All the Books, 2016


This was a year of re-reads, starts and stops, and an abundance of non-fiction. I loved re-visiting some long-time favorites (Traveling Mercies, All the Light We Cannot See) and reading the longer works of favorite bloggers (Memoirs of a Solo Traveler, Dreaming Sophia).

Best read of the year: Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King, probably because I was so moved by seeing The Last Supper in person.

But guys, I need your help. This was the first year in a long time that I didn’t find that fully-engrossing-can’t-put-it-down-devour-this-book read. (I originally thought that was going to be The Sympathizer — which is amazingly written — but the last 150 pages changed my mind.)

So please share your top recommendations so that I can compile my stack for 2017, a tradition which gives me great joy at the year’s start. (Bonus points for a great historical fiction read!)

All the Books, 2016

  1. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (upsetting, put it down, returned it)
  2. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (Loved it, love her)
  3. Sprezzatura by Peter D’Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish
  4. Moral Intelligence by Doug Lennick and Fred Kiel
  5. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  6. Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott
  7. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
  8. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott (re-read)
  9. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  10. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (re-read)
  11. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone (unfinished/in progress)
  12. Memoirs of a Solo Traveler: My Love Affair with Italy by Margie Miklas
  13. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  14. An Italian Education by Tim Parks (re-read)
  15. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (re-read)
  16. Ulysses by James Joyce (unfinished)
  17. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Ngyen
  18. The City of Florence: Historical Sightings and Vistas by RWB Lewis
  19. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (unfinished)
  20. Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King
  21. The Rocks by Peter Nichols (unfinished)
  22. Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  23. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Younger Son’s recommendation/in progress)
  24. Medical Medium by Anthony William
  25. Dreaming Sophia by Melissa Muldoon
  26. The Happiness Advantage (re-read) by Shawn Achor
  27. Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King
  28. Raising Girls by Steve Biddulph (in progress)
  29. A Florentine Diary by Luca Landucci (current book)

Nighttime read-aloud with Daughter (hoping to up my game here in 2017, would love your suggestions on reads for middle schoolers!):

  1. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  2. Double Fudge by Judy Blume
  3. Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado
  4. White Fang by Jack London
  5. Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

And finally, in 2016 I was able to settle the age-old question for those of us who love reading: traditional hold-in-your-hand books or e-reader?

I have long felt that I knew my answer on this one, but it was settled fully this summer when, for the first time, I traveled with an e-reader with all the books I thought I  might need for an extended trip to Italy and then it was promptly lost one week in and on the first train trip of the journey. (You see, what happened was, I ended up in Arezzo and my ipad ended up in Rome when Daughter and I changed trains and the ipad did not.) I am happy to say that one week later, the ipad was recovered (!) AND I was able to navigate my way in Italian to this happy ending. However, I felt a little untethered without my comforting stack of books close at hand.

So yes, books. And wishing you a year of full of them!

18 thoughts on “All the Books, 2016

  1. I love libri! Since I started writing my blog I find I don’t have as much time to read books. I read other stuff, just not as many books. Right now I’m trying to decide if I should read book 3 in Elena Ferrante’s Napoletani novels or read books 1 and 2 in Italian. I bought them at the airport in Napoli! I also have a stack of books I’ve been given but haven’t had time to read. One book that I read last year I couldn’t put down was ‘The Shoemaker’s Wife’ by Adriana Triggiani. If you are an art history nerd like me, I’d also recommend ‘Lives of the Artists’ by Giorgio Vasari. it was written almost 500 years ago but is still a great read! My nipotina liked the Percy Jackson series of books and as a mythology/archeology nerd I approve! We saw the movies together. I definitely prefer real books to ebooks, although ebooks are convenient to pack for travelling. Ti auguro un 2017 piena di piacevole lettura! Buon Anno, Cristina

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    • Hi Sonia! Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s hard to mix in personal reading with three little ones! As for young reader suggestions, both my son and daughter at that age LOVED The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. She may also enjoy Harry Potter (the first book), for a higher-level read. Enjoy, and happy reading to you all!


  2. Have you and/or your daughter read Brian Jacques series? Start with Redwall even though it’s in the middle. His first book and sets the tone for all of the rest. One of the few “children’s” books I bought in hardcover. We met him in person three times. Such an amazing man and author. His food descriptions will make you hungry, guaranteed!

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  3. Hard to imagine book lovers and italophiles and lovers of women’s lit not reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. Not to everyone’s taste, but our Italian book club here read all four and had some fascinating discussions. Just read Do Not Say We Have Nothing and it is fabulous. Loved, loved, loved Eowen Ivey’s To the Bright Edge of the World.

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  4. Hi Stacy,
    We share a love for Italy and an enjoyment of several of the same books (e.g., All the Light We Cannot See was a favorite on my list this year.) In 2017, you might want to add “The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice” by Polly Coles (2013) to your list. I also recommend “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barberry (2006). I’m just heading to the finish line on that one. You’ve probably already found “La Bella Lingua” by Diane Hales, but if not, it’s an engaging account of the author’s love for and intensive study of the Italian language. I’ll be investigating some of the art and Italy books on your lists for my 2017 selections. Thank you for the ideas. Happy reading!

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    • Hi Marcy! Is this The Counselor of Under Western Skies fame? 🙂 So happy to hear from you! I will put both the Coles and Barberry books on my list for this year, thank you so much for the suggestions! As for La Bella Lingua, it’s one of my top favorites. Both the book and the author are very dear to me, so I’m happy to hear you enjoyed that one. If you haven’t yet read her book Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, I feel certain you will enjoy that one too. I mentioned this in my reply to Brad, but based on your love of All the Light, I think you will like The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Possibly the most well written book I have ever read. Happy reading to you too, and thank you for the suggestions!

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  5. Ah, some faves here. Bird By Bird is a standard reference in this house of writers. This was our year to discover Station Eleven, and we both loved it. Farewell to Arms isn’t my most-reread Hemingway, but close. We’ve both enjoyed all Tim Parks’ books. The Counselor was very taken with All the Light We Cannot See, and it’s high on my list for ’17. Some other great suggestions here from you. A useful pathway into (and through) Ulysses is Anthony Burgess’ “Re Joyce:” One erudite master writing about another. Suggestions? Do you know “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore?” If not, go for it! Grazie.


    • Thank you so much for the “ReJoyce” suggestion. I really feel it necessary to get through Ulysses, but it’s been a struggle. Plus, my 17-year old son really wants me to read The Sound and the Fury, and tackling both of those books in the same year seems daunting. So, thank you. Based on your recent post, I’m also putting Graham Greene on my list this year. I have read Mr. Penumbra and enjoyed it. (Love that we are on the same “page” with our book suggestions!) I will look forward to hearing how you like All the Light…I also recommend to you both The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. A heavy WWII story but exquisitely written. Wishing you plenty of books and travel this year!


      • Both Ulysses and Sound & Fury are far in the past for me, college days, but both worth the effort. Yes! to Mr. Greene, thanks. I’ll look into Invisible Bridge. There’s a little PREQUEL to Penumbra: “Ajax Penumbra, 1969,” if you don’t know it.Cheers!

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