Here’s my final book report for the year: what I read in December and my favourite reads across the whole year…
2016 Favourite Reads
Good bye 2016, hello 2017! Amidst the ups and downs of the year that’s been, a major personal highlight was all the reading I managed to squeeze into 2016. I love to read and have always read a lot, but this year I made an extra effort to always have a book on the go and, instead of automatically turning to social media, to use the quiet moments amidst a busy day to read a few pages.
I think I did most of my reading during my daily commute, and another good chunk while travelling. My dream pre-bed ritual involves half an hour or more of leisurely reading, though that actually happened very rarely this year (why is it so hard to get oneself to bed at a reasonable hour?).
The stand out book for me in 2016 was ‘When Breath Becomes Air‘ by Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon who wrote the memoir as he battled stage 4 lung cancer. I’m not sure how to describe it, except to say that it was powerfully moving and beautifully written, unforgettable in many ways. I sobbed through the final chapter, written by his wife Lucy, and will certainly reread it again in 2017.
My other top non-fiction reads (in no particular order):
Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife by Ruth Tucker: A powerful and shocking story about domestic violence – in the author’s marriage, but also in the wider church.
The Triple Package: What Really Determines Success by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld: A fascinating read on the three common traits among America’s most successful minority groups: a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control.
Smarter, Better, Faster: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg: Hugely practical and an absolute pleasure to read – which, let’s admit, cannot be said of all social sciency / self help type books!
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller: My favourite Christian read in 2016, and most likely the best book I’ve read on prayer.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson: An epic exploration of a fascinating time in American history, told through the eyes of three different people. Wilkerson’s level of research and detail in this book is amazing.
I also read a number of stand-out fiction books this year, again in no particular order:
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes: A rare venture for me into sci-fi territory, but what a great read! Incredibly thought-provoking on how we, as a society, treat those who are different.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd: Another insightful (and at times, horrifying!) peek into American history, this novel is a fictionalised account of two young girls: a young white girl and her young black slave.
We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler: I thought the premise of this novel was very clever. Don’t google it, just read the book!
The Laura Ingalls Wilder ‘Little House’ series by Laura Ingalls Wilder: There is something incredibly soothing about these classic books, even rereading them now as an adult. My hot tip – dig out some of your childhood favourites in 2017.
If you’re after further holiday reading ideas, you can find the rest of my 2016 reading list here. Now, what should I read in 2017?