This year I went listless, because last year I felt a bit of failure for not tackling the entire list I set out to read. Truth be told, I didn’t pick up even one of the books from the 2015 list that remained this year. Maybe next year. Nevertheless, nobody needs to feel failure as it relates to reading books. Non-affiliate links are included for each book listed.
Top 5 Books from 2016:
“Rising Strong” by Brene Brown
It’s not a secret that I deeply admire Brown’s work. This addition did not disappoint. Life changing seems dramatic, but this book is. I’ve learned so much about living my struggles and telling my story. It also cultivated one of my greatest lessons of the year, that not every opinion about me counts. Unless you have skin in the game with me, I will be very careful to take your thoughts of me to heart.
“The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams
Two spiritual gurus come together for an 80th birthday celebration and you get to join them. They reminded me that joy can be found in the midst of suffering. That the two are not mutually exclusive. In the midst of a beautifully narrated story, applicable tools are highlighted and explained. I’m implementing several of them into daily practice in 2017.
“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
This book was hard to get into and I can see how some find it difficult to follow. However, Doerr does a magnificent job of weaving together the lives of the oppressed and oppressors during WWII and you come to learn that sometimes they are one in the same. Beautifully written and I look forward to reading it again some day.
“Love Warrior: A Memoir” by Glennon Doyle Melton
I had no plans of reading this book about marriage, but got a copy when I saw Melton speak. First, “a book about marriage” is a misrepresentation of the power and scope of this memoir. Second, I read it again when I was done, because I felt like I had gulped it down so quickly I missed some of its goodness. If you have ever faced your demons and survived or simply love a story of redemption, this is one to read.
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
A friend highly recommended this and I picked it up not having any idea what it was about. Completely non-fiction, but a story nonetheless it is the biographical tale of the unknowing donor to science of the HeLa cells. It gave me pause in thinking about where my personhood ends and the greater good begins as well as how profits are not always distributed to all contributing parties.
Because I’m a cheater and love to read cookbooks like novels:
“Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2” by Editors at America’s Test Kitchen
My mother-in-law got me this for Christmas last year and it could not have been more perfect. So much deliciousness is coming out of my Crockpot as a result. In addition to great tasting and 15 minutes or less of prep recipes, the book includes good tips and techniques. If you are looking for dumping ingredients in and letting it go all day, this isn’t the book for you. Many of the recipes have shorter cook times and some prep. It’s a fall/winter staple at our house.
“Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal“ by Jenny Rosenstrach
I loved Rosenstrach’s first book “Dinner: A Love Story” for its honesty about the difficulties of feeding small children. This follow-up is a great resource to help you get started in more home cooking and less cereal and takeout. From how to plan the week and grocery shop to tips for getting it on the table in a timely fashion after a day of work. We have all loved most of the recipes in this book and my kids are the biggest critics in our house. She also inspired me to keep a notebook this year of every night’s dinner and let the family grade it… we might as well eat more of what everybody likes.
Books I recommend that didn’t make my Top 5:
“10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story” by Dan Harris – If you work in a highly competitive industry, I highly recommend this one.
“Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer” by Heather Lende – She tells stories of humanity in a beautifully simple way.
“The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” by Amy Reichert – I loved that this was a story set in Milwaukee.
“Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes – Only because I already raved about it last year and then re-read it this year. Highly recommend the audio version that Rhimes reads herself.
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling – I’ll save all my excuses as I hear you gasp that I haven’t read this before. Bigs and I are reading the whole series together and it’s awesome.
“The Happiness Project: Or, Why I spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean my Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun” by Gretchen Rubin – Accessible, actionable, and a good read.
“The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion – Cute story, but didn’t make me want to read the next one in the series.
Books that either weren’t for me or I wouldn’t recommend:
“One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories” by B.J. Novak – Way too hyped and contrived for me.
“Gray Mountain” by John Grisham – I think he may be paying someone else to write books for him…
“All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found” by Philip Connors – I conceptually liked this book and it was very well written, but it got way too dark for me.
“The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life” by Francine Jay – Don’t bother bringing this one into your house unless you really want to be a minimalist, which I realized I’m not nor will ever be… too many books.
“I Want my Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting” by Karen Alpert – It didn’t tickle my funny bone.
“Five Good Minutes at Work” by Jeffrey and Millstine Brantley – Nothing memorable about this book. If you are interested in learning the basics of meditation, I’d recommend Dan Harris’s book listed above.