murder in an irish village

What I Read in 2016

You guys, 2016 was SUCH a great year for me in terms of reading! I don’t think I’ve ever read so many books in one year. I started out the year with a 45 minute commute each way (that’s one and a half hours per day), which made for some great audiobook time. While my commute is thankfully a bit shorter now at 25-30 minutes each way, I still clock quite a bit of time listening to books in the car.

Below is an alphabetized list of everything I read in 2016. The books that are *starred are ones that I highly recommend adding to your own reading lists!

7 Women by Eric Metaxas. This book was really interesting. Most of the seven women are household names, yet most people don’t actually know all that much about them beyond that. I really enjoyed learning more about these ladies. However, I had some concerns about the legitimacy of the author’s sourcing, and he was definitely biased in his writing. Read this book, certainly, but do so critically.

7 Women by Eric Metaxas Review | Trés Belle

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I wasn’t too impressed with this book, which was disappointing considering it won a Pulitzer Prize. I appreciated that it was good literature (i.e. I could tell that it is the type of book I would have read in high school English class), but it was just soooo long in places. Not a page turner.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Book Review | Trés Belle

*An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. This was a book club book and not one I would have picked out myself, but I absolutely loved it! Couldn’t put it down. It is the first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy, and I have been on the waitlist for the second book at my local library for monthssssss 😦 😦 #firstworldproblems.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir Book Review | Trés Belle

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. This book was just okay. It was an easy and relatively enjoyable fiction read, but not something I was telling everyone else to go check out at the library.

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos Book Review | Trés Belle

Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster. I had seen rave reviews for this book, but the humor just wasn’t my thing (which surprised me, since I was a HUGE fan of the long, run on sentence title). It was okay, but not pee-in-your-pants funny. And quite frankly, life is too short for anything less.

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster Book Review | Trés Belle

*Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Y’all will notice as you continue down my list that I’m a big fan of young adult fiction. This book was recommended by a friend on Instagram, and I absolutely adored it! Couldn’t put it down.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby Book Review | Trés Belle

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist. I don’t really know how to describe this book. It’s part cookbook, part memoir, part entertaining advice. I really love how Shauna invites people into the realness of her ordinary home and makes memories around the table. And, I can vouch for the recipes: My friend Traci made some of them, and they were delicious! Mac-and-cheese cups, anyone?

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist Book Review | Trés Belle

*Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. This book is such a fascinating peek into the mind of someone living with schizophrenia. Please read it!

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman Book Review | Trés Belle

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi. This book explores the growing gap between the wealthy and poor in America and how injustices in the criminal justice system relate to both groups. It’s really good, but also heavy on legalistic and academic language. In other words: It’s really great and important information, but a bit boring at times.

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi Book Review | Trés Belle

*Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. If you like young adult fiction (you know, the usual love story, friendship issues, etc.) go ahead and sign yourself up for this one.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy Book Review | Trés Belle

*Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James. Yes, this is indeed the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey. Hear me out on this one, you guys. The plot drew me in like crazy! Yes, the plot of all things! It was a major page turner. I am super excited for the movie to come out soon! For those who are a bit shy or nervous about the sex in the book, please know that there was nothing in this series that shocked me or that I had never heard of before.

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James Book Review | Trés Belle

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James. Such a let down (isn’t the third book in a trilogy always that way?). The ending was so cheesy it was almost painful. Nothing else to say.

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James Book Review | Trés Belle

*The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I read this book when Wes and I first started dating and wasn’t that impressed. However, Wes and I listened to it together on a road trip this year and loved it! It was a fun activity to do together, and it has definitely revolutionized the way we communicate. I think it is a much more meaningful read once you are several years into a relationship with someone and know their idiosyncrasies pretty well.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman Book Review | Trés Belle

*The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Like everyone else in the world, I love love loved The Girl on the Train. I had to be careful not to listen to it at night if I was alone, because it did scare me a bit (I am scared easily, so normal people may not have this problem). And the movie was amazing as well!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Book Review | Trés Belle

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. This was a pleasant enough fiction read, but nothing that made me say “wow.” There is a surprising twist at the end, though, which is always fun.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica Book Review | Trés Belle

*Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Okay, if you’ve never read this book, seriously, where have you been?? I first read this back in fourth grade, which is when my complete obsession with all things Harry Potter began. When we found ourselves without a book assignment for the month of October, my book club decided to re-read this classic from our childhood. I hadn’t read it in so long! It made me want to read the entire series all over again.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling Book Review | Trés Belle

*The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I loved the suspense in this book! I’ve read another of Liane’s books (What Alice Forgot) and liked this one a great deal more. Cecelia’s character made me laugh out loud!

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty Book Review | Trés Belle

I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam. I actually wrote a review of this book on the blog awhile back…check it out for my thoughts!

Book Review: "I Know How She Does It" by Laura Vanderkam | Très Belle

*In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I’ve had to read a lot about nutrition over the past two years due to some health issues, and this is by far one of my favorite reads. It is highly educational, motivational, and inspiring. I love that it leaves you feeling calm and reassured rather than anxious and thinking about how there is no way you can follow all these rules like so many other dietary books/articles.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan Book Review | Trés Belle

*Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. If there is just one book on this list that you pick to read this year, please let this be the one! It is tied for my favorite book ever along with 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Reading this book feels like relaxing after a particularly tense day at work. Glennon makes you feel understood and important. I just feel like she gets life. Her descriptions of her past addictions are so raw and truthful, and I just love her for her realness.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton Book Review | Trés Belle

*Make It Happen by Lara Casey. This personal improvement book, combined with Lara Casey’s PowerSheets, completely changed my life over the past two years! Please know that this is not a passive read. In order to really get something out of it, you need to actually do the exercises.

Make It Happen by Lara Casey Book Review | Trés Belle

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor. This book was delightful! I had no idea that a murder mystery could be so charming. The book takes place in a small Irish town, and the characters were so adorable, I just wanted to squeeze all of them.

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O'Connor Book Review | Trés Belle

The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith. This is a decorating book that is about having gratitude for what you have right in front of you. Another major theme is working to create a home that feels like home and not a staged snapshot from a Pottery Barn catalog. The message is quite freeing and has definitely influenced my decorating as I have settled into a new home!

The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith Book Review | Trés Belle

*Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. I recommend this book not because I agree with everything in it, but because it is very thought provoking! I was chewing it over in my head for weeks after finishing it.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt Book Review | Trés Belle

*The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Maybe it’s because of my real life experience working with people with autism, but this book had me in stitches. I got several weird looks from other drivers as I was crying laughing at stoplights. A must read!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Book Review | Trés Belle

The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler. This book is a compilation of advice from unorthodox sources, and it does have some good information…but it just couldn’t hold my attention. I was constantly having to rewind and replay because my attention had drifted again. Maybe I would have been more invested in it if I actually had children myself?

The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler Book Review | Trés Belle

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman. There were a few paragraphs in this book that had me vigorously nodding my head and screaming, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” in my head, but the rest of it was a little repetitive and, to be honest, a bit dull to me. I’ll let you decide whether you want to muddle through for those little nuggets of wisdom about finding contentment in the ordinary.

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman Book Review | Trés Belle

The Sound of Glass by Karen White. This was a book club read, and I really enjoyed it! There’s some mystery, some love, and a whole lot of low country, which of course I adore.

The Sound of Glass by Karen White Book Review | Trés Belle

*Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is one of the BEST books I have ever read. It was horrific and inspiring and had me completely awestruck. The whole time I was reading it, I kept turning to Wes and asking how these things could have possibly happened in real life. Please, please, please read it if you haven’t!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand Book Review | Trés Belle

*We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I loved this book so much that I chose it as my book club pick for the year. There were some mixed reviews amongst my fellow book clubbers–some liked it, others didn’t. It’s a quick read and very mysterious. That’s all I’m going to say, because I don’t want to ruin it!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Book Review | Trés Belle

*When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. This book is so good! It’s about a neurosurgeon’s ponderings on the meaning of life as well as his experiences being a patient with terminal cancer. A really fascinating read by a physician who truly and deeply cares about people. You’ll especially love this if you’ve ever worked in oncology or a similar field.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi Book Review | Trés Belle

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I was disappointed by this book after reading rave reviews and finding it just mediocre. That’s all I have to say about that.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple Book Review | Trés Belle

Okay, now tell me: What should I read in 2017? Any must-read books to add to my list?

xoxo Laura