My Year in Books

As a year closes, there’s a tendency to look back before moving forward. For me, this year revolved around books, so here is my year in books. I realized creating this list, it was a year of reading mainly fiction series books. Both are a bit unusual for me, but working so much on my own non-fiction book, I really enjoyed escaping into fiction. I found a couple series I enjoyed so I just kept reading (mainly listening). So here are the latest favorites from my year in books!

My year in Non-Fiction…

It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee  and accompanying Bible study guide This was the latest book I read with a group at my church. A very timely and engaging book for me and others in the group. Letting go of control and trusting God with everything, has been a goal for me. My progress on this issue is now reinforced with additional insight and tools from this book to remind me it is all under control- just not by me! I highly recommend for anyone who feels she needs to keep everything under control, yet yearns to let go and give it all to God.

I enjoy reading a few biographies each year and these were both enjoyable. I recommend listening to both rather than reading the physical book for the reasons given…

Taste by Stanley Tucci I love food, especially Italian and after watching Stanley’s TV series Searching for Italy, I was intrigued by this book. His dry wit and clear love of food is the driving force behind this autobiographical and personal story, where taste is a theme. If you love food and/or are a fan of Stanley’s you’ll enjoy this book as I did. The audio book shines with Stanley reading his own work; truly the best way to experience this book.

Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono You’ll definitely want to listen to this as Bono sings a little and you’ll hear snippets of the songs he describes. This is a big book, thus a long listen (20+ hours) but I found it interesting to listen to in small doses over time often while traveling/driving. Some songs/parts were more interesting than others based on when I experienced his songs in my lifetime, but if you’re a fan of his life and/or his music then it’s a good listen.

The Wisdom of the Bullfrog: Leadership Made Simple (But Not Easy) by Admiral William A. McRaven Written by the author of the wildly popular little book Make your Bed, this leadership/self-improvement book is filled with anecdotal leadership stories shared through the lens of a decorated, retired Navy SEAL. Insightful, helpful, and inspiring for any leader.

How to Change by Katy Milkman  I read this based on a recommendation and enjoyed the behavioral science anecdotes used in this book. She shows us how to combat the most common barriers to change and does it by explaining her award winning behavioral research through examples and stories. A sciency book told through story which makes it easy to read, understand, and apply.

My Year in Fiction…

Exiles by Jane Harper I was excited for this final book with the Aaron Falk character we met in the The Dry and Force of Nature.  Although it wasn’t what I expected, the story unfolded nicely as did the wrap up of this character series. Love how Harper captures the scenes in these Australian based books. Listening to them by a narrator with a good Australian accent is a bonus!

This lead me into finding two other series I really enjoyed this year…All were listened to with great narration which was a plus when most of the characters had accents!

I learned of this series by Tana French by someone who read the second book of the series, which she didn’t know was in a series. Each book in the series can stand alone as each explores a different character/storyline. But like any good series they build on each other, so I began with the first and just kept going. What I most appreciated was how these stories usually kept me guessing. Buy them individually, or as a set, but you’ll want to read them all! The Dublin Murder Squad set  has them all. (In The Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, Secret Place & The Trespasser) 

In the Woods by Tana French This first book in the series, was published in 2007 so it may be easier to find on Audible. It was a great start and I found myself pulling for the detectives as they tried to unravel the present and also past mysteries. Kept me interested so I then listened to the next in the series…

The Likeness by Tana French This next story explores another central character from In the Woods but in a different way entirely. The story explores identity, how we treat each other, and the reasons behind those feelings and actions. Much more than a simple mystery, it kept me guessing!

Faithful Place by Tana French French continues by exploring a character from the previous book but in a deeper way. Interesting tale of how the past collides with the present and how they impact our choices and perceptions made along the way.

Broken Harbor by Tana French This installment follows a by-the-book detective introduced in the previous book with a lot of behind the scenes personal history in his latest case. It reminds us we all have issues beneath the surface that impact who we become and why.

The Secret Place by Tana French    This one I liked the least as it explored areas I didn’t enjoy reading about but the underlying issues of friendship, secrets, and the plot twists kept me reading. Also love how she introduces another detective while expanding previous characters we already know from Faithful Place.

The Trespasser by Tana French  The last of the Dublin Murder Squad series, this digs into the female detective we meet in The Secret Place. The story twisted while it explored identity, workplace issues, our judgements of others, and our biases as we do. An interesting and satisfying end to the series.

I enjoyed Tana French’s writing so I kept reading…

The Searcher by Tana French A new character and a slow start, but it picked up and I enjoyed it. Explores small towns, their people, and their choices and how an outsider can stir things up. Left me wanting to learn more about a character I grew to really like. Of course, it sets up nicely for a sequel coming in 2024! 

The Witch Elm   This standalone novel by Tana French from 2019 looks interesting and is now on my to-read list.

The Next Series…

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro   This first book in the Charlotte Holmes series was unique and enjoyable, so I kept listening. I loved  the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson’s teenage descendants who become friends at a Connecticut boarding school and of course, end up solving mysteries together. Witty, engaging series with a strong female lead which was a twist on the Holmes story I enjoyed. It helps if you have some knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but isn’t mandatory. Of course the ending leaves room for the next book…

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro  This next installment was a bit grittier, action packed, and again leans on some history of the Sherlock Holmes stories as background. But the story’s twists and turns surprised me and kept me listening to the next one…

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro  After the ending of the previous book, things are bit different (no spoilers). But as their stories unfold separately, the  duo of Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson find each other again with surprising results. So of course, I needed to listen to the final in the series…

A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro   This final book in the series lulls us into thinking all will be well, when of course new developments trigger new investigations in a new venue. How will it all end for the Holmes and Watson descendants who just can’t stop investigating? A satisfying and slightly surprising ending made this series very enjoyable for me.

Other Notable Fiction

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald  Each year, I try to read at least one classic. I knew this story was set in the Roaring Twenties, but had no other awareness of the storyline. It wasn’t what I expected and as a word person, I loved the writing. I probably would have appreciated seeing it written, versus listening to it as I did. Nonetheless, I understand why it’s a classic as it deals with many nuanced themes. I’m glad it’s now included it in my ‘classics read’ list.

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie   I love a good mystery and Agatha Christie doesn’t disappoint. This book introduces Tommy and Tuppance a quick witted pair that in 1920’s London run into each other again after the Great War. With jobs scarce, they start their own business as the Young Adventurers and soon they’re dealing with spies, danger, and falling for each other along the way. This was such a fun and interesting read that I will check out the next in the series, Partners in Crime and continue reading series fiction into the new year!

My Oxford Year by Julia Whalen   One of my favorite book narrator’s first novel, so I really think this and the next should be listened to if you enjoy listening to books. It’s an interesting story of a driven woman excited about her year at Oxford and then returning to her newly successful career in the States. But of course, the plot twist (which wasn’t as predictable as many novels) happens which changes things. A great first effort, which made me want to read her next book…

Thank You for Listening by Julia Whalen Whalen’s second effort is a fun, witty take on romance amid the world of audio recordings because she is, of course, also a narrator! An easy listen and I’ll keep on listening to her narration and looking for her next book.

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid My first novel by this well-known author was picked because of the tennis storyline. This summer, I reignited my interest in tennis and read this on a trip right after watching the US Open tennis tournament. It was a fun way to expand my interest with a good book exploring relationships and how we view and treat each other.

I hope my year in books list helps you find a book to enjoy yourself, gift to someone else, and expand your world and mind through books!

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2 thoughts on “My Year in Books”

  1. I’ve not read any of these mentioned, except the classics you mentioned!
    Thank you for this list. While I am waiting on hold with suppliers, I have made it a goal to read – and make the most of my “down time.”

    • Thanks Laura and what a good use of your ‘down time’! I hope you order one or more and if so, let me know what you think!


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