(a month late)
Here’s what I read and loved in 2016:
- My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – Just so so so addicting. This book has been met with varied opinions – many saying that the story is slow, that it is difficult to read, or that it is frustrating to read. But, I loved them all. I read them while Bryan and I were traveling a lot in Europe (so the confined quarters of the airplane may have had a good deal to do with my “spellbound” demeanor while reading). Still I love any story about friendship, and this is one of them.
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck – I cannot believe I waited until I was 26 to read this book. It was so good, full of so much symbolism, I loved talking about the characters and plot turns with Bryan (who also read it this year).
- The Mothers by Brit Bennett – So surprising and so good. Mostly the beautiful writing. The subject matter is difficult (deals with abortion), but it is redemptive, and your heart will hurt for these characters. Surprise, it is also about friendship.
- The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri – Read this while in India and the clash of Indian and American culture resonated with what I experienced (in reverse). I also just loved her writing. It was a delight to get lost in. Highly recommend if you’ve not read already!
- All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren – One of Bryan’s favorites that I finally got around to reading, and I’d have to agree. It is compelling, and the characters are so lifelike. Most of it deals with southern politics and all the craziness involved in that (though it was not unrelated to the craziness of our politics this year!).
Honorable Mention: Love Warrior (a Memoir) by Glennon Doyle Melton – this I actually listened to on Audible. It was narrated by Melton herself, which made it all the more powerful. Melton writes simply and honestly – so much so that I often found myself cringing alongside of her drug abuse, bulima, and marital arguments.
And, the best non-fiction:
- The Listening Life by Adam McHugh – How to listen more – to others, to God, and to yourself. This book changed my perspective in so many ways. Oh, but how hard all these things are in practice. I imagine I will have to re-read again soon.
- Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance – The runaway memoir of the year. I’d have to agree. I took what Vance said to heart, with compassion for “his people.” I even organized a semi-book club meeting / discussion group to process. Highly recommend!
- Being Mortal by Atul Gawande – Gawande writes about everything with thoughtfulness and compassion. The way he writes about death is no different. I was captivated – and convinced that the medical profession needs to do better.
Honorable Mention: Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham – also listened to on Audible (also narrated by Graham). It was laugh-out-loud hilarious to hear her voice in my car. And, Bryan will attest to this – he actually did laugh out loud at a number of parts. Also, I was delighted to find out how much Graham seems to really truly love Gilmore Girls and Parenthood because I adore both.