For those of you who have been reading for awhile, you'll remember that I made (and met) a goal of reading 100 books in 2015. It was a tight squeeze to fit in all of those books, but I made it! I made a conscious decision to not have a reading goal for 2016, as I felt that I was a bit rushed when reading at times and missed out on some of the details in the books. So, my total for 2016 was 78 books. Not too shabby but I didn't feel rushed to get to the next book.
Though I read a lot last year, there were only a few that really stood out to me, which I'm declaring my five favorite books of 2016.
Martha's Vineyard - Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch - This was my favorite book, the most influential book, the one that I think about most often and the one that I've re-read and the one that I'm sure to read many more times. If you think that you know Susan Branch from her cute calendars, you must read her trilogy of memoirs to really get to know her. This one is the second in the set and describes the pivotal point in her life that she moved to Martha's Vineyard and became the women that we know from her cookbooks and art. It's about figuring out who you are, what you want and rising from the ashes of a difficult time.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton - I discovered Kate Morton this year and have loved everything that I've read by her. This is the first one that I've read and I think it is the best. A young girl witnesses a crime that changes everything she thought that she knew about her mother. Years later, as her mother is dying, she tries to put together the clues to her mother's past that will explain what she saw. It switches back and forth between modern times and wartime London. The ending is COMPLETELY unexpected -- literally, it keeps you guessing until the last page.
Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo - I love Richard Russo and was so excited to find out that he wrote a new book. It is a sequel to Nobody's Fool, but you don't have to have read the latter to enjoy this book. It takes place in Russo's favorite area to depict -- a small industrial town in upstate New York which is suspiciously like the Albany/Saratoga Springs area, full of lots of unique characters. This book is both laugh out loud funny and touching.
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina - This is my YA favorite for last year. Meg Medina is a super talented YA author and I loved this book, based upon her teenage years in 1970s New York, specifically 1977, the Summer of Sam. You feel like you were there -- a time when New York was gritty and pretty scary. Her main character, Nora, is juggling her need for independence, a boyfriend, an abusive brother and absent father and the fear that cloaks the entire city as a serial killer is on the loose.
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson - Downton Abbey fans, here is the book to fill the space left by it's absence! It's the summer of 1914 in an English village. Beatrice Nash has just arrived to become the new school mistress. She wants to remain aloof and mourn the death of her father, but she is soon drawn into the lives of a local family. As they head towards the beginning of the First World War, their lives become intertwined. It's so full of great characters and atmosphere -- Please BBC! Make this into a series!!!
I hope that you find a book that interests you among my favorites. If you are interested in other books that I have read, you may check out my Goodreads profile at Goodreads.