Thursday, December 15, 2016

favorite books ~2016~



I was poking through my Goodreads shelves last night, looking at what I've read over the last twelve months. For the past two years or so I've tracked, in one way or another, the books that I've read, and I'm so grateful for the practice. There were titles I'd forgotten about, read in haste but enjoyed, others that I wish I hadn't spent quite so much time on... but am grateful for any book that holds my interest for even a small bit of time. There's always something to be learned in a book, whether as a writer or simply as a human being existing in this world.

In any case, below I've listed a few favorite books read this year.

Non Fiction 

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
by Krista Tippett
What I took away from reading this book was a desire to listen, to understand where others are coming from, and a reminder that there is always, always, common ground to be found.

“I can disagree with your opinion, it turns out, but I can’t disagree with your experience. And once I have a sense of your experience, you and I are in relationship, acknowledging the complexity in each other’s position, listening less guardedly. The difference in our opinions will probably remain intact, but it no longer defines what is possible between us.” ~K.Tippett

Killing Rage: Ending Racism
by bell hooks
Nearly a year after reading, I'm still processing. The book is two decades old, but still as relevant as ever. It was recommended to me as a place to start my adult education on racism, and I think it was a perfect read given the various storms that we're in, still in, and about to face.

“All our silences in the face of racist assault are acts of complicity.” ~b.hooks




Fiction

The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir
by Lesley Allen
I finished this just the other day, and am still thinking about Biddy. I even went back and changed my rating from a four star to a five star. The first half was difficult to get through, but the second half... it was worth it. I think many of us can relate to Biddy, who is told over and over again that she's a bloody weirdo, and so she believes it, and moves through life as such, in her own mind. And worst of all, she stays silent about the torment she's going through. Biddy Weir tugged at all of my heartstrings, as a once upon a time young girl and as a parent. And the character that comes into play in the second half... oh my word. You'll know when you meet her.

“You know, I’ve been called a bloody weirdo once or twice myself. In fact,’ she snorted, ‘I’m sure some people have called me worse. But that doesn’t mean I am one. Granted, I might be a bit different to them. Maybe I don’t look the same, or think in the same way, or dress the same,’ she waved a hand over her long jade-green and turquoise-blue velvet dress and chuckled. ‘Case in point. But it doesn’t mean I’m weird, or a bad person. And it certainly doesn’t mean I deserve to be treated badly. And you know, so what? I like it. I actually like being different, and I’ll tell you what, Biddy, I use it to my advantage. Anyway, aren’t we all just a little bit weird in our own unique way? What was it John Lennon said? “It’s weird not to be weird.” ~L. Allen

To the Bright Edge of the World
by Eowyn Ivey
This is my absolute favorite book of the year. I know it's a bit slow in the beginning, but I found the writing to be exquisite, the story engaging, and the characters complex and unique. I've been a fan of Eowyn Ivey's for some time, having loved her debut the Snow Child, and I looked forward to the release of her second novel with hope for a spectacular story. She didn't disappoint.

“There is a mythical element to our childhood, it seems, that stays with us always. When we are young, we consume the world in great gulps, and it consumes us, and everything is mysterious and alive and fills us with desire and wonder, fear, and guilt. With the passing of the years, however, those memories become distant and malleable, and we shape them into the stories of who we are. We are brave, or we are cowardly. We are loving, or we are cruel.”~E.Ivey

Abide with Me
by Elizabeth Strout
This read like a long sigh, perfect in its simplicity and depth. Elizabeth Strout is one of my favorite authors, and I savored this story of heartache, grief, family and faith.

“You just stood up to your mother.... I should think now you could take on the world.” ~E.Strout

My Name is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout
The second book by Elizabeth Strout read this year. I've read mixed reviews on this one, and it seems to be quite divisive in Strout's fans, but I adored this book.

“Do I understand that hurt my children feel? I think I do, though they might claim otherwise. But I think I know so well the pain we children clutch to our chests, how it lasts our whole lifetime, with longings so large you can't even weep. We hold it tight, we do, with each seizure of the beating heart: this is mine, this is mine, this is mine.” ~E. Strout

Wolf Winter
by Cecilia Ekbäck
Chilling, haunting, and utterly beautiful. It's a darker book than I normally enjoy... really diving into the depths of the best and worst of humanity... but it has stayed with me since I closed the book one final time.

“Late autumn this year had violence in her hair, angry crimson, orange, and yellow. The trees wrestled to free themselves of their cloaks, crumpled up their old leaves and threw them straight out into the strong wind rather than just let them fall to the ground. Dry leaves ran across the yard with the crackle of fire.” ~C.Ekbäck

The Beautiful Possible
by Amy Gottlieb
If you're looking for a sweet love story with a happy ending, this is not the book for you. If you want a complex story that shows a love triangle that is so tangled, and so interwoven with faith and passion, that spans the time from WWII forward... it is a must read. Daring and captivating, I had never read anything quite like it. I couldn't put it down.


“We are all connected in the unending chain of belief and doubt. Together we can answer each 
other's questions.” ~A.Gottlieb




Collections of Short Stories

The Shell Collector
Anthony Doerr
I was first introduced to Anthony Doerr by his novel All The Light We Cannot See. This collection of stories is written with the same beauty as his acclaimed novel. The stories are all unique, and yet all have a sense of sadness and truth.

"To consider water on any scale was to confront a boundless repetition of small events. There were the tiny wonders: rain drops, snow crystals, grains of frost aligned on a blade of grass; and there were the wonders so immense it seemed impossible to get his mind around them: global wind, oceanic currents, storms that broke like waves over whole mountain ranges." ~A. Doerr, from About Grace

Tell Me a Riddle
by Tillie Olsen
I requested this collection solely for "I Stand Here Ironing" but found all of the stories equally thoughtful, profound, and they each stirred something different within me. A classic that I will add to my shelves.

"You think because I am her mother I have a key, or that in some way you could use me as a key? She has lived for nineteen years. There is all that life that has happened outside of me, beyond me." ~T.Olsen from "I Stand Here Ironing


Children's Books

The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
Touching, tender, and real. The kids and I enjoyed reading about Ivan and his friends, and the adventure that ultimately brings them all home. 

“Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part.” ~K.Applegate

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo
Another read aloud with the kids - and I think this was all of our favorite of the year. We all laughed so hard, and quoted this book for weeks. We walked around saying "Holy unanticipated occurrences!" again and again.

“All words at all times, true or false, whispered or shouted, are clues to the workings of the human heart.” ~K.DiCamillo


What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety
by Dawn Huebner
This came highly recommended, several times over. There may be a kid in this house who needs a bit of help with anxiety, and this has worked wonders. We're only halfway through, but many of the tools (which are based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques) have been added to our toolbox and and we reference often.


Do you all have books that stand out as favorites of 2016? 
I'm always looking to add to my to read list! 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for these! I added the kids anxiety book. We struggle with it too.

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  2. I am so glad you liked Abide With Me. It's my favorite of Strout's books and I often find it's the least well known. So many marvelous titles on here. The Tippett book will echo in my head for a long time. xox

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