Friday, December 23, 2016

My Books of 2016

For 2016, I set a reading goal of 36 books.  This averaged to 3 books a month.  I am happy to report that so far, I have completed 37 books.  If you are not on Goodreads yet, you should be.  Then we can be friends!  I love Goodreads because I can keep track of what I've read, what I want to read, and how I liked each book.  It's so great to see the year in books and to look back and see what I have read.  Not to mention, it makes recommendations for you based on the books you enjoyed!

A great thing I discovered this year was the audio book.  Before you get up on the high horse, let me just say that I love read and hold actual paper books.  I like to turn the pages and feel the weight of the book in my had.  However, according to science, listening to books is just as good as reading them.   Also, why not make a boring morning and evening commute in traffic more enjoyable by taking in a good story?  I've become slightly obsessed now with audio books.

I decided to share with you my Top 5 and Bottom 5 books of the year.  I read some awesome books this year.  I also read some terrible ones.  Please, allow me to share them with you.  Upon reflection of my list, this year seemed to be about the series.  I read all or parts of 5 different series' of books.   That was definitely not intentional.

Let's start with the Bottom 5 because I like to save the best for last.  :)

#5:  Off the Menu by Stacey Ballis.  Stacey Ballis is a new author for me this year.  I enjoyed the first book of hers I read so much, I decided to read this one too.  It fell short and was kind of disappointing.  I believe it could have been much better.  Maybe it was that the main character continued to work for a horrible boss.  Or maybe the romantic relationship she develops seemed a little unrelatable.  Something about this story, I did not like.  I will still read other books of hers though.

#4:  The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis.  This book was read as part of the Chronicles of Narnia series.  While this book gives you a good background of the "bad guys" of the Narnia world, this book didn't really add much to the story and I found it boring.

#3:  Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella.  I love the Shopaholic series.  Kinsella is one of my favorite authors.  They made me laugh so much and I really enjoyed the antics of Becky Bloomwood.  However, this book was such a huge let down.  It's well-know that Becky is a ditz and doesn't always make the best decisions.  She does have good intentions at heart though.  This book, was incredibly stupid and made Becky out to be an immensely selfish, narcissistic, and a flat out idiot.  Too sad.  After this book, I only read the last one for closure.

#2:  After Alice by Gregory Maguire.  The Wicked series is awesome.  This story is not.  Whatever happens to Alice's friend who falls down the rabbit hole after her is a waste of time and energy.  It took me forever to get through this story because it was just too boring and what I thought to be completely plotless.  Even though Wonderland is backwards, this story went nowhere.

#1:  Lost by Gregory Maguire.  The worst book I read this year.  A complete waste of time.  Not only do you follow the story of the main character, you follow the story she is writing as well since she's an author.  Then, you learn that the story she's writing is basically a memoir with the names changed.  It's so incredibly confusing with what appears to be four different plots, with none coming to an acceptable conclusion.  It was struggle to complete this one and a serious wastes of energy. 

Now, on to the Top 5!  The best books I read this year!

#5:  No Excuses!  The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy.  I enjoy a good personal growth book.  This one was recommended to me by multiple Mary Kay directors and I am so happy I read it.  It's filled with great tips for overcoming your excuses to make your life what you want it to be that are shared alongside real life stories.  It's a book I actually wrote in and marked for reference later.

#4:  In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick.   This is about the tragedy of the whaleship Essex and the story that inspired Moby Dick.  Reading about the experience of the crew members at sea for over 90s days, most of which was spent in tiny boats was a reading experience that stuck with me throughout the year.  The story is devastating, but powerful.  It's amazing anyone survived.  I thoroughly enjoyed the photos and maps shared in this book, they give a good point of reference.  A good piece of history is always pleasant.  I haven't watched the movie yet, so we will see how the story was interpreted.

#3:  Wicked:  The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.  To sum it up, the Wicked Witch really wasn't all that wicked.  I loved this story.  Elphaba's backstory is one that will make you question everything you think you know about Oz.  There are pieces of mystery that were never explained fully for me, but that didn't make the book any less enjoyable.  I saw the musical at the beginning of the year, and although it is fantastic, it does not give a good representation of this incredibly character and her story.

#2:  How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.  By far the funniest book I've ever read.  I read about this on Emma Watson's group Goodreads page.  I'm not usually a fan of feminist discussion, but I am so glad I read this one!  A discussion of what it's like for a woman in this world shared in such an open and hilarious way.  It's filled with stories and insight and it made me laugh out loud at times.

#1:  Total Recall:  My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I love a good biography.  Especially about someone I like.  This book was amazing.  It was the longest book I read this year, but not only did it include some great stories, it was written in a very casual conversational tone and included Arnold' tips for success.  I like them so much, I copied the pages to hang in my office. 

So there you have it, the best and worst books I read this year.  I hope you have found a few books you may want to read.  If you have a book that you loved, share about it in the comments!  I would love to learn about more great books.

After this long post, here's something funny.

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