2016 Book Report

I read 13 books in 2016. Only thirteen. Almost thirteen (there were two I didn’t quite finish). In my defense, I also read two monthly magazines and quite a few articles (online) and blogs :) While I wish I had read more books, I am pretty happy I am in a regular reading habit. Like I said before, I have a lot of competing interests and there is only so much available leisure time.

As you might have see in my previous post, I’ve set a reading goal that doubles the number from last year. I am on my third book and it’s only January, 9.  Woot! There is hope!

Books I loved:

A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca  (My rating: ★★★★★)

This was a hard to digest, but very well written memoir. To think that Baca was illiterate at the age of 22 and then taught himself how to read and write despite the adversities that he faced early in his life and being put in prison, it’s simply amazing.

I was so captivated by his story and kept wondering how many other lost souls ended up in prison after enduring hardship after hardship early in their lives. Baca gives us a glimpse into the multi-faceted circumstances that can lead to derailed life paths of young people. The story also paints a very grim picture of the institutions that are “supposed” to offer more than just mere punishment for past crimes.  

Running: A love story: 10 years, 5 marathons, and 1 life-changing sport by Jen A. Miller (My rating: ★★★★★)

I finished this book within 24 hours which for me is a sign that I really enjoyed it.  I couldn’t really relate to the many relationship issues Jen went through, but I could definitely relate to her running story and I recommend this book to every runner.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown (re-read)  (My rating: ★★★★★)

I gave this book to two of my friends as gifts and they both loved it as much as I did. Brené just has a way of putting things into perspective and a little introspection has never hurt anyone.She talks about how making a major change in your life isn’t something you wake up and do one day, it’s something you practice every single day and often you’ll have to overcome obstacles along the way, but that’s part of living.

Coming of age in Mississippi by Anne Moody (My rating: ★★★★★)

This is a powerful book. It’s one we had on the shelf and I just randomly picked up (again – because I am pretty sure I’ve read it before. A long time ago.).

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (My rating: ★★★★★)

This is the last book I read this year for the Postal Bookclub. I finished just in time on December, 31. While I am not at all a gamer or into sci-fi, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were likeable, the storyline was compelling, albeit a bit too “futuristic” for me personally (if you think this book is set in the 2040’s, which doesn’t seem that far away anymore), but it folded a lot of societal issues, power structures, and technological advances into one neat story.


Books I liked a lot:

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (My rating: ★★★★☆)

This was a cute story, a fast and light read. Something for the in-between when you just want something to entertain you.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl (My rating: ★★★★☆)

The topic was heavy. In the first part of the book, Frankl describes his experience in concentration camps during WWII. It was at times extremely hard to read, but also very enlightening how resilient the human mind can be.

Joyland by Stephen King (My rating: ★★★★☆)

I never thought I would read a Stephen King book and like it so much. Stephen King is forever in my brain associated with horror stories and since I am not fond of them, I never really read or wanted to read Stephen King. I am so glad I gave this book a chance though, because Stephen King is an excellent storyteller and this book was really good.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (My rating: ★★★★☆)

Oh, I loved and hated this book. I loved it, because it kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t put it down, but I hated it because I thought the story itself was so f***ed up. Usually not the kind of story I like reading, but I had to finish it. Did you see the movie? I haven’t yet and don’t know if I want to.

Das verborgene Wort (The Hidden Word) by Ulla Hahn (My rating: ★★★★☆)

This is a German book I had on my bookshelf. It’s written by a local from the area that I am from and it’s a coming of age story of a girl in post-war Germany, who grew up in a poor, lower-working-class family and aspired to be a writer. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is available in English.

The Dragon Slayer with a Heavy Heart: A Powerful Story about Finding Happiness and Serenity…Even When You Really, Really Wish Some Things Were Different by Marcia Powers  (My rating: ★★★★☆)

This is an oldie, but goody. I’ve read this one before. It’s a little cheesy and all, but it’s also hopeful and got me out of the funk after the disaster ( ← ha) that was the US election.


Books I (would have but) didn’t quite finish.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte (My rating: ★★★☆☆)

I thought the concept of this book was really interesting and I could relate to a lot of the information in the beginning, but it irked me a bit that the whole book was slanted mostly towards mothers, although I think a lot of it is true for women in general. I ran out of time and had to send the book on, that’s why I didn’t finish it. Maybe I’ll pick it up again at a later time.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (My rating (so far): ★★★☆☆)

I regret not having finished it, because I did like the characters, but I received this book through the Postal Bookclub at a very busy time and it was kind of slow in the beginning, so it didn’t keep me “invested” enough to push through before I had to send it on. Also a book I might pick up again later.

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What was your favorite book of 2016?

  1. I didn’t read Gone Girl but I did see the movie..it’s really messed up and certain scenes still haunt me. I can only imagine it would be worse than reading it! I like how you divided this review up and will be putting a few of these on my reading list!

  2. Hmm. My brother passed Joyland on to me quite a while ago, and it is in my basement now. Maybe I’ll have to dig it out.

  3. Oh no, more reading inspiration! But hey, I also plan on reading more books in 2017, so it might all work out!

    I can’t say I have a real favorite, but here are some books I enjoyed in 2016:
    – David Mitchell, The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet
    – Cheryl Strayed, Wild (I still haven’t seen the movie)
    – Benedict Wells, Vom Ende der Einsamkeit
    – Doerte Hansen, Altes Land
    – Juli Zeh, Unterleuten
    I just picked up Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers at the library yesterday to entertain me while I’m waiting for other library books to become available and like it so far.

  4. I love this list of books — lots to add to my reading list! I’m so glad you loved Running: A Love Story. That has been on my list to read forever (and has actually gone on a few trips with me), but I haven’t gotten around to reading it. I only read 11 last year and it makes me sad… I need to make more time for reading!

  5. Man’s Search for Meaning is one of my all-time favorite books, I read it every few years, whenever I want the wind knocked out of me.


  6. I couldn’t make it through Man’s Search for Meaning. Just not the right time, I don’t think. It was too heavy for me!

    I am soooo excited to receive Ready Player One for Postal Book Club. I’ve been holding off reading it once I found out its one of the books making the rounds in PBC. YAY!

    I just recently finished Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and adored it so, so much. It’s definitely a slow read, but I found that it fit the pace of the novel. It’s not one of those crazy, twisty turning plot-driven books, but there was something so satisfying about taking my time and investing in this book. I hope you pick it up sometime in the future and give it another chance!

  7. My favorite book of 2016 was a non-fiction book – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I actually felt like my 2016 reading was sort of ‘meh’. There were some books I liked but between reading 12 books I own and 24 books for the read harder challenge, plus add in 2 books clubs, one that is monthly and our postal one that is every other month, and it left me feeling like I didn’t get a chance to read what I really wanted to read! So this year I am cutting back on my reading goals and I’m not doing a reading challenge like I did the last 2 years. I’m looking forward to reading whatever i want to read. I did set a goal to read 6 books I own but that’s very manageable!

  8. Gone Girl seriously had the worst characters ever, but I really enjoyed reading it & couldn’t put it down. Ready Player One is on my to-read list for this year so I’m glad you loved it! I got into Liane Moriarty last year & really enjoyed her stories.

  9. Ohhh here it is: more books on my reading list…
    Stephan King is a horror writer for me too and I would never read or watch a movie. But than maybe I should give it a try. I actually set myself a lower reading goal than books I had read last year because I know it was an exception.
    I wrote a post about my favorite books and it is fantasy heavy.
    Happy weekend

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