10 Books I Read and Loved in 2016

Here are ten books that I really loved in 2016, in no particular order. If you’re making your 2017 reading list, any of these would be awesome additions.

Fiction that inspired me in 2016:

I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson

Pure YA, amazing character building, incredible voice. If you’re thinking of writing for teenagers, this book is a great example of how perfect YA contemporary fiction can be.

Hood, Stephen Lawhead

I have a slight obsession with the Robin Hood story. This iteration was a straight-up pleasure read for me. Loved it.

Man in White, Johnny Cash

I spent some time in Nashville this year and went to the Johnny Cash museum. As soon as I got home, I tracked down a copy of his novel. I’m always, always attracted to people who are just straight up intuitive writers. Johnny Cash is one of those people.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness

Fair warning: this book made me cry so hard that my kid got worried. Utter heartbreak. Beautifully written middle grade story. I won’t be watching the movie. I can’t do that to myself. But I’m glad I put myself through the book.

Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler.

I love this book so much. I re-read it for my MFA and really looking at it as a writer was a fantastic experience. Octavia Butler is my favorite writer and this is my favorite of her books.

Grasshopper Jungle, Andrew Smith

This was my surprise favorite read of 2016. Quirky, off-beat, and so perfect.

A Separate Peace, John Knowles

This is a classic that I’d somehow missed until this year. I really enjoyed it. Very timely and still fresh after all these years.

One-on-One, Tabitha King

This book is another favorite that I re-read for my MFA this year. There is something about this book that has drawn me back to it over and over for twenty years. Maybe more than twenty. It’s the characters. Every once in a while I just get a deep urge to visit them.

A couple of craft books that were new to me this year, and excellent:

Steering the Craft, Ursula K. Le Guin

Wonderbook, Jeff Vandermeer

Here are a few other things that are writerly, but not books, that I really loved in 2016.

First, I bought an Echo Dot this year. This little thing is like a palm-sized personal assistant. I love Alexa! She’s so responsive. I got my first iPhone this year, too, and I’ve been loving Siri, but Alexa is even better. This is the best $50 I spent all year.

I’m still learning how to use all of Alexa’s skills, but she’ll play music for me when I need some background noise, she’ll Google for me, and she’ll send me reminders. Also, I use her alarm feature to help me organize my time. I’ve set a ten minute timer on my Echo Dot about a hundred times so far.

I found a new favorite notebook. The Rhodia 6″ by 8 1/4″ stapled notebook is the perfect size. It’s got a cool, simple design. But mostly? The paper. OMG. The paper is so high-quality. I didn’t even know they made paper like this. I love when I find something that feels luxurious and special, but doesn’t cost the Earth. These notebooks cost less than $6 and are humble enough that you won’t be scared to actually write in them. And when you do write in them? Heaven.

I just ordered a few more of these so I’m all set for the new year.

If you’re going to have a notebook as awesome as the Rhodia, you want a cool pen to write in it with, right? This year I found the Preppy Platinum fountain pen that has a great hand feel and writes really well. For less than $10 you get the pen and five ink cartridges. Can’t beat that.

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