My Favorite Books Read in 2016

Reading is such an important part of my life and something that I absolutely love doing. Learning from others’ experiences and imaginations feels like such a gift. For me, the only other things I’d rather been doing when I’m not spending time with my family are reading or writing. (And when I’m reading with my kids – best part of my day!)

I set a goal of reading 40 books this year and surpassed it to reach 58! You can see all of them here – not including a couple releasing this year that I got to preview. (You can also check out my favorite reads from 2014 here, and my favorites from 2015 here!)

Here are my favorite books read in 2016, in no particular order:



  1. Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book argues that we as a culture have let distraction take over our lives, to the detriment of deep attention and in-depth work. It came recommended from a friend, and it continues to challenge me in how I spend my attention each day.bookdeep-work-cal-newport
  2. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. This book contains some wonderful stories and a great overall message about allowing our kids fail in order to learn how to stand up again and be responsible and accountable. I pre-ordered this one before it came out, and I’m really glad I own it, because I’ll be referring back to it in the years to come.
  3. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Probably my favorite book read this year! I happened to be chatting with a community leader about local issues, and she recommended this to me. I was captivated by it, and have been recommending it ever since.bookhillbillyelegy
  4. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This book made me cry, laugh, and want to read everything in sight. A very touching story of a man who began reading books with his mom while she was undergoing chemo treatments.
  5. The Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey. I’ve read several of Dave’s books, but this one is probably my favorite, because it focuses on your wealth legacy – how what you do now with your money can have an extremely beneficial impact on your family and others for a very long time.
  6. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This book transformed my soul and opened my eyes. I didn’t agree with everything (I rarely do in a book!) but Half the Sky has truly heightened my awareness and compassion about world issues regarding the oppression of women in the developing world and deepened my resolve to doing what I can to aid in some of these international problems.bookhalfthesky
  7. Grit by Angela Duckworth. I found this book to be more exploratory than results-based, but there are some key points that have continued to stay with me. It makes the case that while our culture loves people who are “naturals” – those gifted with athletic talent or extremely high intellect, for example – no one really achieves high levels of success without passion and perseverance.
  8. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. This book has changed the way I think about getting old and confronting death. SUCH a good read. This is the second book I have read by Atul Gawande, and I love his thoughtful writing style.bookbeingmortal
  9. On Fire by John O’Leary. This book recounts John’s experience getting horribly burned in a fire when he was nine years old, and what his pain and experience taught him about the will to live and what it means to live a life of great purpose and passion. On Fire is an uplifting and powerful read.


  1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I’ve recommended this to several people, who then say “Oh, I don’t like to read horror.” But this isn’t a typical Stephen King book (I don’t like that genre either!) It’s a well-researched novel with a fascinating storyline, and even though it’s more than 800 pages, it goes quickly for the most part. I couldn’t put it down!book11-22-63
  2. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. I almost didn’t read this because if I’m being honest, I think the title is terrible and the cover is terrible. But it was highly recommended, so I gave it a chance, and pretty soon, I was wrapped up. It’s a YA novel, and though it moves a little slow in some parts, it explores some tough themes with likable main characters and has a fantastic ending.
  3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. I got on a Young Adult kick last year, which has continued. I listened to this on audio during a drive to Nashville for a writing program and really enjoyed it. A compelling story with an unexpected outcome.bookeverything

We’re a week into the new year, and I’ve bought about 10 new books on my Kindle and have been keeping the library busy with my requests; there are so many I can’t wait to read this year. (Which is positive momentum to have, since I’m aiming for 75!) I’d love to hear what has been on your favorites list or what you’re looking forward to reading next. Any recommendations for me?

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My Favorite Books Read in 2015

Since I set a goal of reading 24 books in 2014 and hit 30, I set a goal of 30 books for 2015… and ended the year at 44!

I’ve changed a few things about the way I read, which I think has enabled me to read more every year (it also helps that my kids are getting older and are less needy): 1) I prioritize it more and usually get in at least a half hour of reading every afternoon during nap time, 2) I abandon books I don’t like instead of trying to power through, 3) I have multiple books going at once so I can pick up whatever genre I’m in the mood for, and 4) I keep a running to-read list that I constantly request from the library, so I always have new ones to pick up.


Out of the 44 I finished this year, here are my top 10 choices for the year, in no particular order…

  1. All the Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam. I went on a Vanderkam reading spree over the last year, completing 4 of her books. This and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think were my favorites, and both really challenge the beliefs that many of us hold about time and money. Highly recommended reading! I’m not exaggerating when I say that Laura Vanderkam has changed the way I work, spend time and money, and even parent.vanderkam
  2. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. I took copious notes from this book! I also have to give credit to Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Both books had similar topics and were both very well-written and thought-provoking.
  3. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. I pretty much cried through this whole book – it gives such a moving account of Katie’s decision to move from her comfortable life in Nashville to Uganda and minister to some of the most desperate and poor people on the earth, including adopting 13 little girls as her own.
  4. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I don’t read a whole lot of fiction, but this is one of the BEST books I have read in a long time. I recommend it to everyone! By the end, I had fallen in love with the main characters myself.MeBeforeYou
  5. Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World by Nish Weiseth. I devoured this book at the beginning of the year, and what I really enjoyed most was reading about the power of story-telling in our lives.
  6. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. I wasn’t quite sure what this book was about when I opened it, but I thought it was fascinating. It focuses on the fields of medicine, architecture and aviation to make the argument that a simple thing like a checklist can be extremely vital in saving time and saving lives, especially in emergency situations.
  7. The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley. I loved this so much that after I read the library’s copy, I bought one for myself. Ripley follows U.S. exchange students in education superpowers South Korea, Finland and Poland and details the educational careers and methods of children in those countries as compared to the United States, from classroom expectations, emphasis on sports (or lack thereof, in other countries) and the quality of teachers.SmartestKids
  8. The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. I can honestly say that this book has completely changed the way I interact with and engage with my family members – not only my husband but my kids, other family members and even some of my best friends. Knowing what someone’s love language is has been immensely helpful to being able to connect best with them.
  9. Orphan Train by Christine Baker Kline. I typically enjoy historical fiction, and this did not disappoint. By the end, my heart was practically aching for the main character!
  10. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. It was Bob Goff who said “nothing scares a terrorist more than an educated girl.” I think this book is a must-read for all female teens! Malala gives a fascinating history about her home country of Pakistan, including the take-over by the Taliban, and details her harrowing experience of being targeted and eventually shot by Taliban members for advocating for the education of girls. Malala

You can also check out my list of favorites in 2014 and my favorites of 2013.

Any other books I need to add to my to-read list for 2016? What were some of your favorite reads last year?

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