Today I am grateful that Goodreads is out there on the internet compiling images of and info about all of the books I read in 2016 so I don’t have to do it myself. My goal last year was to read 40 books, and I surpassed that. These graphics say I finished with 41 books, but I’d forgotten to add “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” so it was actually 42.
John Ehle’s “The Land Breakers” was published in 1964, but I’d never heard of it until this year when a local columnist wrote about it. I’ve often thought about what it must’ve been like to live in the Appalachian Mountains in the 17- and 1800s, and this fictionalized account of one settlement paints what I’m guessing is a pretty accurate portrait. I didn’t want to stop reading when I reached the end of the book, so I checked out the sequel. I didn’t love “The Journey of August King” as much, but I’d definitely recommend “The Land Breakers.”
I read a lot more nonfiction in 2016 than I normally do, and several of those titles ended up being in my list of favorites. Helen MacDonald’s grief-laced “H is for Hawk” isn’t a warm and cozy read, but it’s ultimately very moving. “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” by Erik Larson is also a tough one to read, but it’s very tense and well written.
I put Beryl Markham’s memoir, “West with the Night,” on my hold list at the library as soon as I finished reading Paula McLain’s fictionalized story about her. I enjoyed McLain’s “Circling the Sun,” but “West with the Night” was my favorite book of 2016. Markham was the first woman to fly non-stop from England to North America, and that isn’t even the most interesting story in the book. She’s a fascinating person and a great writer to boot.
My favorite fiction book of 2016 was Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale.” It’s about two sisters living in German-occupied France during World War II, which I guess is further proof that I was very into harrowing stories last year.
I’m aiming to read 45 books in 2017, and I’m hoping one of those will be the John Quincy Adams biography that I’ve been struggling to finish. I’d also like to read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” and Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “The Romanovs.”
Are we friends on Goodreads? Hop on over there and friend me if we aren’t! I’d love to know what you’re reading these days.