
TOP 5 FICTION (in no particular order)
I mostly read fiction - I love it when a character in a book becomes a friend and you can get lost in a really good story.
Book Description: "Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was a nineteen-year-old kid with a dream of escaping his family's cramped flat on Faithful Place and running away to London with his girl, Rosie Daly. But on the night they were supposed to leave, Rosie didn't show. Frank took it for granted that she'd dumped him-probably because of his alcoholic father, nutcase mother, and generally dysfunctional family. He never went home again. Neither did Rosie. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie's suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank, now a detective in the Dublin Undercover squad, is going home whether he likes it or not. "
Why I liked it: This was the second Tana French book I read (and I've since read them ALL!), it is a twisty thriller without being scary. She writes incredibly well and once you think you have it figured out it twists again. It's set in Ireland which I find endearing (although there is a little language). It's a page turner for sure, so if you want to get sucked in, this is a great one!
Book Description: "Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within. Finally, the time has come."
Why I liked it: This was the third book in the Red Rising Trilogy, and it was an amazing ending to a great series! I wouldn't be surprised if these are a movie someday. It's a dis-utopian series based on the hierarchy of men who live and work on Mars (and other planets). The characters are constantly asking the question of what is worth living and dying for and find out the meaning of love and sacrifice. Sometimes trilogies end a little disappointingly, but in this series, the ending tied it all together, and it was surprising to the very last page.
Book Description: A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, "Nell" sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.
Why I liked it: I read this book shortly after The Lake House (once I find an author I like, I stick with them). They were both excellent, but I liked this one more. I liked the mystery, the characters and love story that are weaving throughout. It's set in UK which is charming in a Downton Abbey kind of way. It's just a great book to get lost in, and I was sad when it was over.
Book Description: "Paris, 1916. Sophie Lefèvre must keep her family safe while her adored husband, Édouard, fights at the front. When their town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Sophie is forced to serve them every evening at her hotel. From the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie’s portrait—painted by her artist husband—a dangerous obsession is born, one that will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision. Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before his sudden death. After a chance encounter reveals the portrait’s true worth, a battle begins over its troubled history and Liv’s world is turned upside all over again."
Why I liked it: This was a great story intertwining the past and the present (I love when authors do that). You really find yourself putting yourself in the shoes of the characters and trying to figure out what you would do in their situations. I love Jojo Moyes writing, she writes in a way that just sucks you in. This is a little different than her other books but her characters are always vibrant and real.
Book Description: "Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal...
A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what? Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads"
Why I liked it: You know at the beginning there has been a murder, but you spend the whole book trying to figure out not only who did it but who was murdered. Cleverly written, unexpected twists and you can't help but love these three women who are unexpected friends. I enjoyed this book so much I also read The Husband's Secret which was also really good.
TOP 5 NON-FICTION BOOKS
Book Description: "You have an enemy . . . and he’s dead set on destroying all you hold dear and keeping you from experiencing abundant life in Christ. What’s more, his approach to disrupting your life and discrediting your faith isn’t general or generic, not a one-size-fits-all. It’s specific. Personalized. Targeted. So this book is your chance to strike back. With prayer."
Why I liked it: This is an incredibly powerful book. Prayer is one of my spiritual gifts, but to learn how to pray more powerfully is amazing. She is very relate-able and real, and this is a book to read at least once a year!
Book Description: "At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams... She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves."
Why I liked it: I'm an introvert. And the more I get to know myself, and what makes me tick (or get overwhelmed), the better life becomes. I loved this book (I actually listened to it on Audible) and it was a very pleasant read. She shares stories of several introverts through history, and how they contribute to society. It's okay to be an introvert, it's okay to be quiet and it's okay to like being by yourself, permission granted. This book is helpful and insightful.
Book Description: "Best-selling author Jen Hatmaker is convinced life can be lovely and fun and courageous and kind. She reveals with humor and style how Jesus’ embarrassing grace is the key to dealing with life's biggest challenge: people. The majority of our joys, struggles, thrills, and heartbreaks relate to people, beginning with ourselves and then the people we came from, married, birthed, live by, go to church with, don’t like, don’t understand, fear, compare ourselves to, and judge... In this raucous ride to freedom for modern women, Jen Hatmaker bares the refreshing wisdom, wry humor, no-nonsense faith, liberating insight, and fearless honesty that have made her beloved by women worldwide."
Why I liked it: Hilarious! She is witty and smart and loves Jesus. She will speak freedom into your soul. If you just want a book that will make you laugh and cry and look at life a little differently, this is your book. I loved it from start to finish. I'd love to be Jen's friend!
Book Description: " “I used to think that someone who struggled with the kinds of weaknesses I deal with daily was useless to God. I felt so often like I was drowning in internal dialogue I couldn’t control. It had been the soundtrack of my life for as long as I could remember.
Yet everything changed when I began to realize God has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to. And once we learn how, we can switch from lies to truth as deliberately as we can choose the Beatles over Miley Cyrus on satellite radio.
This is the key to pressing ahead and doing God’s will anyway, even as you are bombarded with thoughts, feelings, and even facts about why you can’t do it. ""
Why I liked it: Another powerful book, by a very well written author. This is something that so many of us struggle with and it affects our families, our kids, our friendships, and even our businesses. When we can recogize the truth from the lie and learn how to listen to the truth, that is a giant step in the right direction. Another one that would be good to read about once a year.
Book Description: "You are about to discover the profoundly simple yet shockingly effective accounting plug-in that will transform your business from a cash eating monster into a money making machine. In Profit First, Mike Michalowicz, author of The Pumpkin Plan & The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, explains why the GAAP accounting method is contrary to human nature, trapping entrepreneurs in the panic-driven cycle of operating check-to-check and reveals why this new method is the easiest and smartest way to ensure your business becomes wildly (and permanently) profitable from your very next deposit forward."
Why I liked it: This is a great business book for anyone who owns a business - big or small. This was another one I "read" on Audible, and it was surprising how much personality an accounting book can have because the author has such a personality. There were times I wish I had it in print to write things down, but either way it gives great business principles in an approachable, do-able way.
Well that about does it. Ten of my favorite books from 2016. I've already started on my new book list for 2017 and I can't wait to see what treasures I find. Share with anyone who likes to read! And don't forget to send me your recommendations!