Books I Loved This Year

It’s that time of year again–the time where I reminisce about all the wonderful books I read. Spanning a variety of genres, these 15 were my favorites.

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal
I loved this one. A little bit mystery, a little bit romance, and a whole lot of family drama, this story is about a woman who sees her twin sister on a news clip–her twin who died years earlier. The tension kept me turning the pages.

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku
This was possibly my favorite read of the year. It is the memoir of a man who lived through the Holocaust, and even after all he endured, he kept smiling. The book is inspiring, full of wisdom and hope. I highly recommend it.

The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture
by Gabor Maté
Fascinating. Eye-opening. Potentially overwhelming if you focus only on the problems presented in this book, and not the solutions. But I found myself repeating the staggering statistics to my husband about how ill (mentally, physically, and addiction-wise) we are as a society. My thoughts on what is considered trauma and on how I view people’s behaviors shifted. And I took copious notes from the section on healing. I read this as an ebook from the library, and I’m seriously considering buying myself a copy because it had so much information to absorb.

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau
This book takes place in the 1970’s and is about a 14-year old girl who takes a nanny job for the summer. Little does she know that not only will she be taking care of a young girl, but hanging out with a rock star and famous actress–a fact that she has to hide from her very conservative mother. I listened to the audio book of this one and I definitely recommend it.

The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman
You know those friendships you make when you’re young, the ones that you just know in your soul will last forever? And then life happens and you drift apart from each other, and even from yourself? That is the essence of this story about three former summer camp friends who reunite after the fourth member of their clique passes away.

The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to be You
by Holley Gerth
The title pretty much says it all. As someone who always hated group projects in school, is horrible at making decisions and expressing opinions, gets overwhelmed in crowds, and needs to escape to her bedroom after too much socializing (or a busy day of mom-ing), this book was eye-opening. The traits that I have always seen in myself as negative actually have purposes, and introverts are not less worthy than extroverts. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to see themselves (or loved ones) in a different light.

What Happened to the Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline
How far would you go to protect your loved ones? This tense tale examines that question when a family is carjacked by drug traffickers and then forced into witness protection. It becomes apparent to Jason, the father, that there is more to the situation than meets the eye, and he is determined to figure out what that is.

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell
Reading this book gave me some great insight into what my kids each need from me. This might be something I reread from time to time to help me be a better parent.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah
I love Kristin Hannah books, and this one is no exception. And like all of her books, this one has some heavy subjects, so if you’re looking for a light read, I’d suggest passing on this one. The story follows a mom, Jude, who must figure out how to go on after her teenage twins and their best friend are in a tragic accident.

The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian
I was telling my husband about this funny book I was reading where an elderly couple–a husband with dementia and a wife with cancer–run away from their adult children and doctors to go on one last road trip. My husband looked at me, puzzled, and I realized funny was a weird way to describe a book about dementia and cancer. BUT, the book really is humorous. Along with touching, poignant, and heart-wrenching. I will say, though, the ending caught me off-guard, and if you’re looking for a happy ending, this isn’t it. And on another note, this was made into a movie, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
by James Clear
After hearing about this book for years, I finally read it. Long story short, I wished I hadn’t waited.

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni
This tale is about Sam, a boy who has ocular albinism (red eyes). As a child, he faces a lot of prejudice and bullying. But with the love of his mother, a devout Catholic, and his two best friends, he goes on to live a rather extraordinary life.

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede
Like pretty much every American my age or older, I remember watching the tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks play out on every news station. And I remember how all air traffic in the U.S. was grounded temporarily afterwards. But I never put any real thought into how difficult that would be. Or what happened to everyone who ended up far from their original destinations. This book tells the story of 38 jetliners that landed at a small airport in Canada, and how the local residents went above and beyond to help the stranded passengers. Keep some tissues nearby if you pick up this book.

The Final Girl Support Girl by Grady Hendrix
If you love scary movies like Scream or Halloween, give this book a try. It’s about a group of women, each one the only survivor of a serial killer, who gather monthly in a support group. They think their horror stories are behind them…until one of the women goes missing.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
What would you do if you were engaged to a man you loved, only to find out that the husband you thought had died in a helicopter crash years before is found alive? That is exactly what Emma must figure out. Oh my heart. Perfect book to curl up with in a warm blanket and a hot beverage in hand.

Honorable Mentions:
How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior
Bring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins
The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood
Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman
The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak: Lessons on Faith from Nine Biblical Families by Shannon Bream

Let me know what you think of these books, and what your favorites were this year. I’m always looking for great suggestions! Happy New Year readers!

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