2016 Was A Weird Reading Year

Another year, another bunch of books!  Let's talk about the favorites from 2016, shall we?  Unlike publishers or crazy book blogs, I am not constrained to what was published this year.  No, this is a list of the favorite books that I've personally read this year.

My reading was kind of all over the place in 2016, partially because I unofficially decided somewhere along the way to try reading some books that I normally would not pick up, especially in fiction.  I'm not sure it was a success.  While I enjoyed exploring a little, it left me with less books that I am actually comfortable recommending, and definitely less on the favorites list.

A Quick Side Tangent On Books And Politics

(You may skip this section if we are not of the same political persuasion, and it won't hurt my feelings! *wink*)

Let me just go on a little side-tangent real quick, because if there is one thing I've learned this year through all my book exploring, it's that if you are going to be a responsible reader, you have to go into each book looking for the worldview that is being communicated through that book.  I was shocked at how many of the more current general fiction books that I picked up insisted upon including subtle political or moral statements - and if I wasn't looking for them, I would have totally missed them, or been influenced by them without realizing it.

I think in 2016 there was a lot of backlash related to how biased the media generally is toward a certain political viewpoint.  For me personally, I realized how biased a lot of the general fiction that so many people in this country are reading is too - but the trick about fiction is that you usually don't notice it without looking for it.  Most people read fiction to relax and their guard is down.  It was all actually a little scary and discouraging to me.

A really good example is the way abortion is addressed in books these days.  You know I am strongly pro-life and have started volunteering at a pregnancy center, so I especially noticed this in my 2016 reading.  I was surprised at how it some of these more liberal authors can't seem to help themselves when it comes to supporting abortion.  The plot demands that the character keep their baby, and yet the author insists on making the character reference abortion as if that is what they should have done, but you know, "it was too late".  Why can't they just leave that out altogether?  Why do these authors have to try to subtly foist their own political viewpoint on us, as if a character choosing not to have an abortion is a moral choice the author doesn't agree with, so some sort of disclaimer is needed? I abandoned several books this year for this reason.

And book podcasts!  I tried listening to several different book podcasts this year, but I've abandoned almost all of them because I can't stand how they impose their own political viewpoints upon their listeners (some more obviously than others).  I basically can't even trust their recommendations anymore.  Some of these hosts even describe books that should be mostly neutral in political terms but they impose their own controversial viewpoints onto the book when they talk about them, and I'm just sick of it.  They do realize that there is another half of the country that doesn't necessarily share their political persuasion, right?  I'm looking at you, Book Riot.

On To The Books

So yes, 2016 was kind of a black hole of reading for me, I abandoned almost as many books as I finished, and I don't have a lot of great ones to recommend from my little reading experiment.  I've got eight that stood out to me, and as for 2017...I think I'm going to stick closer to authors I already like or classics.  You can't really go wrong that way.

So here we go, in no particular order.  If you do end up picking one of these up, please read my full reviews on Goodreads (the titles link to my reviews) for a more detailed breakdown of some of the content that may have required more commentary.

I'm Happy For You (Sort Of...Not Really) By Kay Wills Wyma - This was probably my #1 favorite of the books I read this year.  I read it at just the right time and got so much out of this book, and it really made me rethink ways that I am still comparing too much on social media.  I thought I was getting better at not comparing so much (and I have improved), but this book opened my eyes even more to the kind of person I want to be.  I've been telling a lot of my friends and family about it because it was so good.  I highly recommend it.

The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker - The disclaimer is that this book does have some profanity and taking Jesus's name in vain, which I hate.  But other than that, I really liked this one.  The whole premise of the book is that the Earth has started a "slowing" of it's rotation...which lengthens the days and wreaks all kinds of havoc.  Obviously not biblically-based since we know this is not how the world will end - this book is purely secular.  But the underlying theme is one of a coming-of-age story, and I've just kind of realized that I am a sucker for a coming-of-age story.  Something about it resonated with me, and the overall plot of the earth slowing was just so interesting.  I think that's the science nerd in me coming out.

Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness by Susannah Cahalan - Did any of you ever watch Diagnosis: Mystery when it was on TLC?  I LOVED that show, and this is basically that show in book form.  A lady starts to go crazy and they are trying to figure out why.  It's a true story that's written more like a novel, and I listened to it on audio.  It was really fascinating.  Some language in this one too.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty - Some language and the Lord's name in vain in this one too, and I hated how it included the "clump of tissue" myth when it comes to unborn children.  So I hesitate to say I "recommend" this one.  I include it here because I have never gotten so much out of a fictional story and it really made me think about where I spend my time and energy.  If you have ever felt like you can't relate to people in other stages of life or wondered what your ten-years-younger self would think about the you of today, you might get something out of this book too (but please read my disclaimers first).

Adam And Eve After The Pill: Paradoxes Of The Sexual Revolution by Mary Eberstadt - I picked this book up because ever since I quit the pill all those years ago, I have been interested in the effects birth control (and the sexual revolution) has had on society.  This book was fascinating.  It's published by a Catholic publisher, but the book itself isn't geared toward Catholics but toward anyone who is interested in this topic.  I had heard a lot of the data before, but the author had so many insights into our current culture.  I generally think we need to think a bit more deeply about what we are doing to ourselves in this department, and I highly recommend this one.

Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell - I just really like Mitchell's historical fiction - I feel like it's usually really well researched, and I generally like her characters.  This wasn't my favorite of hers because I felt like it took about a quarter of the book to get into it, but I still enjoyed it.  And the short story you can get if you sign up for her newsletter relates to this story and was so fun!

Larger Than Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall - I wrote a full review on this book a couple months ago, so I won't go into too much detail here, but I really liked this one.  It's a middle-grade novel, but I enjoyed it as an adult.  It's a quick read, and the characters have stuck with me.

So what did you read in 2016 that stood out?  Do you keep an eye out for the different worldviews in your fiction?

I hope you had a more joyous reading year than me.  Here's to 2017!
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Bekah said...

I read 60 books last year, which may be a life record for me! WHEW! Letters to My Daughters by Barbara Rainey was one of my all-time faves. I recommended it heartily to any woman who is married, will be married, or thinks she'd like to be married someday. Colors of Goodbye by September Vaudrey sent me sobbing. It's the true story of her daughter's death and their family's journey of grief and faith. The Temple and the Tabernacle by J. Daniel Hays taught me a TON about God's dwelling places, both in people and buildings. Next Door as it is in Heaven transformed my thoughts on interacting with my immediate geographical community and living smaller, and An Unexplainable Life was my favorite Bible study. I had a healthy dose of fiction and fell in love with several series along the way, but these were my favorites.

Heather said...

I actually picked up "What Alice Forgot" after reading your review (GoodReads, I think?). Anyway, I enjoyed it despite the language. Shortly after reading it, my neighbor had a yard sale and she was selling a whole stack of Liane Moriarty books. I think she be the kind of author I try one of her books once a year or so.

Alot of my blogging friends rave about Siri Mitchell, so one of these days I need to read some of her books!

Michelle said...

I read Brain on Fire last year too, and I LOVED it. I read it in one day because I couldn't put it down. I get a little nervous now every time I get a headache ;)

Amanda @ Anchored to Sunshine said...

I randomly loved What Alice Forgot as well! I love her as an author, but this book was very different. But different in such a great way!

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness I wish I enjoyed reading - these books all look like something I would love. Especially "I'm Happy For You (Sort Of...Not Really)" I've been stuck in this love/hate relationship with social media and I think this is something that could totally resonate with me. Maybe I should give reading another try ;-) where do you find the time mama?!

Whitney @ Journey Mercies said...

Such a great list - and your comment about Book Riot made me laugh. :) I should probably read the book on the sexual revolution, as reproduction is a big part of my work with teens - I probably lean a bit more 'liberal' than you, but it's always good to get different perspectives, right? :)

Callie said...

Wow, that's great! I read Letters To My Daughters too! It was really good, you're right, it would make a beautiful gift book! Next Door As It Is In Heaven sounds right up my alley, I may check that out!

Callie said...

I do think Moriarty is a really good writer! I am praying for her to come to know the Lord, haha! She really knows how to get you thinking deeper through her stories. And yes, try Siri Mitchell! I enjoyed like a Flower In Bloom, and She Walks In Beauty.

Callie said...

Ha, I totally relate! I used to feel that way after watching Mystery Diagnosis, and the book revived my hypochondriac side. ;-)

Callie said...

I really did like that book a lot!

Callie said...

Yes, pick it up! I got so much out of that book. And as for finding the time...mostly during nap time or after the kiddos go to bed! Derek and I usually read for a half hour or so before we turn out the light. :-)

Callie said...

Yes, pick it up! I'd be curious to hear what you think. She brought up so many points that I had never even considered before.

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