My Favorite Books of 2016

My Favorite Books of 2016

I love reading, but when I became a mom, my reading time was devoted to Dr. Seuss and our weekly children’s library stack. I love a good rhyming life lesson as much as the next person, but I missed getting lost in a good story or learning something new about the world or myself from a new non-fiction selection.

When I became super-intentional about goal setting a few years ago, I set out to read two books a month. Two grown-up books, that is. I struggled at first. Once I kindled that passion, however, I found I made time for reading. Then I discovered audio books and blew my two-book goal out of the water.

I love sharing good books with you. So, to wrap up the year, I thought I would share my favorite books from my 2016 reading list. For a book to qualify, I either want to read it again, it challenged my thinking, and/or inspired me toward positive change. (My full list is at the end of this post—at least the ones I remembered to write down. Staying current on my Goodreads account should be a goal for 2017!)

My Favorite Books of 2016

Falling Free, Shannan Martin

Hands down, Shannan Martin’s book, Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted, is my top pick for 2016. She is candid, funny, and brave. She challenges me to redefine the Christian vocabulary that tumbles off my tongue too easily: sacrifice, neighbor, community, faith, love. Make 2017 a transformative year—order this book! You can read more about my experience with this book here.


Overwhelmed, Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory

I hesitated to put this one on the list. It is the last book I read so, of course, it is on my mind. However, when I realized I recommended this book to about ten people since finishing it, it made it a top pick for 2016! This isn’t your typical “do more with less” kind of book. Kathi and Cheri walk you through the process of figuring out why you feel overwhelmed and what to do about it. If you order before December 31, you get a stack of Kathi’s books, a planner, and more free (visit for details).


11/22/63, Stephen King

I haven’t read a Stephen King novel since I decided I don’t like scary things. My sister recommended this one and I am so glad she did. I purchased it on Audible and listened for days straight. This book challenged my imagination. It was also entertaining and thought-provoking. What if major events in history could change? Or a tiny adjustment in your history could be made. Even the smallest change in our lives could have a major impact. This book will make you go hmm.


Giddy Up, Eunice, Sophie Hudson

Pouring into the lives of other women thrills me. It gets me up early in the morning and pushes me to do more. Sophie Hudson takes a humorous and poignant dive into what it means to be in community with other women. Women, we all need this book. You can read my full post here, and a review here.


The Kitchen House, Kathleen Grissom

I listen to audiobooks while I clean house. The day I started The Kitchen House, I didn’t want to stop cleaning. Grissom sucked me into the plantation life of pre-Civil War Virginia. I became so engrossed in the story, I talked out loud to the characters (with my hands, no less). When you are ready to get lost in a book, The Kitchen House will not disappoint.


Surprised by Motherhood, Lisa-Jo Baker

Lisa-Jo is a master with the “me, too” pen. She shares her unexpected journey to motherhood in this well-written memoir. The anecdotes from her own home will make you feel better about the crazy in your own life.


She Reads Truth, Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams

Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams share their story on the pages of She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That’s Passing AwayThe memories of their personal struggles are familiar to me–wandering, loss, striving, uncertainty. God’s faithfulness through it all is also familiar to me, and I soaked in both the reminders and revelations. Myers and Williams turn to God’s Word to find Truth. They use Scripture to champion the Hero of our stories. Their story is layered with Truth upon Truth. It serves as a foundation for healing and hope for you and me. (Read a full review here.)


Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

I don’t want to be a cliche’ by including this one on the list, but this book-turned-movie stuck with me for weeks. I processed through the themes and outcomes long after I read the last page. I don’t agree with the choices the characters make, but that’s one reason I love this book. It challenges me to think about the other side of the argument. If you read Me Before YouAfter You is a great follow-up.


Listen, Love, Repeat, Karen Ehman

This book made the list because of the practical application it provides. Karen not only motivates us to share the love of Christ with others in tangible ways (did you catch the #5dollardash?), she also gives very real and practical ways to do this in our everyday lives. Books with a long-lasting impact always earn a spot on the list! (I share more about this book here.)


I am building my 2017 reading list. What did you read in 2016 that you just can’t stop recommending? Share in the comments!

My Favorite Books of 2016

Recommended Resources

If you haven’t tried reading with your ears, Audible makes it easy with a 30-day free trial. It includes two free books with your trial, a perfect opportunity to try one of the recommended books from today’s link up. If you don’t want to subscribe (one book each month for $14.95/mo), simply unsubscribe at the end of your thirty days.

The Mom CreativeHow Busy Moms Find Time to Read (Jessica Turner)

“In the survey I conducted for my book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You, I asked women what they would do if they had more time. The number one answer? Read.” (Continue reading here.)


My 2016 Reading List

Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë (free on Kindle)
Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery (free on Kindle)
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Anne of Avonlea, L.M. Montgomery (free on Kindle)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen (free on Kindle)
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen (free on Kindle)
Persuasion, Jane Austen (free on Kindle)
Emma, Jane Austen (free on Kindle)

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
Return to Me, Lynn Austin
The Bronte Plot, Katherine Reay
Keepers of the Covenant, Lynn Austin
On this Foundation, Lynn Austin
The Advocate, Randy Singer
Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers (This one will be on the “classic” list one day.)
All the Light We Cannot See, Antony Doerr (Historical fiction at its best.)
Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
Longbourn, Jo Baker (Pride and Prejudice meets Downton Abbey)
The Kitchen House, Kathleen Grissom
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Annie Barrows (Fabulous writing!)
11/22/63, Stephen King
Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult
The Light Between the Oceans, M.L. Stedman
All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Fannie Flagg (I heart Southern writers!)
After You, Jojo Moyes
Change of Heart, Jodie Picoult (This one could be a runner-up. Great story telling!)
The House Girl, Tara Conklin
Someone Else’s Love Story, Joshilyn Jackson
Exit, Pursued by a Bear, EK Johnston (Can we talk just a minute about reading what your kids read? This one made it home from the “Young Adult” section of our library. My daughter and I had some serious talks after I read what she read. Parents, stay aware!)
My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout
Someday, Someday, Maybe, Lauren Graham (great audiobook if you are a Gilmore Girls fan)
Silver Bay, Jojo Moyes
Sinners and the Sea, Rebecca Kanner
The Undoing of Sait Sylvanus, Beth Moore
The Angels of Morgan Hill, Donna VanLiere

Surprised by the Healer, Dr. Juli Slattery and Linda Dillow (Read my review for Hollywood Jesus here.)
Breaking Busy, Ali Worthington (Read more about this one here.)
The Miracle of Morning Pages, Julia Cameron
Come with Me, Suzie Eller
Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey (A wonderful, pleasant surprise.)
Open Your Bible, Amanda Bible Williams and Raechel Myers
Giddy Up, Eunice, Sophie Hudson (Please, if you read only one book, read this one.)
1776, David McCullough
Breathe, Priscilla Shirer
The Gift of Second, Brandy Lidbeck (My friend shares the story of her mom’s suicide here.)
Listen, Love, Repeat, Karen Ehman (Read my thoughts on this one here.)
Overwhelmed, Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory

My Southern Journey, Rick Bragg (Southern humor at its finest.)
Looking for Lovely, Annie F. Downs
Surprised by Motherhood, Lisa-Jo Baker
The Mother Letters, Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines
A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, Sophie Hudson (Southern writers are the best, y’all!)
A Different Beautiful, Courtney Westlake (Read my blog post here and review here.)
Falling Free, Shannan Martin
Play with Fire, Bianca Juarez Olthoff (Related blog post here.)
Four Letter Words, Krista Wilbur
She Reads Truth, Amanda Bible Williams and Raechel Myers (Read my review here.)
The Vow, Kim and Krickitt Carpenter

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I received one or more of the products or services mentioned for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. I haven’t read any from your favorites list! I’ll need to look into them. I’ve read two this year that have really impacted me; one is a personal finance book titled “The Average Family’s Guide to Financial Freedom” (it’s out of print now, but I checked it out from the library) and the other is a faith-based book titled “The Discipline of Grace.” Merry Christmas to you!

    • Jerry Bridges is one of my favorites. The Disciplines of Grace is one of the books that formed my spiritual foundation. And I most definitely need to grab that financial book from our library.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations!

  3. I didn’t keep track of the books I read this year but I probably only read (with my eyes and ears) 9 through. I’m sure I started more and I probably bought 60, though. My desires exceed my reality when it comes to reading. some of your favorites are also some of mine this year but a few of my favorites from this year are Love Does by Bob Goff and Times Like These by Peggy Noonan, The Viscount of Maison, Jennie Goutet and The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott (not the one that came out as a movie).

  4. 2016 was the first year in probably ten years that I didn’t keep a list of all the book I’ve read! While I could probably remember the ones from the past few months, I seriously can’t remember any others only because this year was crazy for me (engaged, planning a wedding, newlywed). 2017 I will go back to keeping a list!!! I loved being able to go back to previous lists. Love that you do this too!!

  5. I’m going to keep a list of the books I read in 2017. I can’t believe I’ve never done that before now. Your top picks were excellent. I can’t wait to check out The Kitchen House.

  6. Fantastic list. Love that you organized books into categories. I will definitely be exploring some of these recommendations. Thanks for sharing all these.

  7. She Reads Truth is on my nightstand patiently waiting its turn.
    I’ve added a few of yours to my “want to read” list on Good Reads, thanks for the recommendation!!

  8. I’ve read many of your favorites, which are some of my favorites of 2016 as well. Falling Free, Listen Love Repeat, and Me Before You. You have inspired me to try to do more audio books. Especially the classics. I plan to recap mine at the beginning of the year. Finishing my last two books!

  9. This is a great list to check into when I’m looking for a book to read!

  10. Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll definitely be looking into these!!!

  11. Love that goal of reading two grownup books a month! I struggle to get one read in six. 🙂 Looks like a fabulous list to start loading onto my Kindle.

  12. Hi Kelly. Stopping by from Holley’ Gerth’s place. I always appreciate reviews and your didn’t disappoint. Thank you.

  13. These books look amazing. I will be adding some to my 2017 list for sure!

  14. Great list of books! I read Me Before You this year and loved it too. If you like Jodi Picoult I would recommend her new book Small Great Things. I’m halfway through just now and it’s really engaging and thought-provoking. I also have She Reads Truth now and hope to read it over the holidays. Hope you have a lovely Christmas!

    • Thank you for the Picoult recommendation. I love her storytelling. The new book looks great. As a fellow She, you will love the SRT book! Let me know what you think about it!

  15. Very good list here, Kelly. If listening to audio books will help my house get cleaner, I’m in! I have purchased Listen, Love, Repeat and have yet to read it. The Kitchen House sounds great too. Looking forward to checking out Falling Free and Overwhelmed also. If you love WWII books, have you read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr? He is my favorite contemporary novelist. That book is breathtakingly crafted and I highly recommend it.

    • I enjoyed All the Light SO much! The ending was so… not what I expected but perfect. It is the only book by Anthony Doerr I’ve read. Maybe I will check out another of his books in 2017. Thanks for the recommendation!

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