I keep track of the books I read each year. There’s no particular reason except that I like to look back and see what I read. I read 37 books in 2003, the year I had 3- and 5-year old boys and 11- and 13-year-old girls. In 2013 I read 57. In 2016, 60. About half are books I read for review, and a small percentage of those I wish I hadn’t spent time on.

A few of the books this past year—both work and pleasure—I’m glad I had the privilege of reading. Maybe you’ll enjoy them too.

Miriam by Mesu Andrews. What an imaginative, sensory retelling of the Old Testament story of Miriam. I learned much about the Israelite culture, loved Andrews’ details and fictional license, and was enchanted by her writing.

Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens. Michigan author Smolens offers a piece of Upper Peninsula history and the part this far-flung locale played in World War II. This is a fascinating story of what identity and home look like.

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck. Hauck is the consummate storyteller. I was riveted (and pleasantly surprised) by her tale of lost love, home place and new love.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Every woman should read this book by businesswoman Sandberg, who juggled her top job at Facebook with family. Her real message is that women too often lean back, opt for less-than, defer to others. A strong message I needed to hear.

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Bolz-Weber was the final speaker at the 2016 Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing. Plenary speakers aren’t always spot on at the FFW, but Nadia was. She challenged us, made us laugh and cry, and urged me to rethink what it means to be a Jesus follower. And made me want to get another tattoo.

The Lost Heiress, The Reluctant Duchess and A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White. I’m usually ambivalent about Christian historical fiction, but the Ladies of the Manor series had a little twisty bite to it: excellent writing, unique twists, and strong women who did unusual things.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore. I’ve done Moore’s Bible studies before and watched her on DVD. Her first novel sounds just like her and, despite some flaws, kept me interested and involved in the cast of characters.

Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin. Austin’s historical fiction set in nearby Holland, Michigan, taught me much about my husband’s Dutch heritage and the way to tell a great story.

The Mental Game of Writing: How to Overcome Obstacles, Stay Creative and Productive, and Free Your Mind for Success by James Scott Bell. Every writer should read Bell’s no-nonsense guide to becoming the best writer possible. He was the keynote at Breathe Christian Writers Conference, so what’s not to love?

You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo. Jenny’s my client, and this book reminds me why I became a literary agent. It’s well-written, well-told, and a fun read. And who doesn’t love stories about the old Marshall Field’s in Chicago?

The Whistler by John Grisham. Another of Grisham’s grand tales of legal misconduct, this time focusing on a judge in bed with the casinos in Florida’s Panhandle. Love his sarcasm and storytelling.

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green. A brand new book out this month that I read in December. Jocelyn is a great storyteller and this is a great book about the early settlement of Louisiana by the French. Fascinating history and wonderful story.

Would love to hear your favorite books from 2016!

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