Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Reads | The Best Books I Read This Year

Let's talk books today, shall we? According to my GoodReads tracker, I read 35 books in 2016. That's not as impressive as last year's 59 books ... *but* considering I had a baby halfway through the year and spent 2 months in a sleep-deprived stupor, I think 35 is pretty respectable. Of all the books I read this year, these were my favorites ...

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
From the very first page, I was swept up and carried off to the Austrain Alps ... from the creaky old ski lifts to the first snowfall of the season, Seethaler brought it all to life with his simple (but stunning) descriptions. I completely agree with the review posted in the Mail on Sunday - "Seethaler shows that for even the most ordinary people, life is an extraordinary adventure - and he does so tenderly and memorably." 

Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend 

"Even large worlds have small islands." I absolutely adored this book. I went into thinking it was going to be about espionage during WWII - and yes, there's a little of that - but really this is a story about friendship and the way relationships can influence and alter our lives. The way Amend writes about intimacy (not the sexual kind, but the kind that comes from years of shared secrets) is spectacular. I went into this book knowing very little about the plot - I was sold as soon as I heard "espionage on the Galapagos Islands in the 1940s" - and I think the less you know about the plot, the better. This is the kind of story that unfolds perfectly as you go along and you'll want to avoid spoilers.

The Crooked Heart Of Mercy by Billie Livingston 

This novel completely sucked me in and I was unable to put it down. The Crooked Heart of Mercy is a beautifully written story about forgiveness and grief, brokenness and second chances. Billie Livingston's use of multiple points of view is brilliant; her characters are all deeply flawed but so loveable and authentic. I devoured every page of this and can't wait to read more of Livingston's work.

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

Maybe it's because I read this while being 9 months pregnant and extremely hormonal, but this book gave me *all* the feels. Full disclaimer upfront - this won't be everyone's cup of tea. It's your classic "good girl falls for the bad boy" love story, but it's filled with unique twists and turns that sweep you up and leave you smitten. I gushed over every page and then insisted Alan take me out for Indian food to satisfy my insane craving for naan bread and butter chicken.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

There was just something about Vinegar Girl ... I can't quite put my finger on it, but I loved it. Part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, this is a retelling of The Taming Of The Shrew. I've never read the original Shakespeare play, but I loved this modern day version. It made me laugh out loud (several times) and I found the love story component refreshingly honest and realistic.

... And last but certainly not least, my #1 favorite read of the year was ....

The House At The Edge Of Night by Catherine Banner 

What can I say about this multi-generational saga about a family living on a remote island off the coast of Sicily? It's perfection. You all need to go out and buy it, right now. I started this a few days before Lina was born and found time to finish it as soon as we got home from the hospital because it's just that good. Yes folks, I gave up valuable nap time to read this! The House At The Edge Of Night is exquisite - loveable characters, gorgeous writing, a vibrant setting ... storytelling at its finest.