Last week, I started to share a list of all the books I re-read in 2016. It turned out I’d worked my way through more books than I first thought, which is why I decided to divide this list into several posts.
In that first installment, we covered the books I read from January to May 2016 . This week, we’ll keep going with everything I read throughout the summer. I should warn you however, this is a pretty eclectic mix.
Ready? Let’s do it.
11: Stephen King – The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
In the book of notes I kept last year, I wrote this about The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon:
This may not be my favourite Stephen King story, but it’s a clear example of why he’s my favourite fiction writer.
I’ll be honest, despite considering myself a huge Stephen King fan, I’d never actually read this short yet compelling tale about a little girl who gets lost in the woods until last year. When I did, I found it as captivating and wonderfully written as anything King has done, though without the level of intensity that permates the latter parts of his best known works.
A brilliant little book, and one of my favourite reads of 2016.
12: Chris Wright – User’s Guide to the Bible
And now, as they say, for something completely different.
I was almost going to skip this one from the list altogether, but for the sake of completion, let’s at least give User’s Guide to the Bible a mention.
This book was first published four months before I was born in 1984, and came into my possession earlier last year when I was studying Christianity as part of my ongoing journey to explore and understand my faith.
A fairly basic book, I’m pretty sure this one was aimed at kids, but since I’m trying to approach my own spiritual growth with a child’s curiosity and lack of ego, that worked just fine for me.
13: A.M Renwick / A.M Harman – The Story of the Church
Continuing on a similar theme, I acquired this book at exactly the same time as the kid’s bible study guide, only this one was certainly much more difficult to read.
I think many people dismiss church without fully experiencing it for themselves, believing it to be bad or wrong or corrupt based purely on a few extreme stories that made their way through into the mainstream media. Personally, I’m a big believer in William Paley’s famous line about ‘contempt prior to investigation.’
In other words, I wouldn’t feel right simply dismissing something as ‘not for me’ until I’d explored it and tried to understand it for myself.
This book helped me in some ways to do that, though I have to say that I found it a challenging, often difficult read, and not something I’d be quick to recommend to others.
14: Joseph Heller – Catch 22
I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I managed to reach the grand old age of 32 without reading Joseph Heller’s riotously funny novel, Catch 22.
The book itself had been on myself for about two years, and when I finally picked it up over the summer, I immediately kicked myself for not indulging in this one sooner.
Instantly becoming an all time favourite, this delightful book deserves all the acclaim it gets, and it was certainly easy to tell why its often deemed one of the greatest novels of the last century.
Just recently, I found the sequel – Closing Time – in a local bookshop, and have that on my shelf ready to read. You can bet anything that I won’t wait as long to read it as I did with Catch 22.
15: Stephen R. Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
I finally got back to the self-improvement books over the summer, and found 7 Habits of Highly Effective People especially helpful.
As I read this book a second time, what I began to notice was how much Covey’s 7 habits, the philosophies and principles in this book had influenced many of my favourite writers and role models in this genre.
Like many of the books I read last year, this is one that is worth returning back to multiple times, serving as a solid reminder of how to keep moving forward whilst living an honest, balanced life full of integrity, passion, and honesty.
If you’ve never read 7 Habits, it’s one I certainly recommend.
16: Nic Turner / Nick Udall – The Way of Nowhere
I’m sure there are some people out there who found The Way of Nowhere a fascinating and very helpful book. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.
I first saw this one sitting on a shelf in a second hand book store in town. The store was about to close and, deciding that I couldn’t leave without purchasing something, snapped this one up. I was drawn in by the promise of unlocking my creative potential, and -admittedly- by the book’s rather cool design.
When I sat down to read it however, I started to regret my impulsive decision to bring this one home with me. The Way of Nowhere takes a rather spiritual approach to succeeding and making the most of opportunities in business, work, and life.
It sounded great, perfect even, just what I needed at a time when I was growing my own freelance business and needed all the inspiration I could get. Sadly, I didn’t get it from this book. I found it underwhelming and at times confusing, though that likely says more about my own state of mind at the time than it does about this book.
17: Bill Bryson- The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
My state of mind wasn’t exactly the greatest during the summer months. My gran who I love dearly spent most of the summer in hospital, finally moving onto a regular ward after several weeks in intensive care. It was a tense time, and I needed something that could take my mind off things, something that could make me laugh.
I knew immediately that there was no better man for the job than Bill Bryson.
Bryson has long been one of my favourite writers, and his memoir is the perfect example of why.
It’s hilariously funny, at times insightful and poignant, and often informative, all written in Bryson’s trademark style.
A very good book, and just what I needed at the time.
18: Allen Carr – Easy Way to Stop Smoking
I spent most of 2016 trying to quit my evil smoking habit, and only really succeeded towards the end of the year. At time of writing, I’m almost 100 days smoke free. That should probably tell you everything about how effective this book was when you consider that I read it in August.
I’d tried Easy Way to Stop Smoking almost a decade before, and found it successful in helping me to quit for a day, but after that I was straight back to where I started.
I believed that this time would somehow be different, that because I really was sick and tired of being sick and tired, I would succeed, and that this would be just the thing to help me do it.
It wasn’t. Again, I think I did a day using Carr’s book, only to pick up a packet of cigarettes again when the going got a little tough.
I love that so many people were able to quit using this method alone, but I needed a different approach.
19: Tom Sharpe – Grantchester Grind
Tom Sharpe is another one of my all time favourite writers. If there’s one thing I love the most about him, it’s that when he’s on form, you can trust him to deliver a riveting, riotously hilarious story that proves to be just a joy to read.
Grantchester Grind certainly lived up to my expectations. As with Bryson earlier, I think I returned to my Tom Sharpe collection for a little light relief during what was otherwise a challenging time for me.
I wasn’t disappointed. This book, a sequel to Sharpe’s famous Porterhouse Blue is as funny and unashamedly brutal as anything the man has written, and was an utter delight from start to finish.
If you’ve never read Tom Sharpe, I absolutely recommend you do so.
Part 2 of my 2016 Reading List (all the books I read last year) will be posted on Friday, January 20th, 2017)