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Best Books of 2016


Hey all,

My brilliant and well-read daughter, Whitney, is taking over the blog today to give you the run-down on great reading! I love her mix of fun, educational and inspirational books. Enjoy!


I realized while journaling the other day that I can pretty much think back on the events of 2016 and know when they happened based on what book I was reading or listening to at the time.


Tip for Moms: the best gift I gave myself this year, the most indulgent, productive thing I did for myself, was buy a monthly subscription to It’s $14.95 and that gets you a new credit each month with which to get a new audio book. Why did this help me so much? Well, I realized two of the things that take the most time in my life, I also happen to dread. Cleaning my house, and commuting across town. There are too many reasons to list why I hate these things, and I think you all feel them too, so let’s just say, I hated them, I dreaded them, and being honest here, I avoided them, choosing instead to binge watch Gilmore Girls on my couch while my toddlers ran amuck and my son missed preschool. I mean, it didn’t really get that bad, but it was close. So, I found all the rogue headphones in all the junk drawers, I put them all in one place, and whenever it was time to clean or vacuum or fold laundry or do dishes, I grabbed a pair and listened to my book (oftentimes with one ear out so I could hear if one of the boys fell in the toilet). It made the time pass so quickly and made my dirty jobs feel so much less horrible, and I was able to feel that sense of accomplishment when I’d look at my dishwasher and think, “Oh my gosh, it’s unloaded already? But they haven’t even found OJ yet!” Then when I was by myself in the car or just with my little guy, I’d listen to more of my book. “What? I’m home? They haven’t even dropped the bombs on France yet!” I’m telling you, game-changer.



So, here are the books I’ve read or listened to in 2016, and a few sentences on each book.


January – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
This book is life-changing, and that’s the bottom line. Start your year with it and see how your organization, your view of your time, and your priorities, change for the better. I dare you.


February – The Strong, Sensitive Boy by Ted Zeff.
This book got my attention at the library because when I picked it up and read the back cover, it basically said, “Is your son…Greyson Parnell?” It literally listed out so many characteristics of Greyson’s personality that I hadn’t been quite able to understand yet. This book changed the way I relate with him and there’s no hyperbole when I say I’ll be forever grateful for this book.



March/April – The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin
This is about the OJ Simpson trial and it’s super fascinating. The OJ drama happened while I was about six so there was a lot I didn’t know, and I found all the details of the case very interesting. Definitely recommend if you’re interested in cases, juries, judges, and crazy people.



May – Essentialism by George McKeown
If 7 Habits hadn’t taught me all I needed to know about simplifying and prioritizing, this book finished the job. (I say that as if all my priorities are now perfectly in order and I haven’t since said yes to twelve too many things…ha) It’s all about saying the hard NO so you can truly excel when you finally get to say YES, and I highly recommend it.



June – Good to Great by Jim Collins
Another game-changing, home-run, no-wonder-every-successful-person-anywhere-has-this-on-their-bookshelf title. It’s about massive organizations who beat out their competitors to go from “Good to Great”. I quote wisdom from this book probably once a week, and it’s concepts have driven themselves into my work habits, my leadership and my decision-making and communication. This book absolutely slays for anyone in management or leadership, and I strongly recommend it.



July – The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
This book taught me a lot about motivation and why it’s important to infuse my life with a little happiness every now and then, when before I saw happiness as a chancy, yet pleasant outcome of events. I now see the power happiness holds, and I’m learning to take full advantage of it.



August – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
If you’ve ever had a thing for a man in uniform, this book is for you! Jocko & Leif are Navy Seals who fought in the War on Terror in Ramadi, Iraq. The book draws parallels between leadership strategies in the Navy and how they apply in the business world. It has tons of amazing stories from the war and examples from the huge companies they’ve coached since returning home. It’s truly a winner.



September – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
While this story is very sad, it’s beauty and quality far outweigh any negativity the sadness holds. There were times I’d be folding laundry and I’d say out loud, “Ugh, that’s so beautiful.” Plus, it’s narrated by Zach Appelman…let me just say I never knew what amazing narrating was until I listened to this book. And it made me want to learn to play Clair De Lune on piano, a dream that will have to wait until 2017. I’ll blog on that next year. But seriously, this book is absolutely amazing.



October – Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liann Moriarty
Okay, so I love Liann’s writing style and have read about four of her other books, but this one was just soooo sooooo saaaaddddd. And the storyline includes a two-year-old, so of course I could only think of Finn…anyway. I really liked it, but it was definitely indulgently sad. If you’re looking for one of her better ones, read What Alice Forgot or Big Little Lies. They’re dynamite.



November Part 1 – Jackaby by William Ritter
This is an easy read, a YA mystery that’s like a mix of Sherlock and Harry Potter. It’s really fun and super easy to listen to, but not as amazing as my other flings earlier in the year.



November Part 2 – Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman
PARENTING GAME-CHANGER. Not kidding, this book answered questions about parenting I didn’t even know I had. I can’t even tell you the difference it’s made in how I approach emotions and parenting…and my house is chalk full of both. If you’re a parent to anyone, read this.



December – Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
I can’t. I literally can’t. This book might just top the charts for me this year, and I couldn’t be more surprised at how much I loved it. Lauren Graham is absolutely delightful. She talks all about her childhood, about working her butt off in “the biz”, about other celebrities, about standards of work, about being single, about dating, about Gilmore Girls, about Parenthood, about Ed Shermann and Mae Whitman…I feel like I had tears in my eyes the entire way through the book. I cannot recommend it enough, ESPECIALLY if you’ve watched Gilmore Girls. Seriously.



Present – The Millionaire Next Door by William Danko and Thomas Stanley
The jury’s still out on this one (unlike OJ, I can confidently say) but I can say I’m only 30 minutes in and it’s already completely changing how I thought about American wealth, and I can’t wait to keep going with it.



And that, my friends, is a comprehensive, entirely-too-detailed list of the books I read this year. I’d love to talk more about each one, but better yet, go read them all yourself! Or listen to them while you vacuum! “But wait, Lauren Graham hasn’t even finished judging on Project Runway!”







December 22, 2016 - 10:19 am

Jeannie Hignell - I also loved The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I haven’t read her newest yet, although I own it. I just bought the Lauren Graham book, and that’s next in my queue. I still love the old fashioned way of reading. 🙂 Books!!

December 27, 2016 - 2:40 pm

Beth - I totally agree about listening to books- it is such an affordable luxury. Will check out so,e of those books…thanks!

December 28, 2016 - 9:17 am

Megan Miller - Love this list! I read most of these myself. I have been shocked at how much I’ve loved Audio books now that I am a Mom. Just finished The Night Circus- Jim Dale narrates and he is simply the best! Also Anne of Green Gables narrated by Rachel McAdam might be my new all time favorite. I on purposed drove the longest way home during rush hour to give myself more time!