12 Books I Read (Almost) Every Year

Version 2I love a lot of books, and as I said a few days ago, I re-read when I’m stressed out or just in the mood, but there are a handful I tend to read almost every year. (I wanted to do a nice even 10… but this was as far as I could pare down my list).

  1. Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls- I read this book for the first time in elementary school. My copy is pretty much falling apart. This book never fails to make me cry, but I love it. It’s a book I go for if I’m feeling a little nostalgic and a little sad. Having a good cry cheers me up, and then I’m ready to get back to my normal cheerful self.
  2. These Happy Golden Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder- I read the whole series as a kid (and then re-read it maybe 2 years ago), but this is the one that appealed to me. I grew up with Laura on TV and in books, and this book reminds me of sitting at home as a kid on a cold winter’s night.
  3. Watership Down, by Richard Adams- This book, told from the point of view of rabbits, never fails to delight me. I was obsessed with this book from the first time I read it, looking up every word I didn’t know (mostly flower references). I quoted it, and when I wrote stories, named my characters after the ones in this book. It’s an epic adventure, and I loved the fact that it developed from a father telling his kids a story.
  4. Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter- I strive to live my life like Pollyanna, always finding a reason to be glad and count my blessings. Reading this book every year reminds me of the person I want to be.
  5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen- I love Elizabeth Bennett, and she and I share a love of laughing at the follies of ourselves and others. Like Elizabeth, I can sometimes jump to conclusions. Though I’ve never said anything quite as regrettable as Elizabeth said to Darcy, I have said and thought things I wish I hadn’t.
  6. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes- This book caused a lot of controversy, but I loved it. I love books about controversial topics because I love books that generate discussion. Spoiler alert** This book may ultimately be about dying, but it’s also very much about life.
  7. Where The Heart Is, by Billie Letts- Novalee Nation is an unlikely heroine. In the beginning of the book, she’s so inept that she ends up living in a Wal-mart, and ultimately having her baby there. As time goes on, she makes connections with people and finds an unlikely family. She stops letting her past define her, and makes herself into a strong woman.
  8. Francesca, Baby, by Joan Oppenheimer- I found this book at a used book sale when I was a kid. Without knowing anything about it, I brought it home. It’s about a young girl struggling with an alcoholic mother. First published in 1976, it’s definitely somewhat dated. But I love the characters, and I love the way the book handles the topic of mom’s alcoholism. Mom is, at times, a pathetic character. But she’s not a caricature. It’s an easy read, and one I tend to go for when I need something on the lighter side.
  9. The Silver Link, The Silken Tie, by Mildred Ames- This was another used book sale find. It’s about two misfits, and how they find one another. It was also my introduction to a character with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (Though it’s never specifically named, that’s what it is.) Being a misfit myself, I love main characters who feel out of place, but ultimately find their tribe. Oh, and there’s a subplot about mind control and a speculative fiction element involving shared dreaming.
  10. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte- What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? I know some people find the relationship between Mr. Rochester and Jane to be problematic, but I love it. Yes, he makes mistakes, but he pays for them. And ultimately, they may not be right for anyone other than each other.
  11. Remember Me, by Christopher Pike- In typical Christopher Pike fashion, the plot is a bit convoluted, but ultimately, it’s fun. I love the idea of a girl sticking around long enough to figure out who murdered her. I reach for this one if I need a quick read, but don’t want something I’ll get so into that I can’t put it down. (Since I’ve read it a billion times, I can put it down anytime.)
  12. The Forbidden Game series, by LJ Smith- I love the settings and format of these books. The first one is set inside a board game, in an old house where people have to face off against their nightmares. That pretty much hits all my “shut up and take my money!” points. Nightmares? Check. Creepy houses? Check. Board games? Check. The last one is set in a defunct amusement park, which is also a big ol’ check mark. This is a series I read when I’m not feeling well and want to spend some time resting on the couch. The books aren’t long, and I can make it through all of them in a day.

Do you have any go-to books that you read every year, or you reach for if you’re stressed or having a bad day?

What I Read In 2016

img_73542016 was a great year for reading. I ended up reading a lot of books I really liked, which is always nice.

I recorded a lot more information about what I read this year, including year published and genre. It was a lot of work, but kind of fun to see too. I still haven’t found an app I really like, so I just use a document on Pages, plus Goodreads. (If you have a Goodreads page, friend me!)

I ended up reading 117 books, for a total of 221,641 pages. I abandoned 3 books this year, though I plan to return to one of them. In case you’re curious about my criteria for abandoning books, you can find it here.

I read 81 new books, and 36 were re-reads, which are noted with asterisks.

My favorite book of the year was All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, by Bryn Greenwood, though I also loved: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

What was the best book you read in 2016? Have you read any of my favorites? What did you think of any of those?

The complete list of what I read:

Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill
In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
*Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Olive Kitteredge, Elizabeth Strout
*Watchers, Dean Koontz
Devoted in Death, JD Robb
My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King
One Plus One, Jojo Moyes
Six Months, Three Days, Charlie Jane Anders
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Jessee Andrews
We Are Called to Rise, Laura McBride
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
* The Face, Dean Koontz
Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, Larry Brooks
* Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
My True Love Gave to Me, Edited by Stephanie Perkins
Knight’s Wyrd Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald
I’ve Got a Time B*mb, Sybil Lamb- did not finish
Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon
The Mystery of Hollow Places, Rebecca Podos
Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
Still Alice, Lisa Genova
The Day We Met, Rowan Coleman
*Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, JK Rowling
Brotherhood in Death (# 42), JD Robb
* The Secret Garden, Francis Hodges Burnett
Beatrice and Virgil, Yann Martel
* The Martian, Andy Weir
*Naked in Death, JD Robb
The Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
Bossypants, Tina Fey
* Sushi for Beginners, Marian Keyes
* Morrigan’s Cross, Nora Roberts
*Pollyanna, Eleanor H. Porter
* Watership Down, Richard Adams
* Dance of the Gods, Nora Roberts
* Valley of Silence, Nora Roberts
* Slumber Party, Christopher Pike
Room, Emma Donoghue
* Mr. Darcy’s Diary, Amanda Grange
*Every Breath You Take, Judith McNaught
*Truly Madly Manhattan, Nora Roberts
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez- did not finish
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
*Peppermints in the Parlor, Barbara Brooks Wallace
*Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson, MD
*What Dreams May Come, Richard Matheson
*Daddy Long-Legs, Jean Webster
A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
Issola, Stephen Brust
*These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Lightning Thief, Rick Riorden
Sea of Monsters, Rick Riorden
The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin
Made You Up, Francesca Zappia
Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan
The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan
The Dude and The Zen Master, Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman
*Lover Eternal, JR Ward
The Outliers, Kimberly McCreight
A Tyranny of Petticoats, Edited by Jessica Spotswood
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson
The Way Back to You, Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott
*Blithe Images, Nora Roberts
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
A Green and Ancient Light, Frederic S. Durbin
Lone Wolf, Jodi Picoult
Eat to Live, Joel Fuhrman, MD
*Where the Heart Is, Billie Letts
*The Host, Stephanie Meyer
Party of One, Dave Holmes
The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan
Dark Town, Kaja Blackley & Vanessa Chong
All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
There Will Be Lies, Nick Lake
The Obsession, Nora Roberts
I Am Providence, Nick Mamatas
*Francesca, Baby, Joan L. Oppenheimer
The Honey Thief, Elizabeth Graver
Mr. Perfect, Linda Howard
The Truth About Alice, Jennifer Mathieu
A Head Full of Ghosts, Paul Tremblay
*Dance Upon the Air, Nora Roberts
*Heaven and Earth, Nora Roberts
*Face the Fire, Nora Roberts
*Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
Coraline, Neil Gaiman
The Girl With All the Gifts, M.R. Carey
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
*The Cold Dish (Longmire 1), Craig Johnson
Annihilation, Jeff Vandermeer
For Women Only
I Was Here, Gayle Forman
You, Caroline Kepnes
*The Shining, Stephen King
Doctor Sleep, Stephen King
Death Without Company, Craig Johnson
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black
Kindness Goes Unpunished, Craig Johnson
The Liar, Nora Roberts
Another Man’s Moccasins, Craig Johnson
*The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black
This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab
The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware
The Dark Horse, Craig Johnson
Little Paris Bookshop, Nina George
Infomocracy, Malka Older
I, Robot, Isaac Asimov
Junkyard Dogs, Craig Johnson
Hell is Empty, Craig Johnson
Divorce Horse, Craig Johnson
Hidden Bodies, Caroline Kepnes
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn Greenwood
The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
Wait for Signs, Craig Johnson
*The Night Circus, Erin Morganstern
Wildflower, Drew Barrymore

My Relationship With the Library


A partial stack of my most recent library books. There are others… somewhere.

Dear Library,

We’ve had an on again-off again thing for years. When I’m into you, I’m all in. When I’m not into you… well, let’s just say, it’s not you; it’s me.

When I was much younger, I had a thing going on with a huge, gorgeous old library. I remember it as having like 5 stories (though that may be the memory of youth) and checking out stacks and stacks of books.

As I got older, it became easier to just buy books when I wanted them. I stopped visiting that library, and eventually, I moved away.

My next library was small and unimpressive. It was one big room in a repurposed building. It had none of the character or history of my first library. I borrowed books sometimes, but I just wasn’t that into it.

You don’t need every detail of my history, do you? The next serious relationship I had with a library happened in Arizona, where I joined my first library with a network. Even if my library didn’t have what I wanted, I could log on and “reserve” any book in the system, and they’d bring it to my library. This worked for books, CDs, and DVDs. Suddenly, I was in love again. I was borrowing like crazy, stopping by the shelf of librarian picks and grabbing books based on their covers. (This is how I discovered John Dies at the End).

When I moved, we had to end that relationship. It was tough; I’d grown accustomed to how… well… easy it was. I was afraid that the next one wouldn’t be as accessible.

Lucky for me, my current library is super easy. It has the same “reserve” feature. It also has digital borrowing, so I can get library books right on my Kindle! This is great for me, since sometimes, I have to read something RIGHT NOW, and if I don’t own it, this can be a problem. Often, I’m able to get it from the library when I want it.

I still buy a lot of books, especially ones I want to mark up or reread. But the library is a great source for me to feed my book habit without having to buy every book I ever want to read.

So, Library, I guess what I’m saying is that, for now, I’m committed to you. I can’t be exclusive because you don’t meet all my needs, but I want to see you regularly. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.