Best Books of 2016

It’s been a good year for reading. Of course, when isn’t it a good year to read, right?
Here are my personal picks for the 5 best books I’ve read this year. They may or may not have been published in 2016, but they were new to me. I know there are MANY more that I have either not be able to accomplish or didn’t know of, etc. I encourage you to make your own list & also to challenge yourself yearly with Goodreads’ Reading Challenge.

I set my goal for 2016 at 150 books. I fell short for the first time this year. Every year prior, I’d exceeded, but I am human & I failed. So, I’m aiming for 150 again for 2017. What’s your goal?

These are the top 5, in no particular order:
1. The Game You Played: Anni Taylor

2. Foreign Faction: Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet?: A. James Kolar

3. Burying the Honeysuckle Girls: Emily Carpenter

4. The Hangman’s Daughter: Oliver Potzsch

5. You Can Run: Willow Rose

2016

Another year is over. 2016 was not what I’d describe as a good year. While every year has ups & downs, when I reflect on it, I see mostly downs. In order to maintain a grateful spirit, I’ll try to reflect some good first.

I marked 39 years on this planet. My boys turned 14, 19, & 23. After having lived on our property since 1996, we got ‘city’ water for the first time. It was a massive blessing that we never dreamed would be fulfilled. It would have been an enormous help when the boys were little. However, I thank God every day for it. We were so excited that we were the first people in our spread apart neighborhood to get it hooked up. God was really good through the entire process. Not only did we avoid the HUGE cost of adding extra piping as our neighbors encountered, but, I maintained a good rapport with the customer reps who sped up the process for us. Kindness does really go a long way. For the first winter, ever, we had No fear of running out of water. Plus, blackouts no longer terrify us because our water no longer relies on electricity.

In schooling, we are about halfway through 8th grade. He’s doing a fabulous job, maintaining a ‘B’ average. He’s also had the ability to be more sociable this year. He joined a local Youth For Christ group and even tried ice skating for the first time.

Our family was also blessed enough to be able to take a vacation for a few days. Our youngest was able to see Niagara Falls for the first time and we enjoyed the sights & sounds of New York state. Buster spent his vacation time with Grandma & my aunt who fell in love with him (although they might not boldly admit it).

Now for the not so good. This fall, we lost 3 amazing people. My best friend was driving several youth group members, including her own son, to a worship festival. While the investigation is still pending, we do know that a truck in the on-coming lane of the interstate lost control, jumped the median, and hit her van head-on. She was killed immediately along with 2 of the passengers, a 19-year-old from her church, & a 16-year-old girl who was a friend of our youngest son. Riding in the back seat were her youngest son & another passenger who were unscathed. She left behind an amazing legacy of love & generosity. She died doing what she loved- helping others find God. Unfortunately, she also left behind 2 sons, a daughter, & a loving husband. Her daughter is only 6. These were the saddest funerals I’ve ever attended. It was also the first funeral our youngest ever attended. All 3 services were packed to capacity. At the 16 year old’s, a pastor mentioned counting upwards of 500 signatures the first night of viewing. They were loved.

I found out about this enormous tragedy while I was dressing to go to a different funeral. That would be the funeral of my husband’s business partner. He was family by any description. Although he was much older than the 3 who died after him, his death was swift. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and began chemo. He died 5 months later. It was a huge shock. His legacy was also one of love. He left behind a wife, 3 grown kids, and several grandkids.

Those deaths shook us deeply and definitely shaped the remained of 2016 for us all. I’ve done a lot of praying and a lot of depending on God to get us through. As we look ahead to 2017, we have hope for a better year. A new government dynamic, getting ready for our son to start high school, and another chance to do it all better await us.

I pray we have the opportunity to touch lives and do something worthwhile for each other.

Be Blessed!