My Favorite 2016 Reads

By Saturday, January 07, 2017 , ,

Happy 2017, friends! It’s time for the sum total update on my 2016 reading. I’m pleased to report that I reached my goal of reading 50 books over the course of the year! This goal seemed lofty at the beginning of 2016, but I kept it in mind without beating myself up over it. And as I read steadily through the year, it gradually began looking more like a feasible possibility. I finished my 50th read very, very late on December 31st…it might even be debated as to whether I got through it in time to count it for 2016, but I decided to take it ;) I’m usually terrible at picking favorites, but 2016 had some strong standouts, so they came to me more easily this time. Here they are – my favorites out of the books I read in 2016. Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you think! 

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte 
A fantastic biographical look at C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and the influence of World War I on them personally, their writing, and their friendship. Both of these literary giants served in the war and I had little prior knowledge of how much it shaped them and the stories they would go on to create. This book is an encouraging glimpse into their spiritual formation, literary genius, and inspiring friendship. 

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay 
Katherine Reay is a first-rate author of what I (along with Anne Bogel) like to call “sweet spot fiction” – easy to read and understand while still tackling subjects of depth and teaching a valuable lesson. Lizzy and Jane is my favorite Reay book so far. Sister relationships, trust issues, cancer, family dynamics, and forgiveness take major roles in this one, all within the themes of food and cooking. I loved every bit and am now waiting for a Lizzy and Jane cookbook to be a thing. 

Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior 
I first encountered Karen Swallow Prior through her fantastic biography on Hannah More, so I was excited to finally pick up her personal memoir. What a joy it was! She brings her journey to vivid life through so many classic works of literature and tells her story with relatable honesty and encouragement. And she explains the importance of books and how God’s character is reflected in them so well. I was saying “Yes!” in my head pretty frequently as I read it.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling 
Where have I been, you ask? Well, I have to say I’m glad I read them for the first time as an adult. The magic of Harry’s world brought me back to the innocence of childhood in many ways while also reminding me of priceless truths that I’m not sure I would have fully appreciated as a youngster. Good and evil, lifelong friendship, courage, and unfathomable sacrifice are at the forefront as Harry, Ron, and Hermione grow up and work together to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. I’m so glad to have now taken the journey with them and expect I’ll go back to it before long. (Read my longer thoughts on the whole series here and here)

Warleggan by Winston Graham 
The Poldark series just got better, guys. This is book four and it’s a roller coaster. Ross and Demelza go through the ringer like never before and George Warleggan becomes an ever more formidable foe in this one. And yet, Ross and Demelza endure and forge ahead as the heroes once again. I’m amazed at the nuance and depth Winston Graham wove into these two central characters – their pains and joys are palpable to the reader and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer 
Quite the title, I know, but don’t let it throw you. This story is charming, witty, and engaging while also bringing in profound themes. It’s 1946, and London writer Juliet Ashton is struggling to find a subject for her next writing project. But soon, she starts wondering if a subject might be forming itself when she begins an unlikely correspondence with people from the small British channel island of Guernsey, the only British territory that the Nazis occupied during World War II. From start to finish, this book is a delight (especially on audiobook!). 

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber 
I read this one in February/March, but I had a good feeling as soon as I read it that it would likely remain my favorite of the year. I was right. This is the personal memoir of an English professor that reads more like a compelling novel. In it, Carolyn Weber shares mainly how she became a Christ follower while studying Romantic Literature at Oxford in England. I love literature and England, so I related strongly to her in many ways, but her honesty and grace and joy encouraged and humbled me greatly. Read this book. (Check out my full review here). 

These were the top ones, but really, I read so many good books in 2016. Below is the full list of titles from the year! What did you read in 2016? Got any good ones planned for 2017? I’d love to hear all about it and get your recommendations! 

My 2016 Reads: 
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand 
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis 
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah 
Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith 
Heir to Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson 
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 
Driftwood Lane by Denise Hunter 
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 
The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden 
A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte 
Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber 
While You Were Mine by Ann Howard Creel 
An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aiden 
The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis 
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling 
Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller 
A Cowboy’s Touch by Denise Hunter
One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch 
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin 
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom 
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein 
Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway 
The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay 
Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay 
Little Bee by Chris Cleave 
Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis 
Hope Heals by Jay and Katherine Wolf 
For the Glory by Duncan Hamilton 
Holy is the Day by Carolyn Weber 
Are We Together? by R.C. Sproul 
Jeremy Poldark by Winston Graham 
Warleggan by Winston Graham 
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith 
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith 
Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper 
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 
Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman 
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen 
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave 
Greater than Gold by David Boudia 
What is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever 
Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior 
A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay 

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