HomeAlen's War2016: A Year in Books

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My corner of the world (or internet, more like) has been rather silent recently, due to holidays, sicknesses, and school, but I’m finally back.

And I’ve come with two posts for this week, containing several short reviews, a fun tag, and an announcement. Today we’ll cover the first of those three things.

Let’s get right to it, okay?

I read 89 books last year. That number includes re-reads and novellas. It’s not very impressive, I know- at least not when compared to how many books others have read in 2016- but I did read a few really long books. And with a a novel in the works and school, not to mention this little hobby I call a blog, I was rather pressed for time.

Oh, well. Maybe this year I can beat 2015’s record- 104 books. 🙂

But for now, let’s jump into discussing the best books of each genre.

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*Jumping in*

General Fiction

In the General Fiction genre, I read 33 novels. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t take me that long to figure out which were my favorites, because they were so good. I highly recommend them all, if you haven’t read them already.

(By the way, these are in no particular order.)

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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare

I read 11 of Shakespeare’s plays last year, and I enjoyed every single one.  I have to say, Hamlet was definitely the best of the bunch. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Hamlet is the story (in play form because it’s Shakespeare) of the melancholic prince of Denmark who is visited by the ghost of his father, pretends to go insane, kills his uncle who had killed his now-dead-and-in-ghost-form father, and then is killed himself. Like I said, it’s Shakespeare.

I’m finding really difficult to choose a favorite book from 2016, but if I did ever decide, I believe it might just be Hamlet– Shakespeare’s prose is beautiful and thoughtful, and everything about it seems to have gone rightly.

2

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

I’m surprised that I even chose this fictional biography for one of my favorites, given that I’m not a huge Dickens fan. But he actually did really well with this one- the story of an orphan’s life. He was entertaining, and 19th century England was a lot of fun. But I think that the characters really made the book. David himself was adorable, as was the rest of the cast.

1

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe

I don’t think that I really have to say much about this one, except that I was amazed that no one had ever told me just how great it was! Uncle Tom’s Cabin tells the story of several slaves, one of which is Uncle Tom, and their lives in the south.

Stowe really captures human emotion, the evil that was the American slave trade, and the life that Americans used to live, all with amazing skill. I really wish that I had read it before 2016.

Fantasy

I read 21 new fantasy novels in 2016. It was incredibly difficult to determine my favorites from this genre, but I eventually figured it out after a good bit of thinking.

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Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

I haven’t really talked much about Le Morte d’Arthur much on here- which is strange, given that this book, Malory’s extended and complex take on the King Arthur story, most likely had the greatest effect on me of any read last year. I’ve thought about it for countless hours, picked the characters apart and studied them in-depth, and even begun a book loosely based on the story, because there is so much that can be discovered about it underneath the surface.

Even stranger is, although it had that effect on me, how I did (and still do, partly) hate this poorly-written book with all my being. The characters are flat, the timeline is a complete mess, and the morals and themes are terribly confused. All of these things caused me painful hours of revision, research, and rewriting (see my alliteration skills?), and yet I still enjoyed it, because I love the central story so much. So, Malory, I despise your book, since it is so horrible and so incredibly difficult to understand, but I can appreciate it and enjoy it, all the same.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Ah, you knew The Deathly Hallows would make it onto the list!

Anyway, since I already devoted an entire blog series to just this book, I don’t think I really need to go into much detail here. I still love it, and that’s all you need to know.

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The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

Yes, I technically cheated with this one, since I mean the six novels of Goldstone Wood. But all the novels seem to flow together, in my defense, and it is almost impossible to choose a favorite of the six.

Lucky me, I already have a review written of this series too!

Re-read

I re-read 7 books this year.

  1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  2. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  6. The Rakshasa’s Bride by Suzannah Rowntree
  7. War Games: Classic Fiction for the Christian Life by Suzannah Rowntree

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All were as good as I remembered (Les Miz was even better; Javert is still the coolest) except Eragon. I had remembered it as a fun book that I enjoyed, but that had a few problems. But after I read it again… *trigger warning if you really like the book* I thought it was awful. The characters swear, make horrible decisions with no consequences, and the book itself doesn’t even have a good message. The only things Eragon has going for it are an interesting plot and good world-building.

So that bothered me. But the rest were good.

Moving on to our last two categories-

Non-Fiction

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I read 25 non-fiction books last year. I could tell you all about those, except that a) nobody actually enjoys reading about non-fiction, and b) this blog isn’t really for non-fiction. 🙂 But if you want a recommendation, Eric Metaxas’ new(er) book- 7 Women and the Secret of their Greatness– was really good. That one was probably my favorite of all the non-fiction.

Newly Released

As for books that released specifically in 2016… I didn’t actually read many of those. My sister‘s second novel, Alen’s War, released- but I read that for the first time in 2015, before it was published (one of the perks of being her sister!) Definitely buy that if you haven’t already, because she’s an wonderful author and I am very proud of her and it will make her very happy.

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As for books I want to read in 2017…

I really need some help here. I have a few, which I’ll talk about in a moment, but what I really want to read are some good newer books, preferably fantasy. Do you have any recommendations that fit that description?

I do know that I want to read:

  • Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick
  • Song of the Sword by Hope Ann (something I won in a giveaway that looks awesome)
  • The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien (the only Tolkien book that I have not read yet)
  • 1066 and All That by W.C. Sellar and R.J. Seatman (a comical retelling of the history of England)
  • Many more Arthurian legend books, for research.

See, I don’t have that many so far. Please help me.

Whelp, I think that’s it for today. Come back later this week for a tag and an announcement!

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Do you like my favorites of this year? And please give me book recommendations!

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