At the beginning of the year, I made a far-fetched resolution to try and read one book a week all year. Of course at the time I was unemployed, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. I made this resolution because I had gotten into the rut of watching reruns on TV instead of working my brain, and I had always loved reading, but just hadn’t made time for it in recent years as much as I would like.
Well, fast forward to New Year’s Day 2017, and the results are in. I managed to read 24 books (that I remembered to keep track of). That’s a book a little over every two weeks! Considering I changed jobs twice and started writing for others in that year, that’s better than I expected!
So, if you are curious what books kept me company in 2016, I am publishing the list of books I read, complete with short reviews. Enjoy, and please, share books you’d recommend we all should add to our lists this year in the comments!
Michelle Gehlman-Teeter’s 2016 List of Books Read
The Fifth Gospel
by Ian Caldwell
I really enjoyed this book. You could tell it was well researched, had a lot of interesting historical facts, and how it is to live in Vatican City. Of course, it also had an exciting plot to keep it moving forward, and many surprises along the way! Now I will have to find his other works to read!
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
This book was really interesting with a lot of studies explaining her points. I didn’t really realize that being an introvert was OK until I was in my 30’s. This book explained to me why it always felt like a bad thing when I was growing up and as a young adult. It goes into the history of how our society has seen and sees personality, how it’s changed, and how other cultures are different. It also explains introvert’s strengths as compared to extroverts. She never implies one is better than the other, but is adamant that introverts are in no way less than extroverts, as many of us have grown up to believe. Finally, she explains how introverts can use their strengths to everyone’s benefit and how to recharge to keep themselves at their best.
This book helped me see that I can be successful in many areas of employment, that I don’t have to choose between faking being an extrovert for one job, or completely changing my career path to do another, more introverted type job.
This book is dense with facts, but still readable and interesting.
Pouncing on Murder: The Bookmobile Cat Mysteries (#4)
by Laurie Cass
A cute, cozy mystery that had everything: a strong, intelligent, likable, female main character; a pet sidekick; interesting townspeople; a beautiful town; red herrings; danger and a great climax. It makes me want to find the first three books of the series and read them, and whatever comes after this one too.
The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be
by J.B. MacKinnon
This book started out as a real downer. I almost quit on it, but it turned around and by the end, it was hopeful and positive. It had a lot of interesting facts about nature and our historic interaction with it that I didn’t know. It focuses on how we can never recreate nature of the past, but with rewilding, we can live with nature in a new but mutually beneficial way. My favorite excerpt from it was this: “It is inspiring- perhaps even liberating- to acknowledge that we have the power and the necessity to shape the future. But we have been attempting to make an impossible world, in which humans are separable from the rest of life. Our greatest experiment is still pending: the making of a world in which humanity can express all of its genius, and so, too, can nature.” – J.B. MacKinnon in “The Once and Future World”
Marketing Fine Art Photography
by Alain Briot
Excellent book on Marketing Fine Art Photography! This should be required reading for anyone studying Fine Art Photography. If I had access to this information when I was earning my BFA, my photography career would be much farther along by now. This book showed me “starving artist” isn’t a given if you work hard at marketing yourself.
The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle: A Book Club Mystery (#2)
by Laura DiSilverio
I read this out of order, but I don’t think that was too important. I liked it, as far as lots of suspects it was good. It was missing the typical scary, life-threatening climax these types of stories usually have and I missed that. It tied up all the loose ends satisfactorily.
by Sophia Amoruso
An excellent book for anyone, girl or guy! I have lived a very different life from hers, but somehow I still can relate well to her. This book talks about her life and how she came to be the head of a multi-million dollar business, kind of on accident. On face value, that sounds boring, but it’s really interesting and inspiring. She isn’t full of herself, she is helpful, motivational and humorous. I greatly recommend this book, especially for anyone wanting to start their own business!
On What Grounds: A Coffeehouse Mystery
by Cleo Coyle
Pretty cute cozy mystery. I learned there is a lot more to making good coffee than I ever knew. Had a good climax, and I didn’t guess who-dun-it, that’s always a plus in a mystery novel!
Blogging to Drive Business: Create & Maintain Valuable Customer Connections
by Eric Butow & Rebecca Bollwitt
Well, I didn’t really finish this book, but I read through most of it. It had some good ideas on how to integrate a blog into an existing business.
The Walking Dead: Descent: The Governor Series #5
by Jay Bonansinga
This is part of a series, which I didn’t realize when I started it. But it holds its own. It’s as exciting and addicting as the show is, taking place in Woodbury after the fall of the Governor. The main character was not in the show, but is trying to piece together the town after the chaos caused by the Governor. They deal with a common theme in the show, outsiders and should we trust them? I’m excited to read the next book in the series, “The Walking Dead: Invasion”.
The Battle of the New Orleans: The Solbidyum Wars Saga #1
by Dale C. Musser
I love sci-fi movies and shows, but I admit I don’t tend to read many sci-fi books. I’ve seen this author on a Facebook group I’m in and all his posts are intelligent and well thought out, so I thought I’d give it a shot. The first chapter or two, I confess I thought it was a bit cheesy, but it wasn’t hard to follow like I feel many sci-fi and fantasy books are, so I kept at it. The scenes were set vividly, explaining what the character saw, felt, heard etc. in great detail. At a point about 1/3 of the way into the book, I realized I was thoroughly enjoying reading about “Tibby the Recoverer” and his adventures. By the 2/3 point of the book, I was already looking forward to the next book in the “Solbidyum Wars Saga”. The book makes you feel like you were thrown through space to a new society where you thrived, instead of just reading about a character in a book doing so, (if I were well versed in Martial Arts, how the military works and being a natural born leader, that is). I would recommend it even if you don’t tend to read books like this, it was an entertaining read.
The Lady and the Unicorn
by Tracy Chevalier
This was a quick historical fiction read. It was interesting stepping shortly into the lives of people in the late 1400’s, especially the different lives of women at the time. Also seeing how art was commissioned and how tapestries were woven at the time was enlightening. It was like taking a mini vacation through time. I enjoyed this fictional story of how the famous unicorn tapestries might have been created.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
by Jen Sincero
I liked this book. As you can tell from the title, it has humor, motivation and concrete exercises to bring home what she’s trying to make you understand. It’s definitely something I’ll read again when I need a little shove.
The Lost Goddess
by Tom Knox
Ok, so I didn’t finish this book. I was changing jobs, got busy and forgot about it. But the part I read was good, so I hope to get back to it and see how it ends. Nice archeology/history action kind of story.
Dance Upon the Air: Three Sisters Trilogy #1
by Nora Roberts
(reread) in July
This is one of my favorite comfort books. Nora Roberts is amazing at setting a scene! This is where my dream of opening a book store started, because of the bookstore in this story. A woman- finding- herself story mixed with some romance and just a touch of paranormal spice. I couldn’t find my parts two and three, so I switched to my other comfort series…
Jewels of the Sun: The Gallaghers of Ardmore #1
by Nora Roberts
(reread) in July
I guess I needed my comfort books this summer, since there were several in a row. When I read this series, I can imagine I’m in Ireland. It’s like a little vacation and one of my comfort book series.
Tears of the Moon: The Gallaghers of Ardmore #2
by Nora Roberts
(reread) in August
If you are going to read your comfort series, you might as well read the whole thing!
Heart of the Sea: The Gallaghers of Ardmore #3
by Nora Roberts
(reread) in August
Sigh. Now I was ready to move on to something new. Sometimes you just need to reread your favorite books.
Sage’s Eyes: The Forbidden
by V.C. Andrews
It was a good book, although it was no mystery what was going on. I feel like the end was supposed to be a surprise, but it was pretty transparent from the beginning. That being said, it kept me interested enough to want to finish it. I liked the main character.
Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
As it was in play form, it took much longer than usual to feel the characters were rounded out. It was about the middle of the book until I felt like the characters were “real”. It also, as a play, had a much faster tempo than the novels did. I prefer the slower, descriptive style of the novels. That being said, it was still fun getting to visit the Harry Potter universe again, and I loved the new character, Scorpius Malfoy; he reminded me a lot of Ron Weasley.
Refuse to Choose!: Use All Of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create The Life And Career Of Your Dreams
by Barbara Sher
This book was great, it made me realize I’m what she calls a “scanner”. I’ve always had many interests, have a hard time zeroing in on one, and quit things in the middle all of the time. This book explains it all and it makes so much sense! What I’m getting or trying to get out of an activity isn’t necessarily the end product. People like me think different and if I play to my strengths instead of thinking of it as a liability, I can reach my full potential. I definitely recommend this book if you feel like you bounce around and don’t seem to be able to be happy picking one thing to do with your life.
War Reporting For Cowards
by Chris Ayres
I picked up this book because of the funny title. Also having started writing articles myself, I thought it might give me insight into what the life of a writer looks like. I have never had the desire to do “hard news” like war reporting, but neither did Ayres from the title. This book gave a genuine look as to what war reporting would be like for most of us (those who aren’t crazy adrenaline junkies that is). He showed the terror, the boredom, the divided emotions, even how one goes to the bathroom out in the field. This was an honest, refreshing look at something most of us will never have to do.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
I confess, I only read this book because it was talked about on the new Gilmore Girls episodes. I had never heard of it or the movie before now. That being said, it was an excellent read, one of those books that kind of stick with you afterwards. Her description of her adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail made you feel you could be there doing it too, suffering when she suffered, elated when she was elated. If you’ve ever carried out a difficult, physical goal, you know how she felt, at least a little bit. This was a fast read, I finished it in only a few evenings.
The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
by Christopher Scotton
This book had a very slow start. I really had to force myself to keep reading it, because it was recommended to me, so I knew there had to be a reason. By the middle, it was interesting, the end was great! It is a story about a small town in the Appalachian Mountains a couple decades in the past. They were dealing with mountaintop removal mining and the effects it had on the community, as well as the main story line revolving around a 14 year old boy.
So there you have it! Now you know where my head was at all year. There were of course a bunch of other things I skimmed, or started and quit, but these are the ones that stuck.
What are some of your favorite books?
January 1, 2017