Sarah Bessey :: Favourite 2016 Books

My 5 Favourite Fiction Books of 2016

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. (Here are the books in order. Just go ahead and order all of them right now to save yourself the panic of finishing one without having the next one right beside you.)

  1. Still Life
  2. A Fatal Grace (In earlier Canadian editions, it’s called Dead Cold)
  3. The Cruellest Month
  4. A Rule Against Murder
  5. The Brutal Telling
  6. Bury Your Dead
  7. A Trick of the Light
  8. The Beautiful Mystery
  9. How the Light Gets In
  10. The Long Way Home
  11. The Nature of the Beast
  12. A Great Reckoning

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My 5 Favourite Non-Fiction Books of 2016

Practice Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life by Eugene Peterson

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell

The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our ‘Correct’ Beliefs. by Pete Enns 

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Very Married: Field Notes on Love and Fidelity by Katherine Willis Pershey

Bessey Tinies

This year, the tinies asked if they could contribute their favourites so here are their favourites from their past year of reading! 

Anne’s 5 Favourite Books of 2016

(she’s 10 years old)

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer

The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

Sisters and Smile by Raina Telegmeier

Joseph’s 5 Favourite Books of 2016

(he is 8 years old)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Calvin & Hobbes Complete Collection by Bill Watterson

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Evelynn’s 5 Favourite Books of 2016

(she is 5 and 1/2 years old)

Sleepy Bears by Mem Fox

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Two Little Gardeners (Little Golden Book) by Margaret Wise Brown

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

Maggie’s 5 Favourite Books of 2016

(she is 21 months old)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak

Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton

Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton


Sarah Bessey Books


Check out my own two books for your Christmas lists:

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

Jesus Feminist


My Favourite Books of 2015

My 10 Favourite Books of 2014

10 books that changed my faith

10 books that influence my parenting

10 books by Canadians I wish the world would read

10 books for tinies and 10 books for older tinies (ages 4-7)

10 books I read over and over (and over)

10 spiritual memoirs

My daily books + 10 books of poetry


(As usual, these books weren’t necessarily published in 2016: we read them for the first time in 2016.)

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  • Clare Arthur

    Moo, Baa, La la la! And Pyjama Time!!! 2 of my favourite books 🙂 My mum had them at her house for my kids when they visited and we were always in hysterics over them 🙂

  • Cate

    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was one of my favorites this year. I LOVED it!

    Others I recommended the “heck” out of this year were: The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner (seriously, it’s my favorite memoir in YEARS and everyone I’ve had read it has raved about it), The Winter Garden (Kristin Hannah), Boston Girl (Anita Diamant), and The Girl with Seven Names (Hyeonseo Lee).

    • I just finished The Sound of Gravel! Wow, it was intense! I could not put it down. Also read Winter Garden and nearly included it as well but decided one Kristin Hannah was enough. 🙂 The other two you mentioned I’ll have to check out since our taste seems similar!

  • Gosh, I have to read The Nightingale…I’ve heard so many people mention it.
    Non-fiction: I’m still slowly digesting Walking on Water (L’Engle) and just started Immortal Diamond (Rohr). I’m looking forward to Esther Emery’s book What Falls from the Sky.
    Fiction: I just finished the mystery/thriller In the Woods and am about to delve into Inspector of the Dead (I mean, foggy London, plot to assassinate Queen Victoria, and written by the author of Rambo…c’mon!). Mystery is a new genre for me…I’ll have to check out the Gamache series, thanks for the list!

    • Walking on Water is a life-changer, for sure! I loved that book. And Esther Emery’s book was on this list when I had 10 per category but it was getting ridiculously long. it’s an amazing book. And that “Inspector of the dead” sounds fascinating – will have to check it out!

      • Nice to have a list that gets too long, right? I haven’t read Esther’s book yet, have it ordered. I connected with her a couple years ago, which led to other friendships (amazing how that happens), and was part of her #wholemama blogging group that first year. Have a great rest of the week!

  • I bought Very Married basically the second I looked at this post, haha. You’re not the first I’ve seen recommend it recently.

    Is it just me, or did you do a post at one point on resources on Christian marriage that you liked? I feel like I remember reading it, but honestly with an infant at home my brain’s swiss cheese on a GOOD day lately.

  • Katie Noah Gibson

    I love this so much. I really need to pick up Very Married! And my 2-year-old nephew would second Maggie’s love of Sandra Boynton.

  • I have been hearing so much about Hannah Coulter and was bummed to discover that our library system does not have it — I may have to do something about that. Present Over Perfect was such a revelation to me: I’d never read any of Shauna Niequist’s books before, but I loved this book so much and am buying it for a friend. Thanks for your list — what a great idea to do a family book list.

  • Rachel Janzen

    Thanks for the children’s reccomendations. My nephews are 6 (twins) and 9 so I got some good ideas for Christmas.

  • I love that you shared the kids’ favorite books as well. My son Oliver who is just a couple of weeks younger than your Maggie would approve of her list, especially Sandra Boynton and Goodnight Moon. He would probably add Are You a Cow? to the list 🙂

  • Hannah

    Hi Sarah! I’ve been ready your blog for a couple of years and especially love your book posts. I started the Inspector Gamache series per your recommendation and am loving it though still only in the second book. I am also enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project and rereading Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things. Happy Advent!

  • Lauren

    I’ve just finished Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver and it flew straight to the top of my list of favourite reads for 2016. Your recommendations arrived just in time as I have picked up several books since, only to put them down again, beset by that restless feeling I always get after finishing a truly excellent read. But Wendell Berry is, of course, the perfect follow up! Thanks!

  • Susan

    I loved Dark Matter, too – a great read that touches life on many levels. An especially personal level being that Blake Crouch is my son (yes, proud mama here!) So happy to know that one of my favorite authors enjoyed his book!

    • That is so cool, Susan! I did love that book – such a great lead character to root for, such a unique concept, I was swept away. Tell him thanks for writing it! Been recommending it everywhere.

  • Susan Crouch

    Thank you for sharing your Favorite Books list, Sarah. Proud mama moment here…Blake Crouch, author of Dark Matter, is my son. What a sweet moment to learn that one of my favorite writers enjoyed his book!

  • Lily

    Oh goodness, I started the Louise Penny books on your recommendation and am currently buried in book four! They’re an absolute delight; thank you for recommending them!

  • Janet from FL

    I love this list of so many great books! Now I have added a bunch to my To Read list. You make every one of these books sound amazing! Thanks for sharing with us.