Monday, January 16, 2017

2016 Reading Round-Up

Yes, I realize we're more than half way into January now, and I also realize that I already missed my goal of blogging at least once a week by missing last week altogether... but that's because my dang MacBook is out of commission AGAIN. We're waiting on a new hard drive to arrive (thank goodness that was under warranty still!), so I've only had access to Dan's laptop during the work day since he needs it in the evenings to study.


I set a goal to read 16 books in 2016, and I met that goal (and exceeded it by a couple - yay!) I use Goodreads to organize the books I have read, am currently reading, and want to read. Are you on there? If so, we should be friends - find me here! :) And if you'd like to see my post about my favorite 15 books ever that I am always recommending to people, please check out this post - but I feel like I need to make an updated version soon!

What I Read in 2016

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - If you enjoy WWII novels, this one is for you. It's about a blind girl living in France during WWII, and it alternates between her and the story of a German boy at the same time and how they're both just trying to make it through. It's great.

2. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin - I read this one for book club. While it was a great story, I almost wish I hadn't read it because my perspective of, and thus my opinion of, Charles Lindbergh has forever been tainted. But I guess it's better to know certain things than to live in ignorance. It WAS a good book. The story was engaging, and I enjoyed learning about an American couple that I didn't know much about. 

3. Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic - This should be a mandatory book in school. It's quick, and it is literally a diary, so it reads fast. And the topic is so, so important. Similar to Anne Frank's diary, Zlata's diary is also set during war-time, but instead it is during the Bosnian war of the 1990's. 

4. A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold - I have always been fascinated with the Columbine shooting from 1999, so as soon as I saw Sue Klebold speak in an interview early last year and learned she had a book coming out, I was all over it. This book did not disappoint. It was interesting reading about the tragedy from one of the shooter's mother's perspective - it's difficult to not have empathy for her. 

5. Sacred Space by Corie Weathers - Military spouses, rejoice! This one is for you. Corie Weathers, a military spouse, had the unique opportunity to travel with Secretary of Defense Carter in 2015 after winning Military Spouse of the Year, and this book reflects her thoughts on how it is for the spouses waiting at home AND for the servicemembers who are deployed - and the dichotomy of the two. I was lucky enough to be on the launch team for this book and was able to read it and discuss it in an online group before it hit shelves. 

6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - This one kind of bored me, I'm not going to lie. I read it because I feel like so many people have, and it's so often talked about. The subject matter was good, and I don't think it was the book. I think I was in a reading funk when I read this one, so I won't blame the book. 

7. Columbine by Dave Cullen - After reading Sue Klebold's book, I was browsing reviews online and came across this one and decided to read it as well. It's a very factual based book that follows the events chronologically, which I enjoyed. It was objective and written after years of research, and I appreciated being able to read about the tragedy from yet another viewpoint.

8. The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD - Annabelle is a toddler now, so I read a couple parenting books... this is one of them. I'm not going to review a parenting book. 

9. What to Expect the Toddler Years by Heidi Murkoff - Annabelle is a toddler now, so I read a couple parenting books... this is one of them. I'm not going to review a parenting book. 

10. Shine by Jodi Picoult - This is a short story by Picoult that comes before her newest novel, Small Great Things. It was a quick read and got me VERY excited to read the full novel! 

11. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - If you're looking for a fast-paced mystery, this is it! I enjoyed trying to figure out who the "bad guy" was all along, and there wasn't a slow spot in this book. 

12. Push by Sapphire - If you aren't comfortable with "bad" language, then sit this one out because there is a LOT of it, and some is far worse than anything I've ever read in a typical novel. That said, this book was eye-opening to me about the lives of some young women who live in places that aren't as well-off as what we picture in our heads. Physical, emotional, verbal abuse... neglect... sexual assault... these are all big themes in this book, but it's worth reading to see the triumph that takes place. 

13. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - This is by far the best book I read in 2016, and it will for sure be added to my favorite books of all time list when I get around to updating it. It's about a black nurse who is forced to be alone with a white baby after the extremely racist parents have made it clear she should never be around him... and of course something goes wrong. The book chronicles the trial and is told from several different perspectives. It's an eye-opener for sure. 

14. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - Another WWII novel set in France, this one is also great. It tells the stories of two sisters who are very different and how each of them lives day to day throughout the war. I've heard it's being made into a movie, and if so, I'll happily go see it! 

15. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai - This one had been on my to-read list forever. It's written by the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan and lived through it and her family's journey (from way before the shooting took place) of trying to make sure girls in Pakistan could receive an education as well. Malala is a hero in many regards. 

16. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - Okay, where do I even start? This is the worst book I read in 2016, and maybe it's just because I am very well-educated when it comes to the Holocaust and Auschwitz (which I visited in 2015, something I had wanted to do for YEARS), but there are so many factual errors, and it just makes me cringe. And don't even get me started on the ended. That said, it is a best-seller for a reason, so others definitely enjoy it. There's a movie as well, and I may watch it just to see if it's any better done than the book. Note: Auschwitz is never ACTUALLY mentioned in the book, but duh, we all know what the author is referring to here.

17. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares - This is a quick read about two people who keep meeting up in their new lives after they both die, but only one of them can remember everything. It chronicles several different lives and is fascinating. My only complaint is that there was supposed to be a sequel, but this book is several years old now, and it never came about. 

18. Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam - Another Holocaust book... are you sensing a trend? This one is a gem. I firmly believe everyone should read every Holocaust account they can because all of these stories are worthy of being read over and over and over. What Rena and her sister went through at Auschwitz (like everyone else) is despicable, and we need to know the truth so it doesn't happen again. 

Note: My husband challenged me to go a year without reading a WWII book, but how can I when The Zookeeper's Wife movie comes out this spring? I can't - I'll have to read it right before. 

... and that's a wrap!

Did you read any good books in 2016? 
What's next on your to-read list?

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