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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

What I Read in 2016

Last year on a whim, I decided to write about the books I had read to meet my reading goal for 2015. At the time I was quite compelled to write it, but it felt like maybe a waste of a post and I had no idea how it would be received. I never could have imagined what an incredible response it would receive from all of you. Not only did you all love it, but so did I! I thoroughly enjoyed finding this new way to connect with so many of you through a common love of reading, and appreciated all of the wonderful recommendations I received.

This year my goal was steady at 30 books and I just met it with one day to spare! Overall, this was a really great year of reading. My tastes are definitely migrating away from fiction and more toward non-fiction, which is very amusing to me as a former die hard fiction reader. I have discussed some of these books already in depth, and some I may review more closely in the future.  Below I will list all of the books I read last year in chronological order, as well as put them into one of a handful of categories: must read, pretty wonderful read, good/not great, and don’t bother. As before, I’ll list my top five reads of the year at the bottom of the post, i.e. those that are on my required reading list for all of humanity!

If you look carefully, you’ll see that more than five of the above I consider to be “must reads”. Even so, my top five from these 30 titles are:

I cannot stress enough how important reading is in my life, and how much I feel it continues to help me grow as a person. If 30 books in a year seems outrageous to you, start smaller. Set a goal! Make sure it is manageable and will keep you motivated but won’t have you stressing about it. If you would like me to add you as a friend on Goodreads, please let me know either in a comment below or in an email via the contact form. Make sure to include either a username or the email associated with your account so I will be able to find you. Cheers to a fabulous year of reading!

Edited to add: Apparently Goodreads has a limit to the number of friends you can add per day! If I haven’t replied to your comment, your private email, or your instagram comment, it is because I haven’t added you as a friend yet. But I will, I promise! Just hang tight while we wait out this silly limit thing.

  • Cara

    Was looking forward to this post- love it! Just finished Pro yesterday and recommended it to all my friends. Can’t wait to read some of these books you suggested :)

  • Tricia Healy

    Do you have a GoodReads account? I think you just might love it. It will open up a whole new world of finding great books to read.

  • Makala

    Definitely fell WAY short of my reading goal last year, for a number of reasons. However, it is definitely a goal of mine to read more in 2017! I just downloaded “The Nightingale” the other day, so I was happy to hear you enjoyed it. Would love for you to add me as a friend on Goodreads! My user name is: Makala E

  • Kristin

    What a great way to start the year, and I am so glad this posted on a day the library is open! I have only read I Am the Messenger and When Breath Becomes Air, so you have given me a great gift here. Adichie is a favorite in our house, so I look forward to reading more of her work. Thanks so much!!

  • Annie

    Oh wonderful! I’m glad there are some new ideas here for you to add to your list!

  • Annie

    Added you!

  • Annie

    Just added you!

  • Annie

    Thank you so much Caitlin! Are you in NV or MO? There are two on Goodreads, and not sure which one is you. Thanks!

  • Annie

    Haha! Thank you Ellie :) This made me laugh.

  • Nikki

    Like many people, I had a goal to read more books last year and set the goal way too high. But, it’s a new year and a new goal is being set! I am a huge fan of fiction but have been wanting to read more books that will help me learn and grow. I had this on my mind when I went to your website and was pleasantly surprised to see that you have a list of book recommendations!! I would love for you to add me as a friend on Goodreads, my username is realnikkil. Thanks so much!

  • Robin Chedister

    Great list, I read a few of these this year as well. I had a goal of 50 books but came up three short. I think I’ll aim for 30 this year. 50 was kind of stressful which is the opposite of what reading should be! Can you add me? I’m Robin Chedister on Goodreads.

    My top books this year were: Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

  • Alyssa

    I LOVE your book reviews and have read several of your suggestions and loved them all! I would love to connect with you on Goodreads so I can see all of your recommendations! :) My username is alyssamarie921

    Happy New Year!!

  • Maeghan

    I’d love to be Goodreads friends! As much as I LOVE your recipes, I think your lifestyle (and particularly book posts!) are my favorites. You’ve read some great ones this year! My username is maeghanv / email is maeghan.ottrey at gmail

  • Annie

    Thank you so much Maeghan! I just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    Wonderful! Just added you :)

  • Maeghan

    Hooray! Thank you!

  • Annie

    I adore Americanah. The other two are on my to read list – I’ll have to make sure I get to them soon!

    Just added you on GR :)

  • Annie

    Just added you!

  • Annie

    Just added you :)

  • Robin Chedister

    Too bad you’re not in my neck of the woods. We just put up a Little Free Library in front of our house and we’re sharing all our favorites from 2016. My 10 year old is an avid reader and is so excited to share his picks with the neighborhood kids.

  • Annie

    Added you :)

  • Annie

    I love that! There is one on the main street of our little town and it is so cute and just makes me happy every time I see it :)

  • Annie

    Thanks Jill! Just added you.

  • Annie

    Thanks Kat! Just added you. You can do it!

  • Annie

    Thanks Allison! Just added you :)

  • Annie

    Thanks Kirsten! Just added you.

  • Annie

    Thanks Alyssa! I just added you :) I think you’ll love Goodreads.

  • Annie

    Thanks Moira! I just added you on GR :)

  • Annie

    I really only set the goal because without an actual goal, I have done very poorly. The Goodreads challenge keeps me motivated and on task, and I’m able to get so much more reading done because of it! 30 is the perfect number for me to be slightly challenging but not actually stressful.

  • Annie

    Woo! 42 is amazing to me. I just added you!

  • Coleen

    Thanks for the recommendations! I loved “I Am Malala.” I set a goal of reading 40 books in 2017, and I’ll be adding several of these to my list.

  • Ellen Patton

    Thanks so much for your list! I just pinned about a dozen books to read. Hooray!!

  • Sasha

    Thank you for the list! I am still hoping to get to some of the books you recommended last year. I just want to say that I read that book by Elizabeth McCracken after I had a stillborn baby. I was looking for other people’s accounts of what they went through, to process what had happened to me, and her book was recommended. I did like her book-I think it really depends on your state of mind, and you will process it differently depending on your own experience. For readers who do want to read about other people’s accounts of pregnancy/child loss, because it is something they or someone they know have experienced, I would recommend Ariel Levy’s Thanksgiving in Mongolia and Aleksandar Hemon’s The Aquarium, both published in the New Yorker. They are the most real personal essays I’ve read on those subjects.

  • Annie

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Yes, I honestly had a hard time determining my feelings on that book and probably should have left it uncategorized. It is the only book I read last year that I did not give a rating on Goodreads. Some things about it I enjoyed, some I disliked very much, and it just left me entirely unsure of my feelings about it. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend to the average reader, though I absolutely see how it would be useful for someone who had been through a similar experience.

  • Lauren Ochoa

    I cannot WAIT to finish my master’s program in May so I can get back to the kind of reading I love. I did get the Rosie Project on a semester break this past year and it was fun and frothey and an easy read…just perfect for a between semester break. I’m going to put your top 5 down as my first books to read this summer when school is done for good.

  • I’d also love to be Goodreads friends! Your taste in recipes is rivaled only by your taste in books. :) I’m gfaithd.

  • Gina B

    Love your list! I actually read a few of the same books this year! I have noticed the same pivot in my tastes away from fiction towards nonfiction… Interesting. Maybe it’s the political climate of this year? My favorite book (nonfiction) this year was DEFINITELY Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I read it a couple months ago and still can’t stop thinking about it. Add me on goodreads (username ellipses)!

  • Sarah

    I just signed up for Goodreads! sarah.paskin@yahoo.com

  • Annie

    Just added you!

  • Annie

    I agree, the political climate likely had something to do with the shift in my reading tastes. It suddenly seems urgent to be as informed as possible on so many topics.

    I just got the email that my hold on Just Mercy is ready at the library. I cannot wait to read it!

    I just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    Oh my goodness, thank you Gwen! I just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    You are welcome – so glad you enjoy these posts! I just added you on GR :)

  • Annie

    I just added you :)

  • Annie

    Just added you Angela!

  • Annie

    Thanks Jackie! I’m so glad you like the posts, and that you loved those two reads. They will be forever favorites of mine. I just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    Thanks Monica! I just added you on GR :)

  • Annie

    Yikes, good to know. I’ll have to look at my list of other to-reads and plan accordingly for light(er) things.

  • Annie

    Thanks Katrin! I just added you. Hopefully this year you’ll keep it up to date. It is fun to have a record of your progress!

  • Annie

    It is pretty graphic. I have a fairly high tolerance for such things given some areas of my professional training, but even so, it was a lot to take. Still worth reading in my opinion (obviously), but if you are especially sensitive it may be difficult for you.

    Just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    I just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    Nice work! 37 is very impressive! So glad you enjoy these posts!

  • Annie

    Wow, good for you girl! That is awesome!

  • Annie

    I just did some searching. I have not read Mary Roach yet but have eyed a few of hers before. I haven’t heard of Alan Bradley before but will check him out!

    I couldn’t add you tonight since I have apparently reached my Goodreads friend limit for the day (why is that even a thing?!) but I will add you tomorrow.

    My goal for this year is still 30. It’s probably the best pace I can handle while still enjoying the act of reading and not feeling stressed about it.

  • Annie

    Thanks Danita! I just added you :)

  • Annie

    Just added you!

  • Annie

    Just added you Deanna!

  • Annie

    Thanks Michele! I just added you on GR :)

  • Annie

    Thanks Valerie! I just added you :)

  • Annie

    Wonderful. Just added you!

  • Annie

    Thanks Angela. Just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    Thanks Tami. Just added you!

  • Annie

    Thanks Samantha! Just added you!

  • Annie

    Holy cow, way to go! I just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    And I’m glad you’re glad :)

  • Annie

    Thanks Kindy. Just added you!

  • Annie

    Thanks Kristi! Homegoing is on my list. I just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    Thanks Amanda! Just added you!

  • Annie

    Thanks Katie! Stay strong. We will get through this crappy time together.

  • Linda Drury Freeman

    I was looking forward to this list! I have a couple on my audible wishlist still from last year. I listened to/read about 40 books this year and I find it funny that of all those books, there was only one crossover- A Man Called Ove, which I absolutely adored. If you liked it, I recommend his other book, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. It was a very strange book and took me a bit to get into, but once I got passed the first two chapters, I loved it. Can’t wait to see what you read this year! There are so many fabulous books out there!

  • Liz N.

    Annie, this is just the list I need to get me started. I’ve got to add your “must read” and “pretty wonderful” recommendations on my Good Reads list. My goal to finish 15 books fell by the wayside. One of my goals in 2017 is to unplug more often from TV and my cell phone and spend more time doing things that will add value to my life, which includes reading more books. It’s also a great way to set an example to my girl, who isn’t keen on reading at this moment. Sigh. Thanks for sharing such a great variety of books to choose from! This is a great post to start the year!

  • Liz N.

    Please add me to your Good Reads list! https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5593785-liz-nakata THANK YOU!

  • Annie

    Thanks Sarah. I just added you!

  • Annie

    Thanks Tara! Just added you on GR :)

  • Annie

    There were other books that I started but didn’t finish, and I didn’t include those in this list. These are the ones I was able to get through but ultimately would not recommend to others.

  • Annie

    Thanks Tiffany! I just added you :)

  • Annie

    Thanks Lisa! Just added you :)

  • Annie

    Wow, that is funny that only one overlapped!

  • Annie

    Thanks Liz! Unplugging more is a great goal and reading is an excellent way to help make it happen!

  • Annie

    I just added you!

  • Annie

    Wow, I haven’t heard of that but it sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the rec!

    There are many Christine L’s on GR but if you send a link to your profile, I’ll add you!

  • Annie

    Thanks, added you!

  • Annie

    I just added Dark Money to my list a few days ago after seeing it on NPR’s Book Concierge list. I am sure it will enrage me but we all need to be more informed right now! I added The Dark Side as well.

    I added you on GR :)

  • Annie

    Thanks Amy! I just added you on GR :)

  • Annie

    It’s funny, though I enjoy books related to medicine, I think that being in the field makes me enjoy them slightly less than the average reader for some reason. I haven’t quite worked out why that is. Have you read Being Mortal by Atul Guwande? That is a must read for sure.

    Just added you on GR!

  • Annie

    If you liked Half a Yellow Sun, I think you’ll love Americanah. Both are wonderful but I loved that one the most. And We Should All Be Feminists is just so important for everyone to understand and internalize. Men Explain Things to Me was kind of an odd read but just like you, many of the themes from it have stuck with me in a major way!

  • Kelli

    Thank you so much for the recommendations, can’t wait to get into some of these books! Can you please add me on GR? Thanks Annie!

    https://www.goodreads.com/kelliz27

  • Annie

    Thanks Kelli! Just added you :)

  • Annie

    I can add you if you tell me either your name to search, or the email address you used for the account. Thanks!

  • Annie

    Thank you so much Ines! It means a lot. I recently added The Geek Feminist Revolution to my list because I saw it on NPR’s book concierge list. Glad to know you enjoyed it! And thanks for the other recommendation as well!

  • Annie

    Thank you Ann. I just added you!

    I’m glad that you enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air and glad it helped some with your perception of doctors who care. Though there are certainly a few bad apples, being in the profession I can say that they are the exception. (And I’m really sorry that you had such a bad interaction!)

  • Annie

    Added you. Thanks!

  • Annie

    Gotcha girl!

  • Annie

    I just added you! Thanks Shar :)

  • I have fallen out of the habit of reading and this has very much inspired me to set a reading goal! I am starting with Notorious RBG :)