“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles William Eliot

I (Celina) am an avid reader. Checking in at around 50 books a year, I read books like some people eat donuts. Except not how I eat donuts, because I also eat a lot of donuts. I LOVE books and I love to read and my God, do I love donuts. But this isn’t about donuts. It’s about books. Here you will find a list of all the books I have read this year and whether or not I would recommend them to you, my fellow reader.

Stacks of books

2016 Books

This year I’ll be using a star rating system. 5 Stars is the best!

  1. The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas ★★★ Set in Colorado in the late 1800’s, the story centers on Gracy Bookens, a trusted midwife in a small town. Gracy is accused of murder and everything changes.
  2. Everything I never Told You by Celeste Ng ★★★★ Loved this story of a Chinese American family who loses their favored daughter to a tragic event. A beautiful family story and a suspenseful tale.
  3. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra ★★ This is a book I had to really work my way though. The writing really is beautiful, but being a before bed reader, it was tough to follow late at night. I enjoyed the characters in Chechnya (a small village in war-torn Russia), but there was just too much to absorb. Many other readers would rate this book higher, I just struggled with all the words. Too.Many.Words.
  4. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout ★★★★ LOVED this book about Lucy Barton. Lucy is recovering from an operation when her estranged mother comes to see her. The story is written by “Lucy Barton” as she is herself a writer. She pens the tale of her poverty stricken childhood, her relationships with her family and her recovery from her illness.
  5. The Farm by Tom Rob Smith ★★★ This was actually a great vacation read. Exciting and suspenseful without any gore or smut. It’s not actually superbly well-written, but it is an easy read.
  6. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity ★★★★★ Excellent, excellent novel! Alice hits her head and the gym and forgets the last 10 years of her life. She wakes up thinking she is pregnant with her first child, when in reality she has 3 children and is divorcing her beloved Nick. An excellent reminder about what we all sometimes forget.
  7.  Dreamless by Jorgen Brekke ★★★ This is a good and fast paced book. It’s in the suspense/horror genre, which I rarely read, but I did enjoy this.
  8. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarity ★★★ After I read an excellent book, I almost always look for more by that author. Such is the case with Big Little Lies. You know I loved What Alice Forgot, but Big Little Lies didn’t deliver the same punch. Set again in Australia, Big Little Lies uncovers the story of a murder investigation at a preschool trivia night. It’s was interesting, but I kept feeling like I should be reading something with a little more substance.
  9. The Revenant by Michael Punke ★★★★★ When I saw the preview for this movie, I knew I would probably not be able to watch it because of all the gore and blood, but when I saw the book at Costco, I also knew I wanted to read it. Based on the true story of real-life fur trapper Hugh Glass. Hugh is attacked by a grizzly and left for dead by two men who were supposed to stand guard. Even with his life hanging in the balance, Hugh begins to crawl forward in search of revenge. A riveting tale of survival and payback.
  10. In Open Spaces by Russell Rowland ★★★1/2 I have a soft spot for stories about farm and ranch families. The dynamic is so interesting to me. In Open Spaces was no different. Set in Montana from 1916-1946, this story is about four brothers living in the open spaces of rural Montana.
  11. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson ★★★★ Amanda wrote a whole blog about this book. My take on Just Mercy is that it is an incredibly difficult read that can leave you feeling helpless, hopeless and completely at a loss about the American justice system. This book will enrage you- but maybe it will motivate you to do something about the problem of injustice.
  12. The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker ★★ Rachelle is a young author and she shows serious writing potential. This is her first novel and the first third of it kept me reading, but unfortunately there wasn’t great character development and I really didn’t care what happened by the end, I just wanted it to end. I hope Rachelle keeps writing because she definitely has talent.
  13. The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert ★★★★ I recently got to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak and she was phenomenal! I bought this book because Andy requested it having watched a show about the same man Liz writes about, Eustace Conway. A true story- Eustace Conway has made his life by completely living off the land, but not like a hermit. He teaches people how to do the same by running camps and apprentice programs at his thousand acre farm in North Carolina, Turtle Island. Eustace is absolutely brilliant, but his tough upbringing shows up as scars and an inability to relate well with people and as a reader I was torn between loving him and wanting to scream at him to get emotional healing. I did love this book, though, and I’m more and more a fan of Elizabeth’s.
  14. Still Alice by Lisa Genova ★★★★ I absolutely LOVED this book. It was so good to get a perspective on what it is like to live with Alzheimer’s. I’m sure you’ve heard of the movie or maybe seen it (I haven’t) but I really enjoyed the book.
  15. The White Van by Patrick Hoffman ★★★ Lots of times, I go to the library, grab any old book of the shelf and see if it’s any good. I don’t even read the jacket- just judge the book by it’s cover and see if I was right. I forget to bring the many book lists I make regarding what books I want to read, so I end up with something like The White Van. Truly it wasn’t an awful book or I would have put it down and I did find myself reading it in the middle of the day instead of doing something else, but it was just because I wanted to see how it ended. It’s interesting and a super quick read.
  16. When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris ★★★★ I’m always up for a good laugh, especially in the form of a David Sedaris short story. I liked Dress Your Family in Courdoroy and Denim better, but this was good and funny.
  17. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert ★★★★★ This is one of those books I think should be required reading for all humans. Big Magic brings new ideas about what being creative means, how we can be creative and how we can enjoy our creative lives for what they are without strife or misery, but with open arms. Loved this book and I really think we all should read it. I know I plan on reading it again!
  18. I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron ★★★ This was an easy, somewhat funny and quick read. There wasn’t anything super special or memorable about it.
  19. The Painter by Peter Heller ★★★★ This is the second book by Colorado author Peter Heller that I have read. The first was The Dog Stars and that was one I just randomly grabbed off the shelf at the library. Both Andy and I loved that, so I was excited to find this book. It was really good- I like Peter’s style and I enjoyed that this was written in the first person by the main character.
  20. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan ★★★ I love JG. He is a hilarious comedian. This book was good- most of it was his jokes about family just expanded into chapters. The book may only be funny if you can hear him in your head, but it was funny with some laugh out loud moments.
  21. The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison ★★ This is one of those books I read really quickly- not because it was good- it wasn’t.  In fact, this story could have been written MUCH better, the author had the right idea, just poor execution in my mind. I did want to know how it ended so I raced through it. I don’t recommend this book.
  22. Wild by Cheryl Strayed ★★★ This book made me sad that I didn’t do anything crazy like hike the Pacific Coast Trail by myself before I got married and had kids. Not that I would have ever wanted to do that. But it did inspire me…to do what, I don’t know yet.
  23. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriaty ★★  Liane is one of those authors who writes easy-to-digest fiction. It’s a variety of fiction I refer to as candy. It’s easy to eat, you can eat a bunch of it, but in the end it doesn’t really satisfy my deep need to be fed by books. This book was good- I’d recommend Liane for an easy beach read.
  24. Testimony by Anita Shreve ★★★ As far as fiction goes, I would put Anita as an author in a total different category than Liane. Though still fiction, Anita’s writing and character development are much deeper. This is a good book about the unknown consequences of our choices. Well written and full of questions being answered along the way at just the right time.
  25. Britt Marie was here by Fredrik Backman ★★★  I love a book where I can relate either myself or someone I know to one of the characters in the book. Britt Marie is perfectly imperfect, lovable and funny.
  26. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ★★★★  I’ve heard this book quoted so many times, I had to read it for myself. This book has depth and beauty at every turn. You’ll find yourself in the boy and maybe in the Alchemist. This is a small, but deep book that deserves a second read.
  27. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton ★★★ This is tough. After reading the book, I attended Glennon’s book release which was a really cool event called, “Together” or something, so I got to hear her, too and I think that helped. There are things I love about this book. I love G’s fierce truth and love and care for herself. But there really are things I didn’t love about this book. I don’t think I can get into it here; it’s so complex for a recovering evangelical, but I’d love to have coffee and discuss it with you. So…yeah, just let me know.
  28. Sirius by Jonathan Crown ★★★ A quick little novel about a dog I wish was mine. I love books that are set in a historical period and this one is no different, certainly NOT historical fiction but a fun little read about an amazing little dog.
  29. Falling Free by Shannan Martin
  30. Commonwealth
  31. the Immortal Nicholas
  32. The Girl You Left Behind


2015 Books

  1. Golden Age by Jane Smiley 1/5/16– loved the final installment of my favorite trilogy!
  2. Me, My Hair and I:Twenty Seven Women Untangle an Obsession Edited by Elizabeth Benedict 12/16/15. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! I am a hair girl. Not fashion, not makeup- hair. I LOVED this book of essays about hair.
  3. Family Life by Akhil Sharma 12/6/15- recommended by David Sedaris when we saw him speak a few weeks ago, so I couldn’t wait to read it. There were interesting stories about life as an immigrant, but I found it to be a sad story and the writing style a bit too simple.
  4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 12/1/15-It actually took me a while to get into this highly rated book, but once I did, I really did enjoy it. It’s a wonderful look at the humanity that lies in all of us- no matter how the world perceives us.
  5. Room by Emma Donahue 11/15/15- I read this because I saw the preview of the movie and thought it looked good. I loved this book because it’s a new perspective on what it must feel like to be adopted. Boy lives in one place and knows only that, then transitions to the world outside of Room. I imagined often how Vaughn felt coming from Africa to America.
  6. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 11/12/15– This book is long and wonderful!
  7. Rising Strong by Brene Brown 10/25/15- If I have one book on this list I feel every human being should read, it’s this.
  8. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll 10/15/15- I can’t say it was trashy, but it wasn’t careful literature, either. I read it very quick because it was engrossing, but it was also a little gross.
  9. Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore 10/11/15- suspense novel, good and easy to read.
  10. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker 10/7/15- here’s another book I feel you absolutely should read.
  11. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton 9/18/15- so, so, so, SO GOOD!!! This is seriously such an amazing book.
  12. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison 9/10/15 – don’t bother with this one. I didn’t get it at all.
  13. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo 9/1/15- This book. This book is so good. The title says it all. Magic. Life changing.
  14. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins 8/26/15- a good, easy thriller/murder mystery read!
  15. Undone by Michele Cushatt 8/17/15- a fantastic memoir “a story of making peace with an unexpected life”
  16. The Son by Lois Lowry 8/12/15- this was OK, but I probably should have read the whole series. Interesting concepts for sure!
  17. If I Stay by Gayle Forman 8/1/15- I guess you get what you get with YA fiction. Thumbs down.
  18. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 7/28/15- this was a “read it in 3 days because it was so good!”
  19. Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk 7/24/15- GREAT parenting book and I highly recommend!
  20. Early Warning by Jane Smiley 7/20/15- My author of the year! I love her books.
  21. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt 7/09/15- I loved this. Any novel that opens my eyes to a plight I don’t have knowledge of, is usually a good one. This one is about AIDS in the ’80s.
  22. Missoula by Jon Krakauer 7/1/15 This book is about rape and justice(?) in Missoula, MT. Very emotional reading.
  23. Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith 6/23/15- Great summer reading!
  24. Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall 6/12/15- Loved!
  25. The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon 6/6/15-This is my passion and what I am most excited about!
  26. The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts 6/3/15-Highly, highly recommend
  27. An Abundance of Katherines by John Greene 6/2/15- Good, not amazing
  28. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 5/27/15- Great YA Fiction
  29. Paper Towns by John Greene 5/19/15- Not his best in my opinion
  30. The Precious One by Marisa de Los Santos 5/15/15- I love this author and I enjoyed this book. It’s summer reading.
  31. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler 5/9/15- Loved
  32. Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill 4/25/15-Good, not great
  33. The Bear by Claire Cameron 4/15/15- Good, but kind of hard to read if you have kids and enjoy camping
  34. Toddlers are A#@holes by Bunmi Latidan 4/5/15- Funniest book this year!
  35. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simonson 4/5/15- Great!
  36. Good Faith By Jane Smiley 3/28/15-Great!
  37. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 3/21/15-Great!
  38. interrupted by Jen Hatmaker 3/15/15 – game.changer!!
  39. Spark by John Twelve Hawks 3/14/15 – fascinating! don’t read the jacket description!
  40. Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen by Lisa J. Shannon 3/8/15-Required reading for anyone interested in the Congo
  41. Simplify by Bill Hybels 2/28/25-Good non-fiction read
  42. It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig 2/23/15- 2nd time through and I recommend for anyone with health issues or anyone who wants to do a Whole30
  43. The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant 2/23/15 meh.
  44. Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley 2/15/15 my new favorite author!
  45. Yes Please by Amy Poehler 2/1/15- I love Amy and Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows and I love funny books, but I’m sad to say I actually lost a little bit of respect for her when I read this.
  46. Some Luck by Jane Smiley 1/19/15- READ THIS (its the first of a trilogy, long and sweeping, but a wonderful account of a family in Iowa)!!!
  47. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford 1/12/15-A good read about an orphan in the Depression-era.
  48. Dear White People by Justin Simien 1/10/15- Hilarious and if you are white, you should read this as the title suggests.
  49. The Circle by Dave Eggers 1/4/15- Not great, but an interesting idea of what could happen…

3 thoughts on “Books>TV

  1. Pingback: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Part 1 | notes from the neighborhood

  2. Pingback: “A” for Ambien | notes from the neighborhood

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Books of 2015 | notes from the neighborhood

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