Top Reads of 2016

Last year I failed to complete my Goodreads challenge.  In 2015, my goal was 48 books, or 4 per month.  I bumped it up to 52 books for 2016, thinking I could manage a book per week.  Perhaps this would have worked out, but I returned to college and some of the books I read were lengthy textbooks, which took time away from that last 4 books I needed.

I’ve set my goal back at 48 books for 2017.  There will still be lengthy textbooks, but maybe I’ve better learned how to juggle the necessary reading with the fun reading.


[Not pictured: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class On the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.]

  1. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – I read my first book of 2016 in one day, during my last stay in the inpatient psych unit.  I was admitted late on January 2nd, and January 3rd was a Sunday so there were no groups to attend that day.  I pulled this, the only decent-sounding book, off the bookshelf and curled up in bed and read all day.  I’d recommend it for anyone who was able to look past historical inaccuracies and enjoy The DaVinci Code for the fun story it is.  It also evoked images of the TV show Warehouse 13.  I wouldn’t say it is directly comparable to either of these things, but I feel those are reasons I enjoyed it.
  2. The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT by Russ Harris – Sadie printed an article by Russ Harris out for me, which was a brief introduction to the content of this book.  I use some of his techniques frequently.  If you have trouble with getting stuck on negative thoughts, read this for ideas on how to accept them as just thoughts and let them go.
  3. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore – If you enjoyed any of the Sherlock Holmes books, you must read this.  It weaves a continuation of Sherlock’s story with a modern story about a Sherlock fan trying to solve a crime.
  4. The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle – You will probably cry more than once during this book about immigrants from Mexico and residents of gated communities who want to keep the Mexicans away, but it’s wonderfully written with rich details and interconnected storylines.
  5. Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class On the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – This is definitely a love-or-hate book.  Obviously I loved it.  I haven’t exactly finished the tidying up, but I did get through all my clothes and donated a bunch of stuff that didn’t “spark joy”.  I also learned better ways to fold clothes that are stored in drawers.  If you are the type of person to care about decluttering, I’m sure you’ll find at least a couple of helpful ideas.

Top Reads of 2015

I have read 115% of my goal on Goodreads this year, and it will probably be a little more after the last 10 days are finished.  However, I know I’m ready to share my top books of 2015 and this year I wasn’t able to limit it to 5 – there is a bonus 6th book.


  1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – I was a bit turned off by the idea of this the first 100 times I heard of it, and I definitely wouldn’t have watched the film as I’m not a Julia Roberts fan.  When I saw it for $0.50 in a Goodwill store though, I figured I’d try it.  Although the author and I have next to nothing in common and I’m not at all into the pursuit of religion or spirituality of any kind, I still found the book inspiring.
  2. The Happiness ProjectOr Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin – As someone who has struggled with depression all her life, I’m always on the lookout for ideas on how to be happier.  What I enjoyed about this book was the fact that the author was already happy and could still find ways to increase her happiness.  It made me feel hopeful that happiness didn’t just come down to luck.
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey – I’m a little embarrassed that I hadn’t read this book sooner, given that I’ve been using an element of it for 15 years.  One of my college professors introduced me to the concept of the Urgent/Not Urgent, Important/Not Important grid for prioritizing tasks and I’ve used it frequently over the years when struggling to get through enormous to-do lists.
  4. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson – I’ve followed Jenny’s blog for a while and read her previous book last year, which I also enjoyed.  This one focuses a lot more on her struggles with depression and anxiety, but it’s not at all a downer.  It’s still filled with all the hilarity her followers know and love.
  5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – Another of her novels, Sharp Objects was on my Top Reads of 2014 list.  I downloaded this one night when I awoke around 2 am and couldn’t sleep, and I read straight through without stopping.  I’d say I enjoyed Sharp Objects just a bit more, but both were excellent books.
  6. You’re Never Weird On the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day – I’ve been a fan of Felicia Day for ages and was so excited about this book that I pre-ordered it at full price.  It did not disappoint.  In fact, I had been feeling discouraged about my own memoir-in-progress and though reading other memoirs often discourages me more, this one instead made me feel motivated and encouraged to keep writing.

The best news in this post is that I am giving away copies of books 1-3.  They are the copies pictured above – paperbacks in good condition with no writing in them.  All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment stating which of the three books you’re most interested in reading.

EDIT: I forgot to set a deadline.  Comment by December 31st and I’ll select winners on New Year’s Day.