Last year was the first full year that I kept track of my books on Goodreads. Previously, I used Shelfari, but they closed the site down and sent all of us to Goodreads. It was a frustrating transition. I finally got most of my books moved over, but it was impossible to get all the dates correct. I've gotten used to Goodreads, but never really liked it as much as Shelfari until the end of the year when they posted my end of the year stats. My goal for 2016 was to read 36 books (3 books/month). I read 10 m0re than that; probably a record since I started keeping track of what I read in 1986. The number of pages was rather impressive, too---14,330. Reading the Bible cover to cover last year did add a significant number of pages to the total.
So, what can I recommend? I left the Bible out of the running, since it's a rather daunting undertaking. Very glad I did it; learned a lot, and am surprised at how much I remember when references to it come up, but not something most people are interested in pursuing.
The first book I read in 2016 was one of my favorites: 10% Happier by Dan Harris. My OLW last year was Mindful, and Dan's book about his exploration of mindfulness and mediation after having experienced a panic attack while reading the news on Good Morning, America was a great read. It's funny, insightful, and has one of the better lists of meditation practices that I read last year.
When Breath Becomes Air was a devastating, but significant, read. One of the most important books I've ever read was Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Kalanithi's diagnosis of terminal cancer just as he was completing his residency in neurosurgery shares the same philosophy about end of life issues as Gawande, also a neurosurgeon. Despite it's tragic end, it's an uplifting book, and beautifully written.
Our book group chose Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking to discuss last year. One of our members felt the research was just too encompassing (it's nearly 400 pages long), but I found it fascinating. I learned a lot about myself, and about both of my children.
I read a library copy of Convictions last year, and will reread it again this year since I now have my own copy. It made me think hard about what I believe and why. I'm not done thinking about this book or my convictions. It was probably the most thought-provoking book I read last year.
The couple that hosts our book group is responsible for putting out three titles from which the group chooses the next book. This is one Tracy and I proposed that did not get chosen, but I thought it was better than the one we read for book group---The Muralist by Shapiro. It's well researched, but clearly a novelized account of Georgia O'Keefe's life. Very readable, and fascinating.
This was another book that wasn't chosen by our book group. It's only the second book by Alice Hoffman that I've read. (She's prolific.) It's another fascinating novel based on a true story. It's about the mother of Camille Pissaro, one of the first of the Impressionists. His mother grew up on St. Thomas, an idyllic island, but one that thwarted her desires and ambitions. It provides an evocative look at the small Jewish refugee community on the island as well as the passionate and scandalous love affair of Pissaro's parents.
I'll read anything written by Ann Patchett. Her novel, Bel Canto, remains one of my all-time favorite novels. I thoroughly enjoyed Commonwealth, although I found it a bit harder to read due to a narrative that jumps back and forth in time over 50 years, chronically two families, bonded by the affair and eventual marriage of two of the parents. I started reading it on my Kindle, but ended up getting a library copy so it was easier to flip back and forth. Once I had a hard copy in my hands, it was a much easier read, and as always, well-written.
This was one of the last books I read in 2016, but I loved it, and wrote about it here. The even divide between non-fiction and fiction is pretty typical of a year of reading for me. I probably read a bit more non-fiction overall, but when I thought about the best books of the year, it turned out to be an even-split.
What were your favorite reads last year? I'm always looking for recommendations even though my "to read" list has more books on it than I have time to read. I keep moving them around, adding new ones, picking up another title at the library, and finding new interests.