Show Us Your Books: Favorites of 2016

It's a Special Edition Show Us Your Books!!! Yes, it's a TWOFER this month!

These aren't books that came out in 2016, but rather books I personally read in 2016.

This just my kind of book. It's fictional but the characters feel real, it's in today's world so no adjusting to new situations or worlds or times (there's a time and place for those- but sometimes I like to be "in" my world but not...if that makes sense). It examined family and love and the way life ebbs and flows throughout the years. It was just a great snap shot  Full review here.

This book was a surprise love. The diversity reading challenge that I did included "any book by Walter Dean Myers." I didn't expect to enjoy the format, but I loved everything about it. Everything. It was great and packed so much emotion into such a short story. Highly, highly recommend it. Full review here.

This was probably my favorite nonfiction book this year. It read so casually and friendly- it was as though the author was your BFF who was taking a course called 'Women in History' and gushed to you about it after each class. Highly recommend, especially if you are looking for nonfiction but need to ease in.

You guys...I cannot recommend this book enough. All the feels, straight to the fucking heart. AHHHHHH. SO GOOD. Please just read it. Especially if you are a woman/daughter/mother in any way. Because OMG it touches on so much of what it means to be each of these things and family and love and I cannot beg you enough to read it. Please please please GO READ IT.

I don't even know what to's an intriguing book about a terribly creepy psychopath. But somehow...hilarious.  I think it's the snark factor. Also slightly terrifying (I mean, the President Elect probably thinks similarly to Joe). The writing here goes back from "Haha sarcasm" to "OMG this guy is clinically insane how does no one notice?!?"

What books did you love in 2016?
Life According to Steph

The Surprise of Motherhood

Since having a baby, a few people have acted like I am in on a big secret. It's a secret that mothers love children in a strong and unique way, but now I know.

In a way, sure. Being a parent is unique. Not that YOU are unique as a parent, but that it's a different role than all the others in your life.

But...loving my child, even deeply, has not been a surprise. 

Maybe it's my individual personality- if I lower my guard enough to love you, it's going to be pretty deeply. I just don't have it in me to partly care for someone. So I can't say for sure that my capacity for loving my child is more than my capacity for loving anyone else.

But there is something that has been a surprise, and that is the pure joy that my child brings.

I'm not an overly emotional person. At least, not positive emotion. That sounds bad- it's really not. I just tend to be more thoughtful and introspective and stressed and analytical...rather than happy. When I feel, it tends to be deeply and the kind of feelings that others don't want to acknowledge.

But this kid makes me so. damn. happy.

She is a super smiley baby. As someone with a textbook RBF, I do not understand this habit of smiling all the time. But she does it- at the dogs (she LOVES the dogs), at me, at my husband, at her reflection, at her bottle, whatever. She smiles and my friggin' heart melts. Or grows like the Grinch. Maybe a combo, I don't know, it's hard to explain.

And it is so cool to see her learn. 

I mean...she used to just be a bean-looking shape in my stomach. Now she moves and thinks on her own. The first time she reached out to pet one of our dogs on her own, I almost lost it. It was so cool to see that first glimmer of independent thought and action.

To me, that has always been the appeal of kids. Maybe that sounds weird. But having this tiny little person and watching them grow is the ultimate mystery.

There are a lot of ways in which I am nothing like my parents. I'm the only one in my family who likes to read and enjoys getting an education, and all this started very early in life. So, while many people seem set on working to ensure everyone "matches" in a family, I'm so excited to see what unique features she brings to ours.

To me, that has been the big surprise- pure joy.

Not love, which...I'm sorry, it's a little insulting to assume someone is incapable of deep love.

The joy, though. That has been completely unique and overwhelming. 

Show Us Your Books: December 2016

Thanks to a free month of Scribd and lots of searching for free audiobooks online, I kind of beasted Nonfiction November. But I did not read what I had originally planned to read (see the TBR here).

Along with nonfiction and audiobooks, this month I soaked up a bunch of women writers.

It was both incredibly inspirational in the face of the election...and that much more disappointing. I love so many of these scrappy, bold women and I'm so fucking tired in my soul that the rest of my country apparently does not see the greatness that I do...and instead glorifies someone who basically goes against almost everything I believe in.

But I digress. I'd recommend all these books- I didn't agree with all of them but I was interested and very much wanted to cheer during a good portion of most of them.

Nonfiction November Picks:

I was very excited about this book, because Anna Kendrick is hilarious and the millennial queen of snark. It didn't disappoint. An interesting look at Hollywood and acting and being a young woman.

I needed this book. I don't know that I can put it into action, but it was so nice to hear that you don't have to care about everything, since I have a stereotypical small town Southern family that kind of tells me the opposite.

This was hailed as feminist iconography. It was good, but not great in my opinion. There were some pieces I highly agreed with, and some I did not. For some reason, I expected her to be American and a little younger (not that she's old, but older than me and older than I thought she was). Not being British, I can't attest to everything she said but I enjoyed it. Especially the Lady Gaga part ("We do this for us") and the idea that yellow shoes are neutral- think about it. Totally true.

This was good- I kind of wish I had the physical copy because there are several lists given that are super helpful. Of course I didn't agree with everything, but there is a ton of good advice here and it's perfect for a young adult who is moving out on their on for the first time.

Fiction Picks:

I briefly mentioned this in my Monthly Recommendations post. It was heart-wrenching and really examined what makes a family and how we are bound to what we love, as well as having very well-done examinations of the trouble that "patriotism" and identity can cause when it causes people to see someone else as "other" and therefor lesser. But...I did not love the ending. It was rushed, it was unfair, it just killed a wonderful book. I will give it a 3-3.5 but it could easily have been a 5 star book if the resolution had been handled with more care.

This was a completely random read, that I got from a "neighborhood library" while visiting family and centers on a teenage girl visiting Italy due to some family upheaval. It was cute, and interesting- in some ways a pretty fluffy YA but it also had some deep moments about family and identity. Plus the main character is kind of re-tracing her mother's young adulthood with a diary and that was a cool plot device that I really enjoyed.  

This one happened to be one of the monthly credits on Scribd, so I could read it without using a "credit" so to speak. It has been praised by Kirstie from Melbourne on My Mind so I figured "Why not?" It involves a group of beauty pagent contestants who get stranded on an island...that turns out not to be as remote as they thought. It was very campy, and satirical, but hit SO MANY IMPORTANT POINTS. It gets major diversity points (an African American & Indian contestants, bisexual and lesbian contestants, a deaf contestant, a transgender contestant). Also examines marketing and politics and points out the fucked-up-ness of it all. Highly recommend- 4/4.5 stars (just because it took me a while to get on board with the half realistic/half hyperbole style). But definitely hits some important points.

I almost don't even feel like I can review this properly. It's technically the third in a series (Dirty Girls Club) but has a very different feel. While the other two are kinda chic lit-y and follow a group, this one focuses on three friends in particular and has a very different vibe since it's more of a thriller. The author's note explained a lot of this (she felt constrained previously, like she had to fit into a specific box kind of, and wanted to branch out and acknowledge that today's world is very different than when the original book came out). I completely understand, but as someone who was in the mood for the previous vibe it was a little disconcerting. Also, I kind of really liked the idea of chick lit that was diverse. I've linked to the Goodreads description, and if it sounds interesting don't worry that you have to read the first two in the series. It's really not necessary IMO.

What have you been reading this month?

Life According to Steph

And don't forget that the yearly wrap-up- Show Us Your Books of 2016- will be December 27th!

Biography in 5 Words

Thanks to the Dear Hank and John episode with Hannah Hart for the inspiration.