Top 10 Best Reads from 2016

hello2017-1Top 10 Best Reads from 2016? But Kristen, we’re in 2017 now.

Yes, I know this post may seem late, but I spent the last week moving and everything that comes with it. Besides, there are 12 new months to fill with good books, which gives all of us some time to add a title or two to our lists.

My top picks are in no special order and range from fiction to non-fiction, from fantasy to historical romance to personal growth. You might just find one that fits your favorite genre or something that pleasantly surprises you. I did.

#1: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

Though written as a children’s book, The Hobbit is perfect for imaginations of all ages. Tolkein’s reluctant hero Bilbo Baggins bucks up his courage to go on an adventure and help the Dwarves reclaim their homeland from the evil dragon Smaug. Even if you’ve seen the movies with Martin Freeman, you should still read the book.

#2: I Dare You by William Danforth

I read this short book at least twice every year. Danforth develops the concept of a four-fold life, based on Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom (mentally) and stature (physically), and in favor with God (spiritually) and men (socially)” (NKJV, parenthesis added).

I once gave copies of I Dare You to my entire eighth grade class and share this book with friends whenever I can. It’s a must read for teens and adults who want their lives to make a difference.

#3: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is my favorite author and continues to surprise me with his stories, which are so varied in nature. Till We Have Faces retells the tragedy of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Psyche’s jealous older sister. It’s a riveting read that reveals much about human nature.

#4: The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

Several years back, this book dared me to leave a “good job” to completely switch careers and pursue my dream to be a writer. After a crazy journey, I have an online teaching job I love and will release my first book with Write Integrity Press in June.

Read Guillebeau’s book; it will dare you to face your fears, abandon your comfort zone, and reach for the moon. As the saying goes, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

#5: GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon

This book is my top pick for fiction writers. It has revolutionized how I plan my novels and helped me write tighter scenes. If you write fiction or want to write fiction, read it. The full title is GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction.

#6: Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson

If you know me well, you might be surprised a historical romance novel made this list. I’m surprised too, but I honestly couldn’t put Everson’s book down. Based loosely on a real-life story, the plot follows five roommates in Chicago who jointly buy one wedding dress they all plan to wear. Everson weaves their five love stories together into one page-turning tale which reminds us that everyone’s story is different.

#7: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Although I read this Holocaust story as a student, re-reading it as an adult moved me even more. If Corrie Ten Boom’s story doesn’t challenge your faith and redefine your limits of forgiveness and self-sacrifice, I don’t know what will.

#8: In His Steps by Charles Sheldon

Personally challenging and convicting, In His Steps challenged me to walk as Jesus walked in every aspect of my life and revealed how much I fall short. Growing up, I probably had a WWJD wristband like other teens my age, but anyone who wears one should read this book first. The plot of this fictional story surrounds a church that pledged to live as Jesus did for one year, based on the text of I Peter 2:21: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (NKJV).

#9: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Here’s another delightful tale by C.S. Lewis (a re-read for me)! It’s the prequel to the Chronicles of Narnia. So if you ever wondered how that magical wardrobe ended up in Professor Digory’s house or how the evil White Witch came to be in Narnia, this book is for you. Even if you’ve never read the Narnia series, I highly recommend The Magician’s Nephew as a standalone story.

#10: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

What are we making of life’s opportunities? Are we hoarding for ourselves or sharing with others? Are we so stuck in our routines that we fail to see the needs around us?

This classic tale convicts the Scrooge inside each of us. Christmas may be over, but the moral of A Christmas Carol is worth considering as we begin a new year.

What are your top book recommendations for 2017? I’d love to hear from you, so please share in the comments below. 

~ Kristen

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