I’m so excited to be talking to you today about my 2016 reading list. For various reasons, I decided not to set a lot of personal goals in 2016. One of the few goals I did set was a reading goal. Goodreads makes it really simple to set a yearly reading goal. It tells you what % of your goal you’ve accomplished and whether you’re behind or ahead of your goal (i.e. 1 book ahead of schedule). You know exactly where you are at all times, which definitely helped me stay motivated.
2016 reading goal: 24 books
I’m sure that some of you are impressed while others are rolling your eyes. Honestly, I had no idea if it was a realistic goal for me. I hadn’t read that many books in one year in…a long time. My list of “to-read” books just gets longer and longer, and I wanted to get serious about putting a dent in it. The more I read, the more I keep adding books to my to-read list. So the list isn’t actually getting shorter. But in 2016, I did get through quite a few titles I’ve wanted to read for some time.
2016 reading total: 42 books
I’m not going to lie: I’m really proud of myself. I may or may not have talked about my reading goal and progress toward said goal with quite a few people this year. During the first half of the year, at least once a week, I thought I’d never even make it to 24, let alone over 40. But somewhere near the end of the summer I really picked up the pace. Then in the fall, I got into audiobooks (more about that in a bit), and my reading pace skyrocketed.
Here are the books I read in 2016. I’ve listed whether I bought, borrowed (from the library), or was gifted each book and whether I read the physical book or listened to the audiobook (all audiobooks are library books). Goodreads displays the reading challenge books in reverse chronological order with the most recent reads at the top. As such, I’ve listed the books in the same order.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – borrowed, audiobook
Almost Interesting by David Spade – borrowed, audiobook
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling – borrowed, audiobook
A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart – borrowed, book
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris – borrowed, audiobook
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – borrowed, audiobook
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson – borrowed, audiobook
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – borrowed, audiobook
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum – borrowed, book
Dress Your Family is Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris – borrowed, audiobook
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – borrowed, audiobook
The Year We Turned Forty by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke – borrowed, book
Bossypants by Tina Fey – borrowed, audiobook
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris – borrowed, audiobook
Every Day by David Levithan – bought, book
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – borrowed, audiobook
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen – bought, book
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – bought, book
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan – borrowed, audiobook
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – borrowed, audiobook
Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequest – gift, book
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert – borrowed, audiobook
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – borrowed, audiobook
Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong – bought, book
The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz – borrowed, audiobook
The DH by John Feinstein – bought, book
Old Records Never Die by Eric Spitznagel – borrowed, book
Here’s To Us by Elie Hilderbrand – borrowed, book
Luck, Love, & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert – bought, book
Pieces and Players by Blue Balliett – bought, book
The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer – bought, book
First Comes Love by Emily Giffin – bought, book (and it’s signed!)
The Assistants by Camille Perri – borrowed, book
Your Favorite Band is Killing Me by Steven Hyden – borrowed, book
There is Life After College by Jeffrey Selingo – borrowed, book
The Martian by Andy Weir – bought, book
The Song Machine by John Seabrook – bought, book
The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy – bought, book
Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe – gift, book
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – gift book
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day – bought, book
My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell – bought, book
All of the young adult books I read this year were really good. Stand out titles include Tell Me Three Things, Flipped, and The DH. Most of the adult fiction I read was pretty hit or miss. The few great titles I read were First Comes Love, Ready Player One, The Martian, Attachments, and A Boy Made of Blocks. The Assistants was also extremely well-written.
With the exception of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened To Me, I really enjoyed all of the memoirs I read. You’re Never Weird On the Internet (almost), Stories I Only Tell My Friends, The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly, Old Records Never Die, Dad is Fat, Bossypants, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and Why Not Me? are all worth a read (or listen!).
Christian women will enjoy My Sisters the Saints and Bread & Wine. I don’t even know where to categorize David Sedaris’s books, but I’ve enjoyed all of them thus far. He’s an amazing storyteller. I even enjoyed David Spade’s Almost Interesting, if nothing else because I always find it fascinating reading about people’s experiences working on SNL. Finally, have to mention When Breath Becomes Air on its own because it deserves that sort of recognition. As expected, it was a really tough read but so amazing. When you’re in the right frame of mind, please give it a try.
HANDS DOWN, my favorite audiobook was Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, which I mentioned in this post. I was expecting a light, funny read, not a fascinating, comprehensive overview of modern romance. Aziz does a fantastic job combining his in-depth research with personal anecdotes and humor. I got through the audiobook in just a couple days. Please check it out.
Don’t bother reading Here’s to Us by Elie Hildebrand, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, or Let’s Pretend This Never Happened to Me by Jenny Lawson. The plot of Here’s to Us is decent, but the characters are so awful I just didn’t care what happened to any of them. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake was poorly written and mind-numbingly predictable with badly-drawn, generic characters. It Ends With Us was really manipulative to the point that I’m still sort of upset about it. I know that Lawson intends for Let’s Pretend This Never Happened to Me to be funny, but it’s not. It’s self-centered, vulgar, and offensive, and Lawson is a downright irritating human being who tries way too hard to be funny, edgy, and witty.
One component of my 2016 reading challenge was writing occasional reviews. Writing reviews doesn’t come naturally for me at all. I really admire and appreciate people who feel compelled to write high-quality, comprehensive reviews of any kind. I didn’t push myself to review all my books, beyond a star rating, but I did review a selection. They’re all available on Goodreads.
There are a few key tips that made a huge difference toward accomplishing my reading goal, which are as follows.
- Watch less TV. Watching less TV is the most obvious tip, but it’s so true. I want to scream when people say, “Oh, I’d never have time to [fill in activity]” when you know they watch several hours of TV every night. I do watch at least one hour of TV most days. But that’s it. If I’m watching more than one hour of TV, I’m always getting something done while I’m watching.
- Keep an ongoing reading list. I’ve kept an ongoing Amazon wish list for years, which among other things, helps me keep track of new books I want to read. Whenever I come across an idea, I put it on the list. You don’t have to read everything on the list. But when you’re browsing online or at the library, you’ll always have ideas in mind. Many reading-related sites, such as Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and OverDrive, offer daily or weekly newsletters with info about new releases, sales, giveaways, etc., which is a great way to get new reading suggestions, too.
- Mix it up. Personally, I don’t want to read too many of the same type of book in a row. I’ll enjoy reading multiple memoirs throughout the year if I don’t read them all in a row. Most people are the same way.
- Read the books you want to read. You don’t have to apologize to anyone because you didn’t read a classic or a New York Times bestseller this year. I read multiple books in 2016 that none of my Goodreads friends have ever read and that only have a few dozen reviews on Amazon. At the time of writing this post, Old Records Never Die has just 23 Amazon reviews, and it was one of my favorite 2016 reads.
- Listen to audiobooks. I previously mentioned that Lindsay tipped me off to getting library audiobooks through OverDrive, which was a complete game changer for my 2016 reading challenge. I often get through a 5-7 hour audiobook in 3-6 days. Generally, I prefer memoirs and non-fiction audiobooks read by the author. This list is an awesome resource. I’m always looking for more audiobook suggestions. If you have any, please let me know!
- Place holds for popular books through the library. I’ve waited anywhere from a couple days to a couple months for most of the audiobooks I read in 2016 as well as a few physical books. I like to keep 1-2 books on the hold list at any given time so I always have one coming within the next week or so but don’t get overwhelmed with too many titles at once. Since you’re not paying for them, it’s not a big deal to return one and check it out again later if you do get too many at one time.
2017 reading goal
My reading goal for 2017 is 30 books. I proved to myself in 2016 that I can read well over 30 books in a single year. I don’t feel the need to top my 2016 goal for a couple reasons.
- First, I want to enjoy the books I read, not just plow through as many as possible to reach a certain number.
- Second, in mid-2016 when I was falling behind on my goal and hadn’t started reading audiobooks yet, length and subject matter dictated several of my book choices. I want to have the flexibility to read a few longer or heavier books. For example, I’d love to read 11/22/63, which might take me a month. Yes, I’ll get through at least two audiobooks alongside it, but it will still take up a big chunk of my reading time. A 30 book goal allows me to fit in these longer reads, which I like.
I’ll be talking about my reading goal periodically when I provide updates about all of my 2017 goals (more on that next week!). I also have a new Pinterest book board where I save my favorite reads. Follow along!
Do you have a reading goal for 2017?
What tips do you have for reading more books?
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