The Best Books I Read in 2016

Last year I decided to keep track of the books I read in 2016. GoodReads made this easy as I just added each book to my “2016 Reads” list after finishing. I ended with 116 books read in 2016. Mostly thanks to reading at the gym. I’m a quick reader and spend one hour (5 days a week) on the treadmill at the gym reading. So that’s 5 hours of read time meaning I easily read 1-2 books a week (depending on book length) just while working out at the gym. Plus I read during travel time on trips which we did a lot of this year. So, 116 is where I landed in 2016.

When it comes to rating books on GoodReads, I most frequently rate books at a 3 or 4. A 4 means I really liked the book and a 3 means that it was fine. If I rate it a 2 then I really didn’t like it (I have rarely given out a 1 star rating because I almost feel like it’s mean to the author, ha!) and if it gets a 5 star rating then it means LOVE! So today I want to share with you guys my favorite 5-star reads from 2016

mark-of-the-lion

I re-read the Mark of the Lion trilogy this year (A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, & As Sure as the Dawn). These are some of my favorite books so naturally I loved them all over again. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I have read this trilogy since I was first introduced to it as a teenager. I just love all three of these books so much. So so so good!

scarred faith.jpg

Also a re-read for this past year was Scarred Faith. I first read this book in 2013 when it was published, but I think I’ve re-read it nearly every year since then (or at least parts of it). This book tackles several big topics (in a short 160 pages), but one of my favorite things about it is that it talks about how important mourning sad times is. We brush over grief so often because it’s uncomfortable and so many of us grieve differently and over different things. but I love this book for the reminder that God is standing with us through every moment of our suffering. And best of all, this book reminds us that the tomb was empty and that death doesn’t win. Jesus wins. And that reminder fills me with such hope for the brokenness in the world.

unafraid
The final re-read for 2016 was Unafraid.  Oh, how I love this book. I read it nearly every December because I love how it tells the story of Jesus’ birth from Mary’s perspective. It humanizes her in such a powerful way. Love it!

lady midnight.jpg

I’ve read several of Cassandra Clare’s books and every one of them has landed a 4 star rating from me. I enjoy them for sure, but they aren’t the best ever. Until her latest book, Lady Midnight, which was just above and beyond! A 5 star read for sure! Personally, I think it’s the best she’s written and I am so excited for the next book to come out this May!

crystal-kingdom

I read Crystal Kingdom (the final book in the Kanin Chronicles trilogy) this year and loved it! I loved the original Trylle trilogy that she wrote and this follow up trilogy was equally excellent – especially the final book!

the-crown

I read The Crown (the fifth book in the Selection series) and I absolutely loved it! I loved the first 3 books in the original trilogy, but was really disappointed in the fourth book (partially because I didn’t know there was going to be a fifth book until the last few pages of the fourth so I was really confused as to why they weren’t wrapping things up better). This fifth book absolutely redeemed the fourth. Loved it! I look forward to seeing what Kiera Cass does next!

harry-potter

I initially had mixed feelings about Harry Potter & the Cursed Child. I had no problem with the script layout, but I didn’t love all the parts of the story or character development. However, when I finished the book I found myself happy to have read it. Happy to have spent some time with characters I had missed. And happy to have met some new ones. It barely squeaked by with a 5 instead of a 4, but in the end all the old Harry Potter feels won out. 🙂

esther

This retelling of Esther is incredible! Like the “Unafraid” book I shared about earlier, this one humanizes Esther in a powerful way. It really helps you imagine what it might have been like to be in her shoes. Such an interesting read!

land-of-silence

I can nearly always count on Tessa Afshar for a 5 star read. Her book, Land of Silence, was no exception. She is a powerful story teller and I love that about her! I’m looking forward to her next book in June!

pride-and-prejudice

I have loved the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice since I was introduced to it as a child. And when the Kiera Knightley version came out while I was in college, I loved that one too. I obsessively watched every one of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube videos as soon as I heard about them and I have read countless re-tellings of the story in book form. However, somehow I just never actually read the original Pride & Prejudice. So this year I did. And I absolutely LOVED it!! I thought it might get tedious reading it all, but it was the opposite. Even though I knew everything that was coming, I still couldn’t put the book down. Jane Austen’s wit is just the best.

seeking-refuge

As many of you know, Christopher and I began volunteering with World Relief last year. We were placed with a family from Syria and spent our Monday nights practicing English with them. Talk about an eye-opening experience. This book, Seeking Refuge, is a great place to start if you are curious about what’s happening with the refugee crisis and ways you can help. (Note: this book was released before the recent temporary ban was put in place so it doesn’t address that topic, but it does give tons of great information).

the-wonderful-things-you-will-be

The Wonderful Things You Will Be is actually a children’s book which is a obviously different from the others on this list. But I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you guys anyway. The message is beyond precious and the illustrations are beautiful. As soon as I saw this book I bought it for Mallory (the little girl who I nanny a few hours a week). And you better believe I’m excited to read this book to Baby Vendetti as well! Such a sweet read. 🙂

What was the best thing you read last year? 

Have you read any of these books?

Love Rach

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35 responses to “The Best Books I Read in 2016

  1. Adding The Wonderful Things You Will Be to the list of books to get for Zoe! I haven’t read any of the books on your list so I will have to check them out! I do have the Harry Potter one already, just haven’t cracked it open yet. Glad you liked it!

    • Yay! I’m so glad you are getting The Wonderful Things You Will Be for Zoe! Oh my gracious, it’s such a sweet book! I love it! And I hope you enjoy the Harry Potter one when you pick it up. There are things I didn’t love about it, but it was still worth reading for sure! 🙂

  2. I have been wanting to read some Francine Rivers books, but I haven’t gotten to it! The ones you read sound so good! So glad to hear The Crown was better than The Heir. I have been nervous to read The Heir since I have heard so many people say they didn’t like it!

    • Oh my goodness, YES! I love Francine Rivers! Her book Redeeming Love is so amazing too! It makes me cry every time I read it.

      I was SO disappointed in The Heir, BUT! I really didn’t know there would be a fifth book. So I was really confused by how they weren’t wrapping things up. I also didn’t love the main character in The Heir. However, while she’s still the same character… I liked her much better in The Crown because she grew so much. Definitely worth reading book 4 in order to read book 5! 🙂

  3. Interesting that you should post about books today! You’ll find out why i say that really soon 🤔😘

    • So I just checked the mail and found two very precious books waiting for me. Oh, what a sweet friend you are! Thank you, Casey! We’re excited to dive into the Prayers book and I can’t wait to start reading the Storybook Bible to Baby V!

  4. I really appreciate this post because I started the Mark of the Lion trilogy a few years ago, got distracted (life!) and totally forgot to finish it. You have reminded me to get back to it. Thanks!!

  5. I definitely need to get my hands on some of those books!! 🙂 I’ve been looking for some good ones. (And oh my goodness, I can’t believe you read so much!! My goal for 2017 is to read 7 books, because I hardly read anything last year. Ha, ha. I used to read a ton, but I just haven’t given myself the time to sit and do it. I definitely want to change that)!! 🙂
    And I NEED to buy that children’s book for Brady!!! I can tell it’s adorable.

    • Oh girl, I’m sure I will read MUCH less once Baby V arrives! Well, we’ll certainly read to Baby, but I doubt I will be reading just a ton for myself. 😉

      Yes, definitely get that children’s book for Brady! It’s such a sweet one!

  6. Have you read Francine Grace’s A Lineage of Grace? It is INCREDIBLE! I really need to read her other books because that is one of my all time favourites. Unafraid sounds amazing too!

  7. I haven’t yet read The Crown, although I read the rest of the series and found it pretty fun. I read a lot by nature, which makes me very grateful for our apartment complex’s library…at the moment most of my reading choices are highly influenced by what’s available in the library. 😛

    • Oh man, I have to say I love having access to a great public library system here. When we were living in China, books were the main thing we would ask family to mail over for Christmas gifts. And every year when we would come home from our short furlough, we’d bring one entire suitcase filled with new books every time, haha! I come from a family of readers and there were no English books in Wuhan at the time. Good memories. 🙂 I’m so glad you have a better selection than we had at the time! Do you guys have access to Kindle and things like that there? That’s how my mom takes books with her when they are in China now. 🙂

  8. You’ve got a few supernatural series books on here which I’m always afraid to jump into, for some reason. (Especially those books that start in the middle of things line you should already know what’s going on.) But I might want to try one of these! I’ll have to read the summaries and see if they’re at my library.

    • I would recommend the Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking as a good place to start. The Crystal Kingdom book I mentioned in this post is the final book to a follow up trilogy to the original trilogy. It was really good, but I really loved the first trilogy as well! The books are fast paced and easy to understand the storyline. Cassandra Clare’s books are typically really good, but they can be SO WORDY, haha!

  9. I loved Khaled Hosseini’s books! Especially “The Kite Runner”. I was sobbing my eyes out. I haven’t read any of yours but added few from your list 🙂

  10. So many great book rec’s- I really want to dive into the Mark of the Lion series!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

  11. 116 books! Great job! My goal this year is two every month because I have cut way back on my reading since having the boys. I am so glad you put this post together in case I am stumped on which one I want to read next at some point. I definitely want to read the Esther one. We have The Wonderful Things You Will Be and that is a favorite around here too.

    • Oh girl, I’m sure I will be reading MUCH less once Baby Vendetti arrives! Well, I’ll certainly read to the baby, but I doubt I’ll be reading this much for my own pleasure. 😉 I hope you like Esther! It definitely was more grown-up than the Bible stories you hear as a kid, but it felt very accurate to the true time and place. Worth the read for sure! And I love that you guys love The Wonderful Things You Will Be! It’s so cute, right?!

  12. so, even if i walk, i can’t read on the treadmill. i can’t focus on the words. i think i bounce too much. hahaha. lady midnight is on my list, but i am trying to finish her shadowhunters series… i have one book left and i have seriously been reading this series for TEN YEARS. i should just give up haha. i’ve got a few amanda hocking books on my list/shelf at home.
    okay, i have the crown in my library pile and i kept putting it off because i felt so blah about the fourth. good to know you liked it!
    well, you know how i feel about Pride & Prejudice ❤

    • Seriously, I get asked ALL THE TIME at the gym how I read while walking on the treadmill. So I think I’m definitely the odd one here. I rarely ever see anyone else reading while on the treadmill. It’s the random things in life, haha!

      I liked Cassandra Clare’s Shadow Hunter series, but a lot of it was SO WORDY, haha! Lady Midnight is still a huge book, but it felt like it moved so much faster than some of her other books. I SO loved it! Just be aware that the next book isn’t out yet (I didn’t think to check that before I read it last year so I got caught off guard on that). I want to know what happens next!!

      I hope you like The Crown! I liked it so much better than The Heir. The main character grows so much in the fifth book and I found myself disliking her a lot less. And I found myself super invested in the story and wanting to know how it would end. Definitely worth reading!

  13. I am definitely adding some of these to my list for this year! I have a baby shower on Sunday and I have to bring a book, so I think I’m going to check that one out! It sounds so cute!

  14. I have that series of books that includes Unafraid. I should revisit them. 116 books is so many books! Good for you. I’m going to check out that children’s book now.

    • Francine River’s Lineage of Grace books are so good! Unafraid is still my favorite of them all, but they are all good!

      And I hope Ava likes The Wonderful Things You Will Be! I love the illustrations in it! And the message. So precious.

  15. I scheduled my list to be posted today, so you can check that out if you like! 🙂

    I love keeping track of what I read and what I thought. Plus, goodreads helps me to find books that I wouldn’t have ever heard of. The only thing better than that is taking a peek at someone else’s list of top books!!! It doesn’t grow old.

    I think our tastes are a bit different, but I still enjoyed looking over your list! I think I may have talked to about this before…but have you ever read “Leotta’s Garden” by Francine Rivers? That is, I think, my FAVORITE of her books. I’ve not read them all, but I’ve read quite a few of them!

    I keep hearing about that Selection series. I may try it out one of these days. I always enjoy YA, but that particular sub-genre isn’t one I’m normally draw to.

    I think it’s neat that a children’s book was included!

    Seeking Refuge is officially on my list now! I think I may see if my friend Shauna wants to do a read-along. 🙂

    And…Austen…Is P&P the first Austen you’ve read or the one you never got around to? It’s the first one I read. I went into at 13 knowing it was a classic, but not knowing anything else. I’m glad! I’ve since become one of the thousands of women who LOVE her and everything connected to her and her books. ❤

    • Just read your post and it sounds like you read a lot of great stuff this past year! 🙂 I haven’t read Leotta’s Garden, but I should! I love everything I’ve read by Francine Rivers so I’m sure I’ll like it!

      Pride and Prejudice is the first Austen book I’ve actually read. I saw on your list that you also loved Mansfield Park this year. I haven’t read that one yet (P&P is the only one so far), but I’m eager to read more of her books!

  16. PS I decided that “The Swan House” by Elizabeth Musser (set in Atlanta) is my favorite novel of 2016 and that “My Salinger Year” by Joanna Rakoff is my favorite memoir of 2016 and that “Rediscovering Holiness” by JI Packer is my favorite theology book of 2016. 🙂 All good in their own categories!!!

  17. I believe the only book on this list that I’ve read is Unafraid, and I remember it being such a great read! I just added a ton of your recommendations to my to-read list! Thanks, Rach!

  18. I love Francine River!! I’m in the process of reading the Voice in the Wind series. The first was was amazing!!! I’m also reading through Cassandra Claire’s books too! I’ve read the The Infernal Devices trilogy and am now on book 5 of the Immortal Bones series.

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