Tag Archives: year in reading

2016 Reading Year In Review

I made it! Finally, I read 52 books in one year. That was my goal, and despite a serious post-election slump, I managed to get there. Here is my 2017 Reading Year in Review.

9780307268129I read a lot of great books, and a lot of forgettable ones too. (If only we had the hindsight of a wrap-up post to know which books would fall into which camp BEFORE starting them.) I worked hard to overcome the draw of the iPhone and really focus on reading whenever I could – no easy feat. Listening to audiobooks definitely helped get my numbers up, thanks to a longer commute starting last March and the ability to listen on my iPhone instead of only in the car.

My goal for 2017: reach 52 again, and read only books I want to read for no other reason than because I am in the mood for them (with the exception of mother-daughter book club books). No guilt!

In 2016, as usual, I tended toward fiction over non-fiction and women writers over men. Some things never change.

Here are my standout reads from 2016:

Best audiobooks were The Risen (read by Richard Ferrone); After You (read by Anna Acton); Not Dead Yet (read by Phil Collins), Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (read by Oliver Wymer) and Underground Airlines (read by William DeMerritt).

Most disappointing book: The Excellent Lombards, Jane Hamilton.

Most creative read goes to Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters.

For the last several years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read, and the lists are always impressive. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2016: the plight of poor white America, murder, divorcing parents, alcoholism, the challenge of raising autistic children, death of a brother, unrequited love, car accidents, Brooklyn ennui, the Holocaust, the collapse of the real estate market, dead husbands, miscarriage, dystopia, the Iraq war, PTSD, evil psychopath husbands, cancer, plane crash, slavery, cadaver organ donation, death of best friend, infidelity, Chinese orphanage, emotionally distant parents, kidnapped children, loss of custody. Phew.

The breakdown:

  • 45 fiction, 7 non-fiction
  • 13 repeat authors during 2014: Joyce Maynard, Jane Smiley, Elizabeth Strout, Curtis Sittenfeld, JoJo Moyes, Emma Straub, Jennifer Close, Carolyn Parkhurst, Ann Patchett, Noah Hawley, Jane Hamilton, Leah Stewart and Marcy Dermansky.
  • 19 audiobooks
  • 14 male authors, 38 female authors

How was your 2016 in reading? What were the highlights?

2015 Reading Year In Review

2015 was not my best year in reading. Life just got the better of me. My daughters’ bedtimes (too late!) and the proliferation of tempting screens all over the house didn’t help me find more time for reading either. I tend to read in spurts, when I’m out of my routine on vacation and can enjoy guilt-free hours where I am not expected to do other stuff. Work trips when I don’t spring for airplane wi-fi also provide nice pockets of time. But in general, finding time to read is becoming more and more of a challenge. In 2016, I will do better!


I also found myself in reader’s rut a few times. I have so many books surrounding me that sometimes I didn’t know where to turn. I need to be more methodical about reading books that are recommended (and get over my bias against books that everyone else has read and loved). There is so much top quality fiction out there that there’s no need to read mediocre books.

Or maybe the problem is what Hugh McGuire expressed in this San Francisco Chronicle article: I am so addicted to the quick hits of social media and my iPhone that I have lost my ability to concentrate on long form media like books. How depressing is that?!

In 2014, I read 48 books, which I was bummed about because I wanted to hit 50. This year was even worse! I only made it to 44 books. 2016 (again!): I will reach 52! A book a week!

Here are my standout reads from 2015:

Best audiobooks were Small Mercies by Eddie Joyce (read by Scott Aiello) and Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (read by Mozhan Marno).

Most disappointing book: In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

Most creative read goes to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

For the last three years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read, and the lists have been impressive. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2015: refusal to give dying child life-changing treatment, loss of a child, teacher in a coma, disappearing daughter, prison camp, apocalypse due to ravaging flu, infidelity, depression, suicide, the Communist revolution in China, 9/11, death of spouse, oppression of caged animals, plane crashes, Scientology, soulless startup, divorce, post-partum depression, mental illness, murder, adult autism, middle grade autism, rape, death of family in a fire, the whole second half of Fates and Furies, murder/suicide by child, disappearing mothers (x6).

The breakdown:

  • 36 fiction, 8 non-fiction
  • 7 repeat authors during 2014: Ian McEwan, Jane Smiley, Polly Dugan, Judy Blume, Hilary Liftin, Jean Kwok, Eli Gottlieb
  • 12 audiobooks
  • 11 male authors, 33 female authors

How was your 2015 in reading? What were the highlights?