Book review

Reading: One of the most marvelous adventures anyone can have – My complete 2016 reading list

I read so many good books this year. Probably more than any year before.

While I have plenty of negative thoughts about some books I read, we’ll stick to the positive. Because ain’t nobody got time for negativity, right? (Just kidding. I totally do. But I’ll just tell you about the books I loved this year.)

The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Watney is an astronaut who is mistakenly left on Mars when his crew believes him dead. He keeps a level head, executes some complicated science-y stuff, and tries to make the best of his very scary and lonely situation.

I had a complicated relationship with this book.

I literally thought about this book for months, and still do. I imagine what I would have done, felt, and seen if I were in Mark’s situation myself. Could I have survived like Mark did? The answer to that question is a resounding No.

Mark is upbeat, positive, and incredibly brilliant. If you have to be stuck on an abandoned planet with anyone, you should choose Mark Watney.

My main issue with this book sounds dumb, now that I think about it, but here it is: There is a lot of science-talk in this book. Mark does all his calculations and figuring within its pages. Neat that the author went so in-depth, but it was dull to me. Every time I would come upon a few paragraphs/pages like this, I would sigh and think, “Okay… Get on with the story, please.”

Still, read this book. I can bet you’ve never come across anything else like it.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This book is hard for me to talk about or even recommend. It hurt me, reading it.Because I was Conor. I am Conor.

Conor’s story is my story.

And not all stories have happy endings.

This book is honest in the most painful way. Read it to understand what people experience in this situation.

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, & Lauren Myracle

On a happier note, this book was as sweet and fluffy as whipped cream on top of a big mug of hot chocolate.

“Something about me has always liked the drama and inconvenience of bad weather. The worse the better, really.” 

A Christmas Eve snowstorm leaves a southbound train stranded in Western North Carolina. The snowstorm forces some people together and some apart. In the end, these three intertwined stories melt into delightful romances.

I found myself laughing or at least goofily smiling to myself through most of the book.

And that quote above is totally me, by the way.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

Eliza Caine spontaneously takes a governess job after her father tragically passes away. She arrives at a large country mansion to find two children… completely alone. No adults in the house, only the two children. After some terrifying and dangerous experiences in the house, Eliza tries to investigate what truly happened at Gaudlin Hall.

This October, I was in the mood for a scary book. The problem is, I am a chicken and have a low tolerance for the eerie and spooky… But I decided to look my fear in the eye and read this book.

And let me tell you, this book is good. John Boyne, who also wrote “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, is a very talented writer. I felt like I was reading a book written by the Bronte sisters. I could almost hear the ghosts howling over the moors.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Leah (“Lee”) lives in 19th century Georgia with two loving parents. One day, she comes home to find them murdered. Through a series of events, Lee finds herself thrown from drama to blood-soaked drama.

In addition to this, Lee has the ability to sense the presence of gold. She is drawn to it. Imagine what this power would mean if a person could control Lee. They would be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Lee and her best friend Jefferson are brave and likable people, whose journey to California I cared very much about.

While there were a few things that irked me (character and story development), I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. So much so that the second book will be arriving on my doorstep on Monday.

A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard

“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen?” Again with this . . . question. . . . People ask, and I guess it’s because they’ve never had reason to contemplate the question, so it’s not until they begin to hear the answer that they realize how strange a door they’ve opened (186-187).

This is not the kind of book I would typically pick up. I would call myself tender-hearted: brutality and carnage disturb me and stick with me on a deep level. I was prepared to read this book while cringing, scanning the page through slits in my fingers. The fact that this is a true story worried me even more.

And Hazzard is honest: The things he sees are grotesque and violent.

But they are sometimes hilarious.

The way Hazzard tells his story is like sitting down for long night of storytelling with a good friend. I was chuckling on one page and shaking my head in disbelief on the next. Let me warn you about the language, though. There’s a bit.

This book isn’t for the faint of heart. But then again, that’s exactly how I would describe myself and I loved it.

Below is my complete 2016 reading list!

I have put the books I loved in bold below. Don’t let the fact that I didn’t discuss them above make you think that I cared about them less. That is definitely not the case.

Tell me if you read (or have read!) any of these books! I’d love to know what you think. 


1. Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
2. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
3. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
4. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
5. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
6. Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
7. Joyland by Stephen King
8. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
9. Scandinavian Ghost Stories by Joanne Asala
10. The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
11. Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
12. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
13. The Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
14. The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
15. Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington
16. Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites by Chris Heimerdinger
17. A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard
18. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
19. Real Moms: Making It Up As We Go by Lisa Valentine Clark
20. The Martian by Andy Weir
21. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
22. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
23. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
24. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
25. Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
26. The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett
27. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
28. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
29. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
30. Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons
31. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
32. The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons
33. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
34. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
35. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
36. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
37. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
38. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
39. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
40. This House is Haunted by John Boyne
41. For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
42. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
43. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
44. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
45. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
46. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
47. The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff
48. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
49. Serafina & the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
50. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
51. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
52. One Second After by William R. Forstchen
53. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
54. The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans
55. Persuasion by Jane Austen
56. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, & Lauren Myracle
57. The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck
58. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
59. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
60. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
61. Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson 


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