I’m all out of order here because I didn’t think I had a “year in review” in me but it turns out I just didn’t have anything original to say about 2016. I was inspired to look back over my images from the last year today, and chose one from each month to share. I also realized that it was an excellent year in reading for me, and I’ve been meaning to share more about other people’s words, so I’ll start with a quick list of one book I read from each month of 2016 as well.
And my year in reading (chronologically by when I read them, which is to say in no particular order):
- Long Quiet Highway by Natalie Goldberg: A classic memoir about writing, meditating, and winter in Minnesota.
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: I can’t say anything that a National Book Award and a Pulitzer nomination don’t tell you. An important read about race in America in the form of a letter to his son.
- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty: Another memoir, this time from a funny leader of the death-positive movement.
- The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist: Full disclosure, I didn’t actually read this entire book, but I spent the entire month of April reading the first several hundred pages, so I don’t have anything else to report. And I loved it enough to annoy everyone around me with excerpts. It’s dense but very readable, a fascinating tome on how the brain works and why and the intersection of brain function and history.
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: A memoir about a young neurosurgeon with terminal cancer who writes beautifully about living, and dying, well.
- LaRose by Louise Erdrich: I read a lot more fiction that it would seem from this list, but if were so scarce, the latest novel from one of my all-time favorite authors would be enough.
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson: If I had to pick one book as my highlight of 2016, this would be it. It’s an epic history of the great migration that reads like the best of stories. An important lesson, a joy to read.
- The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams: A collection of essays about our National Parks from another favorite author.
- Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West: A random read I picked up based on a This American Life story that surprised and delighted me with it’s smart take on life as a woman of my generation. Yes, another memoir. I know.
- Poets on the Peaks by John Suiter: Stories of the beat poets who worked summers as fire lookouts in the North Cascades. Alternately, stories of a life I’ve daydreamed about an embarrassing amount.
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche: An entrancing novel of deceiving depth, this one will swallow you up right into the interwoven strands of lives in Nigeria and America.
- The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman: Generally speaking, I admire Neil Gaiman but don’t connect with much of his work. This collection of his nonfiction writing was perfect for me, capturing his ideas in a way that was really approachable.
Phew. Twelve felt like such a small number when I had to choose what to include, but it’s not a short list. If you have any suggestions for my 2017 reading list, leave them in the comments or connect with me on Goodreads.