30 Dec
2016
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Favorite Books of 2016

I’m a bibliophile. I have a rotating stack of books on my bedside table, a never-ending list of books on hold at the public library and keep track of the books I read each year. This year I read 60 books, not including the countless books read to and with children. What follows are my favorite books from 2016:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is not only a favorite book from this year but one I’ll be talking about and sharing for years to come. It’s a story of meeting people where they are, acceptance and how judgement can lead you far from the truth of a situation. I cried, and I haven’t loved characters like that in quite a few reads. The characters felt very real and the emotions raw. You won’t regret choosing this one.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Put this author on your go-to list. She has yet to disappoint. This book takes place during WWII, which happens to be one of my favorite settings for books. It’s a story of promised salvation, unlikely unions and tragic consequences. It’s told from alternating points of view which is a writing style I enjoy. It’s a young adult book, so it’s a quick read.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Larson is known for his narrative nonfiction. Dead Wake is set in WWI and is the in-depth story of the disastrous sinking of the Lusitania. I only knew of the Lusitania as a few sentences in a long-forgotten history text book. I found the dichotomy of Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson to be fascinating, with one bent on having the United States enter WWI and the other hindered by the loss of his wife and new love on the horizon. I met and heard Larson speak in April. It was interesting to hear how he takes his ideas for nonfiction and generates them into a work that is engaging while also educational.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

This is a collection of short stories from the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and Winter). I enjoyed the background stories on characters from the series, some major players, others not. Meyer is a young adult author. I read quite a bit of YA because I have children who read YA but mostly because I enjoy the genre. The Lunar Chronicles are an imaginative twist on fairy tales with a science fiction twist. She’s a seamless storyteller with fresh plots and intriguing characters. I suggest starting with Cinder and working through the Lunar Chronicles before tackling Stars Above.

Side note: After you read the Lunar Chronicles and enjoy them as much as I did, read Meyer’s Heartless which is a twist on Alice in Wonderland. No book, in recent memory, has made me quite as angry as this one, even if I should have seen the ending coming. At one point, I closed the book and contemplated throwing it. Big props to Meyer for drumming some seriously strong emotions from at least one read.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

This book won’t ever be one of the top books I recommend to people and is in jeopardy of becoming a book I vaguely remember reading, but it was one of the more unique books I read in 2016. The book deals with reincarnation and a mother’s journey to help her young son. The book is slow in sections but has an interesting twist that will keep readers motivated. I enjoy works of fiction that have me researching topics in conjunction with the book. There are studies purported in the book from cultures across the globe dealing with reincarnation, many that were new to me. I researched a few of those cultural beliefs and find it fascinating how different people can be in their belief systems yet how very similar we all are at the core of our humanity.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne

Technically this selection is a script for a play and dubbed the eighth installment in the Harry Potter series. The story is set 19 years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It seems Harry’s past refuses to let him be and now one of his children, Albus, must deal with what it means to be the son of Harry Potter. Script reading as opposed to novel reading takes getting used to and may take readers longer to become invested in the story. Once I was used to the format of the story, I had a difficult time putting the book down. The underlying Potter theme of love conquering all is still present in the story as is the importance of friends. I do have lots of questions about characters in the series and how they are 19 years later and more importantly where they are during this story. Make peace with the story being about Harry and one of his children. Potter fans that I talked with either enjoyed this installment, like me, or give it a solid one-star rating. If you have a love affair with all things Potter, it’s worth a read.

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