2016 Book Post | My Favorites of the Year

I haven’t written a book post in 3 years! Life got a little bit away from me; I was shooting a ton of weddings, and the blog was hoppin’ with all the fun and beautiful days I was able to document. But this entire time, I’ve been challenging myself to read fifty books a year, and in the past three years I’ve surpassed that goal each year.

Usually, I let Goodreads mark my progress for me, but I feel that actually ranking different genres of books, as well as books outside of my comfort zone, may be a fun task. Book aficionados, you agree with me, right?

Let’s start with the books I read in 2016…

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As always, you can follow me on Goodreads to see details of these books

Best books of the year:

I have a hard time narrowing down all 76 books to distinctively say, “Yes, this is the best book I read this year,” but I do have a short list of favorites I feel others should read. In no order:

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (nonfiction essays) by Lindy West
When Breath Becomes Air (memoir) by Paul Kalanithi
A Little Life (fiction) by Hanya Yanagihara
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (fiction) by Bryn Greenwood
Conviction (YA) by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Between the World and Me (nonfiction essays) by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Usually I’m a big fiction fan, but this year I branched out and read more memoirs and essays. The social discourse about feminism, #blacklivesmatter and racial tolerance, helped me to understand the world a little better and to understand myself better. If you only read one book this year, let it be Shrill. 

My book club laughs at me and says that I’m all about the bleak books, and I do have to say that the books on this list are more on the side of heavy realism than stories with happy endings (which I also love too, by the way). When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir of a man who was about to become a neurosurgeon and discovered he had terminal cancer. (You will cry.) A Little Life, a 700-page tome about four friends growing up in New York, will make you hate people. (You will cry.) All the Ugly and Wonderful Things follows a child who falls in love with an adult — but for some reason, you root for this strange relationship. Conviction is the story of a young man in the Bay area whose father is on trial for the murder of a police officer and his struggle to remember what happened so he can give testimony. Between the World and Me is a collection of essays from a black man to his son about the state of the world. (You will cry.)

Every book made me think about every value that I already hold, made me wonder what are exceptions to these rules, and consider other people’s realities in the world I also occupy. Reading is both an escape and a way for me to gain empathy for others. I highly recommend it.

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Favorite YA books:

I’ve been reading more Young Adult work this year, in part because I joined a YA book club in late 2014. Some favorites…

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (really, all Sarah Dessens)

Favorite “Cold Pick” Read:

Sometimes you just pick up a book that looks interesting and it turns out to be great. I love those happy accidents, don’t you? My Kindle screen broke earlier in the year and a friend gave me his bricked Kindle that had an intact screen. My husband took my working battery out of my shattered Kindle and put it into the bricked one. After re-loading my books into the “new” Kindle, I found that a few of the old owner’s titles remained. So I started Room by Emma Donoghue on a plane and was so enthralled I finished it in all the spare moments I could, while in New York City. Had no idea about it except that Brie Larson won an Oscar for her performance in the movie adaptation, but it was amazing. If you are also unfamiliar with the novel, it’s written in the voice of five-year-old Jack, who has been stuck in a room with his mother for his entire life. You come to learn that Jack’s mother was an abducted woman who has been kept in a shed by her captor for years. It’s haunting and will stick with you.

Best “Happy” books:

Yes, I’m a bit of a downer sometimes. So here are some happy novels!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: her novel Fangirl was one of my favorite reads of 2015 and I really enjoyed this slightly more sci-fi, adult novel about a woman who discovers a magical phone line to her husband when he was in college!

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick: you may know her best as Beca from Pitch Perfect or maybe Jessica from Twilight, but Anna is a feisty and witty young lady whose book made me laugh out loud. I saw her when she visited Austin for her book tour and she’s whip-smart in real life too.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer: her Lunar Chronicles series was one of my favorite reads from last year, and this collection of short stories with familiar characters from the series, tying together some loose ends, was so adorable and made me happy.

Any favorites of yours? I’m always looking for recommendations! Have you read any of these? Do you agree with me on my picks?

Note: the Amazon links are affiliate links

Sarah & Jordan | Palm Door on Sabine Wedding

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Two-piece bridal gown. Baby blue suit. Hand-stitched needlepoint centerpiece numbers. English Christmas “crackers” full of paper crowns and temporary tattoos. Sarah and Jordan celebrated their wedding with a laid-back and joyful attitude in downtown Austin at Palm Door on Sabine.

I loved celebrating their love with them. It was just the warm cozy feeling I needed in mid-November, to know that people were still going to love, going to be loud about their joy, going to smile and celebrate the beautiful things that need celebrating. As we go into 2017 (this being the last blog post of the year), I wish you all joy and strength and hope — though maybe not necessarily in that exact order.

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Credits: Palm Door on Sabine; Pink Avocado (catering); Modern Whimsy Events; Rosehip Flora; Happy Salon (hair/MU); My Sweet Austin (bakery); Birch and Brass Rentals; BHLDN

Sarah & Kyle | River Oaks Garden Club Wedding

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It was the first weekend in November; a mild, gorgeous day on which Sarah and Kyle tied the knot. In step with the garden theme at the River Oaks Garden Club, Sarah wore flowered heels by Louise et Cie. After a ceremony where the sun dipped in and out behind clouds, revelers drank cocktails on the expansive porch and grounds. During dinner, guests wondered at the gorgeous floral arrangements that the bride herself had DIY’d, then followed the couple outdoors for a night of dancing.

A gorgeous night, capped off by a shower of petals as the couple spirited away to an afterparty! Be sure to view and order prints here.

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Credits: River Oaks Garden Club; Silverstone Catering and Events; El Bolillo (cake); Jodycakes (cake); Full Speed Entertainment (DJ); Roots Salon; Lucky Cat Beauty (MUA)