What a great year of reading it has been! Though I know I will read more books this month, especially since I am recovering from surgery, I wanted to go ahead and share the ten best books I read in 2016. (I rated each book 5 stars.) If you are looking for great books for you or to give as a gift, this list is an excellent place to start.
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Lilac Girls: I listened to the book's audio version and I haven't stopped talking about it since I finished it. The book spans 30 years years starting at the brink of World War II and is told from three different perspectives – a French American Woman, a Polish woman who is imprisoned at Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women, and a German woman / doctor at the camp. Two of the three characters are based on actual people and as soon as I finished the book, I dived into learning more about them. If you have never listened to an audio book, I implore that you try it with this book, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction. The three narrators were such gifted actresses and I think the audio version is why I loved this book so much.
The Kitchen House: A Novel: Quite possibly, one of my new favorite books of all time, if you buy one book from this list, this is the one to buy. Absolutely exquisite, haunting, wonderful, cruel story about an indentured servant and a slave in the late 1700s/early 1800s. I also thoroughly enjoyed the sequel Glory Over Everything.
The Forgetting Time: I devoured this book in a few days and couldn't stop thinking about it. The Forgetting Time is about a single mother Janie whose 4-year-old son has horrific episodes, screaming for his “other mama”, fearing water and talking of guns. After his school encourages a psychiatric evaluation, Janie meets Jerome Anderson, a professor of psychology who is renowned for his work researching the stories of children who remembered past lives. I don't want to give too much away, but the journey they go on to help Noah and find peace is an incredible page-turner.
Homegoing: This book is a stunning debut by Yaa Gyasi and stays with you long after you finish it. It commences with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. The book then follows the sisters' lineage, with generations of children's stories. Every chapter is another generation, which I thought could never work, but it does and is powerful, heartbreaking and unforgettable. A must-read book.
Dark Matter: This book is totally NOT a book I would normally pick up, but after repeatedly seeing people raving about it, I decided to read it. (It was a Book of the Month select a few months ago.) I am SO glad that I read it. I devoured it, reading it in 2 days. A science-fiction story about what life would look like if you had went a different path. I can't do it justice, but trust me, this is a book you want to read.
Maude: I read this on my kindle it in a day and a half and couldn't stop thinking about Maude, a woman who lived from the late 1800s through the 60s. The book was written by Maude's granddaughter, who heard stories of Maude's life throughout her childhood. Her life was one of incredible loss, hard work and change (ie: electricity, running water, cars, the Great Depression, WWI and WWII) and they way she persevered, loved the Lord and mothered is incredibly fascinating. If you like memoirs or historical fiction, you will love this book. It reminded me a bit of The Kitchen House in the way I connected with Maude and because it covered such a long span of years (though a different period and topic.) Right now it is just $2.99 on Kindle. I urge you to download this book. You won't regret it.
A Man Called Ove: A Novel: I adored this book – truly one of my new favorites. It is about an old man who on the exterior is a curmudgeon, but beyond that exterior has an incredible story. I don’t want to share to much, but trust me when I say, if you like fiction, you must read this book.
Salt to the Sea: Told in alternating points of view, this fascinating historical fiction book is about the real-life WWII sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff—the greatest maritime disaster in history. I have read a lot of books that took place during this period and couldn't believe I have never heard of this tragedy. The story is captivating from beginning til end.
I Let You Go: Of all the thrillers I read this year, I Let You Go was my favorite. It was phenomenal. I could not put it down. I don't want to give too much away (the twists are so good), but if you liked Gone Girl, Girl on the Train or The Good Girl, you will love this book.
Love Warrior: Glennon Melton Doyle's new memoir and Oprah's 2016 book club select does not disappoint. Glennon shares her heart-wrenching story of bulimia, drug addiction and abortion all before getting married in her 20s. She then turns her life around, gets married and becomes a mother of three. With three young children, her marriage unravels when she learns of her husband's multiple affairs throughout their marriage. I read Love Warrior in 24 hours and was blown away by Glennon's vulnerability.
For more book reviews, check out my monthly reads.
Books I read in November
Books I read in October
Books I read in September
Books I read in August
Books I read in July
Books I read in June
Books I read in May
Books I read in April
Books I read in February and March
Books I read in January
For inspiring journaling books to start in the new year, check out this list.