2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge: A Look Back at 50 Books

Here's a quick look back at the 50 books I read for my 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge. I'm into learning about everything and it really shows in this list. I'm grateful for this Challenge for rekindling my love for reading and recommend anyone who's got "read more" on their resolutions list to set their own Challenge! My 2017 goal is to read 40 books, so I can dive into more in-depth reads on tough subjects (politics and racism in particular.) That and I've got a wedding to plan. :D

Links to all books on Amazon.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

  1. Clean - Read this if you’re looking to pursue a clean-eating life, including a 21-day cleanse and some good suggestions for daily wellness habits.
  2. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince - I mean, read the whole Harry Potter series if you know what’s good for you. I started yet another trip through the series in October 2015 and finished in February.
  3. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows - See #2
  4. The Goldfinch - I read this novel to see what all the fuss was about, and it was fine but not one of my favorites. Theo was really grinding on my nerves as the story progressed.
  5. Modern Romance - I was not expecting a book by Aziz Ansari to be so steeped in research, and it was a nice balance to the anecdotes. 
  6. Year of Yes - One of my favorite reads this year. Everything Shonda Rhimes touches turns to gold, and it’s easy to see why when you read her story.
  7. Wild - I wasn’t expecting to love Cheryl Strayed’s story as much as I did. Turns out that trekking alone on the Pacific Crest Trail can find you the self-reflection, healing, and community so many of us spend our lives searching for.
  8. Start with Why - If you’ve seen Simon Sinek’s wildly popular TED talk on this concept, this book dives into it in more depth. If not, this is a great framework for finding vision and purpose.
  9. Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay is a literary treasure. Start with this book of essays if you’ve never read any of her work before.
  10. Between the World and Me - There’s not much more to say about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ bestseller that hasn’t already been said. Read it, then make sure everyone you know reads it.
  11. Love, Loss and What We Ate - Padma Lakshmi is always a little insufferable to me on Top Chef, but I loved her memoir on love, travel, health, and how food always brought her back to her anchor.
  12. Daring Greatly - I can’t believe it took me so long to read Brene Brown’s book all the way through, but I’m so glad I did. Perspective-changing lessons in vulnerability here.
  13. You are a Badass - Another contender for favorite read of the year. There are way too many self-help books out there, but this is a good one. I promise.
  14. The Bloat Cure - I am always curious to learn more about how our diet affects our bodies. This is a quick read on the myriad things that could cause your gut to be unhappy (spoiler alert: nearly everything we consume)
  15. Double Cup Love - Eddie Huang’s done a lot for Asian-Americans who struggle to define their relationships with this country and the one their family is from. Double Cup Love is a good look at Eddie’s own time in China to figure out love and his own identity.
  16. Down the Rabbit Hole - Holly was my favorite Bunny simply because she was Queen B, so naturally I’d wanted to read her memoir for a long time. I kinda wish I hadn’t to be honest. Turns out I liked just enough drama for a reality show series, and don’t really care for what was really happening. Good for her for speaking her piece, though.
  17. Rising Strong - Where do I start with Brené Brown's Rising Strong? Phew. Everyone talks about Daring Greatly, but this one just destroyed me. De. STROIT. What do you do when the hard work of breaking past your holdups is laid out so neatly in front of you? While Daring Greatly focused on vulnerability, Rising Strong goes in depth into the stories we create from our interactions, assumptions, and thoughts. 
  18. The Happy Vegan - I love Russell Simmons and will read every book he puts out, even if I'm not necessarily looking to be about that life. The Happy Vegan is his latest release and the perfect example of this. I was definitely not trying to be vegan when I started reading it. I admire Russell's commitment to true compassion, which includes veganism (or not participating in the torture and killing of animals for our consumption.) 
  19. Harry Potter & the Cursed Child - Like everyone else with a pulse, I read this with the greatest immediacy. Like, I read it in maybe four hours. I saw a lot of readers online who didn't really care for it, but I liked it. I also saw the play in real life and LOVED it!!!
  20. Words from a Wanderer is a super quick read and one that's great to have on your nightstand. 
  21. Letters to a Young Gymnast - Nadia Comaneci is a sports legend, but her story of what it was like to live in (and flee) Romania is even more incredible.
  22. The Art of Living - this is my coworker and good friend Taylor’s all-time favorite book, and now it’s one of mine. Similar to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations but MUCH easier to read, Epictetus’ The Art of Living has short quips and anecdotes for those who want to strive for virtue and good in their everyday life.
  23. Brave Enough - A great book of quotes you can read in 15 minutes, then leave on your nightstand or coffee table for any time you need some inspiration. I love Cheryl Strayed’s writing.
  24. The Sirens of Titan - I haven’t read Kurt Vonnegut in so long and this was like taking a long, weird, luxurious, science fiction bubble bath. Don’t recommend if you can’t have any fun with your imagination, or if thinking differently freaks you out.
  25. The Law of Divine Compensation - Marianne Williamson is a brilliant writer on love, and in this one, she applies her expertise to personal finance and knowing your worth. If you’ve read Return to Love, you’ll appreciate this.
  26. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - This is probably my favorite read this year. I absorbed every bit of hopeless love, longing and nerdiness that plagued Oscar’s life. The culture weaved into each word is so rich. I highly recommend this one.
  27. Dot Complicated - Randi Zuckerberg’s first book is a great read if you’re looking for some tips on how to find balance in a social media-heavy world. 
  28. Leave Your Mark - I didn’t think Aliza Licht’s first book was for me, but I’m a big fan of how she harnessed the power of social media as the force behind @DKNYgirl (before DKNY killed off any personality it had :() so I read it. I’m so glad I did. What a great memoir, and a great reminder for any woman looking to make it in a field or discipline that’s unfamiliar to her. Read this and then go get it, girl.
  29. My Life on the Road - You already know Gloria Steinem’s life is fascinating, but her memoir magnifies that a hundred-fold. 
  30. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami’s memoir about the impact of running on all aspects of his life was enough to get me running in the crisp fall weather. If anything, it’s a good motivating read for anyone who spends far too much time sitting down.
  31. The Little Book of Healthy Beauty - If you’re looking for some simple, easy ways to lead a healthier life, you’ll like this quick read by Dr. Pina LoGiudice!
  32. Barbarian Days - William Finnegan’s memoir is a dream for any surfer, surfing fan, or a fan of the Hawaiian islands and its surrounding waters.
  33. Becoming a Citizen Activist - Former Seattle City Council member Nick Licata wrote a 101 guide on how to be a louder voice for the causes you believe in. I highly recommend picking this up if you want to be more engaged in your community and country (especially following the elections) and you don’t know where to start. I was kindly gifted a copy by Sasquatch Books and will be gifting more copies to my friends and family this holiday season (and beyond!)
  34. The Girl on the Train - There are a lot of books I wanted to read before seeing the movie, and this was one of them. I couldn’t put it down but I have a hard time saying I liked it. It was suspenseful for sure, but the weak personalities of each of the females in this book (who were leading characters but all dependent on the men in their lives for literally every move they made.) 
  35. Tiny Beautiful Things - I read this in one sitting coming home from our London & Iceland trip. Cheryl Strayed will bring you to tears and then bring you to your knees with these select responses from her Dear Sugar advice column. Plenty of anecdotes from her own life give Cheryl the awareness and vulnerability she needs to give the rawest answers you never knew you needed to hear.
  36. The Joy Compass - This book was gifted to me by Alderbrook ahead of our media trip earlier this fall and I blazed through it. Simple and easy-to-read ways to find some joy and happiness in your life.
  37. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth - My coworker and friend Nicole loaned this to me after discovering Warsaw Shire through Beyonce’s work (of course.) It’s a super-short book of poems, but don’t let its brevity fool you. This will gut you and leave you thinking about it for days after reading.
  38. Finding Ultra - Rich Roll is a super human. Anyone who’s nuts enough to go from being dangerously unhealthy to running an Ultramarathon (twice) and THEN running an Ironman triathlon on five different Hawaiian islands over the span of a week - well that’s not normal. But it is inspiring. I gotta get back in the gym, damn. Listen to his podcast too, it’s great.
  39. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do - Need a little breather from post-election social media chaos? Here’s a book full of good, straightforward reminders of how to literally not lose your mind.
  40. Me Before You - I watched the movie on the plane ride to London and naturally fell in love with Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke. The book is pretty good too. The sequel wasn’t what I wanted for Louisa, but it’s a good look at how grief can consume (and paralyze) us.
  41. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Mark Manson’s blog is a shining star on the internet. I appreciate the brashness of his approach to self-help books, and maybe it’s because I’m already ‘bout that no fucks life, but it wasn’t much of anything new to me.
  42. Shut Up & Run - I adore Robin Arzon. Shut Up & Run is a fun take on memoir/guide to running for all levels. 
  43. After You - see #40
  44. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo’s writing style drove me insane (I am sure that some cultural nuance was lost in translation from her native Japanese), but the book accomplished its goal of getting me to want to declutter my entire home. Closet and office are already done!
  45. Dead Feminists - This is a fun coffee table book - beautiful and brilliantly curated. Great way to learn about some trailblazing badasses!
  46. Dante: A Very Short Introduction - I watched the movie Inferno and just wanted to get a quick background take on Dante and his works. This book is short but super academic. I don’t recommend it unless you’re extremely nerdy and curious like me.
  47. The Great Gatsby - I’d never read this before! I wasn’t missing out on much, honestly. Daisy is an awful person.
  48. Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil - Mike Brown’s mom wrote about her life story, her son’s tragic death and what she’s doing to honor his legacy. How she so lovingly writes about how she raised her baby Mike Mike will reach right into your soul and rip it the fuck out. And then the events of that fateful night in Ferguson will make you angry all over again. Ferguson changed the way I used Twitter forever. This was a must-read for me.
  49. Dawn - My friend Hollis loaned me my first Octavia Butler read, and I’m hooked. I’ve been thinking about this book since I read it a couple of weeks ago.
  50. Bossypants - I’m not sure why it took me so long to read Tina Fey’s memoir. Not only is she hilarious, but she talks through female comedians breaking through ridiculous barriers in their industry (herself and Amy Poehler included.)

Stay up-to-date with what I'm reading over on Goodreads!