2017 Reading Goal & 2016 Reading Recap

On January 1st, 2015, I set a Goodreads Reading Challenge to read 16 books in 2016. I surpassed my goal and ended up reading 23 (27 if you count DNF) books! Last year, I read 13 books so I’m happy I doubled my amount! You can see my 2015 list here.

New Year’s quests to diet and exercise usually crash and burn in about a month. Rather than making vague promises to eat right or work out, how about turning to books as a method of self-betterment instead?

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In the words of Rory Gilmore: “I live in two worlds. One is a world of books.”

Maybe you want to read a certain number of books or perhaps you want to tackle a new genre. Whatever it may be, why not resolve to read more books in 2017?

If you need any recommendations, here is the breakdown of my 2016 reading challenge: 



= I enjoyed this book, but it just didn’t blow me away.

= Meh, this book was okay. I wouldn’t recommend it. Not really my thing.

= This book was pretty bad. I don’t like it. Get it away!

DNF (Did Not Finish) = I couldn’t even get through it/it didn’t hold my interest.


5-star rating:

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

There is something deeply unhealthy about this book. It’s in the characters, in the story, in the relationships, in the sex, and just in the general mood of the novel. Reading this made me feel a little unwell, both physically and mentally, but I completely devoured it.

Today Means Amen by Sierra DeMulder

Have you ever caught yourself sobbing uncontrollably on public transit? Have you ever swallowed a book in pieces so hefty, that your body collapses into itself, unable to withstand the collision? How can I describe this book, this bundle of pages that describes the heart so poignantly that my eyes dribbled like rainwater and I continued reading with heavy sighs. Gasping. My mind had a hole, and her worlds curled themselves into it. 

How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh

This charming little book gives short bursts of insight and encouragement, guiding the reader to be present and mindful while walking. For those looking to be present in every moment, there is wisdom in this book and likely something that will resonate with you.

The Illustrated Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris

I read this entire book in one sitting. It is probably my most recommended self-help book! I love the simple advice and compassionate approach to finding happiness in life. The techniques really do work. Great for anyone struggling with negative thoughts/outlook, anxiety, and/or depression.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Heartbreaking and beautiful. This is one of those very rare books that just stays with you forever, whether you want it to or not. It’s simply unforgettable, and it challenges you in more than one way. My praise could never do any justice to this masterpiece. Read it and weep, my friends.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I ate this up in a couple of days, finding every opportunity to read that I could. If you’re okay reading about filth, gore, and underage sex, then you should dive into this mystery straight away and immerse yourself in the disturbing but awesome mental workings of Gillian Flynn.

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

This novel truly allowed me to escape the world. From the moment I read the description of the book, I knew it would be unlike anything I had read before and that I couldn’t wait to dive into it. Needless to say, I was not disappointed in the book and the story it told.

4-star rating:

How to Sit by Thich Nhat Hanh

A great reminder to return to your breath and return to peace within yourself.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

No one writes about the complicated dynamics of families like Tyler. I didn’t really worry about drawing deep conclusions when I was finished. When I closed the novel, I felt sad. Her characters are quirky, eccentric and so achingly real that saying goodbye was heartbreaking. The only reason I didn’t rate it higher is because I felt it needed a bit more conflict, drama or connection to events in the outside world.

Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life by Jenni Schaefer

Some parts of these book were very helpful and provided some interesting insights and ideas. However, many other parts were rather annoying and cheesy. However, I do recommend this book to those struggling with an eating disorder as well as friends and family members.

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

A story of survival resulting from a plane crash, the effects of PTSD and the romance and friendships that slowly develop afterward. A bit predictable and far-fetched at times, but a fast, easy read that I zoomed right through and enjoyed nonetheless.

Room by Emma Donoghue

I have to appreciate the sheer amount of work that must have gone into this book. The mechanics of Room, the psychological and physical results of being raised in an environment like that, and the long-term effects, are all explored in sensitive and thorough detail. Sure, I had a few issues with Room, but I still loved it, and think it deserves all the attention it’s gotten.

3-star rating:

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont

Whenever I closed this book and returned to it a brief time later, I stared blankly at the cover and entered into a several-minute time warp daze during which I could gather no recollection whatsoever of where I’d left off or what had happened so far. If I had written this review after I finished part one, I would have rated it four, maybe four and a half stars. I had such high hopes for this book. The rest of the book was so disappointing. The writing was lacking substance. It was choppy and for lack of a better word, boring. I finished the book feeling as though nothing had really happened.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

The book isn’t as well-written as I would have liked. It gave me what was important, but just not in the portions or the way I would have preferred. This book seemed well researched and referenced, and the subject matter is clearly important. However, I feel that I failed to make a connection with the writing. I found the style somewhat fragmented and confusing.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I love fast paced thrillers with twists and turns, and the many in this book easily drew me in, making it easy to devour this book in less than a day. However, it felt a little flat. I enjoyed both the movie and the book, don’t get me wrong; they just disappointed me a little. I guess I expected a little more.

Life Without ED by Jenni Schaefer

It seemed to me that most of Jenni’s chapters consisted of “I did this when I had my eating disorder. I don’t anymore. Isn’t recovery great?” While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this (and, additionally, while Jenni does spend a good amount of time talking about how tough it is and what she did to overcome it), as a book directed at those afflicted with ED, I expected (and hoped for) a more journey driven “This is what I went through, and this is an exercise I did, and this is what happened as a result of the exercise, and maybe this can help you too.” I’m nervous that someone reading the book with ED may look at her almost-rose-tinted portrayal of recovery and feel inferior or unhelped.

Poesie by E.E. Cummings

There were a few other poems which were pretty good but I just really didn’t connect with most of the others. I purchased this book in Italy, and enjoyed reading the poems in Italian, but I should have realized that he is not Italian, and therefore, the poems weren’t directly translated.

2-star rating:

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

The ending was so unimpressive I can’t even remember what happened. This book had a few moments I enjoyed, but overall I didn’t care for it. I

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

It truly was a disappointment. I gave it two stars because of the brilliance of the opening. But once the girl lands her first job…it’s all downhill from there.

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

Honestly, very underwhelming. I’m not sure why people go crazy about this book and say it’s gorgeous and it’s their favorite book, because honestly, it’s very plain. These poems are just words randomly separated by hitting enter; it’s literally just like reading a normal sentence. It wasn’t interesting, and a lot of the poems just sounded so pretentious because it was just plain text with no punctuation and random skips in the lines being fed to the reader as art. The art was nice and a few of the poems were well-written, but for the most part, it seems like very little effort was put into this, which makes me sad because that’s such a mean criticism for an artist who puts so much emotion into her work.

STILL THOUGHTS, Volume Two by Master Cheng Yen

Some really remarkable points, but most of them didn’t resonate with me. It was just okay.

Paper Towns by John Green

For anyone who is thinking of reading this book, I’ll save you the trouble. Who is the real Margo? An attention whore. That’s who Margo is.

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

My main problem with this book was that there was too much going on. From start to finish, there were just too many story lines. It wasn’t terrible and I enjoyed parts of it, but all in all there were too many issues that bothered me and left me with an odd feeling.

1-star rating:

N/A. Yay!

Did Not Finish:

The Yoga of Food: Wellness from the Inside Out by Melissa Grabau

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Thug Kitchen by Thug Kitchen

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This year, I have pledged to read 30 books by 2017.  If you’d like to keep up with my reading, I’ve attached a widget on my sidebar (right), or you can always visit my Goodreads account here. I also post all my reviews on my blog.

What will your reading challenge for this year be?
Do you have any book recommendations?
What is your favorite part about reading?

Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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