I know a lot of people can’t wait to see the end of 2016, but the year really wasn’t so bad for me. I’m not a constitutionally upbeat person, and the power of positive thinking gives me hives, but I also don’t experience world events and celebrity deaths as personal tragedies, which has been helpful this year. For me, 2016 wasn’t unrelenting awesomeness, but it wasn’t unmitigatedly awful, either.
2016 was a year of introspection and reevaluation for me. In 2016, I turned forty, I visited Acadia National Park and Prince Edward Island for the first time, my spouse got a job promotion, I helped my religious congregation find a new minister, my son found a best friend, and my daughter grew to within 2.5 inches of my height. We welcomed new family members via birth and marriage, felt the constellation of our family shift as we said goodbye to other family members, and in general grew and changed and lived much as we’ve done in years past.
And in the midst of all of this, I read 89 books. The average (mean) books read per month was 7.41, and the average (mean) per week was 1.71.
Of these, 75 were fiction (including children’s books), 5 were memoirs, and the remaining 9 were other nonfiction.
I read NO (zero; 0) books from my Cavalcade of Classics list during 2016. I did not finish my Cavalcade of Classics by January 2017 as planned—I didn’t even get close—but I’m going to use this anniversary to revisit, revise, and hopefully renew my interest in my list. To encourage myself in this endeavor, I’m going to participate in the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and fill as many of the categories as possible with classics. (Moby Dick as a book about sports? A Vindication of the Rights of Woman as a book published by a micropress? Utopia as a fantasy novel? Hey, whatever works.) My goal is to read two classics a month. This is probably too ambitious, so if I manage one a month or even one for the year, I’ll feel content.
My reading in 2016 has been interesting. I managed to read more fiction than I did in 2015, which worked well for me. I read fewer picture books than I did in previous years, in part because my children are getting older and in part because I was involved in more outside-the-home endeavors this year.
My big discovery this year was audiobooks. On my walks and jogs around the neighborhood, on road trips near and far, and while I cooked dinner, I listened to a total of 34 audiobooks.
Also, I took my SBC into the real world and started meeting with friends to discuss each month’s book selection, and I participated in two Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathons, and now I’m trying to figure out how to make every weekend a readathon.
As 2017 comes into view, I am reading In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi (one of the five books my spouse got from the library for me for Christmas this year. The others are Euphoria by Lily King, Honeydew by Edith Pearlman, Stoner by John Williams, and The North Water by Ian McGuire), The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, The Last Days of Socrates by Plato (I have only Crito left!), and The Histories by Herodotus (STILL not ready to cry uncle on this one).
Below is my book list for 2016, by the month I finished each book. Click on the month name for the “Bookends” for that month, which includes other information about my reading progress throughout the year. I also cross-post most of my reviews on Goodreads. If you’d like to just go straight to Goodreads to see my reviews there, here’s the link to my Goodreads profile. You can also go there to see all 1067 books I’ve read and logged on Goodreads. If you’re not a Goodreads fan, you can check out my collection on LibraryThing instead.
December (this is the bookends post for this month)
The Three Weissmans of Westport by Cathleen Schine (audiobook)
Faithful Place by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #3)
Broken Harbo(u)r by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #4)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (audiobook)
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (audiobook)
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (stopped reading)
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor (audiobook)
A Failure of Nerve by Edwin H. Friedman
In the Woods by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #1)
The Likeness by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #2)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (audiobook)
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The Good House by Tananarive Due
The Missing by Sarah Langan
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (audiobook)
White Fang—The Call of the Wild and Other Stories by Jack London (audiobook)
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (audiobook)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (audiobook)
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante (book three of the Neapolitan Novels)
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (The fourth and final Neapolitan Novel)
Mr. g by Alan Lightman (audiobook, stopped reading)
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (stopped reading)
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (audiobook, stopped reading)
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (read-aloud re-read)
Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink (read-aloud)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audiobook re-read)
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (audiobook)
Searching for Meaning by James T. Webb
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (audiobook)
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (audiobook)
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (Book 2 of the Neapolitan Novels)
Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor
Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr (audiobook)
In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard (audiobook)
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (audiobook)
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
In One Person by John Irving
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (audiobook)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by J.R.R. Tolkien (not really a “kids'” book, per se, but I read it aloud to my kids, so I put it here)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (audiobook)
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (audiobook)
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (audiobook)
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (first of the Neapolitan Novels)
Greenwitch by Susan Cooper (audiobook, third book in the Dark is Rising series)
The Grey King by Susan Cooper (audiobook, fourth book in the Dark is Rising series)
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle (read-aloud)
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola (read-aloud picture book)
Across a Dark and Wild Sea by Don Brown (read-aloud picture book)
Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson (read-aloud picture book)
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard (stopped reading. I liked this one, I just wasn’t in the mood for nonfiction)
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (audiobook)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (audiobook)
The Martian by Andy Weir
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (audiobook re-re-re-re-read as we explored PEI)
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (audiobook re-read as we explored Maine and New Brunswick)
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (read-aloud with my kids)
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder (audiobook, re-re-read)
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (audiobook, second book in the Dark is Rising series)
Into the Go-Slow by Bridgett M. Davis
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White (audiobook, re-read)
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (audiobook, first in the Dark is Rising series)
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (the paperback version)
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (re-read; started as a read-aloud then we switched to the audiobook)
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (audiobook, which I didn’t like a lot; currently finishing the paperback, which has been updated with more PC language, thank goodness)
Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich
No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chödrön (stopped reading because it was due back at the library)
Rome Antics by David Macaulay (read-aloud)
Pegasus, the Flying Horse by Jane Yolen (read-aloud)
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky (read-aloud)
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (read-aloud)
Archimedes Takes a Bath by Joan M. Lexau (read-aloud)
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (audiobook, re-re-read, and I cried this time, too)
The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson (stopped reading)
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (read-aloud for our homeschool book club)
The Persian Cinderella by Shirley Climo (read-aloud picture book)
Matilda by Roald Dahl (audiobook, re-read)
And to round things out in a not-as-bookish way, here are my goals for 2017:
- Wink more.
- Modify my relationship with social media.
- Quell my assumptions by going to the source and asking questions, even if it feels prying or awkward or if I worry someone’s going to get mad at me.
- Gain fluency in Spanish…or at least enough confidence that I can converse with native speakers without the aid of alcohol.
- Make ample use of my passport.
- Work to become aware of the ways in which I blindly follow the spoken and unspoken demands and biases of my culture, and modify those that don’t work with my morals and ideals.
- Say “Indeed” in place of swear words.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year! May we each rise to whatever challenges 2017 has in store for us!