#MustReadIn 2016 Update

My 'to read' list on Goodreads continues to outnumber (I swear it grows exponentially) the number of books I have actually read. If you feel half as overwhelmed by this as I do, then joining up with Carrie Gelson and the the #MustReadIn2017 crew might be just for you. 

Last year I committed to reading 36 titles. That list is here. Thirty six turned out to be the magic number for me! I finished all the books on my 2016 list! 

I loved nearly all the books I finished since the last update in September. The last three; Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi,  Always, Abigail by Nancy Cavanaugh, and The Real Boy by Anne Ursu were pure joy and a perfect reminder as to why I make these lists in the first place.

As I reflect on this year's list of books I realized that different titles wowed me for numerous reasons.

Some, like these next three, opened my eyes to seeing different world realities.


The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks has been on my list for years and I am so thankful I finally got around to reading it. His capacity to find and celebrate the humanity in everyone humbles me.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates just gobsmacked me. His writing, his message, and his historical perspective should be required reading for everyone in the Americas.

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese is a book that I savoured. I let myself read it in small bites to let his stories and advice about living through and surviving trauma, percolate and settle in.

Some were emotionally devastating.

While reading Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys I wept buckets. It is one of the finest war narratives I have ever read. It reveals to us the humanity of strangers against a backdrop of evil, with all the horror and brutality of war.

Others are examples of the finest middle grade fiction.


Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones is such a joy filled book. It's also the book I have most recommended people purchase for younger family and friends. It made me want to go out and start farming chickens. (I'm thinking her next book, Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones just might make it onto my 2017 list)

Sheila Turnage's The Odds of Getting Even is another of the best of the best. "The Tupelo Landing novels are loaded with humor and mystery, and at the same time, imbued with universal truths. Life with all its joys and heartaches, is messy business. This, Turnage reveals to us, is what it means to be human."

Not only is Donna Gephart's Death by Toilet Paper exemplary middle grade fiction, it is the sweetest surprise from a book on this list this year. From the cover I expected a much sillier read. Instead I discovered sensitive, realistic characters dealing with complicated issues.

I read authors I knew nothing about. 

I now have a hard core literary crush on Jason Reynolds. Both When I Was the Greatest and All American Boys are remarkable reads. I ended up finishing three more of his books this year. I have never met a Jason Reynold's character I didn't love. I hope to have read everything he has ever written to date by the end of 2017.

One book I'm thankful I carried over from the previous year.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta was on my 2015 must read list. If you haven't read it, this is why books win the Printz award. The writing in this book is just gorgeous. The story is mythical and magical. I love the honesty and love between the characters: not just the romantic love, but the deep caring that characters have for each other. Her new book, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil, might just make it onto my 2017 must read list.

Then there is the best new (to me) series.

While many of these books are part of a series, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is only one I feel compelled to read more of. I adore his motley crew of flawed characters. I adored this book so much that I purchased copies of it to hand out as gifts to three of my great nieces. 

And one book contains the fictional family I wish I had grown up in.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall was one in the Penderwick series I had overlooked. I wish my sons were young again so I could read these books to them. 

How did you all do?


  1. I did not do well, again! Oh well. My post goes up tomorrow.
    Im putting Six of Crows on next year's list!

  2. I love many of these titles. I am also a Jason Reynolds fan. I'm so excited because he's coming to our area to speak in March!!!

  3. Congrats on completing your list! I did not do so well...but oh well, there is always 2017! I have seen Salt to the Sea on several lists, so I think this is one I will have to include on 2017. So many books, so little time! Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

  4. Make sure you have ample hankies while reading it Leigh Ann!

  5. You read SO many great books! I have, of course, not read all of them you mention here, but many of my favorites were on your list :-) Congratulations on meeting your 2016 goal, that's awesome!!!

    1. Thanks Hannahlily, it's all about the meme rival magic of 36! That and sort of planning what books to read when (with a lot of flexibility of course)