Happy New Year, folks!
I thought it would be fun to make a list of all the books I read in 2016 and include a short review for each one. I always love finding out what other people are reading, and maybe you do too. Anyway, here it is! I hope you enjoy it! And as always, I welcome feedback or any book recommendations you have, too, so please share in the comments!
*I've also decided to give each book a rating, 1-5. 5 meaning I loved it and it's one of my favorites, and 1 meaning I didn't really like it at all and would not recommend it.*
- The Magicians by Lev Grossman- I finished this book hoping the ending would redeem it, but it just didn't. I found out about this book because it was on a list of books to read if you loved Harry Potter, but really, this is nothing like Harry Potter. Except that the main character goes to a school to learn magic. I think the author was trying to be really clever by taking the fantasy genre and turning it on its head, so to speak, by making it darker and more "realistic," but in my opinion, this book was missing everything that makes a good fantasy book worth reading- what it means to be a good friend, self-sacrifice, fighting for what you believe in, good triumphing over evil. All of that is gone from this book. It's full of super dysfunctional characters who don't change or learn anything from the choices they make, all moral compasses are apparently forgotten at home, and I honestly couldn't take the book seriously because it really didn't seem like the author cared at all about the story or characters he was writing about, and so I really didn't either. Needless to say, I was left really disappointed and kind of disturbed. Like my soul needed to go take a shower. Rating: 1
- Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton - This is basically a book to encourage and inspire women to take joy in who they are and to embrace both the messy and the beautiful of life. The author is a fantastic writer, and the insight she shares is touching, often humorous and uplifting. I didn't agree with all of her thoughts and opinions, but I was still overall encouraged by reading this. Rating: 3
- Ross Poldark by Winston Graham- I watched the PBS show Poldark and loved it, so I thought I would see how the books were. This is the first book of, I think, 12 or so novels about this family living in England post American Revolution. I enjoyed the book and found that the show was pretty true to it. Rating: 4
- Demelza by Winston Graham- This is the second book in the Poldark series, and the same goes for this one. It's a great story, and I enjoyed reading it, but the first season of the show ends basically where this book ends, so I haven't read anything new yet. I'd like to see how I like the story without seeing it on tv first, but I think I've got a ways to go because the second season just ended. Overall, if you like period dramas, you would really like these books. Rating: 4
- Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller- One of my favorites from this year. I love Timothy Keller's incredible insight and knowledge. This book is about all the ways and reasons we make idols out of so many things other than God. It was so convicting for me and really helped me identify what I was making into an idol. You can read about that here, if you want. But he does an amazing job at explaining the gospel and illustrating how Jesus really is the only one who can truly meet the longings we have in our souls for more. Rating: 5
- Fit to Burst by Rachel Jankovic- I read this because I loved Loving the Little Years, the author's first book. I have to be honest, though, I really struggled with her tone in this one. It felt a little bit harsh and sometimes a bit judgemental. But I also recognize that I read this when Nora was still new and I was really emotional and not getting enough sleep and just overall having a hard time, and so it may just have been my own issues/insecurities playing into that because I don't doubt the writer's love for God or the truth of her insight. Even though it was hard for me to read at some points, I did gather some good wisdom and perspective on raising little ones, especially the last couple of chapters. Rating: 3
- For the Love by Jen Hatmaker- I would put this in the same category with Carry On, Warrior. I enjoyed her writing, which was both funny and deep. Sometimes it felt like she was bossing me around, and sometimes I felt like she was ranting a little bit. But overall an easy to read and encouraging book. Rating: 3
- The Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb- This is one of my husband's favorites, and that's really the reason why I read it. It's an epic fantasy novel and delves far more into this genre than I usually go, and so maybe I felt slightly intimidated? It's an intriguing story and very well written, but it didn't 100% hook me in for some reason. But if you enjoy a good fantasy read, go check out the summary and see if it tickles your fancy. Rating: 4
- Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson- This book discusses the highly relevant topics of racism and police brutality our country is struggling through right now. It is written by a man who is an NFL football player, african-american and a christian. I should say that this particular topic hits incredibly close to home for me because my husband is in law enforcement, and because of that, I've been seeking to gain a better understanding about these issues. I wanted to read the perspective of someone who was coming from a different viewpoint than me. In the wise words of Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird (one of my favorite books of all time), "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." I was also hoping to read a book that focused more on how to bring about unity and hope, and I was hoping this book would be that. It was definitely good for me to read the author's perspective, and I learned things I didn't ever consider about the struggles black americans face in our country. For that, I am thankful to have read it. However, there are viewpoints absent from this book that also deserve to be heard and considered in order to get an accurate sense of how complex these issues truly are. This is not an all-encompassing or unbiased book, but ultimately, I agree whole-heartedly with the author's conclusion that the real problem behind racism and prejudice is that we all just really need Jesus to heal our hearts. I was just disappointed because I was hoping this book would place more emphasis on unity and what we can do to all come together for good and for change, and though these topics are mentioned, it didn't seem like they were the main focus. If anyone has read a book that does this, please let me know! Rating: 3
- On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson- This book is also fantasy and technically for teens/young adults, but I love reading kids books. And I LOVED this book. It's the first of four in a series called The Wingfeather Saga, and I loved it so much that we bought all four books so that one day our girls can read it. The story is fantastic and rich, I love the author's writing (witty, snarky, clever and imaginative), and I love the themes of family and sacrifice and selflessness woven throughout it. Also, the author is a christian, so there are definite undertones of God and His love for us woven throughout the story, as well. I also think that if you read this book with your kids, there are so many great opportunities to have meaningful discussions about all of these topics. It's so, so good. You should just go read it right now. Rating: 5
- North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson- This is book two in The Wingfeather Saga and equally as fantastic. Rating: 5
- The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp: This is a daily advent devotional to get your heart and mind ready for celebrating the coming birth of Christ. I do really love Ann Voskamp and her poetic writing style. I'll be honest, sometimes I had to reread certain parts a few times to actually understand what she was trying to say, but overall I found it so encouraging and thought-provoking. I think it would be a great thing to re-read each December. Rating: 4
So, there you have it! All the books I read this year.... not as many as I had hoped to read. I still have a couple from my book list for last year that I just didn't get to. Little Women, I will read you one day!!
I would so love to know which was your favorite book that you read in 2016 or which book you are looking forward to reading this year, so please share in the comment section!!