Sixteen of My Favorite Books from 2016

I probably should have worked on this post last week, but better late than never. I did take a few days away from writing during the holidays, but I spent the last few days of 2016 trying to start my next book which I suppose I should call “The Continuing Saga of Solomon”. Well, it’s just a working title.

So, I’ve been reading blog posts on everyone’s favorite books of 2016, so thought I would go to goodreads and find out what were my favorite books this past year. All of the books I’m going to mention were either four or five star for me but that does not mean there weren’t a few others that hit that mark. Trying to keep it down to sixteen was a challenge. Sometimes, though, I think I’m too generous with my stars (especially if I’m struggling with my own writing and feel that any writer who actually finished writing a book should receive at least two stars for that accomplishment alone), but, regardless, I will only mention books today that were either my top favorites or were by a new author for me.

For my top fiction, one of the first books I read in 2016 was Kate Morton’s The Lake the-lake-houseHouse. I loved it and wonder why I still haven’t read more of her books. But I will.

Looking over the fiction books I read, I noticed I read several books which are the first in a mystery series. This makes these books even more special as it means there are more books by these authors that can I look forward to in 2017. (And I actually have already read the second in a few of these series). These books (in no certain order): What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris; The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber; Raven Black by Ann Cleeves; The Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis; and The Lewis Man by Peter May. I also read two by Tana French (the second and third in her series). I don’t think you can go wrong with her. Looking forward to reading the next in her series soon.what-angels-fear-240h

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I’m doing a reread of Robin Hobb’s Farseer series. I read both Assassin’s Apprentice and Royal Assassin in 2016. She is an amazing writer and though her books are fantasy, I feel can learn a lot about writing historical fiction from her writings. She is great at both setting and characters.

Other favorites in fiction: The Marriage of elephant-whisperer Opposites by Alice Hoffman; The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak; Plainsong by Kent Haruf; and Beneath a Golden Veil by Melanie Dobson.

Not counting the two by Tana French, that’s twelve. Since the Robin Hobb books are rereads, maybe I shouldn’t count those, but didn’t want to leave her out.

Obviously, I can easily mention more than sixteen, but I will round this out with my top four non-fiction: None Like Him by Jen Wilkin; An Editor’s Advice by Betty Lerner; The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony; and A Woman of Contentment by Dee Brestin.

How about you? Any books that stood out for you in 2016? Have you set any reading forest for the treesgoals for 2017 yet?

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Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

kingdom of ice 2It’s a new year and goals and challenges are being discussed. Resolutions are still made, but usually with a sheepish grin. We want to change, but, being honest, we know how long, or how short, most of these will last. So, you can lose your weight, eat healthier, and exercise more, but being a reader, I am more interested in what other readers are doing and how I can challenge myself to read or to “read harder” as Book Riot has put it. I’m not really looking to read more, and will continue to read for pure pleasure and enjoyment, but adding a challenge to my reading will broaden my reading horizons. I have already decided I will read more non-fiction this year, and have started by beginning to read Hampton Sides In the Kingdom of Ice. 

Book Riot has issued their “Read Harder” Challenge which you can read here: http://ow.ly/FZLwd To read harder, you must choose a book that will fit within the 24 different categories they have presented. These categories include reading a book written by an author under the age of 25, reading a science fiction book, a romance book, a book written by an author from Africa, and a microhistory.

Am I going to try and do all 24? No. For a couple of reasons. One, I have books I want to read just because I want to read them, and others I will be reading for various book groups, and I’m not going to put them aside just to participate in this. Two, I want a challenge, but not something that will take the fun and enjoyment out of reading.

But, I am going to pick a few selections and make an effort to read those and join in with the group on goodreads. The first challenge is to read a book written by an author under the age of 25. I have a copy of Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter which has been languishing on my bookshelves for years. In fact, I had to do a bit of digging to find it. McCullers was 23 when she wrote this book, so I am choosing it to take on the first task.

Another task (number 3) is to read a selection of short stories. Another book I’ve had for awhile is The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Though I’ve read a story from it here and there over the years, I’ve never read it all the way through. Though I may take most of the year to get through it, I will begin to read it, keeping track of the stories as I read them (since I probably won’t read them in order).

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Some of the tasks I will be able to check off fairly easily as I go about my regular reading. This may seem like cheating, but, hey, it counts! For example, I have a hold on Overdrive for Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride on audio. Once I get that and listen to it, I will have completed task 16 (audiobook), task 6 (written by a gender different than myself; i.e. a man), and task 13 (romance).

What about you? Have you given yourself any reading challenges? Taking on any of the tasks from Book Riot? Or do you have a recommendation for a book from Indie Press? (That would help me with both tasks 4 & 18).