Year End Summary and Favorites

Below is a rundown of my stats and favorites from 2016. I had a good year (see photo of Lake Louise at left) and averaged a little over a book a week, which is the pace I feel suits me best. I was surprised that I completed the same amount of audiobooks as books read. Audios sure have gained in popularity and I enjoy listening to them on my frequent dog walks. I mixed in a fair amount of nonfiction too, which I hope to continue to do, though literary fiction is my favorite genre of all. There were a lot of great books this year so it was really hard picking which ones I liked best, but something gave the edge to Imbolo Mbue’s novel “Behold the Dreamers” and Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography “Born to Run,” my favorite reads in fiction and nonfiction respectively for 2016.

As for movies, I just saw “Manchester By the Sea,” which is quite potent in an understated way and I thought deserving to go on top of my list (for a saddish drama, it is excellent), but there are still others I plan to see before the Academy Awards takes place on Feb. 27. See the list below. Still “Manchester By the Sea” is a strong contender and Casey Affleck gives an affecting performance as an uncle who is asked to become the guardian of his teenage nephew. I cannot say too much more about it without giving too much away, but it did leave me thinking about it for days after. The setting, too, of the Massachusetts seaside town is very much ingrained in the film. You can sense the feeling of the place from a mile away.

As for music, I realize that a majority of people nowadays don’t listen to “albums” as they once did. Music streaming services such as Spotify among other things have changed the way people listen or compile music. Indeed I only bought five albums this year, which made up my list below.

I guess I should feel remiss for not putting the “Hamilton” musical Broadway soundtrack on it, which a friend assures me all the kids she knows have memorized. I guess she’s right, probably the biggest thing in the arts going on in 2016 was “Hamilton” on Broadway. If you didn’t get into it, you missed it. And alas, I’m still in that category. Who knew this Founding Father would be all the rage in 2016. I still want to read the book by Ron Chernow, which my brother-in-law says, is the best biography he’s ever read. All 731 pages of it, enjoy! And happy reading in 2017.

Books Completed: 54
Nonfiction: 10
Fiction: 44
Audiobooks: 27
Books Read: 27
Male Authors: 18
Female Authors: 36
Canadian authors: 4
British & duel citizen authors: 11
U.S. & duel citizen authors: 39

Favorite Nonfiction That I Read in 2016

“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen (2016)
“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough (2015)
“Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren (2016)
“Wave” by Sonali Deraniyagala (2013)
“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi (2016)
“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)
“Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art” by Carl Hoffman (2014)
“Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman” by Lindy West (2016)

Favorite Fiction That I Read in 2016

“Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue (2016)
“Underground Airlines” by Ben H. Winters (2016)
“The Tortilla Curtain” by T.C. Boyle (1995)
“The North Water” by Ian McGuire (2016)
“The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen (2015)

Other Novels I Enjoyed That Were Published in 2016

“Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld (2016)
“Siracusa” by Delia Ephron (2016)
“The Longest Night” by Andria Williams (2016)
“The Girls” by Emma Cline (2016)
“Shelter” by Jung Yun (2016)
“News From the World” by Paulette Jiles (2016)
“Sweet Lamb of Heaven” by Lydia Millet (2016)
“The Mothers” by Brit Bennett (2016)

Favorite Movies From 2016 So Far

“Manchester By the Sea”
“Deepwater Horizon”
“La La Land”
“Hell or High Water”
“The Light Between Oceans”
“Me Before You”
“Our Kind of Traitor”
“Captain Fantastic”

Movies I Still Want to See From 2016

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”
“The Birth of a Nation”

Favorite Albums of 2016

The Lumineers — “Cleopatra”
Norah Jones — “Day Breaks”
The Avett Brothers — “True Sadness”
Vance Joy — “Dream Your Life Away”
Michael Kiwanuka — “Love & Hate”

What about you — how were your stats and what were your top favorites in 2016?

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33 Responses to Year End Summary and Favorites

  1. I saw La La Land today and was disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high. I hope to see Manchester by the Sea before it leaves theaters.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh too bad Kathy. I hope I didn’t set you up for that. I had low expectations for La La Land, and was taken with it. It is different and I can see where some might not think it that thrilling. I’ll be curious to what you think of Manchester by the Sea.

  2. Brian Joseph says:

    This is an impressive list. I want to read many of these books. \

    Here’s to 2017 being a fruitful reading year!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh thanks Brian. Yeah I thought the books were of good quality that I read last year. I agree : let’s hope 2017 has great reading for us as well.

  3. Carmen says:

    Great list, in books as well as in movies! I bought the Hamilton soundtrack and listened to it once. I was planning to review it but somehow I lost track of the songs while listening; hip hop is not my thing. I would love to read the bio though. I read a good and concise review of it.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Carmen. Yeah the whole musical soundtrack to Hamilton probably wouldn’t be my cup of tea either, but I know many love it. I think the biography would be a good place to start for this whole Hamilton craze. But I wonder when I’ll get to it.

  4. I loved Savage Harvest too. I’ve read a it and listened to it.
    Great movie list too. Now I know what i should see.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Tanya. Oh I’m glad there’s someone who has read Savage Harvest. I was in deep listening to the audiobook of that. It was quite fascinating. The young Rockefeller seemed over his head in his trip to the wilds of New Guinea in 1961. Sad, what happened.

  5. Naomi says:

    I haven’t seen a lot around about Behold the Dreamers, but it sounds like one I should be checking out! It *is* fun to be taken pleasantly by surprise while reading. 🙂
    I’d also like to read Underground Airlines and The North Water.

    Your posts always make me want to go to the movies! Hopefully I’ll remember the names of all our favourites if they ever show up on Netflix.
    I hope you had a wonderful holiday and new year!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Naomi. Yeah those 3 books you note — are all ones that I’d recommend pretty highly. They’re quick reads too, with good pacing. As for movies, it’s the right time of year for the good ones, so that’s why I’m seeing quite a few. After this, I’ll likely go for months without seeing any.

  6. Judy Krueger says:

    Yay for an excellent year! Thanks for all of your perceptive reviews and for alerting me to movies. Best wishes for a wonderful reading, viewing, and listening year in 2017!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh thanks Judy! Yeah I felt pretty good about my reading / listening year in 2016. Now I have to replicate that — with lot of quality reads out there! Wishing you a great year ahead too.

  7. Oh, The North Water. I never got around to reading much of it before I had to return it to the library, but I don’t think I’ve ever reacted as strongly to a character in just a few pages as I did to whatever the sailor’s name was. The drunkard… I’m sure you know which one I mean. I’m planning to get back to the book in April (I’m planning to read my own books until then).

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi TJ! Yeah The North Water has some dark & gritty parts to it. The crime is a bit gruesome within & hard to handle, but I liked the book for the expedition it describes in Arctic waters. Yeah I try never to miss an arctic waters kind of story.

  8. Catherine says:

    I really enjoyed Siracusa and The Girls. One of my favorite novels last year was Forty Rooms. It really touched me as a woman.

    I didn’t know Billy Lynn had already come out! I thought it was a 2017 movie. I loved that book.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Catherine, Yeah Billy Lynn came out in November but it’s sort of disappeared now, but I liked the book too and still want to see it. Ang Lee directs it! I will have to check out Forty Rooms. I hadn’t heard of it before seeing your list but now I will put it on my radar. It sounds different.

  9. I read and enjoyed Siracusa, The Girls, The Mothers, and Sweet Lamb of Heaven….and Manchester by the Sea and La La Land are movies I want to see…along with Jackie, which hasn’t arrived here yet.

    I like how you organized your reads, categorizing them by male and female authors, as well as Canadian, British, and US authors. I should do that more.

    Thanks for sharing…and enjoy your week. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m enjoying The Woman in Cabin 10, but I’m not far into it yet.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Laurel: I’m glad some of our reading overlapped last year and you liked those books too. Fun. I liked hearing your thoughts about them. For my year end stats, I like breaking them down to see what I’m reading. I try to pick up books from diverse authors or from a range of places and people. So I get different viewpoints, male & female or whatever. Thx for stopping by!

  10. You read the perfect number of books last week. A book a week is a great pace.

    I thought Lab Girl was wonderful.

    Yesterday I bought a Bluetooth speaker. I think I will be listening to lots more music in 2017.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh those speakers are good. Hope you enjoy it Deb. Yeah I find a book a week is just the right pace for me. I want to be able to spend time & think about a book. Lab Girl was good, different. I found the author quite inspiring in her work ethic & passion for the natural / plant world.

  11. You and I have read almost all the same books — hope you have a great reading year in 2017. I’ve been on a moviegoing binge and have seen almost everything on my list — except Silence and Patriot’s Day, which haven’t opened here yet. Loved LaLa Land and Manchester — and just saw Lion last night, which was excellent.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh glad to know we like the same books & movies! Yeah I see a lot of good books on your site. I’m in a movie mode as well and need to see many on my list above. Thx for the tip on Lion. Looks good.

  12. A book a week is about the right speed for me, too. I’m also with you on the audiobooks and nonfiction. Manchester By the Sea is playing at our local arts cinema and I’d love to sneak over and see it (or Lala Land) this afternoon…I need a treat since our plans to head south have been delayed. Just added Behold the Dreamers to my list.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh I didn’t realize your trip south had been delayed. I think we have similar interests in the same books & movies. So it’s fun to compare notes. For your long road trip, you might like the audiobook of American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin. It’s gripping stuff! Have you read that one?

  13. Bryan says:

    I read less than I have in other years: 48, but I’m okay with that, because I was doing other things, especially on the weekends, such as spending time with family and friends. My wife and I have a copy of Born To Run, but neither have us read it yet. She’s a huge fan of The Boss. I didn’t see a lot of new movies in 2016, but I did see Hell or High Water and thought it definitely should be a contender for the Oscars. Manchester by the Sea is on Amazon so I’ll probably watch that eventually. As for music, my top two favorties were by Beyonce and her sister, Solange, with their albums, Lemonade and A Seat at the Table, respectively.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Bryan, I think your wife will love the Bruce book. As a fan I just loved it. Hell or High Water was a pretty good movie; I liked it. I just started listening a bit to Solange’s album. She has a bit of a different style than her sister’s music. I like it. Happy 2017 and thx for stopping by.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Happy 2017! I really want to see Manchester by the Sea since it was filmed a few miles south of me, and I love Casey. I really want to see Allied, and The Light Between Oceans because I loved the book. From your favorite books list, I also read Between the World and Me which I loved, and I’m highly interested in Shrill and The Girls. Great lists!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Rebecca. Oh You must see Manchester by the Sea. If you live near there, I think you will love it. It’s sad but good. The scenes with the water are especially poignant. I liked both the book & movie of The Light Between the Oceans; it’s a must as well. Between the World & Me was a potent cup of coffee! but very good.

  15. Molly says:

    Wow, that is a lot of good books! I have added many/most to my own to-read list. Have you ever read Nick Hornby’s essays about books he has read and the ones he means to read? One collection is in the Polysyllabic Spree. Your lists remind me of those hilarious essays. I have to get reading!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Molly, I enjoy lists, ha. I have not read Nick Hornby’s essays, but I know he is very funny. Let me know when you read something great — I want to hear about it!

  16. Ti says:

    You always do well with your movies. I don’t see many but I did see La La Land and loved it. I just saw Rogue One and it was meh. Not that great. I saw Spotlight on Netflix and that was really good.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Ti, yeah I really liked Spotlight, I was a journalist in a former life so newspaper movies are usually big with me. I agree about La La Land. I liked it. And good to know about Rogue One. I bailed on these films awhile ago, but I’m still curious about how they are.

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