Best reads of 2016: nonfiction

It’s that time of year again! My favorite books I read in 2016!

I read enough (and am undiscerning enough in my book choices) that at times I can’t remember what a book I read last January was even about. Thank goodness for Goodreads where I can keep track of what I read, otherwise these annual lists would be impossible.

It appears my reading has gotten even more out of control than in previous years! In 2016, I read 93 books. I fall asleep to books, I take walks listening to books, I play an audiobook while I’m cooking.

Top Five Fiction Books I Read in 2016:

1. Bread & Wine, Shauna Niequist

I’ve already shared how much I love this book here. Hands down, the best book I read in 2016. A book about friendship and Jesus and food? Those are three of my favorite things! Her voice is honest and earnest and lovely. I want to meet her. Or follow her around her kitchen forever.

2. Bossypants, Tina Fey

This one has also shown up here earlier this year. Read my blog post, but the gist of it is all the things you love about Tina Fey, from awkward family years to 30 Rock to SNL. I especially recommend the audiobook version: Tina Fey in her own voice. What more could you want?

3. Small Faith – Great God, N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright does something I love in theology books: he writes as if he’s talking to you. I had the opportunity to meet Wright once and he truly writes like he speaks, which I find greatly comforting in religious leaders. In the vein of C.S. Lewis, his writing is simple but not oversimplified, clear but not preachy. Wright’s point in Small Faith – Great God is that the size of our faith doesn’t determine its strength. What (rather, Who) faith rests in decides its value. He invites us to rest in the comfort that we aren’t our own Saviors and challenges us to live in light of this truth.  It’s a great meat-and-potatoes book about faith.

4. Carry On Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton

As my most recent book review, I won’t say too much here either. Melton covers family, love, life, faith and community in a funny, insightful way.

5. Primates of Park Ave, Wednesday Martin

An anthropologist marries an Upper East Sider. In her efforts to fit in, she interprets her new community through the lens of anthropology. While a premise like that could end up dry and judgy, her descriptions were fascinating and usually made me laugh. It had me in stitches most of the way through. Her descriptions of soul cycle were particularly fantastic. My favorite part, though, is the fact that she wasn’t condemning: she never brought judgment into her description and ends up happily becoming part of the tribe!

Honorable Mentions:

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch

I listened to this entire book in one day on our road trip moving from NC to OK. As a person, Pausch is fascinating and his story worth hearing even if he never had a terminal diagnosis. His positivity – not in the face of the end of his life but his approach to ALL of life – resonated with me as a positive person, but the thing I most appreciated was that he was positive in a much more logical way than I ever am. Often, people assume positive people are so because they’re unacquainted with the realities of life, or too weak to grapple with the hard things they encounter. A cockeyed optimist. But Pausch embraces positivity without naiveté, walking clear-eyed through life and later into death. It’s a great book. And of course I spent the last twenty minutes crying as I drove through the darkness of Arkansas.

I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron

I read two of Nora Ephron’s memoirs (I Remember Nothing) back to back this fall and I regretted it. I regretted it because she has such a great voice, and I’d used that precious first read of two of her works so close together, picking up the second before the glow of the first had worn off. I know I’m way behind on discovering her writing, but she’s just great. From life in New York City to cooking to working in Kennedy’s White House, her stories entertain without being flashy. As she writes about things that she experienced as a young woman, I can hear the way she thinks and tells it differently than she would have twenty years ago. As a near-millennial who hears a lot of millennial voices, hers was a breath of fresh air.

For 2017, I want to make some progress on the nonfiction I already own but haven’t read yet. Working in ministry meant I accumulated books – books for work, books I was given, books I bought at conferences, books students asked me to read – at a much faster rate than I could ever hope to read them. This year I’d like to put more of a dent in that. Oh, and stop buying them until I do. (Yeah right.)

Check here for my favorite fiction reads of the year, or here for previous best-of lists!

Opinions are my own and I didn’t receive compensation for my writing. The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

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