As always, I read a ton of books in 2016 – 155 of them, to be exact! Out of those, here is my annual list of the ones I loved the most. They are in no particular order…except that my Book of the Year is at the end.
#1: Bread Illustrated, a Step-by-Step to Achieving Bakery Quality Results at Home, by the America’s Test Kitchen.
My new go-to bread book. Love that it explains why it tells you to do a particular step, or use a certain flour, or whatever. The illustrations are amazing, and all the recipes I’ve tried have turned out perfectly.
#2: Thicket, by Joe R. Lansdale
#3: How to Be a Victorian, by Ruth Goodman
So very fascinating, and unlike virtually every other “how they lived” book out there, this author knows her business first-hand. She has spent months living in the Victorian world, and has personally worn, eaten, and done the work she writes about. No silly comments about corset-wearing women being unable to sit down in this book – she’s actually harvested wheat with a scythe while wearing hers! (And found it easier than when not wearing a corset actually, back support for the win!) I now want to try making some of the skin creams and other cosmetics; they sound much better than our modern ones – and much safer for our health.
#4: Crimson Peak Art of Darkness, by Mark Salisbury
I have been insanely obsessed with Crimson Peak since I saw the film; it’s quite possibly the most insanely gorgeous movie I have ever seen. I watched it twice in two days. Of course I had to buy this book instantly, and I found it nearly as amazing as the film. Gorgeous, gorgeous book on the making of a gorgeous, gorgeous film. Too many usages of the word ‘gorgeous’? No. Not possible, not for Crimson Peak.
#5: Project Animal Farm, by Sonia Faruqi
Absolutely necessary book – everyone needs to read this. It’s frightening how many people want to keep their heads buried in the sand, and continue supporting the torture, suffering, and extremely inhumane death of billions of animals every year, rather than wake up and realize what’s going on. And don’t even get me started on what this ‘food’ is doing to our own health, and the health of our world.
#6: Eat Dirt, by Josh Axe
And if you don’t know what our factory farming, incredibly over-sanitized way of life is doing to your health, this book will explain it. A must-read, especially if you have children, or an autoimmune disorder of any kind. Or, really, if you have any kind of health issue at all. It’s amazing what sorts of things are caused by gut issues, things you’d never think of.
#7: What Ho, Automaton! by Chris Dolley
#8: Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison
#9: American Elsewhere, by Robert Jackson Bennett
If you like classic Stephen King, you’ll love this. Nicely thick doorstopper of a book, with all the character-building, slow buildup, and eerie storyline of the best of King. Loved it. And might I add: the cover is gorgeous. I think I would have read anything that had this cover on it!
#10: The Black Belt Librarian, by Warren Graham
Now this one is very specialized, and if you aren’t a librarian, it’s probably not for you. But if you are, this book might just entirely change your professional life. I am a librarian, and my library has slowly become a place where no one feels safe either working or visiting. I’ve had so many long-time patrons come up and say they would no longer be coming in, because of the safety issues. Thankfully, the Mayor came to bat for us, booted out the leadership that was allowing this happen, and brought this book to our attention. It’s been revolutionary. If you aren’t a librarian, but you visit a library where you feel unsafe, you might want to mention this book to your local librarian. It’s pricey, but worth every penny!
#11: The Creeping Shadow, by Jonathan Stroud
Every time one in this series comes out, it makes my favorites list. Every. Freaking. Time. The series is THAT good! Extremely well-written, fantastic world-building, and great plot and characters. Don’t be thrown off by the fact that it’s a ‘grade school novel’. It isn’t, not really. It’s just a truly wonderful book that happens to have young characters.
#12: The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, by David Asher
Wow. Just wow. What a brilliant, needed book. A valuable read even if you aren’t interested in making cheese yourself. And he uses kefir for his starter! So grateful and delighted I found this book. Do yourself a favor and make creme fraiche with your kefir. It is to die for. I could sit and eat it with a spoon. And then, use the creme fraiche to make cultured butter….oh, the silkiness! The flavor! You’ve never had butter like this. This book would have been my favorite of the year, hands down, except for the book below.
#13: The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, by Joel Salatin
This the book I have been waiting my whole life for someone to write. It’s brilliant, and captures my entire philosophy, world-view, and personal goals, all in one. There are really no words to describe the meaning of this book to me.