What are you reading these days? I've been reading a lot more non-fiction lately, and I kind of love it. It was one of my reading resolutions for the year to read more non-fiction, and I'm happy that I'm at least off to a good start! Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to read next, so I thought I would share my top 10 books that I read in 2016. The first four are the books I gave 5 stars to last year (I am extremely stingy on handing out that last star!), and the other six are the books that I found I enjoyed reading the most. I didn't pick books that were the most literary or well-written; these are just the 10 books that I really, really enjoyed reading, and I think you might, too.
Station Eleven // The library classified this as science fiction (something I never read), but I heard rave reviews of this book so decided to give it a try. To be completely honest, I kept anticipating that I would quit reading it. But once I got about 50-75 pages in, I was surprised to find that I was really enjoying it! In the beginning of the book, a flu pandemic hits and civilization as we know it comes to an end. The book moves back and forth between different characters, both before and after the pandemic, and it is so fascinating. This is incredibly well-written, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. Once I finished the book I had to tell Caleb all about it. I highly recommend it! Even if this is not your typical genre that you enjoy reading, you might be surprised (like I was) and really love this one! 5 stars.
Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life // I love Gretchen Rubin's books, and this one was no exception. It was a really interesting read on how we make, keep, and break habits. There were interesting tips and tricks and also fascinating chapters on personality types and tendencies. I kept reading different parts out loud to Caleb, and we actually had a few conversations about what I read and learned. I loved this book so much I wrote an entire blog post on it, which you can read here. 5 stars!
Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books // This book combines two of my favorite things: literature and food. The author cooks her way through her favorite books, so that each chapter is a story and recipe inspired by those books. Think: a soft-boiled egg from Emma, breakfast sausage from Little House in the Big Woods, clam chowder from Moby Dick, etc. This was a brilliant idea for a book, and I absolutely loved reading it. 5 stars
Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice // This book is part of the Austen Project--modern retellings of Jane Austen's works. This is the first book of the Austen Project that I've read, but I believe next I will be picking up Emma by Alexander McCall Smith! Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Jane Austen book and one of my favorite classics. It's no surprise, then, that I absolutely loved this book! I thought Curtis Sittenfeld did an excellent job putting the same characters from Pride and Prejudice into a modern day setting. I couldn't put this book down and stayed up way too late finishing it. 5 stars!
Lilac Girls // This was our book club pick for September, and I really enjoyed it! It's a long book, and I was excited to have a book that I could really sink into and enjoy for a while. This was that book. It's the story of three different women during WWII: one American, one German, and one Polish. I've read a lot of WWII historical fiction, but this was the first time to read one with the perspective of a Nazi. It brought different things to light, and I really enjoyed the added dimension. In the author's note at the end of the book, I found out that much of this story was based on true people and events! I loved finding that out, which made the book even better. Highly recommend! 4 stars
Bel Canto // This was the first book that I've read by Ann Patchett, and I get the hype! The writing was impeccable, and the story was so unique. In some ways it reminded me of Station Eleven, just because the plot itself was not something that I thought I would enjoy. But once I got a few pages into it, it completely drew me in, and I didn't want to put it down. 4 stars
I Capture the Castle // I heard about this book on a podcast and was surprised that for being such a classic I've not heard much about it! The book is the journal of a 17 year-old girl whose poor family lives in a falling-apart castle in England in the mid-1900's. The narration reminded me somewhat of Anne from Anne of Green Gables, with snarky, honest observations and witty conversation. I really enjoyed this book, and if you haven't heard of it or read it either, pick it up! 4 stars
Along the Infinite Sea // This book is two stories in one: a woman who finds herself in a bind in the 1960s, and also a woman in pre-war Europe who has a Nazi husband and a Jewish lover. The book details how these women's lives and stories collide, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. This is my favorite of all of Beatriz Williams' books that I've read, and I highly recommend it! 4 stars
The Paris Architect // I have always really enjoyed reading historical fiction, and this was no exception. Unlike many of the World War II historical fiction books that I've read, this was actually about a French architect who was unsympathetic toward Jews. The first chapter was quite difficult to read because of that, but beyond that I really enjoyed this book. The story was unexpected and well-written. I won't give anymore of the story away, but it was a good read! 4 stars.
What Alice Forgot // I've read several of Liane Moriarty's books, and this was by far my favorite. It was our November book club book, and I could not put it down. The story is about Alice, who wakes up thinking she's 29 and pregnant, when in reality she's 39 and has three kids and a falling-apart marriage. We had a lot of fun discussing this book during book club, and everyone really liked it. Definitely worth picking up! 4 stars
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