Sunday, January 1, 2017

Books I Read in 2016

Hello! I'm here to share my bookish thoughts from 2016.

My favorite books read in 2016 were:

  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
    • Most unusual plot EVER but wonderfully written characters and series of events.  I still miss the characters.  I can almost hear the piano playing.
  • Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
    • Bert did not sleep well while I was reading this because I stayed up late shaking with laughter and laughing into my pillow.  It was so funny.  It's a retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.  I want to re-read it/own it/give it to everyone I know.
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
    • You figure out the plot as you go, but there is a real sense of danger and awareness of abundance that I loved about it.
  • The Lake House by Kate Morton
    • Deep spiraling family mystery set in an old English house. What's not to love?
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
    • I will forever be laughing about the horse story.  And appreciating what he said about paying attention to the beauty of water and the faces of people you love.  This book made a mark on me.
  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
    • Probably the most likeable characters (who were certainly not perfect people) that I will read all year.  Major Pettigrew had endeared himself to me by the end of the first chapter and the plot moved nice and quick.  It was not boring!
  • Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
    • Classic adventure.  Stands alone (not as a part of a series but has great depth of character, and an amazing setting.  I love the scene where the mom is walking through the muddy field and her boots keep getting stuck in the mud.

Here is my comprehensive list of books read in 2016:

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
2. Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
4. L'Abri by Edith Schaeffer
5. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien
6. Anne of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables #6) by L.M. Montgomery
7. Spurgeon's Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression by Zack Eswine
8. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
9. A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2) by Louise Penny
10. The Lake House by Kate Morton
11. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
12. Bossypants by Tina Fey
13. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
14. West Wind by Mary Oliver
15. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
16. The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings #2) by J.R.R. Tolkien
17. One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters #1) by Rita Williams-Garcia
18. The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings #3) by J.R.R. Tolkien
19. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
20. The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #3) by Louise Penny
21. A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #4) by Louise Penny
22. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
23. Hood (King Raven #1) by Stephen R. Lawhead
24. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
25. Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey #1) by Deanna Raybourn
26. Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth
27. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
28. Gilead (Gilead #1) by Marilynne Robinson
29. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany
30. True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney
31. The Royal We by Heather Cocks
32. Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
33. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
34. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
35. Roomies by Sara Zarr
36. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace
37. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
38. The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi
39. The Green Ember (The Green Ember #1) by S.D. Smith
40. The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy #3) by Shannon Hale
41. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley
42. The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #5) by Louise Penny
43. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman
44. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
45. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
46. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
47. The Legend of Sam Miracle (Outlaws of Time #1) by N.D. Wilson
48. Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
49. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
50. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
51. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katrina Bivald
52. Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6) by Louise Penny

PHEW! That was a lot to type out.  I gave ratings and brief reviews on each of these books on my site, which was a good discipline for me, and might be helpful to view if you want more information on these titles.  You can find me under the name of Daniel and Rebekah Eikum on goodreads.  It's unfortunate that my username can't just be Beki, but alas, it's all permanently linked to and such things can't be changed.

  • I re-read The Lord of the Rings series this year for the first time, and it was harder than I remembered it being in high school.  Those books are all-encompassing for the imagination and it takes some effort to stick with the detailed sword names and genealogy lines.  But there are some epic moments and really fantastic characters.  I'm glad I did it, and maybe I'll try again in 10 years when my brain isn't in toddler-raising mode and has more capacity?
  • I finished my Harry Potter re-read this year. I have lots of thoughts. I wrote something about it and maybe I'll share that sometime. 
  • I read eight books this year that are the #1 book in a series. It was unintentional. Some of the series I do not plan to continue: King Raven, Flavia de Luce, Gilead.  Some I WILL definitely read more: Lunar Chronicles, Outlaws of Time).
  • 20 of my 52 books were audiobooks. Two of my all-time favorites were audiobooks, in fact.  Station Eleven and The Lake House.  I loved the English Cornwall accents on the audio for The Lake House. But I want to re-read Station Eleven so I can experience it with my eyes instead of ears.  So fascinating!
  • I've read a lot this year.  More than past years.  I think it's because I've been learning to relish books more than TV.  I have always loved TV, but my husband doesn't love it as much as I do.  Or rather, it makes him more tired instead of more awake.  I used to just stay up late and "watch one more show."  But I realized that was not good for my marriage or good for my unending desire for more TV.  I'm learning the joy of finishing a book and having something in my brain that sticks longer than the plot of the next episode.  Books are not the end-all of my life, but there is something special about the written word.
  • My favorite podcast this year was (not shockingly) What Should I Read Next? by Anne Bogel
  • Louise Penny!  The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books have been a wonderful part of my year, but I didn't feel like I could put a certain one as a favorite for the year.  They are all interconnected and build upon each other.  I really enjoy her words about regular everyday things like weather and food and personality, and I'm aware on how boring that sounds.  But they aren't boring.  They're thoughtful and smart and quirky and honest.  And now I NEED to go visit Quebec.  I've also had the unusual pleasure of reading each book at the same time of year that it's set in (ie: read the Cruelest Month in the month of April, and it's about the month of April) which has been so fun.  Not many books can fully capture what a frigid winter season feels like, but these ones do.  Sigh.  If only I had a chocolate croissant and mug of steaming coffee in an armchair next to a roaring fire...that's the impact of Louise Penny.
  • Ben-Hur was probably my most ambitious read of the year because the language is old and takes some getting used to.  It helped to listen to part of it on audiobook.  Overall, I really, really liked it.  It was exciting to follow an unfamiliar story through the familiar time of Christ.  The details about the feast at Ben-Hur's house and the wise men meeting for Jesus's birth were super neat. The betrayals and battles with leprosy were intense.  I saw the recent movie remake and it did the chariot scenes really well, but the ending was all wrong from the book.  I would recommend this book to anyone feeling up for the challenge.  It was good.

Some of the best books read this year with my kids were:

With Gwen (5 years old):
  • The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
  • My Father's Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Stories From Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson
  • Bink and Gollie by Kate Dicamillo
  • The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
  • The Mercy Watson series by Kate Dicamillo
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (Bert read with Gwen)
  • Stuart Little by E.B. White (Bert read with Gwen)
  • The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgiesh
  • some Magic Treehouse series
  • some Cam Jensen series
  • some Boxcar Children series
  • some A to Z Mysteries series

With Simon (2-3 years old):
  • Curious George stories in the style of H.A. Rey
  • Laura Numeroff books
    • What Mommies/Daddies do best
    • What Grandmas/Grandpas do best
    • What Aunts/Uncles do best
    • When You Give a Mouse a Cookie
    • When You Take a Mouse to School
  • Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems
  • Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer
  • Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems
    • There's a Bird on Your Head
  • Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • Edwina: The Dinosaur who didn't know she was Extinct by Mo Willems... seeing a Mo Willems theme here!?!

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