My 6 favorite books from 2016

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I read so many great books in 2016. It was hard to choose my favorites but I managed to narrow it down to six categories. I also included many runner-ups!
1. Favorite New Series: Chief Inspector Gamache
I absolutely loved this series. The first book was a slower read and didn’t immediately grip my attention. However, every book since then has been so good! You fall in love with this small town in the middle of Canada. You want to go to the local bistro for a warm drink and delicious dinner. Each book starts with a murder but thankfully it is not gruesome. The rest of the story uncovers human nature and intentions.
An excerpt from Amazon review: Penny writes mysteries that cover a lot more than the actual crime, dealing as well with the emotions, thoughts and internal struggles that people go through… Penny’s subplots are always as interesting as her main story, and A Trick Of The Light is no exception. Penny captures readers in many ways, including with her characters and settings. And of course, a gripping mystery.
Runner-up: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency I’ve been reading this series for years and absolutely love it. It’s easy to read, light-hearted, and always leaves me feeling happy about life and people.
 
 2. Favorite Historical Fiction: The Nightingale
One of my absolute favorite books this year! I could not put this book down and read late into the night to finish it. It was such a moving story. I loved this book and can not recommend it highly enough!
An excerpt from Amazon’s review: With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.
I read this book shortly after returning to work after having Grace. I think about this book often as it really helped me to frame how I view my time. Yes, there are some days that working outside of the home is just tough but when I look at the week as a whole, I get a lot more clarity. I love my job and I love being a mom. I would recommend this book to any working mom! 

An excerpt from Amazon’s review: Instead of relying on scattered stories, time management expert Laura Vanderkam set out to add hard data to the debate. She collected hour-by-hour time logs from 1,001 days in the lives of women who make at least $100,000 a year. And she found some surprising patterns in how these women spend the 168 hours that every one of us has each week.

Overall, these women worked less and slept more than they assumed they did before they started tracking their time. They went jogging or to the gym, played with their children, scheduled date nights with their significant others, and had lunches with friends. They made time for the things that gave them pleasure and meaning, fitting the pieces together like tiles in a mosaic—without adhering to overly rigid schedules that would eliminate flexibility and spontaneity.

4. Favorite New Genre (Free Verse): Brown Girl Dreaming
I don’t read poetry but I discovered free verse this year and loved it. This story was easy to read, very moving, and beautifully written. There were several chapters that I read aloud to my husband. I really loved reading this book! It also made me realize my lack of diversity in books and authors. This is something I want to be more intentional about in the future.
Excerpt from Amazon’s review: Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.
Runner-up: Crossover
5. Favorite Memoir: Love Warrior
I love memoir writing and reading other people’s stories. This memoir was extremely vulnerable as Glennon shared her different struggles. I read the first half of this book at Barnes and Nobles. I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I checked it out of the library and finished it in a day. While my personal story is very different from Glennon, the themes of struggle, shame, freedom, and wholeness resonated deeply with me. It allowed me to pause and think about how far God has brought me and all the healing, restoration, and redemption He has done in my life.
Excerpt from Amazon’s review: Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.
Note: This book is not for everyone. The memoir that I would most highly recommend to other women would be Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. All of her writing is so good!
 
6. Unexpected Favorite: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
I loved reading this beautiful story! I had never heard of this book but it ended up being one of my favorite reads this year.
Excerpt from Amazon’s review: The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. 
What books did you love reading this past year?

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