My main goal coming into this year, 2016, was to read at least one book every week for the entire year. There are so many great books in the world, too many to read in a lifetime, but I figured I could at least give it a try. I thought it was a pretty achievable goal, I mean if I really set my mind to it I can get through most any book in a day or so, just reading in my free time, but as it turns out, reading a book each week wasn’t as easy as I thought. I read twenty-one books this year, not even half of what I’d intended to do, and my failures can be blamed on multiple reasons like getting stuck in a disinteresting book that you can’t give up on because you’re not a quitter, but you don’t read it for days at a time because it just sucks the life out of you. Another thing that killed my momentum in reading this year is Netflix. If my wife and I started watching an interesting show on Netflix, that’s what we did at night, watched TV rather than the much more satisfying and though provoking act of reading. It’s so much easier to just turn your mind off at the end of the day, just flip on a TV show and let the episodes continue to play before you, rather than to challenge your mind or use your own imagination, and unfortunately for the most part, I chose the easy path this year.
It’s not all bad news; although I only read twenty-one books this year, I did discover some great new authors that I’d never met before as well as some books that will be on my list of all time favorites. I will do better in 2017, to read more and share some recommendations with you so that we can share in the joy of a great book. Here’s what I’ve read this year, along with a couple of thoughts on each, so you can make up your mind about whether it’s worth it to check out or not. Happy New Year.
2016 Read Book List:
Rogue Lawyer: By John Grisham- Over the past few years I’d been reading Grisham’s yearly novels out of loyalty rather than for the quality, hoping each time that he’d recaptured the magic he had in the early days, but being let down most every time. Rogue Lawyer was a pleasant surprise, much better than expected and certainly better than Grisham’s last few novels.
You Herd Me: By Colin Cowherd- If you don’t know who Colin Cowherd is, you’re missing out, but it’s not because he’s a great writer, but rather because he’s a great sports talk radio host. I would recommend listening to his show, but I wouldn’t recommend reading his book.
The Shining: By Stephen King- I got “The Shining” because I’d heard about how it was such a scary book and I was intrigued because I didn’t quite believe that I could be scared by reading words on a page. It turns out I was right, and although it didn’t scare me it was a pretty good book. It won’t be the best book you’ve ever read but probably one of those iconic titles that everyone needs to read at some point.
Big Little Lies: By Liane Moriarty- I loved this book and the way it’s written, different chapters from different perspectives. It’s one that hooks you early and keeps you turning the pages as Moriarty slowly drops the pieces of the puzzle into place.
Nine Inches: By Tom Perrotta-This is a book of short stories, some good and some bad. I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a whole, but there were a couple of stories within that would be worth taking a look at. I’ll need to go back and look to find the titles of the good stories, but within the week I’ll write a blog about it and share that information with you.
Ready Player One: By Ernest Cline- I’m certainly not the biggest fan of sci/fi books and while this one contained certain elements of that, I really actually enjoyed it. If you’re into video games or stories about regular people on a scavenger hunt to become insanely rich, then you will love “Ready Player One.”
Franny and Zooey: By J.D. Salinger- I’m a big fan of “Catcher in the Rye” but hadn’t looked into Salinger’s other work until this year. I did enjoy each “Franny” and “Zooey” although the latter could sometimes have me feeling overwhelmed. If you’re a fan of Salinger you need to read this.
Legend: By Marie Lu- This was a pretty good book that at another time in my life I might have been able to really get into, but I’ve read too many books with similar themes and ideas at this point and I was a little bit bored with it. It’s the first in a three book series, but I was unable to maintain my interest through the second book.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: By JK Rowling-I was very excited about reading something else from the magical world of Harry Potter, but the first night I started reading this one I was really let down. It was so depressing at the beginning, had me on the verge of tears, and although it did get better and things ultimately worked out, it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I’d expected going in.
What Alice Forgot: By Liane Moriarty- “Big Little Lies” was so good it had me in the mood for another Moriarty book this year, unfortunately this one wasn’t as well written and could hardly hold my attention. This is one of the books I labored with for weeks, just trying to get through it. Good author, not so good book.
A Wolf at the Table: By Augusten Burroughs- Burroughs is a fantastic story teller and this book left me wanting more of his story, which thankfully he has given us more of in several other books that I cannot wait to read in the coming year. He was one of my favorite new authors I read this year.
Poachers: By Tom Franklin- It’s a good book of short stories and I’d definitely recommend you checking it out. I don’t know if it’s something I’d go back and read again but I’m certainly glad I read it once.
A Piece of Cake: By Cupcake Brown- This book was tragic, uplifting, and even inspirational at times. It’s a big book but definitely a quick read. I highly recommend reading this book, a memoir about a girl who had a terribly rough childhood, and then carried that baggage into adulthood. Fortunately for her she was able to turn things around for the better, and fortunately for us she was willing to share her story.
The Comedy Writer: By Peter Farrelly- From the co-writer of one of my favorite movies, “Dumb and Dumber”, comes this novel about a comedy writer trying to make it in the cutthroat city of Los Angeles. It’s really well written and had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. This is one I highly recommend.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette: By Maria Semple- This was another one of my favorite books of the year, told from the perspective of the young, eccentric daughter. It’s a quick read and one that will have you wanting to read more from this talented writer.
A Man Called Ove: By Fredrik Backman- This is probably my favorite book I read this year. Written in a unique voice, Backman masterfully tells the story of Ove, a cranky old man on the surface, but much more underneath.
The Vacationers: By Emma Straub- This was another good read about a dysfunctional family’s vacation on an island in Spain. This is another that I would recommend checking out.
Town House: By Tish Cohen- This is the story of an agoraphobic son of a famous rock musician. Throughout the book the character evolves as he is forced to face his biggest fear, leaving the house. It was good, but you’re not missing much if you choose not to read it.
A Hologram for the King: By Dave Eggers- When Eggers is on his game, he is one of my favorite writers, and while this was a good story, in my opinion it isn’t one of his best works. I would recommend “The Circle” or “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Eggers over this one.
The Whistler: By John Grisham- As I began to read it was a little disappointing, but about halfway through, Grisham picks up the pace and it became hard to put down. It wasn’t as good as “Rogue Lawyer” but was certainly better than some of his other recent novels.
Milk and Honey: By Rupi Kaur- This book of poetry is very personal and captivating, a quick read that can be finished in one sitting. I highly recommend it, and can’t wait to see what she writes next.