Year in Review: Favorite Books of 2016

A few of you may remember when I set out to read 214 books in 2014. I came close—I read more than 150! I wasn’t as ambitious this year, but anyone who knows me knows that I always have a book in my hand. Stephen bought me a Kindle for Christmas (and gave it to me at Thanksgiving because he’s wonderful and loves me), and I’ve already put it to use.

I’m not a book reviewer, but I love recommending my favorites. It was hard to narrow down the list, but here are my top five (with some honorable mentions at the end).

1770675Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I’ve read this one before. I don’t think you can call yourself a book lover if you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables. And I’ll admit, I didn’t actually read this one. A new audiobook version was released this year, and Rachel McAdams narrated it. She made me fall in love with Anne, her friends, and the town of Avonlea all over again. I love Anne’s youthful innocence, her wide-eyed wonder and her ability to find joy despite her circumstances. It may be a novel for children, but I think every adult should re-read it. (Side note: My middle name is LeeAnn, and I feel like my parents did me a disservice by not spelling it “LeeAnne.”)

25852870Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. At 181 chapters, this was my go-to beach read. I’m a sucker for any retelling of Jane Austen’s stories—no matter how cheesy they are. (This one does not fall in the “cheesy” category!) In this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Sittenfeld moves the story to the Cincinnati suburbs. As Sarah Lyall of the New York Times wrote, Sittenfeld’s “special skill lies not just in her clear, clean writing, but in her general amusement about the world, her arch, pithy, dropped-mike observations about behavior, character and motivation. She can spot hypocrisy, cant, self-contradiction and absurdity 10 miles away.” (Side note: Keep in mind that this won’t be as, well, wholesome as Austen’s novel.)

9781433549496Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed by Betsy Childs Howard. For my full review, check out my post from this past September. Howard points to five common issues (waiting for a spouse, a baby, physical healing, a stable home and the return of a prodigal) and describes how waiting can be sanctification process and also a representation of the gospel. For my season of life, this was a powerful book, and one I turn back to on a regular basis.

5151dyyk3plUninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. I don’t know about you, but I often feel left out or unwanted. Satan wants us to believe we are unworthy of love, and he will do anything to make us feel abandoned or rejected. It’s a lie. In Uninvited, TerKeurst explains how rejection can hinder our relationship with Jesus. TerKeurst encourages her readers to replace negative self-talk (hello! I’m so guilty of this) with scriptural truths. It points to the importance and necessity of being grounded in Scripture. I love this quote: “With you, Jesus, I’m forever safe. I’m forever accepted. I’m forever held. Completely loved and always invited in.”

51ftojyv2lThe Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. I’ve followed both Chip and Joanna on social media, but I didn’t start watching Fixer Upper until this year. We only have one TV in our house, so we typically only watch shows we both enjoy. But Stephen watched one episode and got hooked, and it now has a regular spot on our DVR. I listened to the audio version of this book (bonus: Chip and Jo read it!) and loved it. It was the bright spot of my commute for a week. I love how Chip and Joanna live out their faith on TV each and every week, and I’m amazed that this business they’ve built truly started from nothing. The Magnolia Story is a behind-the-scenes look at the Gaines’ life: Their relationship, family life, business and faith.

Honorable Mentions:
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
Bare Bones by Bobby Bones
Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs

On my to-read list:
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (on my Kindle now!)
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

What were your favorite books this year?

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