Here it is! Once again, inspired by Hannah and Emma. Unfortunately in August this year my phone went for a little swim in the ocean (#westcoastbestcoast …?) and I lost my note on my phone where I had recorded all the books I was reading so there may be a few missing this year but it’s a pretty good list either way.
Without further ado, here are all the books I read this year:
Why Not Me – Mindy Kaling
I enjoyed this book a lot more than Mindy’s first book. I laughed a lot, read parts of it out loud to friends who had already read it (Sorry again, Hannah). I started this book in 2015 but finished it in 2016. Mindy just seems like a down to earth woman who I would love to be friends with.
*Silver Star – Jeannette Walls
A beautiful novel about two sisters Bean and Liz who go to live with their uncle when their mother leaves them alone for a few days. The girls are smart, intrepid, and lovable. The book also touches on abuse in a heartbreaking way that shows the resilience of children.
Me Before You – JoJo Moyes
This book. I know there’s a lot of hype, but it is beautiful. A young woman accepts a job as a caretaker for a paralyzed young man and her happy, bubbly personality slowly breaks down his cranky shell. Obviously the book is better than the movie, as usual, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie – and how much I cried… on a flight… thankfully there wasn’t anyone sitting next to me…
After You – JoJo Moyes
The sequel to Me Before You, follows the main character Lou as she tries to live her life in the aftermath of the first book. Not as good as the first, as most sequels aren’t, but still heartwarming. A good summer beach read, if you’re into that sort of thing.
*All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
I loved this book. A war time novel about a French girl and a German boy and how their stories intersect, it is wonderfully written. Equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking, I would definitely recommend this book.
*Ester’s Child – Jean Sasson
My friend Kaylie lent me this book as it is one of her favourites and it quickly became one of mine. A fictional novel about a Jewish family in Israel, a Palestinian family in Lebanon, and a German family, spanning from the Second World War to 1948, when the novel begins with the formation of the State of Israel. Though fictional, this novel follows real historical events in a place that is near and dear to my heart. I learned more about history in the Middle East and fell in love with the characters.
One Plus One – JoJo Moyes
I wouldn’t say Moyes is my favourite author though it may seem that way since I read several of her books this year. This novel was light hearted and cute, but didn’t change my world.
The Girl You Left Behind – JoJo Moyes
Despite what I just wrote a couple lines up, I really enjoyed this book by Moyes. Which may be in part due to my love for books about war time/love stories/strong female leads who stand up for themselves and what they believe in.
By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept – Paulo Coelho
Lent to me by my friend Chelsea, this was my first introduction to Coelho’s writing. I think that the circumstances in which you read can really affect your perception of a book. I read this one on a relatively spontaneous trip to Europe in May and I think that made me love it more. A love story infused with experiencing the divine as female, I found Coelho’s words made me think about love and how we experience it – whether it is God’s love or romantic love. One of my favourite quotes is:
“But love is always new. Regardless of whether we love once, twice, or a dozen times in our life, we always face a brand-new situation. Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere. We simply have to accept it, because it is what nourishes our existence. If we reject it, we die of hunger, because we lack the courage to stretch out a hand and pluck the fruit from the branches of the tree of life. We have to take love where we find it, even if that means hours, days, weeks of disappointment and sadness.
The moment we begin to seek love, love begins to seek us. And to save us.”
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Arguably Coelho’s most well known book, The Alchemist urges the reader to think about purpose, destiny, and what one really wants.
Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho
An interesting book about a young woman who has what seems like a perfect life but who finds her life meaningless and decides to commit suicide. She doesn’t succeed but wakes up in a psychiatric ward and is told that her suicide attempt has damaged her body to much and she has limited time to live. The story follows how she decides to live out what time she has left.
The Light Between Oceans – M. L. Stedman
I picked up this book at a local thrift store. A story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a baby in a boat and decide to keep her, and the subsequent consequences that brings to their lives. The Boston Globe describes it well: “A beautifully delineated tale of love and loss, right and wrong, and what we will do for the happiness of those most dear.”
Beyond the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo
Borrowed from a friend, read mostly in France, this is a book about a slum in India right by a major airport. It has been described as a book about hope, and I suppose it is to some extent, but it is also a very real story that juxtaposes the extremely poor with the rich – the author actually spent a significant amount of time in this slum in order to accurately portray its inhabitants and their lives, their hopes and their dreams.
*I Shall Not Hate – Izzeldin Abuelaish
I heard about the book the first time I went to Israel in 2013. The author is a doctor who was born and raised in Gaza and treats patients on both sides of the conflict. In 2009 his three eldest daughters and his niece were killed when their home was attacked by Israeli shells. He is a man who has every reason to be angry and desire revenge, but instead, as the title states, he desires reconciliation instead and truly believes it is possible. Abuelaish has seen how barriers are broken down in a healthcare setting and he is inspiring in his refusal to become bitter or hardened.
*The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Quite possibly the book with the longest and strangest title I’ve ever read, it is also now one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. An author in London in 1946 receives a letter from a man living on the island of Guernsey and as she exchanges letters with him and other inhabitants of the island she learns about their life while under German occupation during the Second World War. It is a beautiful, sweet novel, and I hope if you read it you fall in love with it as much as I did.
Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
If you haven’t heard of Rupi Kaur’s poetry, I suggest you look her up. Most of her poems are short, but she is able to speak volumes through her brief lines. Her book of poetry is split into four chapters, each on a different theme. She writes of love, loss, heartbreak, and healing and encourages the reader to be proud of one’s femininity.
Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
There have been a few times that I’ve picked up a book because it’s on a best seller list or has won some award and been slightly disappointed when I’ve finished reading it, and this was one of those books. A portrait of a marriage, told first from the husband’s perspective and then from the wife’s, it was well written, but I didn’t love it.
Paris for One and Other Stories – JoJo Moyes
Like I said, I read several of Moyes’ books this year, but this one was a bit of a let-down. It is a collection of eight or nine short stories with various women as the protagonists. Short stories can be difficult to execute (lol not like I’m a writer or anything), and these ones definitely leave one wanting in the area of character development. I would recommend for a beach read that doesn’t require too much thinking.
The Girls – Emma Cline
Oh man. What a novel to end off the year with. The Girls is a story of a fifteen year old girl who becomes infatuated with an older girl she meets one summer and gets swept up into a “soon to be infamous” cult and closer and closer to the brink of extreme violence. The novel is gripping and well written and I could hardly put it down. Cline’s descriptions of the thought processes of a fifteen year old girl made me realize things about my own teen self and shows how easy it can be to be influenced.
(* = my top five favourite reads)
photo from tumblr