Thirty-seven. That’s how many books I read this year–far surpassing my goal of 24. I can’t quite say how I managed to read that many, but I can say my house may have been a tad bit messier this year. But a little dirt never hurt anyone, right?
Not only was this my most prolific reading year yet, it was also my most diverse: thrillers, historical novels, memoir, women’s fiction, post-apocalyptic, romance, YA, and more. So I wanted to share some of my favorites.
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. I watched–and loved–the movie last year so I knew I would love the book as well. And I was right. Ben and Ashley are strangers when their plane crashes (and their pilot dies) in the snow-covered mountains of Utah. Even though I knew the ending already, I was completely engrossed in the story and couldn’t put the book down. It is a beautiful tale of survival, love, healing, and hope.
The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger. This was a timely book, given the college admissions scandal that broke open earlier this year. The novel tells the story of parents in a wealthy Colorado town who are desperate to get their children into a new school for the gifted. It is told in multiple points of view, putting the reader right in the middle of these families and exposing all of their secrets and insecurities.
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain. A woman, soon after losing her husband in the Vietnam War, discovers she is pregnant. And then learns that her unborn baby has a fatal heart defect. She is completely heartbroken. Then her brother-in-law comes to her with a plan to save the baby that sounds insane…but she’s willing to try it. After all, she has nothing left to lose. This book hooked me from the very beginning and had me holding my breath until the very end.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This was not a book I would normally choose (I prefer contemporary to historical fiction), but I am so glad that it was picked for my book club one month. It is about two sisters living in France during World War II. One must befriend the enemy to keep herself and her children alive; the other joins the Resistance. It is a beautifully written tale that has you asking yourself what is more important–your survival or your conscience. I may have even shed some tears at the end.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. Never before has a book affected me as much as this one. A novel based on the real life Tennessee Children’s Home Society (an organization that kidnapped, abused, and sold poor children to the wealthy), this book was powerful, somber, enraging, heartening. I highly recommend it.
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld. Three years after their young daughter disappears in the woods, a couple hires a private investigator, Naomi, to find her. The story is told from both the point of views of Naomi and of the child, the latter of which makes for an especially haunting tale.
The Whispering Room, The Crooked Staircase, and The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz (books 2-4 in the Jane Hawk series). I read the first book in the series last year, and plan on reading the 5th (and last) book very soon. The series tells the tale of Jane Hawk, an FBI agent who goes on the run after she uncovers the plans of a secret society. She is determined to expose the conspiracy and bring justice to everyone involved–partly as revenge for the murder of her husband and partly to save her son and the fate of the world.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb. This is a memoir about one woman’s journey to becoming a therapist, and what she has learned both from her clients and from her own personal therapist. As someone who has always been interested in the inner workings of people, I found this book fascinating.
I want to give honorary mentions to a few other great reads. The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna by C.W. Gortner, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson, Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline, and Educated by Tara Westover.
Looking back on all the amazing books I read this year has me excited for what I’ll read this coming year. I’d love to hear any suggestions you have!
Happy New Year!