My Favorite Books From 2016

I’ve been waiting to compile my favorite books from 2016 through GoodReads since January 1st and I just got the chance to do it now, so here is my first blog post for 2017. It’s about one of my favorite things in the world: BOOKS!

I didn’t realize this until I went back to my 2016 reading list, but I was heavy into non-fiction books this year, which is not the norm for me. I love historical fiction and fantasy, and while I have some historical fiction books and fantasy books listed as favorites for 2016, it’s apparent to me now that 2016 was a year for learning with me.

Ah, stats. You gotta love them!

These were my favorite top reads from 2016 out of the 52 books I read this year, in no particular order:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft 
by Stephen King
Genres: Non-fiction, writing, memoir
My review is at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1771058340

The King does it best. If you want to improve your writing, read this book. Even readers that don’t like non-fiction will like this book because he still makes it sound like a story while offering incredible advice on how to write.

Best takeaway quote:Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
by Charles C. Mann
Genres: Non-fiction, North-American history, anthropology
My review is at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1777123509

At a whopping 541 pages, it took some time to get through 1491, but it was a fascinating read. Mann’s writing is so spot on, it’s sometimes hard to remember that you are reading a non-fiction book on history and not a work of fiction.

Best takeaway quote: “In 1491 the Inka ruled the greatest empire on earth. Bigger than Ming Dynasty China, bigger than Ivan the Great’s expanding Russia, bigger than Songhay in the Sahel or powerful Great Zimbabwe in the West Africa tablelands, bigger than the cresting Ottoman Empire, bigger than the Triple Alliance (as the Aztec empire is more precisely known), bigger by far than any European state, the Inka dominion extended over a staggering thirty-two degrees of latitude—as if a single power held sway from St. Petersburg to Cairo.”

Leading Change
by John P. Kotter
Genres: Non-fiction, leadership
My review is at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1744068274

Even though this book was written in 1996, it is still incredibly relevant in today’s world. Kotter is a world-famous expert on leadership. Each step of his process is outlined in detail with a focus on identifying where things go wrong during the change process and what changes are necessary for a organization to achieve its goals.

Best takeaway quote: “Management is a set of processes that can keep a complicated system of people and technology running smoothly. The most important aspects of management include planning, budgeting, organizing, staffing, controlling, and problem solving. Leadership is a set of processes that creates organizations in the first place or adapts them to significantly changing circumstances. Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles.

If At Birth, You Don’t Succeed: My Adventures with Disaster and Destiny
By Zach Anner
Genres: Non-fiction, Humor, Memoir, Health
My review is at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1580107392

Zach Anner’s online adventures are so inspiring, at times he has brought me to tears. First off, he has cerebral palsy. A friend sent me his Workout Wednesday videos where he demonstrates how he exercises in and out of his wheelchair with great enthusiasm and a lot of humor.

I have literally watched him get out of his wheelchair and drag himself up a mountain just to prove to people that life isn’t impossible when you’re disabled.

No one should be looking at this man because he is disabled though, because once he starts talking, you forget the wheelchair and his condition. All you can do is laugh, because he really is funny and full of motivation. If he ever came to Asia, I’d be there in a heartbeat to tell him how much his videos and his book meant to me this year.

In his memoir, Zach talks openly about his life with cerebral palsy (the sexiest of the palsies) and the disasters and difficulties he has faced growing up different from everyone else. He is also an expert on finding happiness and making the best of situations. If you are looking for inspiration on how to find your passion and how to make it work – no matter the odds – look no further.

Zach is one of the most positive personalities out there right now, and he lives by his mantra:

“When life gives you a wheelchair, make lemonade.”

Dreamcatcher
by Stephen King (Yup, he made it on this year’s list twice!)
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
My review is at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1686098282

This was another whopping read at 882 pages, but the story has stuck with me all year. When you can clearly remember a story you read in July, you know it’s a good read.

Dreamcatcher is about four childhood friends an alien invasion that brings them back together 25 years later at their annual hunting reunion at a friend’s cabin in Maine. If you liked The Tommyknockers, you’ll likely enjoy Dreamcatcher

The Little Book of Gold: Fundraising for Small (and Very Small) Nonprofits
by Erik Hanberg
Genres: Non-fiction, Business
My review is at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18969217-the-little-book-of-gold

This really is a little book of gold and I got it for free through BookBub. If you are a new Executive Director, a board chair or even someone in charge of fundraising at a small non-profit organization, this should be on your must-read list. It is packed with great information and proven fundraising methods that work.

This is a brilliant and eye-opening read and it’s still available for free on Amazon in Kindle format as of today.

Doomsday Book
By Connie Willis
Genres: Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
My review is at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10211129-doomsday-book

I am a historical fiction nut. I LOVE historical fiction, especially if it’s related to the 14th century and onwards. The topic of the Doomsday Book is a bit gruesome as it focuses on the Black Plague, but it has a cool science fiction twist to it with some really nifty time travel writing.

Connie Willis made it onto my favorite author list this year with this book. It was riveting.

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1)
By Patrick Rothfuss
Genres: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
My review is at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1617389786

This was a giant read and I burned through it, thanks to my friend Jason, who insisted I read it this year (and last year… and the year before that). Well, I read it, Jason, and you were right. It is awesome!

This was another giant read at 663 pages, but it isn’t as long as some of the other books on this list. Nonetheless, Rothfuss uses every single word to his advantage to keep his readers enthralled and it’s no wonder that it is ranked so highly on GoodReads. If you like Game of Thrones or The Wheel of Time series, you’ll likely enjoy The Name of the Wind.

The story begins with Chronicler and Kvothe meeting at The Wayward Inn. Chronicler has set his sights on telling the story of a young man who becomes the greatest wizard the world has ever known. Kvothe begins by saying that his story will take three days to tell. The first book in this series recounts the first third of his story, which means there is more awesome fantasy, magic, fun and adventure coming with Book 2 in The Wise Man’s Fear.

“We were telling stories before Caluptena burned. Before there were books to write in. Before there was music to play.”
―Kvothe about the Edema Ruh

Call Me Home
By Megan Kruse
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction
My review is at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1851772632

I got this book in an international book exchange on Facebook for FREE. It’s official. I will participate in book exchanges from now on because I ended up with 13 books this year and I sent out about three. Plus, it’s nice to receive a well-loved book in the mail. It does my heart good.

Call Me Home turned out to be one of the last books I read in 2016 and it was also one of the best works of fiction I read this year. I’m passing this love on in my next book exchange because this is the type of book you want someone else to read. It’s that good.

Call Me Home is an unforgettable story about family and siblings, and it is still resonating with me. The story is told from three perspectives: Amy, a young mother of two who leaves her hometown with a man she barely knows, only to end up in an extremely abusive relationship, and her children Jackson and Lydia.

I’m not saying anything else. You can read my review if you wish, and hope that you get it during a book exchange if you participate in them (with me).

I would love to hear if you’ve ready any of these books on my list and what you thought of them in the comments section. If you’ve got book suggestions for 2017, send them to me. I’d love to hear what you’re excited to read this year!

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