This has been, without a doubt, the Year of the Book. I’ve read 90 books and listened to 8 audio books, as well as listened to numerous books with the kids. That’s all sorts of awesome! In case anyone is looking for some new reads, here’s what resonated with me this past year.
Kids Audio Books
Scorch and Bean are 8 and 6 and these audio books have made all our time in the car so much more enjoyable! This year we listened to chapter books- the funnier the better in according to the kids. Here are their favorites:
> Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. This was, by far, the kids favorite book – I think we listened to it twice. Two huge thumbs up from all 3 of us. Too bad the next book in the series, SuperFudge, covers some topics that I’m just not ready to go into with the kids (Santa, specifically).
> Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Honestly, I couldn’t stand these books, but the kids loved ‘em.
> Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary. These books were wonderful. Sweet, funny and full of good hearted sass- we loved the Quimby family! That said, the books are read by Stockard Channing- she’s an acquired taste as a narrator.
> James at the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I may have enjoyed this one more than the kids. The book was read by Jeremy Irons- can you blame me?!
Adult Audio Books
Audio books kept me sane during my 1.5 hour round trip on the days I worked in the office. I listened to some OK books but when I got a good one, they were amazingly good.
> Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, read by Edward Herrman. I actually tried to read this a few years back when I bought it for the Hubs, but I couldn’t get into it. However, Edward Herrman’s telling of it made Louie Zamperini’s story come alive. A truly remarkable story that I recommend for anyone. (Side note: we saw the movie last night. While great, the book is so much better. Do yourself a favor and read it even if you did see the movie.)
> The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown, read by Edward Herrman. After listening to Unbroken, I knew I’d be happy listening to Edward Herrman narrate the phone book- thankfully this book was a million times better then that. Another true story, this one set pre-WWII about grit, determination and the force of the human spirit.
> Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, read by Caroline Lee. I started out entirely unsure of this book for a variety of reasons, one of which being the narrator is Australian. But once I got sucked in, there was no turning it off. A biting, often funny look at parenting and the silly competitions between moms- but with a dark side dealing with a startling tale of domestic violence.
I’ll be the first to admit my book list is all over the map, so these books may not be to everyone’s liking. However, these are the books that stuck with me all year long and that I’d recommend to just about anyone regardless of genre:
> Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon. There are two authors whose books I’ll pre-order and pay full hardcover price for and Diana Gabaldon is one. Book 8 in her Outlander series, WIMOHB was well worth the 2+ year wait. Reading her books are like finding old friends again and catching up their exciting adventures. If you haven’t read them, do yourself a favor and pick up Outlander to see what the fuss is about.
> Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. The book itself wasn’t amazing- it was good, but it wasn’t a spectacular piece of writing. However, it introduced me to the Orphan Train Movement- the practice in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that took over 250,000 homeless, abandoned or orphaned kids from east coast cities and shipped them to the midwest to be adopted out. Absolutely fascinating period of history!
> Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book is about August, a 5th grader born with some very visible cranio-facial differences. Told from the point of view of August, his sister, his best friends among others, it’s a really eye-opening portrayal of what it means to be different in today’s society. Cannot wait to read this with my kids!
> We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This is the book that stuck with me the most. Yes, it’s YA and yes, it’s not for everyone. But its heartbreak combined with ultimate hope hasn’t left me since I finished it in June.
> The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. This was a simple sweet tale of A.J. Fikry and his life. The life he lead wasn’t the one he set out to lead, but it was a great one nonetheless.
> The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews & Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. I discovered Urban Fantasy this past year and these are the two series I couldn’t get enough of!
So tell me, what did you read that stuck with you this year? Hit me with your favorites!