My Favorite Books of 2016

I know that there are still a few weeks left in December so 2016 isn’t quite over yet, but I wanted to share some of my favorite books that I’ve read this year (so far!). I’m not sure if I’ll quite reach my goal of reading 52 books this year – I’m sitting at 47 so I have 5 more to read – but I’m still proud of how much I have read and there were some really good ones this year!

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
23453112I don’t read a lot of nonfiction books; I usually stick to my classic literature, fantasy, with some young adult thrown in there, but this book really caught my eye. Also I love Aziz Ansari.

Modern Romance studies romance in today’s society: how it’s changed over time, how it impacts people, and how people date, etc. The topic is interesting enough on its own, but Aziz makes it even more interesting by punctuating it with funny anecdotes and humor. Additionally, Aziz is so effortlessly funny that you forget that you’re even reading a nonfiction research study. As an added bonus, if you listen to the audiobook version (which I did), he makes fun of you for being lazy and having him read to you and then tries to explain the graphs that are included in the paper copy of the book, which is also hilarious.

Modern Romance isn’t a book just for those that are in the dating pool; everyone can relate to it. Our society’s modern romance affects everyone, whether you consider yourself available or not. I would add this book to your must-read list.

The Martian by Andy Weir
You may remember my very long, glowing review of The Martian back in the spring. My opinion hasn’t changed since then, except that I’ve seen the movie and I’m telling you, if you’ve only seen the movie and haven’t read the book, you are missing out.

Short synopsis: Mark Whatney is stranded on Mars after he and his crew are hit by a storm and they presume him dead. He has no way to communicate to earth and has to fight to survive in a harsh and unwelcoming Martian environment.

I’m not even that interested in science, but I will say that I loved this book. Mark’s humor is truly what made this book the masterpiece that it is. While there were times that I actually laughed out loud, his humor is so subtle and dry. The details that Weir puts into this novel will have you believing that he is an actual astronaut, because how else would he know this stuff? Let me recap some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

I’m traveling 90 kilometers per day as usual, but I only get 37 kilometers closer to Schiaparelli because Pythagoras is a dick.

They’re not much different than kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because NASA.

And it’s not like these quotes are few and far in between, The Martian is full of these little gems.

Even if you’re not interested in science, this is a humorous read despite the adversity that Mark faces in the harsh climate of Mars as he fights to find a way back home.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
Ove is a cranky, crotchety old man. He is forced into an early retirement after 30 years at the same job, and after the death of his wife, his life now revolves around making sure everyone follows the rules and regulations of his housing complex. Things are black and white for Ove, and he can be quite the curmudgeon if things aren’t done exactly as he wants them to be done.

The story starts when the new neighbors next door accidentally run over Ove’s mailbox. An unexpected, and sometime unwanted relationship forms between Ove and Parvenah, the Iranian pregnant woman from next door. As the story progresses, you learn more about Ove’s life and how he came to be he who he is.

This is the most heartwarming novel I’ve read in a long time. I found Ove so relatable – I can be quite the grouchy pants in my head, so reading his thoughts and comments about other people make you laugh even if you want to hate him. You can’t, you have to love him. It’s comical and sad, I laughed and I cried. It’s an easy read that you could finish in a day and one that I’m sure I’ll want to re-read in the future!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale
The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters during WWII France, one an ambitious, rebellious girl named Isabelle who is trying to find meaning in life after she’s been kicked out of countless schools and is refused by a father who doesn’t want her; and the other, a responsible mother and wife named Vianne who keeps a naive and innocent perspective of life.

But everything changes when the Nazis invade France. Vianne’s husband leaves for war and she must house a Nazi when the Germans occupy their small country town. Isabelle meets a man who informs her of the French who are resisting and fighting back, and she joins the Resistance. The Nightingale displays the everyday horror of war, the selfless and brave acts people make, and the war that rarely gets talked about: the women’s war. These sisters impacted the lives of the people around them, in ways big and small, all while just trying to survive.

I read this slowly, savoring every page, each with new facts that I never knew and situations I could never imagine. Hannah had me feeling everything the characters were experiencing: I laughed with them, I feared with them, I cried with them. The story itself was rich and genuine, at times blurring the lines between right and wrong, and good and evil.

The Nightingale is powerful and poignant. A book that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading, it’s hands-down the best book that I’ve read in 2016.

These are my favorite books from 2016! What are your favorites you read this year?

My heart is full

The light overhead is off, but the glow from the lights on the Christmas tree and the lamp beside the couch illuminate the room. There is something wrong with the fireplace that we haven’t figured out yet, but under my blanket with Chloe cuddled next to me, I am more than warm enough.

There are presents under the tree and even more still waiting to be wrapped in the spare bedroom. The stockings are hung on the mantle, and I’ve got a book nestled in my lap.

Andrew is next to me, quietly playing a video game. He has the sound on the TV so quiet it’s barely audible, so that it doesn’t distract me from my reading.

Nothing else can be heard except for the rhythmic thrum of the dishwasher in the background. The kitchen is clean and our bellies our full after we’d both had a steaming bowl of chili for dinner.

In the quiet, I savor this moment. My heart is so full – of love, of joy, of all the wonderful things that I am thankful for: a warm place to lay my head, a husband who I love more than the world, and this time to just soak it all on.

I know too soon that this moment will pass. Soon we will need to go to bed and get ready for work the next day. We will have things to check off our to-do lists and be in a hurry to be at the next place.

But I will keep this little moment that I’ve tucked away. The magical simplicity of having this time of rest on His day, with all of the things that I could ever need or want surrounding me, it overflows me. My heart is full.

My heart is full.

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