I Read a Lot of Books in 2016, But Still Didn’t Reach My Goal…

I read 82 books in 2016, but fell 28 short of my (rather ambitious) goal of 110. My year was way too busy to read as much as I would have liked. I finished the majority of the books during the first half of the year, as life obligations slowed my pace after summer. On the bright side, 2017 will get off to a good start reading-wise, as I am close to finishing half a dozen books.

Here’s a list of every book that I finished in 2016, with some very loose ratings.


*=Read as research for my novella

**=This designation means that I liked the book in spite of myself, but as such find it too hard to assign a fair grade

1=You are my enemy

2=We’ll stay acquaintances, thanks

3=I like you, but I don’t like you like you

4=You are my friend, but not my best friend

5=You are my love match, but don’t expect fidelity

  1. Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life by Hermione Lee 5
  2. Humans of New York Stories by Brandon Stanton 5
  3. The Tale of Beatrix Potter: A Biography by Margaret Lane 4
  4. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius 5
  5. The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms by David C. Tucker*
  6. The Art of Asking, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer 5
  7. The 1950s Kitchen by Kathryn Ferry*
  8. The 1950s American Home by Diane Boucher*
  9. The 1950s and 1960s (Costume & Fashion Source Books) by Anne Rooney*
  10. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr**
  11. Coreyography by Corey Feldman**
  12. 1950s American Fashion by Jonathan Walford*
  13. Breakfast with Lucian: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Great Modern Painter by Geordie Greig 5
  14. Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s by Gerald Nachman*
  15. Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips by Kevin Brownlow 5
  16. Famous and Infamous Londoners by Peter de Loriol 2
  17. How to be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life by Melissa Hellstern 3
  18. Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames by Laura Wagner 4
  19. The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink by Pamela Katz 4
  20. Women in the Arts in the Belle Epoque: Essays on Influential Artists, Writers and Performers by Paul Fryer (Editor) 3
  21. Audrey in Rome by Luca Dotti 3
  22. The Pocket Guide to Victorian Artists and Their Models by Russell James 3
  23. Clara Bow: Runnin’ Wild by David Stenn (re-read) 4
  24. Victorian Women and the Theatre of Trance: Mediums, Spiritualists and Mesmerists in Performance by Amy Lehman 3
  25. Billy Bragg: Still Suitable for Miners by Andrew Collins 5
  26. Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director by Patrick McGilligan 5
  27. Women of the Underground: Art: Cultural Innovators Speak for Themselves by Zora Von Burden (Editor) 5
  28. Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects by Neil MacGregor 4
  29. Women of the Underground: Music: Cultural Innovators Speak for Themselves by Zora Von Burden (Editor) 5
  30. 5th Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson 2
  31. Keepers: The Greatest Films–and Personal Favorites–of a Moviegoing Lifetime by Richard Schickel 4
  32. Hawthorne: A Life by Brenda Wineapple 5
  33. Paris in the Fifties by Stanley Karnow 5
  34. The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks by Tracey Goessel 5
  35. The A to Z of Italian Cinema by Gino Moliterno 4
  36. Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger 4
  37. A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960 by Jeanine Basinger 4
  38. M Train by Patti Smith 5
  39. I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies by Jeanine Basinger 3
  40. Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction by Cathy Whitlock 3
  41. The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd by Michelle Morgan 4
  42. Elizabeth Taylor, A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend by Joseph Papa 3
  43. Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered by Dianne Hales 4
  44. Fear and Unclothing: Unbuckling American Style by Cintra Wilson 3
  45. Art on the Block: Tracking the New York Art World from SoHo to the Bowery, Bushwick and Beyond by Ann Fensterstock 4
  46. I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich 4 for the early parts, 3 for the rest
  47. The Fauves by Nathalia Brodskaia 3
  48.  Ilya Repin by Grigori Sternin 4
  49. Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse: And Other Lessons from Modern Life by David Mitchell 4
  50. Women in the Middle Ages by Frances and Joseph Gies 4
  51. The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History by Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, Matt LaMothe 2 for the essays, 4 for the art
  52. Own It!: Be the Boss of Your Life–at Home and in the Workplace by Tabatha Coffey**
  53. The Ultimate, Illustrated Beats Chronology by Robert Niemi 5
  54. Orson Welles by F.X. Feeney 5 for what it is
  55. Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky by Paul Johnson 1
  56. Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington 4
  57. Spencer Tracy by James Curtis 5
  58. Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley by Jeffrey Spivak 2
  59. Andy Warhol by Wayne Koestenbaum 3
  60. Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography by Meryl Secrest 5
  61. Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon 5
  62. The Andy Griffith Show by Richard Michael Kelly 4
  63. The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher 4
  64. City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, from Bohemian to Rock  by Melissa Magsaysay 4
  65. Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by Robert de La Sizeranne 4
  66. A Place in the Country by G.W. Sebald 5
  67. Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes by Adilifu Nama 4
  68. Kahlo by Gerry Souter 4
  69. Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert 5
  70. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman by Bergdorf Goodman 3
  71. Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms by Carmela Ciuraru 4
  72. The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg 3
  73. My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine by Kate Betts 4
  74. Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World by Thomas Cahill 4
  75. Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams by Margery M. Heffron 4
  76. Caravaggio: Painter of Miracles by Francine Prose 4
  77. Making Tootsie: Inside the Classic Film with Dustin Hoffman and Sydney Pollack by Susan Dworkin**
  78. Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton by John Lahr 4
  79. The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino 4
  80. Film Noir FAQ: All That’s Left to Know about Hollywood’s Golden Age of Dames, Detectives, and Danger by David J. Hogan 5
  81. Labor and Freedom by Eugene V. Debs 5
  82. e.e. cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever 4, except for the writer’s annoying self-insertion

Did you set a reading goal for 2016? If so, did you achieve it, come close, or miss the mark entirely? What was the best book you read this year? The worst? The funniest? The saddest? The most surprising? The most disappointing? Please share in the comments section.

Happy reading in 2017!

16 thoughts on “I Read a Lot of Books in 2016, But Still Didn’t Reach My Goal…

  1. I had set a goal in 2016 and achieved it but I didn’t read many “decent” books because of this. Those books that need time and concentration fell by the wayside because of the pressure I’d put on myself to achieve the goal. So…I canned that idea and voila, by reading purely as and what I feel like, I’m really reading again. Funny enough, in the previous years that had no goals I read substantially more. Or maybe 2016 was just one of those years and goal or no goal, I would have read the same.
    Happy New Year! Here’s to a year of wonderful magic called books (and, obviously, all other good things).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get where you are coming from! My number was totally arbitrary, so I am not too bummed that I did not reach it. I read what I wanted, though, which included some very long books. And most of them were enjoyable, so I have no complaints. Have a wonderful reading year!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve got some great books there. I’ve been looking forward to reading M Train. Just Kids still grips me when I just think about it. Since I spent more time on my writing this year, my list was short, but I made it. Yay! Didn’t realize how much I missed reading until I’d put it aside. 🙂 Dark Matter by Blake Crouch blew me away. There was one that fell very short of my expectations, so it was disappointing. My reading goal for the year isn’t very long right now, but as I approach that number I’ll increase it. Here’s to a fun reading year!


  3. I bow down to your method. 🙂 I wonder why I don’t keep a list of books I read. Must start. Last year I had a book-reading binge after many years almost without. I read all the Neapolitan books by Elena Ferrante (5-5-4-4), the entire Ender’s Quintet (5), Good Omens (5), Gaiman’s Neverwhere (2, what’s with the violence?), The Giver by Lois Lowry (5), and I’m sure there were more that I don’t recall right now (all on e-reader). Right now I’m reading The Wee Free Men (my first Pratchett novel!). I have lots of yet unread physical books smiling at me from the shelves too (Just Kids by Patti Smith, I Am an Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, La Bella Lingua by Dianne Hales and a whole lot of Slovenians. The future is taken care of. Happy reading and writing! 🙂


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