It’s been a long while since I did a round up of the books I’ve read in a year, see here, circa 2013. 2016 wasn’t a heavy reading year for me, but after going through my Goodreads list, I realized that I read more than I thought. To these books below, thank you for dropping the necessary gems I needed to hear, for accompanying me on my metro rides to work and for speaking so many of my quiet thoughts into existence.
Note: Amazon affiliate links are used below when referencing the various reads. We may make a commission for purchases made through these affiliate links.
The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? – Rick Warren
“Trusting God completely means having faith that He knows what is best for your life. You expect Him to keep His promises, help you with problems, and do the impossible when necessary.”
Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life isn’t new to me. My home church in Sunnyvale read through it back when it was first released, but I was so young at the time that I didn’t pay much attention to it. I decided to revisit it in the beginning of ’16 when I felt that I needed a bit of a shake-up to remind me of the elements of my faith that are often overlooked. I was reminded that in this short life, it’s not about me, that I should use my pain to help others, that life is supposed to be difficult (yes, it’s true) and so many more notables that will stay with me.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
“The first time he’d held her hand, it felt so good that it crowded out all the bad things. It felt better than anything had ever hurt.”
I wrote about my thoughts on this read here. To summarize: I enjoyed this read even though it made me feel old at times with my out of touch feelings on teenage love. It was well written and made you feel transported into the story which is always a plus.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: Eleanor & Park
How to Blog for Profit without Selling Your Soul – Ruth Soukup
“Blogging is incredibly personal. Your readers don’t just come read what you have to write, they come for you, for your unique voice, perspective, and ideas.”
This is the first book on blogging that I’ve ever read and it was really informative for newbies like us. We started self-hosting our blog at the beginning of the year, so I felt it was the perfect time to read up on tips and tricks to the trade. We haven’t fully implemented all of the tips (slow and steady wins in the fitness realm and here) but it’s definitely a book that I’ve revisited when I’ve been confused about some blogging topic. I especially liked the actionable tips at the end of each chapter.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul
The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason
“A part of all I earn is mine to keep.’ Say it in the morning when you first arise. Say it at noon. Say it at night. Say it each hour of every day. Say it to yourself until the words stand out like letters of fire across the sky.”
I heard about this book for years so I finally ordered it online. I assumed that The Richest Man in Babylon was the original gangster (OG) book on personal finance and I found my assumptions to be correct. I’ve heard the various themes echoed by modern financial gurus and I figured that much of these themes were derived from this book. I wasn’t expecting the parable writing style but it grew on me and I enjoyed it. There are a ton of takeaways about keeping your money and making it grow too.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: The Richest Man in Babylon
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1) – Robert Galbraith
“The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them.”
I enjoyed this book and I thought it was a solid detective story. In it, Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide. Mind you, his business is on the struggle bus and he is barely scraping by so that adds another interesting element to this story. There’s plenty of mystery and unforeseen twists to keep the reader interested. I do think the book ran a bit long, but I still didn’t have trouble flying through it. And yes, I knew that it was J.K. Rowling (one of my faves) that wrote this novel but that didn’t change my opinion about it. I plan on reading the rest of the series in ’17.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike)
Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle – Tom Venuto
“Knowledge unused is worthless; only knowledge applied is power.”
It’s no wonder that folks often refer to this as the fitness bible –it’s a great resource if you’re looking for the keys for permanent fat loss. The quote above led me to an “aha” moment earlier in the year that I talked about with my “Fitfam” GroupMe. After all of these years in the fitness game, it seems that so much of the information I hear is repeated knowledge. At the end of the day, so many of us know the tools to getting healthy and staying fit. It’s the application–the doing–that escapes so many of us. This was a difficult fitness year for me and it took a while to get into my stride, but I was finally able to bust through my rut. This book is part of the reason for it so I’m really glad that I picked it up.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle: Transform Your Body Forever Using the Secrets of the Leanest People in the World
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 – John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
“DUMBLEDORE: Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”
I gave this read three stars on Goodreads, but it’s really closer to a 2.5 in my opinion. I just didn’t enjoy it much and I found Harry & Ginny’s son, Albus, to be super annoying. I hadn’t been this annoyed at a Harry Potter character since Harry’s teenage angst nonsense in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And I realize that this is a play and that this read is in no way meant to be like the former Harry Potter books. However, I just thought that the story could have been better. It felt like corny, fan fiction at times. I appreciated the effort but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2, Special Rehearsal Edition Script
Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
“The need to call this thing “good” and this thing “bad,” this thing “white” and this thing “black,” was an impulse that Effia did not understand. In her village, everything was everything. Everything bore the weight of everything else.”
It’s hard to believe that this is Gyasi’s debut novel because it’s so good. I loved Homegoing and it’s easily my favorite read of the year. It’s an intense, moving account of two half-sisters separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. The story manages to trace the generations of family who follow over three hundred years of history.
The characters and their stories captivated me and at times gave me feelings of overwhelming sadness because although this is a work of fiction, the historical events that transpired and led to so much suffering were real. Throughout the read, I flipped back to the family tree to make sure that I kept track of all the familial connections and how that impacted the stories. I’m Nigerian-American so this read resonated with me a lot and made me think about my own family history, known and unknown. Most of all though, it reminded me of the unique and beautiful connectedness of descendants of the African diaspora despite a history that we didn’t ask for.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: Homegoing: A novel
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
“But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.”
This is another read where a mini review can’t do it justice. I was familiar with a little bit of Coates work, particularly for The Atlantic, before reading it, but I still didn’t know what to expect. The book is in the form of a letter to Coate’s teenage son and it tackles the sordid history of race in America. The quote I selected above stood out to me because people oftentimes sweep the violent history of racism under the rug because of the time we are living in now (as if all the violence has ended). This book doesn’t posit an answer on where we go from our current state. Instead, it’s an honest examination on the past and present of the violent & detrimental impact of racism.
Interested in reading? It’s available here: Between the World and Me
That’s all folks! Now it’s your turn:
What was on your reading list this year? Please share in the comments so I can add new reads for ’17!