Wednesday, January 13

2016 reading list | a call for your recommendations

Hey guys! As I was doing a lot of personal reflecting during the start of the new year and my birthday as well, the growing list in my head was more about things I wanted to stop doing in 2016, instead of things to start. I really feel lately that choosing a bunch of New Years resolutions can often put unneeded pressure on us to pick out our flaws and failures of past years in order to 'fix' ourselves. But that's another post.haha One thing that I really would love to do more of going forward is to read more. Nothing specific or unattainable, just to read more. Easy enough right? :)
When I was younger I would open the title page of a new mystery novel after tucking into my blankets at night, and close it the next morning having finished the whole thing. I started collecting all kinds of books from garage sales and thrift stores with my first few dollars, I would read through whole shelves at the library, I just couldn't get enough. Reading has always been so important to me as just a personal refuge and escape, and I'm so excited about making more time for it this year!

These days Martin and I are lucky to have a very large library of books with our combined collections and books we've added, but still I can count the books I read yearly on one hand. So sad.haha I always feel as though I write so much better when I read too, as I find it really opens up my mind and broadens my vocabulary.

So, in addition to sharing my own overly-extensive (naturally) book list, I'd really love your suggestions on your personal favorites if you owuldn't mind sharing! I really have a hard time not finishing a book I start, even if it's not that great, so feedback on any I've already listed along with your reccommendations would be so greatly appreciated:)

Here is a list off the top of my head of great reads (so I've heard) that I'd love to whip through this year:

- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- Papillon by Henri Charriere
- The Portrait of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
- Saint Anything by Sarah Dessan
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler
- The Children Act by Ian McEwan
- The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- People Over Profit by Dale Partridge
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Heaven is Here by Stephanie Neilson
- Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandle
- #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
- The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
- The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis ( everything by C.S. Lewis:))
- The Five Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
- Before I go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
- and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A very wide range of genres I know, but that's how I roll! haha At any rate I'm really looking forward to maybe building a little list of reading inspiration that we can all benefit from, and a heartfelt thank you in advance if you take the time to share:)


  1. I have read some of these books and they are very good! I also really want to read Gone Girl as the film is so good!

  2. Great list, Emily. If you like C.S. Lewis, I am currently reading this incredible book about how the war shaped his friendships, storylines, and faith during the World War I. I'm not that into historical biographies, but this one is a fantastic, quick read!

    Happy page turning,

  3. If The Great Gatsby is on your list, definitely check out Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and The Paris Wife. Daisy Goodwin's American Princess is very good and The Fortune Hunter is supposed to be excellent as well. Also, check out Tina Fey's BossyPants if you haven't already. Happy reading!

    Haute Child in the City

  4. Thanks for sharing your book list. I'm going to read one of the book you mention above.

  5. All the Light We Cannot See
    Orphan Train
    The Promise of Stardust
    Rosie Project / Effect
    Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey
    Outlander series

    Check out the list of my favourites on my blog!


    1. Every single one of these titles is a spectacular read! :)

  6. Emily, reading really is a beautiful activity! My husband and I like to read books out loud to each other...its actually how we studied in college since we were both Lit majors. Sometimes he would read all the lines of one character and I'd read the other character's lines and it was a good way to make the homework come to life. Last year during my first trimester (I couldn't do alot!) we read through Dracula at night. It was one of the best books we had ever read together!! I highly recommend it. The writing is incredible and the story is just amazing... Alot deeper than I had thought it would be! We couldn't put it down!

  7. A big YES on East of Eden. I was disappointed by the Goldfinch but maybe that's just me.

    Two additions: my two favorites of 2015 were All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and A Thousand Splended Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

    1. If you haven't read any Khaled Hosseini, I agree...start with A Thousand Splended Suns! I thought that one was better than The Kite Runner.

  8. Yay books! Some of these are my favorites, some I just really love.

    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
    I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
    Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    The Flavia de Luce Series by Alan Bradley (These will appeal to your younger self - mysteries with a young, plucky main character)

  9. I made it a goal to read more at the end of the year as well. For me joining blogger reading challenges was a good support and boost. May not be for everyone but I enjoyed it. Either way I would definitely recommend using goodreads if you don't already. It's a great site/app that's free and basically is a social media library. It's amazing and addictive.. be careful. Here is my "favorites self" it's a little eclectic. But I've been reading a lot of fun books recently, especially some fun YA if you like YA. :) I'd love to be book friends. :) Here's the link to my shelf: XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  10. if you start with gone girl, you'll be on your way to book two in no time. you will not want to put that book down.

    1. I agree 100%. That is one devilishly smart and action-packed book. Great plot, great characters, great writing. :)

  11. I really did not enjoy the Goldfinch. It depressed me to read it. It seemed like everyone was constantly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which made me want to stop reading.

    The Girl on the Train was worth the read, though not one of my favorites.

    I don't know your personal tastes but here are a few of my favorites:
    All the Light we Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
    The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
    The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd
    Calling me Home - Julie Kibler
    The Dovekeepers - Alice Hoffman (my absolute favorite)
    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte

    I also read a lot of scify fantasy. It's not for everyone, but some of my favorites:
    The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
    Stardust - Neil Gaiman
    The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson
    The Mistborn series - Brandon Sanderson

    1. I totally second your fantasy recommendations. Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourite authors ever! And I'm eagerly awaiting the next Patrick Rothfuss book.

  12. The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton, PhD very good read on science that you can follow and some challenge to the brain too.

  13. If I may add my 2015 favorite - "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert. <3 <3 <3

  14. The Art of Racing in the Rain (really great!!)
    Gone Girl (part HOLY SHIT part I CAN'T PUT THIS DOWN)
    If you are looking for a three-book series that I LOVED as an adult but your older kiddos would also get into - Inkheart (It's Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath). They might not be old enough yet but when they are like 12 this series is just amazing.
    If you like mysteries I really love any book by David Rosenfelt - he has a mystery series (Andy Carpenter series) and they are so funny.
    I really loved the book The Secret Lives of Dresses.
    Emma is my favorite Jane Austen book, it's really funny! Love it.
    The Girl on the Train is also on my to-read list.
    Amy Poehler's book was great! And super easy to read.
    I want to read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.
    I love getting book recommendations and seeing what other people are reading!

  15. If you like fiction, check out The Night Circus. It's one of my favorites - that perfect "escape book" it's really beautifully written, with gorgeous descriptions. It's definitely not boring, but it's also not a stressful read (like I imagine Gone aGirl might be haha)

  16. I read the Snow Child last year and really enjoyed it. And The Four Loves is on my list for this year too! I'm currently reading a book called How Am I Smart? By Kathy Koch. It's been really interesting. It's a "Parents guide to multiple intelligences". It helps you be able to figure out in what ways your kids are smart and how to develop those "smarts". I don't have any (living) kids yet but I am excited to learn about it to use with our future kids(:

  17. I love Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane. Stardust is another favorite of mine. :) I'll have to give some of the books on your list a go, too!

    1. I just finished Ocean at the End of the Lane. I really enjoyed it as well.

  18. I love seeing other people's "to read" lists! I have quite an expansive one myself.

    Here are some of my favorites:
    The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar -By far my 2015 favorite
    Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor -favorite Urban Fantasy
    The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger -This one is fabulous..dandy vampires, sexy Scottish werewolves and a very stubborn female lead with a peculiar skill. Love love love this one too!
    Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti -Another favorite

    Reading is the best way to escape when you can't physically escape! Cheers to more fun reading adventures in 2016!

  19. I just finished "Loving My Lot" by Jeanne Harrison, and am knee deep in the Outlander series by Diana Gabladon. Highly recommend!

  20. I really like biographies and enjoy the writing of Eric Metaxas, particularly his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and am now working on his biography of William Wilberforce (Amazing Grace), who helped abolish the slave trade.

    Speaking of Bonhoeffer, he has a few great books out there on Christian Life, such as "The Cost of Discipleship" and "Life Together."

    In the fiction category I am slowly making my way through the Bregdan Chronicles on my Kindle. It's a long, involved saga at the time of the Civil War. There are at least 8 in the series and each one is 500-600 pages! Definitely the kind to make you get under the covers and read for hours, although a little long to read in one night.

  21. Mother - Kathleen Norris
    Fit To Burst - Rachel Jankovic
    Raising Maidens of Virtue - Stacie McDonald (My Mom read this to me when I was a young girl.)

  22. I would recommend A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. It was a total delight to read, and is funny, touching, and poignant all at the same time. Big thumbs up from me. Oh and I'm so jealous that you get to read The Snow Child for the first time, one of my all time favourites!

  23. My favourite book ever is "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers. I recommend it to everyone. It is both shattering but beautiful, complicated but simple.

  24. If you want a short but powerful read on prayer I recommend When Ye Pray by Joy Haney. It's excellent and challenging!

  25. It's always fun to hear what others that have an "obsession" with books are reading! ;-)

    I read The Portrait of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde many years ago and I still remember the storyline pretty well. Mostly I remember it being sad. Very sad. But you still don't find many authors today that can write like that. They're few and far between.

    Some of my new favorites are "Taken", "Full Disclosure", and "Danger in the Shadows". All by Dee Henderson. All of them are mysteries and have a good message with plenty of danger mixed in.

    Another new favorite is "Deadly Puzzle" by Katie Maloney. It's an unusual book in that its written from the prospective of two dogs but don't let that stop you from reading it. I really, really, really liked it! :-) It's funny with plenty of mystery and has a complicated plot line that makes it fun to try to figure out the villain. It's only available on Amazon so here's the link.

    Now I'm going to have to check out some of the books you listed....:-)

  26. Great list! I've read 7 or 8 of them - Station Eleven was trippy, terrifying in ways, but very good. Two thumbs up to Girl on the Train (which is coming out as a movie this year, so read it first!) And the classics you listed are great as well. I've been holding out on Gone Girl, not sure if I want to read it, but this might be the year I do. I love reading other people's recommendations, and if I can get my blog caught up, I always list my favorites of the year. Here's last year's:

    And off the top of my head, in 2015 I LOVED:
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (be prepared to possibly bawl like a baby...but it's good, SO GOOD.)
    Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
    A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (I can't believe this is the 1st Bryson I've read! hilarious!)
    The Lake House by Kate Morton (any and EVERY Morton book is amazing)
    The Lunar Chronicles series (mostly for the high fun factor:)
    definitely read the Smoke and Bone series,
    and definitely read the Flavia deLuce series!

  27. I'd like to echo everyone else's thoughts :)
    The Night Circus!! So good and if you like audio books then it's a great narration. It's about two magicians who compete to make the best exhibits for a circus.
    The Orphan Train. I just read this and it was really interesting to learn about how orphans were treated in the 18-19th centuries in America.
    All the Light we Cannot See- won the Pulitzer Prize. Ww2
    The Nightingale - also ww2 and also one of my favorites in 2015.

    And The Language of Flowers was awesome.

  28. Different from any book I've ever read, I'd highly recommend the book "A Dog's Purpose" by W. Bruce Cameron. Despite the title, it's a work of fiction and I loved every bit of it. Then I read the sequel... :-)

  29. I wholeheartedly recommend The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. It's a mystery/romance/thriller/fantasy that not only entertains but (in my case) teaches. Here's a sample:

    “A movement unlocked my attention. I re-focused my eyes, looking past the vodka glass and into the static buzz of the TV. I stayed very still for a few seconds before lowering the glass to the floor, careful not to take my eyes off the screen. There was something distant and alive in the depths of the white noise - a living glide of thoughts swimming forward, a moving body of concepts and half felt images.”


  30. I just finished Yes Please and it really was great! Very funny with some great messages. I would recommend Bossypants for a similar feel that is laugh out loud funny :)

  31. First off, basically books are the best.
    Secondly, I've actually read several of those books. East of Eden was my roommate in college's favorite book, so I read it. I didn't love it, but I don't really love Steinbeck. His writing style just doesn't really connect with me.
    The Picture of Dorian Grey was good, but a little disturbing. I kept wondering the whole time whether I was doing enough to make sure I didn't end up like Dorian Grey.
    As for C.S. Lewis. It's all good! :) I read the Great Divorce last year and absolutely loved it! SO good. I've yet to read anything by him that I didn't love. I want to read the Four Loves now as well :) I hadn't even heard of that one.
    It seems that the Night Circus has been mentioned a few times, I just read that and really enjoyed it!
    Whew, sorry to comment so long, I could talk forever about books! Good luck on your goal!

  32. C. S. Lewis is wonderful. One of my favorites of his is Till We Have Faces. I highly recommend it.

  33. You have a good list! I personally didn't like Girl on a Train very much. I thought it was just meh (especially after having read Gone Girl).

    A couple suggestions:
    The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner (this just came out this month - a memoir of a girl who grew up and then escape a polygamist cult. It's been getting RAVE reviews and I read it in a two day - darn work!)

    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (this is a novel about two French sisters and how they survive WWII - very good)

    Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (this is a collection of short stories all centering around Olive - loved this one)

  34. Reading is a wonderful thing! I thoroughly enjoyed "A Man Called Ove" and highly recommend it!!

  35. Check out the book I sent you a while ago!

  36. I am obsessed with the 100 Cupboards series by N. D. Wilson! It's pretty much a kids book (well, like 10-12) but I enjoyed it anyway. My siblings and I all loved it. I love his mix of modern(ish) world and older, plus his sense of humor and his relationships are the best. Not sugarcoated, but the kids aren't brats either. If you don't mind kids books, I would definitely recommend it!

    I also really liked The Dragon's Tooth, also by N. D. Wilson. He hasn't finished the series, though, and I haven't read the other two in the series, but my sister and dad have, and they loved them. The only problem is the most recent one doesn't end super well, which is why I'm waiting. ;)

  37. These are currently on my "to-read" list:

    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
    The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (this gets LOTS of great reviews)
    Eight Twenty Eight by Larissa Murphy
    Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
    Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
    The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
    Make It Happen by Lara Casey
    The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

  38. Winners from my 2015 reading list :)

  39. Hi Emily! If you haven't read The Help yet I really recommend it! If you are looking for books to expand vocabulary I have always loved classics, my personal favorites are Jane Eyre and Les Miserables. :)

  40. Agree with you on East of Eden. It took me nearly a year to finish The Goldfinch (hey... I have two kids) and man, Tartt could have taken half the number of pages to get her point across. Le sigh. Wally Lamb is a good author- check out She's Come Undone (oldie but goodie from the mid 90s). Cheers!

  41. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favourite books! I haven't read it for years though! Thanks for the reminder :)
    My favourite book from last year was Mindy Kaling's "Why Not Me?" -- funny, heartwarming and full of great advice.

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  42. Thank you for opening the door for this conversation - I will be adding many of these suggestions to my own "To Read" list. I absolutely recommend All the Light We Cannot See, it's fantastic. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was another great read, along with The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell (if you want to add a little sociology twist to the mix). But these all take a back-seat to my two favorites: East of Eden (Steinbeck), which feels like you're sitting listening to a dear grandfather tell the stories of his life, and A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. This is one of the single most tragically moving and thought provoking books I have ever read. Please, do yourself a favor, and read it. I CANNOT speak highly enough of it - it is an absolute must-read.

  43. I've read some of these books, and LOVED them! C.S. Lewis is one of my all time favorites, the Great Divorce and The Four Loves are awesome. :) I also enjoyed The Great Gatsby, and The Girl on the Train. :)

    The Portrait of Dorian Grey was awesome, and I loved the intrigue behind it. If you like classics (and it looks like you do) then I recommend The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. It's a quick read, and has quite a bit of adventure involved. I also really loved The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, but you'll have to be careful because most versions sold nowadays are abridged.

    The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
    The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
    The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

    The last three I guess fall into the category of Children's Classics, but they are so enjoyable, and I know you would appreciate them because of your kids. :)

    My last recommendation is Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

    Also I'm currently reading Treasure Island. Okay, I'm really done! Have fun reading!

  44. I have read more than a few on your list, and loved them. A few other suggestions? The Book Thief, The World According to Garp (John Irving),A Payer for OWen Meany (also John Irving),Room (Emma Donaghue - now a movie!),A House in the Sky( Amanda Lindhout), and Etched in Sand(Calcaterra) Obviously I could go on. :) But one I MUST suggest for you to read WITH your children, is The Willoughby's, by Lois Lowry. A favorite of mine - my son and I read it together and loved it! Enjoy and happy reading!Xo

  45. If you want something light and cute, I'd highly recommend Attachments by Rainbow Rowell! Love it!

  46. I really have to thank you for your blog! For me it is nothing compared to other blogs! Your writing really got me hooked! You put so much thought in each and every of your posts and inspired me to start my own blog this year! I welcomed my son in June 2014 and ever since I started writing-well probably a long time before as I always was a huge fan of diaries.
    I am still trying to find my voice though but I have to say that I get so much inspiration while reading blogs like yours!
    So thank you so much for writing and inspiring me and a ton of other people. As soon as I dare to make my blog public I would say please check it out...

  47. I LOVE and definitely recommend Erynn Mangum's books! Her Miss Match and Cool Beans series had me constantly laughing out loud... which isn't normal for me =) .

  48. I really like The Girl on the Train, I almost couldn't put it down :)
    I went to check my lists on Goodreads (if you're not using it yet, you should check it out!), and these are a few I really liked:
    - Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, about the irrationality in decisions that people make, but very lightly written
    - any book by Steve Berry, really - I love the historical notes he puts in his books
    - The Carnivia Trilogy by Jonathan Holt
    - The gravity of birds by Tracy Guzeman
    - The night circus by Erin Morgenstern - I felt it was an original story, and it is just beautifully written

    Happy reading!

  49. I am following.. I want to read more.. I heard Girl on the TRain is so good! xxo

  50. Moon Palace by Paul Auster is amazing!

  51. Oh my goodness, The Hiding Place -Corrie Ten Boom. True Story. Forever amazing. Incredibly inspiring!

  52. Thanks Emily for your inspiring and beautifully written blog. You are an amazing woman to cope with five little ones plus all you are facing in your life just now. I agree with Katrina, The Hiding Place is a tremendous story of faith under fire and the resilience of the human spirit. From your list, I'd recommend Girl on the Train (riveting!) and The Snow Child (so different and quite magical), and I've just finished and enjoyed Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread. Happy reading! Georgie from Scotland xx

  53. You absolutely have to read The Picture of Dorian Grey! It's riveting.
    minaali @ the snap narrative t

  54. I can't help but mention Serafina and the Black Cloak. It's a best seller and is quickly getting more and more attention(and it's my dad's ;)) It's marketed for Middle Grade but even grown-ups love a bit of fantasy, mystery and magic sometimes! here is the book trailer for it: I hope you like it! (also I'm a fellow redhead ;))

  55. Love Does, by Bob Goff, has to be one of my top favourites!! It's short, sweet, and infectiously positive :)

  56. The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom

  57. You have a lot of great books on that list. I love The Portrait of Dorian Gray. I have two recommendations for you. The first is The Gift of Pain written by Dr. Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey. It is the best book I have ever read in my life, it is the kind of book that just sits with you and you will tell everyone you know about it. As for the next boyfriend was diagnosed out of the blue last year with leukemia, and although we don't have kids, were not living together, and don't have all the stresses you and your husband carry, I can understand some parts of it (the loneliness, the exhaustion..) For Christmas, he bought me The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. It is a little outdated (published in 2010) but it is still filled with a lot of great answers. I found some renowned hope in reading it. I hope you have a wonderful year Emily, you and your family are in my prayers!

  58. The Language of Flowers is a fantastic book, one of my all time favorites! Gone Girl lives up to the hype but I really didn't think Girl on the Train did. My top picks that I read last year are Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed and The Martian by Andy Weir (it's better than the movie...but both are amazing).

  59. Hi Emily. Love your blog : )
    One suggestion....I read a wide variety of books as well...I'm all over the place...haha...but Gone Girl was one book I would recommend NOT reading. It's awful. Nothing against the writing or anything, but I read it and the store is just so terrible, I guess the characters really, and it made me feel down, kind of depressed. I hated it. It added nothing to my life..haha. It really was something that made me feel yucky and I could have really lived without.
    On a lighter note, I just finished An Embarrassment of Mangoes, its a neat story a woman wrote about her and her husband's 2 year journey down to the caribbean on a sailboat. It's a like a nice little vacation, especially nice if you need to be distracted from life. Enjoy!