Once again, reading was a rewarding and enriching aspect of my year. I am excited to share my second annual list, roughly, by the order in which I read the books listed in each genre, of my favorite books from a year of reading.
Memoir is one of my favorite genres, and it was interesting to note how many of the books I most enjoyed in 2016 came from that category. A number of them were about epic journeys of one type of another. I love the idea of a quest for personal growth and soul searching. Many of my bike rides become those in miniature for me. Vicariously, I learn and grow from the memoirists’ quests, and they inspire me to explore the idea of setting out on adventures of my own, whether geographic or metaphorical in nature.
These are the books that I gave four or five stars in Goodreads during 2016.
- Sweat Equity: Inside the New Economy of Mind and Body, by Jason Kelly—As someone with a strong interest in health, wellness and fitness, I found this book to be fascinating and even inspirational. There are a lot of different ways to change lives and make money in these industries, and Kelly shows the whole world of possibilities that has opened.
- Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential, by Dan Pallotta—Pallotta makes a novel, compelling argument for applying capitalistic principles to social services.
- Just Be Well: A Book for Seekers of Vibrant Health, by Thomas A. Sult—Sult practices functional medicine, which treats patients as whole people, rather than a collection of parts.
- True to Form: How to Use Foundation Training for Sustained Pain Relief and Everyday Fitness, by Eric Goodman—I am a big fan of Foundation Training, and this book represents the latest evolution of this unique and very helpful training strategy. Foundation Training has been a daily part of my life for nearly two years, and it has made a difference for my cycling performance and my comfort and functionality in daily life. I have addressed the concepts in further details here.
- Nudge Your Way to Happiness: The 30 Day Workbook for a Happier You, by Jon Cousins—This easy-to-read guide to self-help for managing depression and melancholy is full of good advice. Book review here.
- Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps to Happiness, by Rachel Kelly—In a similar vein to Jon Cousins’ Nudge Your Way to Happiness, Kelly provides accessible, bite-sized remedies for the blues. Book review here.
- Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital, by David Oshinsky—Oshinsky made this hospital come alive in this extensive history that reads like a biography of an institution.
- Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, by Heather Ann Thompson—This is another very thorough history of a place, but it focuses primarily on one tragic event and the shocking cover-ups associated with it.
- Mud, Sweat and Tears, by Bear Grylls—I always enjoy reading about Bear Grylls’ amazing life. This is the first-person account of that life.
- Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irin Carmon—A close look at this Supreme Court Justice and the courageous stands she has taken over the years.
- When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi—I loved this wise, poignant memoir, written by a dying young neurosurgeon and published posthumously by his wife. Kalanithi tackles many big questions in a profound and engaging way.
- Will Travel For Vegan Food: 2 Years, 48 States, 547 Restaurants, +39,000 Miles, by Kristin Lajeunesse—This was a very interesting and enjoyable account of Lajeunesse’s search for meaning, while spreading awareness about living a compassionate lifestyle and enjoying delicious plant-based food on an epic journey.
- Writing My Wrongs, by Shaka Senghor—Journaling became the avenue for Senghor to find himself and take responsibility for the mistakes he had made and the pain he had caused. He shares his journey of self-discovery and awareness in this poignant memoir.
- 50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America, by Daniel Seddiqui—Seddiqui turned his struggle to find meaningful work after college into an adventure that morphed into a career. Seddiqui now uses his experience to inspire college students and recent grads.
- Always Too Much and Never Enough: A Memoir, by Jasmin Singer—Sanger tells her story of moving from self-loathing and morbid obesity to self-love and a fit, healthy body through whole plant foods and juice fasting.
- Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations, by Ron Fournier—Fournier shares his personal realizations about his expectations for his children and about how he learned to focus on what really matters during road trips with his son who has autism.
- Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD, by Beth Maloney—This is a story of a mom’s heroic efforts to solve the mystery of what had taken over her smart, sweet son’s mind and body. She shares important and little-known information about a viral connection to OCD in some people.
- A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman, by Lisa Shannon—Lisa Shannon learned about a need, felt moved to address it and created a powerful movement to do so.
- The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust, by Edith Beer—This is a truly amazing account of a courageous woman’s story of living through a horrific nightmare.
- This Road I Ride: Sometimes It Takes Losing Everything to Find Yourself, by Juliana Buhring—I was astonished by the courage that Buhring must have had to have undertaken a bike ride around the world alone, with very little real experience as a cyclist. As much as I love to ride, I can’t imagine myself in some of the situations she faced.
- Attending Others: A Doctor’s Education in Bodies and Words, by Brian Volck—I thoroughly enjoyed Volck’s account of the lessons he has learned, mostly through treating people who live in poverty and isolation.
- Callings: A Celebration of Lives of Purpose and Passion, by Dave Isay—The founder of StoryCorps presents this beautiful collection of personal accounts of people from all walks of life talking about their life work.
- How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, by Michael Greger—An absolutely wonderful book about evidence-based eating for optimal health. Entertaining and informative. This book can truly change lives. It is my favorite nutrition book of all time. Book review here.
- Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight, by Abbie Jaye—Terrific recipes and ideas for eating whole plant foods. My favorite lessons are making my own date syrup and date paste to create the least-processed sweetener possible, since whole dates are used.
- Retire Inspired: It’s Not an Age, It’s a Financial Number, by Chris Hogan—I felt motivated to take action toward improving my financial future after reading this book. Unfortunately, I haven’t followed through on everything that I planned at that time, but I do intend to refer back to this competent guide.
- What I Know For Sure, by Oprah Winfrey—I just love Oprah, and this collection of her popular column, “What I Know for Sure,” in O Magazine is light, easy reading that imparts a lot of quotable wisdom.
- The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change, by Adam Braun—This is a highly inspirational story of Braun’s recognition of a need and his determination to meet it, despite having few resources at the time. It is a terrific true story about possibility, hope and creating a better future.
- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond—Desmond reveals important truths about the state of housing for the poor in America. It is told in an engaging and powerful way.
- $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, by Kathryn Edin—This is another important look on poverty in America, revealing a shocking layer of poverty that remains largely hidden from view.
True Crime & Justice
- While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness, by Eli Sanders—This excellent piece of true crime writing details a tragic attack that ripped apart a happy couple. It also exposes critical gaps in the mental health care in the U.S.
- The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for My Father . . . and Finding the Zodiac Killer, by Gary L. Stewart—While there is controversy over whether or not Stewart really found the Zodiac Killer when he went searching for his father’s identity, he makes a persuasive case that he may have.
- A Cold-Blooded Business: Adultery, Murder, and a Killer’s Path from the Bible Belt to the Boardroom, by Marek Fuchs—This is a detailed and interesting account of a Kansas crime.
- American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps, by Phillip Weiss—Weiss tells the story of a little-known murder of one Peace Corps volunteer by another Peace Corps volunteer. Besides the crime itself, I learned a lot about the Peace Corps.
- How to Make a Living with Your Writing: Books, Blogging and More (Books for Writers Book 2), by Joanna Penn—Penn provides clear instructions for aspiring authors in a range of genres and media. This book is interesting to read and useful as a reference.