top ten books of 2016

Okay, as promised, here is my top ten list of books I read in 2016! I decided to do 5 fiction and 5 non-fiction, since I read a healthy mix of both last year. It was so fun to look back and choose my very favorites; the ones I'm always quick to recommend. I think I'll make this a yearly tradition!

FICTION

  1. The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah // Why I loved it: I loved this novel so much because of how well it portrayed the realities and difficulties of life in wartime, and how people can be brave in so many different ways. I also loved that it painted a vivid picture of life in Occupied France, which is not something I knew much about. Kristin Hannah made the characters come alive so well, you'll miss them when you turn the last page.
  2. The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson // Why I loved it: This novel made my list because of the way the story is funny at times, charming at times, but also moving and poignant. It seems fluffy at the start but deepens as it progresses and draws you right it.
  3. The Lakehouse, Kate Morton // Why I loved it: Kate Morton is hands down my favorite author, and she has a way of weaving a story that keeps you guessing until the very end. This one, her latest, did not disappoint. Her scenes come alive and characters feel very real and it's one of those novels that you'll stay up until 3am reading (in the best way).
  4. The Royal We, Jessica Morgan & Heather Cocks // Why I loved it: The fictional-but-also-based-on-real-life account of Duke & Duchess William and Kate is quick and charming. I didn't expect to love it, but it won me over. Like many people, I love following the royal family, but what I loved about this novel is that it humanizes them in a way I'd never thought of before. The banter is SO fast, witty and fun and had me laughing out loud at some points.
  5. Zorro, Isabelle Allende // Why I loved it: I grew up watching the movie Zorro with my Mimi, and have always loved it, so I was naturally drawn to this novel. It has pirates, bandits, Europe, the newly formed America - all the makings of a great adventure story. 

NON-FICTION

  1. For the Love, Jen Hatmaker // Why I loved it: Oh my gosh, Jen Hatmaker's writing makes me laugh out loud like no other. I flew threw this book and it was definitely a highlight of my reading year. Jen is so wise, so funny, so witty, so everything. I've read a few of her books, which I also loved, but this is my favorite for sure.
  2. The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball // Why I loved it: I don't remember why I picked this one up, if it was a recommendation from a friend or a random pick from the library shelf, but I'm so glad I did. It was an inspiring account of a city girl's move to a farm in the country - having no prior farm knowledge - and a reminder of the value of hard work and plain old grit in achieving something you set out to.
  3. Wild & Free, Hayley Morgan & Jess Connolly // Why I loved it: Well, the tagline pretty much sums up why I love this book, "a hope-filled anthem for the woman who believes she is both never enough and always too much." Um, hello, HAND RAISED HIGH over here. That would definitely be how I describe myself. This book was freeing, rooted in Gospel truth and a breath of fresh air that reminded me that I don't have to - and likely never will - have it altogether and figured out and that's okay.
  4. Crash the Chatterbox, Stephen Furtick // Why I loved it: As someone who struggles with anxiety, this book was healing for me. One hard part of my anxiety is that I start to spiral into super negative self-talk. Like "shoot, I forgot to drop that thing off at the post office" will quickly turn into "you forget everything. You are so behind on life. Matt is probably so annoyed that you're dropping the ball. You aren't cut out to be a wife and mom. You're letting everyone down." It sounds ridiculous to type it out, but it's been a really hard thing to try and overcome. This book gave me the tools to do that. Based on Scripture and very practical, it helped me come up with some true action steps for re-routing and re-phrasing those thoughts and drowning them out with the truth of who God says that I am, instead.
  5. 168 Hours, Laura Vanderkam // Why I loved it: I've been intrigued by the concept of time, and how every single person on this earth has the exact same 24 hours in a day, for awhile. This book was super eye-opening in that it shares how the most successful people use their time, and those examples gave me ideas for things I could incorporate into my own life, as well. The reality is that none of us are truly "too busy" for the things that REALLY matter; it's usually an issue of prioritizing the wrong things. I felt like this book helped me cull the excess and unimportant from my life and freed up time to focus on what is truly a priority for me right now.

What were your favorite reads last year, fiction or non? I'm always on the hunt for new things to add to my list! XO!