2016 Top 10 Book List

melissa-hirshburg-book-list-2016

Last December I shared a list of my favorite books read in 2015. Now, here’s my list for 2016 including an Amazon description, and the reasons I chose the book.

Roots & Sky by Christy Purifoy

Amazon description: “In lyrical, contemplative prose, Christie slowly unveils the small trials and triumphs of that first year at Maplehurst–from summer’s intense heat and autumn’s glorious canopy through winter’s still whispers and spring’s gentle mercies. Through stories of planting and preserving, of opening the gates wide to neighbors, and of learning to speak the language of a place, Christie invites readers into the joy of small beginnings and the knowledge that the kingdom of God is with us here and now.”

Why I chose this book: It’s been a year of building a home, moving homes and remodeling homes for us. I relate to that part of Christie’s story. It was encouraging with beautiful writing.

Looking for Lovely  by Annie Downs

Amazon description:” In Looking for Lovely, Annie F. Downs shares personal stories, biblical truth, and examples of how others have courageously walked the path God paved for their lives by remembering all God had done, loving what was right in front of them, and seeing God in the everyday—whether that be nature, friends, or the face they see in the mirror.”

Why I chose this book: Both fun and deep- it was just the lift I needed this Summer. A glimpse at some of the chapter names may explain why I liked it too ; Sunrise, The Sound of Music, Monet’s House, Nail Polish, Sushi, and Gardens. Annie writes a lot about persevering in this book, and that is something I want to get better at.

Walking on Water; Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle

Amazon description: “Addressing the subject of “faith and art” head on, this masterful work examines the difference between Christian art and secular art, as well as the relationship between the two. Award-winning artist L’Engle exhorts artists to listen to, remain aware of, and to respond to creation through one’s own art.”

Why I chose this book: It addresses two of my favorite topics- art and faith. I highlighted so much. L’Engle even discusses her love of Lucy Maud’s book Emily of New Moon, which I adore.  Her words inspired me to continue creating, and made me feel not so alone in experiencing certain aspects of creativity and writing.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Amazon description: “Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.”

Why I chose this book: I really soaked up Shauna’s words about gentleness- towards ourself and in our faith. Her storytelling talent is another reason I like this book. She lets us in on the big picture of her journey and yet also gives us glimpses of her everyday life, what a gift.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Amazon description: “From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.”

“Doerr’s ‘stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors’ (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling”.

Why I chose this book: As stated in the description I loved the “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors”! Parts of the story are a little dark for me, but overall I was moved. I liked learning about the time period too.

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Amazon description: “From the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Keeper comes a “moody, suspenseful page-turner” (People, Best Book Pick) filled with mystery and spellbinding secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies from a masterful storyteller, The Lake House is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.”

Why I chose this book: I like how one of the characters is a writer, and how the storyline kept me curious throughout the book. Morton has a way with words. Though jumping back and forth in time is a little jolting for me as a reader, I still enjoyed this book, especially for a Summer read.

Spiritual Formation by Henri Nouwen

Amazon description: “Led by the writing of beloved, bestselling author Henri Nouwen (With Open Hands, Reaching Out, The Wounded Healer, Making All Things New), the authors of Spiritual Direction, return with the second work in this popular spirituality series on how to live out the five classical stages of spiritual development.”

Why I chose this book: I like how beautifully Nouwen explains his faith. There is a chapter about transparency and opaqueness and it reminds me of the way I love soft colors and watercolors, and the way God personally speaks to me through that quality. His writing is so poetic. Some of his views in the book I may differ from, but I still found much inspiration, truth, and beauty too. I also loved the incorporation of Van Gogh paintings in the book.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Amazon description: “With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.”

Why I chose this book: Loved the beautiful writing and engaging story kept me wanting to find out what would happen next, and the relationship dynamic with the characters drew me in too. Again, like in All the Light We Cannot See, I loved learning about the historical time period and different places.

The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris

Amazon description: The bestselling author of The Cloister Walk reflects on the sanctifying possibilities of everyday work and how God is present in worship and liturgy as well as in ordinary life. Definitely not “for women only.”

Why I chose this book: I cherish the short book because the author offers a beautiful perspective to approach the dailiness of life that often weighs us down. She is honest about depression too, something I struggle with on and off.

Still Life by Louise Penny

Amazon description: “Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces–and this series–with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.”

Why I chose this book: Sometimes I like a good mystery book. The characters were unique, the setting was cozy, and there was grace throughout the storyline. The plot revolves around a painting, and I love art! CS Lewis’s book  Surprised by Joy is referenced in the book too- loved that.

Well, there’s my Top 10 Book list for 2016!

Hope you find it helpful. Cheers to new books in 2017.

Also,  click  here for a look at last year’s list.

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