16 Favorite Books Read in 2016

I don’t normally like to publish two posts in a day, but did so today since they overlap. One of my favorite end-of-the-year activities is compiling a list of books read through the year and then choosing my favorites. I usually aim for 10, or perhaps 10 fiction and 10 non-fiction, but I don’t stick hard and fast to a number. This year 16 stood out to me, 6 non-fiction and 10 fiction. They weren’t all published in 2016 – in fact, I don’t think any of them were. I spent a great deal of the year reading classics and books already in my possession, so I didn’t spend as much time as I would like with new ones. I don’t agree with everything in each one, but something compelling about the book propelled it to a favorite.

Without further ado, here are my favorite books I read this year:


Pioneer Girl

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Pamela Smith Hill. This is Laura’s memoir, written before the Little House books and from which they were developed. Ms. Hill has done a masterful job of annotating it with just about any aspect any Laura fan wold have a question about.


I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. In 2012, 15 year old Malala Yousafzai was shot for having spoken up for girls’ education in Pakistan. This book tells the story of that event and Malala’s life before and after. I enjoyed reading about the culture and her family, and even though we would differ in religion and politics, I have great respect for Malala and her father in particular.


I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care by John Zeisel. Though I would differ with Zeisel religiously, what I appreciated most about this book its gracious and thoughtful approach regarding dealing with those with dementia.


Knowable Word: Helping Ordinary People Learn to Study the Bible by Peter Krol. A very helpful and relatively short and simple approach to getting more from your Bible study.


Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World by Carolyn McCulley. An eye-opening history of feminism from one who was fully immersed in it and later became a Christian whose views on Christian femininity changed.

What Are You Afraid Of

What Are You Afraid Of: Facing Down Your Fears With Faith by David Jeremiah discusses the universality of fear, different kinds of fear, Biblical examples of people dealing with fear, Biblical principals for dealing with fear. An excellent resource.



The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. It’s hard to fathom that I had never before read this warm, lovely account of Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad. I admit Toad is my least favorite, but I grew to like him (and even smile over some of his antics) as well.


The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I had this listed as a classic at first – it reads much like one. A butler recounts his days of service under one man during the WWII era and his adjustments in a new one, revealing his thoughts about life and service. He reminds me a lot of Carson in Downton Abbey except he’s less brusque but more buttoned-up. The author is a master of nuance and “showing, not telling.”


City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell, a novelization of her grandparents’ lives as missionaries in China during the early 20th century. Loved much about this: the characters, the relationships, the way it was told.


Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson. A young American woman travels to her French grandmother’s family chateau in France and discovers her grandmother’s history of helping the French Resistance while German soldiers commandeered her house.


Long Way Gone by Charles Martin, a modern-day prodigal son story set in Nashville. Martin is a master at pulling on heartstrings.


Not In the Heart by Chris Fabry. A reporter down on his luck and estranged from his family is asked to write an inmate’s story. The inmate wants to donate his heart to the reporter’s desperately ill son after his execution so some good can come out of his life. But the more research the reporter does, the more convinced he is that the inmate in innocent. Loved this, both the story, the writing, and the “outside looking in” view of Christianity.

The Reunion

The Reunion by Dan Walsh. A maintenance man at a trailer park does his work with excellence and takes a special interest in helping people when he can. No one knows of his heroic deeds in Viet Nam until some of his former fellow soldiers come looking for him. Probably my favorite Walsh book. I love the thought that even the most overlooked people have a story.

Searching for Eternity

Searching for Eternity by Elizabeth Musser. A 14 year old boy is uprooted from his home in France in the 1960s to live with his mother’s family in Atlanta. He has been told his father has left them, but he thinks his father is a spy and may be in danger. Adjusting to school leads to encounters with bullies and an unusual friend. This covers so much and was so good.


Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner. Two sisters are sent away from London to live with a foster mother in the country for their safety during WWII. The oldest, a teenager right on the verge of getting her dream job and thinking she can take care of herself, runs away to go back to London, and ends up having to take her sister as well. The London blitz begins the very day they arrive, and they are separated.


Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. A girl comes across a family who never ages. Though that sounds ideal, the various family members have discovered it’s not so much. This was quite thought-provoking, but it’s a favorite mainly due to Babbitt’s writing.

So there you have it. 🙂 What were your favorite books read this year?

(Sherry at Semicolon, who hosts the weekly Saturday Review of Books link-up, is allowing us to link up book lists this week: books read, favorite books, books we plan to read next year, etc.)


15 thoughts on “16 Favorite Books Read in 2016

  1. I love your list! I am reading Long Way Gone now and am enjoying it. I will look for these books. I think my reading tastes are similar to yours. Thanks so much and have a great new year!

  2. City of Tranquil Light is such a good book. I think some of your other favorites are going to have to join the multitude on my TBR list.

  3. Great list of books. A good variety. This year has been a re-read year for me. I’ve re-read a lot of books more than new ones.

  4. I really enjoyed Malala’s book. I found the history of her country and culture so interesting. I’ve also read ‘The Reunion’ a few years back and remember really enjoying it. ‘Pioneer Girl’ sounds like something I would like, as well as ‘Radical Womanhood’, ‘The Remains of the Day’ and ‘Secrets of a Charmed Life.’

    Thanks for all these great recommendations!

  5. Pingback: What’s On Your Nightstand: December 2016 | Stray Thoughts

  6. Pingback: Books Read in 2016 | Stray Thoughts

  7. I loved reading this list and have been busy adding to my wish list. Thank you for the review of Malala. That book came out of the library yesterday and is waiting to be read.
    City of Tranquil Light sounds like a must read, too.

  8. Wonderful list! You reminded me of many that I’d flagged for future reading but couldn’t remember where the review came from. I’ve read several of Meissner’s books, but not the one you’ve listed. Love her beautiful writing.

  9. I listened to Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry as an audiobook a while ago. Sooo good! And I’ve been wanting to read Long Way Gone by Charles Martin. I see several others on your list that look fascinating. Will have to add to my TBR List! Happy New Year! 🙂

  10. Pingback: Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge 2017 | Stray Thoughts

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