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!


  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. 


  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!

recent reads // 06

Hello hello! Happy Tuesday! Although We are well into 2017, I wanted to recap the last of my reading list for 2016. I read 53 books last year, which feels crazy, and also awesome. I am living proof that you truly can MAKE time to read, if it's something you enjoy. Even with a very full life and very small children!

Here's what I read in the last few months of 2016...

Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley // the final books in the Anne Shirley series (which starts with Anne of Green Gables.) Heartwarming and sweet, and I loved reading through Anne's story all the way through her growing-up years. A classic series, for sure.

Circling the Sun // I loved this recommendation by my mama. Five stars! The based-on-a-true-story account of Beryl Markham, a pioneer for women both in horse training and aviation, who lived her life in modern-day Kenya. Really interesting if you love historical fiction, and I love the change of setting (I haven't read many books about this era set in Africa!)

No More Lone Ranger Moms // This is an older book, from the early 90s, that my mom gave to me to read when I was struggling with the notion of being a SAHM in the fall. I mostly skimmed it, because much of it talks about how to set up a mom's group or co-op, which isn't something I'm necessarily interested in right now. I did like and was encouraged by the way it talks about how in past generations, women lived much more in community and did their homemaking and mothering tasks together. It encouraged me to seek out more community with mamas in my own life.

Inferno // This was a book club book, and I was totally unimpressed. I don't like Dan Brown's writing anyway, and almost didn't read this, but decided to after being convinced by a couple other girls in my book club. I thought the whole thing was far-fetched (the story takes place in just over 24 hours, which I thought was unrealistic) and I didn't like the lack of character development or story structure at all. One star, maybe. Skip this one if you're on the fence.

In Praise of Stay At Home Moms // My mama gifted this to me, again, because I was struggling with being a SAHM and felt like Xavier would be better off with someone who was trained in early childhood development, or could engage him and do activities with him. If you're familiar with the author and talk-show host, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, you know that she has very strong opinions and can come across as very harsh. I would say the same is true of this book. It was really encouraging to me as a SAHM, to boost my morale, but it definitely is not everyone's cup of tea.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven // What a beautiful book. That's all I can say to describe this one. Chris Cleave writes masterfully, the characters come alive and it's set during my favorite time period, WWII. Highly recommend.

The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian // I can't believe I skipped over these as a child, because they are so captivating! I'm reading through the Narnia series for the first time right now and I love them so much. Although they were written for children, they're well worth a read even for adults. So much deep meaning and symbolism woven throughout the stories!

The Christmas Box // This was our December book club book and was a super quick read. Although it's heartwarming, it was predictable and drawn-out - I felt like it could have been a three-page essay instead of a book. 

Sarah's Key // I had read this before, but revisited it, as it was the book club pick for my mom's book club, which I attended while visiting my parents over Christmas in Mexico! I thought I loved this one but once I re-read it, I realized I did not. The modern-day storyline feels too contrived and cliche, there's a far-fetched love twist at the end that I thought was dumb, and most of all, I was left longing for some redemption, something hopeful to cling to, but there's none. Two stars for this one, maybe.

Esther // I knew nothing about the story of Esther (of the Bible) before reading this, and I was blown away by the courage and strength of this real-life woman! It was super interesting to get a peek at what life might have been like for women chosen to be concubines for the king back in Bible times, and I was drawn into the story from the start. Highly recommend this one!

And that rounds out my 2016 reads! I'll be back on Thursday sharing my top ten from the 53 books I read this year - five favorite non-fiction and five favorite fiction. Can't wait!