As the year draws to a close, I have been reflecting on my 2016 reading and thought that I would share a few highlights from the year. My goal had been to read 110 books this year and I am pleased to share that I have surpassed this goal and will finish 116 books by the end of the day. A secondary quest was to read more Canadian authors and I am thrilled to report that I have read 66 books by Canadian authors (almost 60%). Here are some of my best and worst reads of 2016 which could be added to TBR lists for the new year:
Best book of 2016 that EVERY Canadian should read: Medicine Walk (Richard Wagamese) – This book is beautifully written by a Canadian author who has experienced the legacy of residential schools, abuse, homelessness and addiction. It is the one book that I keep recommending to everyone and I have enjoyed everything that i have since read by Richard Wagamese. He is the author that I most want to meet in 2017!
Best Non-Fiction book: All Out (Kevin Nemwan and Alex Newman) – This book is an eye opener for parents. It tells the story, written alternately by father and son, of their relationship in light of Alex coming out as a gay man. It delves deep into their feelings and exposes how differently each man perceived events in their lives. It is a book that will make all parents think and consider the spoken and unspoken influences we have on our children.
Top 5 Reads of 2016:
- Medicine Walk (Richard Wagamese) – see above
- And the Birds Rained Down (Jocelyn Saucier) – this book, translated from French to English was a total surprise for me. It tells the tale of a couple of “old guys” who want to live their life – and death on their own terms and live in the forest. It is a short and thought-provoking read.
- The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon) – I think that I must be one of the last people to read this book but it is a great story of the power of books set in Barcelona. It is a story of intrigue which I enjoyed in part reading and part audio format.
- The Dictionary of Mutual Understanding (Jackie Copleton) – This historical fiction novel described the devastation of lives after the Hiroshima bombing and followed a woman from Japan to America as she struggled to put her life back together.
- The Cellist of Sarajevo (Steven Galloway) – Despite all the controversy surrounding this author in 2016, it is a beautiful story set in a time of war. It follows 3 characters touched by the music of the cellist who plays for 22 days in honour of 22 individuals killed while waiting to buy bread despite the danger to be exposed.
Best Audio Book: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto (Mitch Albom) – This audio book is like the “Forrest Gump” of music. The narration includes the author and a number of other terrific voices and it makes the reader feel like the story is non-fiction.
Worst book read in 2016: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Condo) – I had thought that this would be a book to start of the year more organized. What a disappointment! Condo must be laughing all the way to the bank with her advice to thank your socks and get rid of books. No thanks!
The Book that I absolutely could NOT finish: Furiously Happy (Jenny Lawson) – It is not very often that I do not finish a book. This was a book club choice for a “happy book” and I found it a terrible read. This may be the author’s experience with mental illness but I could not continue to read this book which seems like a shocking way for an author to make money. I found it insulting to those with mental illness and i am glad that I borrowed it and did not waste my money.
Author Events: I have been very privileged to have met 37 authors at events this year. This has added context to my reading and been a fun way to spend time with friends. My signed books shelf has been growing and highlights include:
Author I most wanted to meet: Joseph Boyden
Most Interesting Author to meet: Yann Martel
Best Author Event: Between the Pages Giller Event where I met:
- Mona Awad – 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
- Gary Barwin – Yiddish for Pirates (see also his answers to my Novel Questions)
- Emma Donoghue – The Wonder
- Catherine Leroux –The Party Wall
- Madeleine Thien – Do Not Say We Have Nothing (the only Giller short-listed book left to be read which is on my 2017 TBR list)
- Zoe Whittall –The Best Kind of People
The Art of Leadership Conference Highlights: I have read less leadership books this year but this conference was amazing and I met a number of leadership gurus including:
- Marshall Goldsmith – Triggers (TBR in 2017)
- Neil Pasricha – The Happiness Equation
- Sir Ken Robinson – Finding Your Element (TBR in 2017)
In relation to sharing a love of reading, I was thrilled to meet and be interviewed by Candy Palmater on CBC Radio. As a lover of the great CBC, it was amazing to talk about reading, my blog and the Franklin Street Little Free Libraries with a kindred reading spirit like Candy.
Check out the radio interview here.
Our Franklin Street Little Free Libraries celebrated their one-year anniversary and the LFL organization feted the opening of Library # 50,000. This milestone has greatly surpassed their goal of 2509 libraries (set related to the # of libraries that Andrew Carnegie had supported in the early 1900s including a library here in Brantford and the current Paris library). I was privileged to make several presentations about the Little Free Libraries this year.
I have also been thrilled to become involved with the local Dolly Parton Imagination Library committee through Kids Can Fly. This amazing initiative sends out books, each month to children aged 0-5. Please check it out or share the information with others who have children that could benefit or who are looking for an amazing way to donate to children’s literacy!
As everyone knows, I love to share CanLit and have started and moderate a great group on Goodreads called CanadianContent. If you are looking for a great place to discuss books this is another great place. There are great challenges to participate in and I have been privileged to meet two of the members – Allison (at the Dolly Parton concert) and May (at the Giller Event)! We just finished a Secret Santa exchange which was a great deal of fun and camaraderie considering it is an online group.
I would be remiss not to mention my in-person book club. This is an amazing group of friends who meet monthly to discuss a wide range of books. This year’s highlights for me have been The Power of One which included taste testing of some South African treats and a fabulous slideshow from Jill’s trip to SA as wells as our Canada Reads discussions. We have been lucky to have met a couple of local authors, Lisa Brown and Michelle Karl to learn perspectives on writing. We topped the year with a great meal and fun gift exchange!
One last highlight is my newest blog feature: Novel Questions. This feature asks authors 5 quick questions and I have been so happy to have responses to my questions from:
It has clearly been a busy year in 2016 and I wish all my followers a happy, healthy and book filled 2017!! Thanks for following A Year of Books Blog and I really appreciate your feedback through comments, retweets and likes!
What a great year, Susan. Congratulations.
I can’t wait to see what you come up with in 2017!
Thanks Dominique – has been a great year for reading!
You had an amazing 2016!!! I am so impressed that you read 116 books, 60% of which were by Canadian authors. Kuddos to you!
I’m so happy you loved The Shadow of the Wind as much as I did! I recently received the prequel, The Angel’s Game, from a book club book swap. Have you thought about checking it out?
Best wishes in 2017!
What a great year you’ve had, Susan!
Here’s to 2017!
Thanks!! It has been a great reading year for us both!!
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