Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Second Year Reading 50 Books: Awards and Commentary

Last year, I wrote a post chronicling the how and why of reading 50 books in a year. Two years ago, I made a goal to start writing down the number and title of the books that I read.  I read 30 books that year. Last year, I upped the ante, to reading 50 books, after I realized that I had actually read 10 books one month and I could probably reach that goal if I tried. I forgot to link-up with MMD last year, so it has been two years since I have participated in Quick Lit. (!!!)

Normally, I read the book from cover-to-cover. If I feel like a caveat is necessary, I'm nothing if not honest, and I will always let you know. I won't try to pass something off as read cover-to-cover. I'll always tell you when it was a pass, and if it was a complete pass, I just won't count it.

It takes me a long time to decide which books to read. I usually - or often- wait until the end of the previous month to put books in my queue for the upcoming month.  I have to be excited to read something, otherwise it will sit. And sit. ;)

Since I already hashed out the how and why, this year I'm going to take this post in a slightly different direction. Instead of just telling you what I read when, I'm passing out awards this year. I think I'll just start there, since some of you I might lose with a long list of all that I read!

Best Book in the Nonfiction Category:
Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
I liked his very popular novel All the Light We Cannot See,  but I would say start here. ATLWCS is very dry and it is long, drawn out, and boring in parts. But you can see why he is such an acclaimed author, because the seeds of his talent are all there, and some would say that book is the better one. I just think Four Seasons in Rome is a better book, to me personally. It is succinct, beautiful, descriptive, and extremely good writing. He has perfected his craft, and I think you just cannot get any better Doerr than in this book.

Best Fiction Read of the Year:
This was really hard, because I read so many great fiction books this year. The book I keep coming back to is...
True Colors by Kristin Hannah
This book made me fall hard in love with this author. She opens wide a window into her world and her soul, and this is a world that you will just want to stay in for a while. It is long- so reader, beware! But the characters are incredibly believable, the storyline is unexpected for all the right reasons, and the writing is mature and on par with some of my other favorite novels of all time!!!

Most Readable (Quick Read):
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
If you can handle a tiny bit of spicy in your reading life, don't hesitate to try Moriarty if you haven't yet. It will be unbelievably hard for you to put this book down. But not only that, her ability to weave several storylines together into an unfathomable ending is seriously like zen or nirvana or something other-worldly. She is so talented. Read this book.

Award for Feel-Good, Heartwarming makes-you-feel-like-sipping-tea-all-day-long:
The Little Bookstore at Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch
This is a little slower paced, but she is as smart as a whip, and her memoir is enticing, inspiring, full of depth, wit, and sensibility. I just loved everything about this book! I read it quite slowly, so that I could savor every bit of it. I didn't want to miss anything, and I didn't want it to end. ;) Her perspective is tactful, and their view of life is infectious, classy, and original. True trailblazers, they are!

Favorite Book of the Year:
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
This book was just splendidly amusing and smart in all the right ways. It scratched my itch for a more scientific bent, and it was stimulating in a way that no other book was this year. Her companion in the book makes for some of the funniest dialogue I've read in a long time. This genre-bending memoir-meets-hard-science style is full of adventures and strange excursions, but it is also deeply intelligent, and thought-provoking in a perfect mix of esoteric and personal. This book got a mention for Best Books of the year from the editors at, so you know I'm onto something here!!! ;)

Here's what I read in total: (And unlike last year, I was able to really spread the love a little better this year, which was fun.) For more fun geeking out over Reading Challenges, see my Goodreads page.


1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
2. Make it Happen by Lara Casey
3. The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
4. The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner
5. (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened- half)


6. Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
7. Delicious by Ruth Reichl
8. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
9. The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle
10. Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn


11. Until Lily by Sherry Boas
12. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
13. True Colors by Kristin Hannah
14. Walkable City by Jeff Speck
15. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
16. Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson


17. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
18. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
19. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
20. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
21. e-book (The Best of the Happiness Project Blog)


22. Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure
23. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
24. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
25. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery


26. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
27. Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright
28. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
29. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
30. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

31. Before We Visit the Goddess by  
32. Still Life by Louise Penny
33. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
34. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

35. Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Nightingale (Pass)


36.Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner
37. Coming Clean by Seth Haines
38. Love and Salt by Jessica Mesman Griffith and Amy Andrews
39. On The Other Side of Fear by Hallie Lord


40. The Little Bookshop at Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch
41. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
42. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
43. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

43. Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
44. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
45. Discernment by Henri Nouwen
46. Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

46. Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple (done)
47. Wild by Cheryl Strayed (done)
48. The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (not done yet)
49. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (not done yet)
50. Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott (not done, yet)

MMD 2016 reading challenge

a book published this year... Present Over Perfect
a book you can finish in a day... Bossypants
a book you’ve been meaning to read... Ivanhoe
a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller... Brown Girl Dreaming
a book you should have read in school...Ivanhoe
a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF... Until Lily
a book published before you were born... The Secret Garden
a book that was banned at some point... I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
a book you previously abandoned... Rome Sweet Home
a book you own but have never read... A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
a book that intimidates you... The Kitchen House
a book you’ve read at least once...Little House in the Big Woods

Do you want to read more? Are you like me, around three years ago? Just starting to count up the books you've read? To close I would urge anyone who desires to read more to start writing down the number of books you read each month. Make a goal, and start small if you need to.  A book a month, 20 books in a year, 30 books in a year.  I know many people who read more than me.... but writing it all down is so helpful, it has changed my reading life! And even if you don't blog, what's stopping you from getting a journal and counting the books you read and finish? ;)  Once you start, I guarantee you will not only begin to increase your number of read books, but you will also get addicted and you'll love the process. ;) Start at a book a month. And just think-- three times twelve is thirty-six!!!! ;-) :P Have you read any of these books (this year)? What awards would you give out?

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit


Ana A said...

I need to read Four Seasons in Rome, it's been on my list for awhile. Love seeing your whole reading list for the whole year, very impressive! :-)

elle alice said...

I really liked ATLWCNS so I had e been looking forward to reading Four Seasons In Rome. I really enjoyed The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap! Her wit and humor was remarkable!

Great work on reading 50 books the past few years!

Here are my November books:

Tacy said...

Thanks Ana- it was fun! :0)

Awesome Elle, I'll check it out! ;-)

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