2016 Reading: Second Half

Jan 9, 2017

In 2012, I made the goal to read 52 books, and I read 55. In 2013, my goal was 55 books, and I read 66. In 2014, I set out to read 60 books but ended up with 64. In 2015, that goal was 65, and I finished the year with 68.

So naturally, in 2016 I thought I could inch up that number just a little bit more because that's what I'd done for the last four years, so I made the goal to read 70 books.

And it just about killed me.

I may have slightly panicked when, early in November, I did the math and realized that I was still fourteen books away from my goal. Fourteen! It shouldn't have been a big deal. I shouldn't have even cared. But there was something about seeing the tracker on the side of Goodreads that made me go crazy. I couldn't handle its mocking tone, "You are seven books behind schedule." And I hated the thought of seeing a great big INCOMPLETE at the end of the year.

And so I did what any Upholder worth her salt would do and came up with a plan of attack: I mapped out all fourteen books--the audiobooks, the three I still needed for my reading goals, the novels I planned to read to my kids, the seasonal reads--and then I attacked them with a vengeance and dutifully checked them off one by one.

Some of them made the list because they were short, easy reads (desperate times and all that--this was no time to start The Count of Monte Cristo). I know some readers who don't count readalouds or children's novels or re-reads or even audiobooks among their final total, but I do and I don't feel any guilt about it, and here's why: All of those are books I want to read, and I know if I impose all these limiting rules on myself, I won't read them because if they can't count towards my numbers total, then I know I won't find the time to read them, and it actually feels really important for me to read them. So when I make my numbers goal at the beginning of the year, it's with the understanding that I'll be counting basically everything except picture books.

Whew, so with that lengthy explanation aside, here's what I ended up reading during the second half (if you missed the first half, you can find it here). Yes, I made it to 70 but just barely. All book titles are linked to my full reviews.

1. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George, 6/10 (readaloud)
I think my expectations were too high for this one. In spite of its intriguing premise, it was quite a slow start. Luckily, it redeemed itself (some) in the end.

2. Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat, 8/10 (readaloud)
It had the same feel as Rascal (which we read during the first half of the year) but was shorter, faster-paced, and funnier overall. 

3. Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay, 6/10
My enthusiasm for this story gradually waned until I was quite thrilled when it was over.

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer, 7/10
I almost quit two chapters in because it was just a little too strange for me, but I pushed through and ended up being really impressed with its creativity. That said, did I rush out to get the second book? Um, no.

5. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, 8/10
I'm a sucker for verse novels, so when you combine poetry with a subject I know very little about (the Vietnam War), it's a winner.

6. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, 7/10
This one gets points just because it was such a compelling read. I didn't love everything about it, but I couldn't put it down. 

7. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, 8/10 (readaloud)
These are the Ramona stories I'm probably most familiar with from my own childhood, so I loved revisiting them.

8. The Twits by Roald Dahl, 8/10 (readaloud)
So, so, so strange. But we loved it.

9. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, 9/10
Ah, Eleanor. May I grow up to be you one day.

10. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel, 8/10 (audio)
Absolutely fascinating and added greater depth to some of the things we saw in Europe. I only wish it hadn't taken me three months to get through.

11. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, 10/10 (readaloud)
I will be sad when I run out of kids to read this one to.

12. Dory, Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon, 7/10 (readaloud)
I'm a big fan of Dory, but I didn't love this one quite as much as the first two. 

13. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, 7/10
I can see why people compare this one to Jane Eyre, but really, there's no comparison.

14. Mathematicians Are People, Too by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer, 6/10 (readaloud)
I have to admit, I'd never even heard of some of these mathematicians, but I probably should have.

15. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, 8/10
Quite original, I must say.

16. The Night Gardner by Jonathan Auxier, 8/10
That's about all the scary I can handle. Perfect for October though.

17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, 9/10 (readaloud)
I'm starting to look forward to our annual progression in this series as much as my kids. So fun.

18. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, 9/10 (audiobook)
I'm still thinking about this book. A perfect read for January, book club, or really any time of the year.

19. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, 7/10
One of those books that, ironically, grows more thought-provoking with age.

20. The Great Ghost Rescue by Eva Ibbotson, 3/10 (readaloud)
This book could not be over fast enough for me. I'm trying not to judge Eva Ibbotson too quickly.

21. Ribsy by Beverly Cleary, 10/10 (readaloud)
A perfect ending to a perfect series.

22. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, 6/10
I always love a good food book, but I expected to love this one a bit more than I actually did.

23. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, 8/10
Raw and emotional, this was a gorgeously crafted novel.

24. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, 10/10 (readaloud)
I have no words for this book except I loved it.

25. Tumtum and Nutmeg: A Christmas Adventure, 6/10 (readaloud)
Short and cute but not much else worth mentioning.

26. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, 9/10
Turns out, I'm still a fan.

27. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott, 8/10 (audiobook)
Oh my goodness, all those boys! Of course I liked this book!

28. The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans, 5/10
It was about what I was expecting, which wasn't much.

29. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, 10/10 (readaloud)
This book. It makes me laugh, and then cry.

30. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 10/10
I think this book will always hold up to another reading.

31. Smile by Raina Telgemeier, 8/10
Raina Telgemeier completely won me over. I can't wait to read more of her graphic novels.

32. The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren, 9/10 (readaloud)
One word: delightful.

33. Pax by Sara Pennypacker, 7/10 (audiobook)
Melancholy and sad, but hopeful just the same.

34. The Lincoln Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard, 6/10
A lot of facts, a lot of truth, some speculation.

35. Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming, 10/10
If only all nonfiction was told in such a compelling way.

36. A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman, 10/10
Said good-bye to 2016 with one of the best books I read all year.

I'd love to hear about some of YOUR favorite reads from 2016. Even though my to-read list is dauntingly long, I'm always looking to add to it. It's a problem. 


  1. I'm so glad you mentioned which ones were audiobooks. I was in search for a nonfiction audio and I think Creativity, Inc. was just the type I was looking for! Already have it downloading in Overdrive :). One of my top favorites of 2016 was Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. I thought it was beautiful and just about everything I could want in a book. I just didn't want it to end!

    1. Oh good, I hope you like it!

      I've been hearing such good things about Echo. I need to bump it up to the top of my list!

  2. I wrote down some of the books you recommended. I hope they are available in the Provo or Orem library.

  3. If you loved Edenbrooke and find yourself needing another fluffy read, I'd recommend the House of Oak series by Nichole Van (Intertwine is #1). Other recent favorites include The Collapse of Parenting and All Four Stars (as a read-aloud once I convinced my boys to let me read a book with a girl and desserts on the cover--ha!).

    1. Oooh, thanks for the recommendation on another good light read! The Collapse of Parenting is actually on my list of 2017 reading goals, so I definitely intend to read it this year! And All Four Stars looks so cute and fun! Thanks again!


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