My Favorite Books of 2016

I'm a big audiobook listener, and a rabid reader (that's right, I said it). This year, I read/listened to more books than there are months, so I thought I'd make a list of some of my top picks in different categories. I realize it's only October, but I just couldn't help it. I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Few, if any, of these books came out this year, so maybe next year I'll get up with the times.

 

FAVORITE NONFICTION:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Inspiring, sweet, and honest. I listened to this one, and it's narrated by the author, which made the experience all the more genuine. Gilbert explores the relationship between fear, insecurity, creativity, courage, and freedom. She proposes that maybe, just maybe, we don't have to be slaves to our fears, that we aren't alone in all of this, and that magic may not be imaginary after all.

BENCHWARMERS:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown 

FAVORITE AUTOBIOGRAPHY:

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

If you don't love Steve Martin, we need to have a talk. Alternatively, you can listen to Steve read his own story to you and have your heart melted by the banjo strumming man himself. Having read some of his fiction as well, the bio gives incredible insight into the mind of a comedian, and the sheer genius and mental faculty it takes to pull off a single show. From his humble beginnings working as a shop boy at Disneyland to the wild days on SNL, the story is honest and endearing. Martin is unafraid to share his trials and struggles as well as his successes, easily transitioning from ernest to funny and back again in tone. Insightful and relatable, I thoroughly enjoyed.

FAVORITE BILDUNGSROMAN:

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

Other than an excellent excuse to use the word "bildungsroman" (just a fancy word for spiritual coming of age), The Alchemist may have been my very favorite book this year. I read it twice. Paolo Coelho weaves a tale with just the right portions of exotic adventure, old world faith, and lovable, relatable characters. Also, it's full of what I like to call wisdom one-liners. If you need any more convincing, I would love to share one of my favorite quotes from the story with you:

“making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

At risk of sounding like a total cheeseball, Paolo Coelho's story made my heart sing.

Bonus: If you listen to the audio version, it's narrated by Jeremy Irons, AKA the voice of God. (Other voices of God include: Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, and Judi Dench.)

FAVORITE FICTION:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

This one's for all you fellow mega-nerds, sci-fi geeks, and fantasy gurus. I'll be frank with you, I read a lot of fiction. It's the spice of life. Choosing a favorite for the year was tough, as you might guess, but V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series takes the prize. The writing is colorful and grisly, and the characters winsome. Schwab's world is enthralling to the imagination and the plot is truly gripping. After finishing the first book on a flight to Minneapolis, I rushed around the airport like a bloodhound sniffing out the second, and today I am anxiously awaiting the third (set to be released in February of 2017).

Bonus: The cover art is so choice.

BENCHWARMERS:

The Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy

The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson

P.S. All Imagery in this post belongs to the authors.