The Best 16 Books of 2016

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As the year winds to a close, I always anticipate looking through all of the wonderful (and not so wonderful) books I read over the course of the past 52 weeks. 2016 is no exception.

This year, I was able to finish 90 books – an all time high. Over the past 12 months, I read more diverse books than ever before, and learned more from literature than I could have ever imagined for myself a mere 365 days ago.

In honor of a great book year, here are the top 16 books that I read in 2016.

  1. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  2. The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner
  3. The Martian by Andy Weir
  4. The Royal We by Heather Cocks
  5. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  6. Miracles from Heaven by Christy Beam
  7. Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles
  8. November 9 by Colleen Hoover
  9. The Nightingale by Kirstin Hannah
  10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  11. A World Without You by Beth Revis
  12. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
  13. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
  14. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  15. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
  16. At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

See all of my thoughts on these books, as well as the other 74 books I read this year by checking out “My Year in Books” powered by Goodreads.

What were your favorite books of 2016?

 

The Best Digital Marketing Breakthroughs of 2016

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2016 was a big year for the advancement of digital media marketing. With an increased emphasis on video content, the demise of Vine, and the slow fade of Twitter, the digital frontier has changed drastically in the past 52 weeks alone. 

Some of those monumental  changes include: 

Facebook Live
Consumers are craving a raw, unfiltered look into the companies they choose, and Facebook Live gives them exactly that. This livestreaming service allows for businesses to give their audience a behind the scenes look into their everyday atmosphere, and showcase what makes their workplace and products unique. Facebook Live gives companies the opportunity to emphasize the honesty and transparency that potential buyers are seeking. Today’s consumers want to feel personally connected to the businesses they choose to buy from, and Facebook Live helps to build that relationship with just a press of a button. 

Instagram Stories
Sure, it can be argued that Instagram Stories is a complete copy of Snapchat, but for businesses, the Instagram platform allows for a wider audience than Snapchat ever did. Instagram Stories automatically connects all of a business’ hard earned Instagram followers to their content, without the pain of trying to get those same people to follow along on more than one platform. With Instagram Stories, companies are able to reach a bigger audience with a unique medium of content specialized to disappearing video. 

Virtual Reality 
Virtual Reality (VR) is just beginning to step up as a real digital marketing contender. VR integrates a digital world into a consumer’s everyday life, and can be used as a game rewarding the consumer with coupons, an informational piece, or simply as entertainment. With VR, consumers can step into different digital worlds with a realistic feel, and emerge feeling like a part of the product or business behind the specific VR world they entered. While only available on a few devices now, VR is quickly growing and can be expected to be seen across a variety of stages in the coming year. 

Digital Marketing is always evolving, and 2016 was no exception. While we saw several techniques begin to fall and leave the mainstream, we also saw the emergence of bolder, more intricate formats across all platforms. Digital Media is heading into 2017 stronger than ever – is your company ready?

Making the Most of Your Freelance Business

Starting your own freelance business can be overwhelming. There are clients to gain, creative content to be made, and priorities to sort. The whole process can seem like more work than its worth, but in the end, starting your own small business is a major step in fulfilling long-term career goals.

That being said, starting your own business can be scary if you don’t know what you are doing. Luckily, there is an abundance of great resources online (including this infographic from Invoice2Go that I had the pleasure of contributing to) that contain helpful hints and strategies for anyone beginning in the freelance world.

Don’t let the fear of freelancing keep you from starting your business. Use these tips, and get started on the road to success today.

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Best Books to Gift This Christmas

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Christmas is just two weeks away, and holiday shopping is in full swing. With the 25th lingering nearby, many people are scrambling and struggling to find the right gift for their loved ones. Luckily, books make the perfect present for just about anyone on your list.

Still searching for last-minute gifts? Try one of these books!

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For Mom: The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
This new release from Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna tells their in-depth “rags to riches” success story. The reader gets to know the personal side of the Gaines’ past, and even goes behind the scenes of HGTV’s most popular renovation show.

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For Dad: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Taking place after a plague wipes out most of the world’s population, Station Eleven weaves a post apocalyptic tale of unlikely characters, and their search for sanity in a forgotten world. Full of historical references and witty banter, this novel is sure to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

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For Siblings: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
This light-hearted book tells the story of the average people who live in the worlds of popular sci-fi novels and movies. Ness brings the background individuals into the spotlight, and lets the world know that they are just as annoyed with vampires and werewolves as the rest of us are.

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For Friends: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The inspiration for the movie starring Emma Watson, this short novel is sacred ground for anyone struggling with being on the outside looking in. Told in journal format, Chbosky’s brilliant work follows a year in the life of Charlie, and shows the reader that sometimes being different is the best thing you can be.

What are your book recommendations for the holiday season?

Digital Media Trends for 2017

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As hard as it is to believe, 2017 is just a few short weeks away. And in Digital Media terms, that means marketers need to be looking ahead now more than ever. 

The realm of Digital Media is constantly evolving, and 2017 will be no exception. With the controversy of online echo chambers and the excitement of Virtual Reality going mainstream, this next year will mean big things for the industry. 

What can we expect from Digital Media in 2017?

Virtual Reality Takeover
You’ve already seen the commercials for Samsung and Google’s new venture into Virtual Reality, so don’t be surprised when VR explodes on the digital scene this year. VR is just at its beginning, but as an exciting way to get people more involved with content – by literally having them live in it. This medium is sure to evolve and expand the further into 2017 we get. 

Livestreams Go Mainstream
People want authenticity from their Digital Media feeds, and nothing is more honest than a good livestream. Livestreams are sure to become more mainstream with companies this coming year, as businesses start to see the huge benefits of being open and unscripted with their audiences. People want to see the team behind their favorite products, and not just the glossy touched-up ads they are used to, and livestreams are the perfect way to do so. 

Diverse Newsfeeds
It’s no secret that our individually crafted newsfeeds are just becoming echo chambers of like minded opinions and carefully selected biased news sources. This past election exposed that quite effectively. In an attempt to change that, and create a more diverse digital experience, experts will begin to change their algorithms to favor reputable journalists, and letting opposing views land at the top of your timeline, instead of eliminating them altogether. While the social experience may change a bit, this will be a great move to help unite and open people up to different diverse viewpoints. 

The Fall of Twitter
While I love Twitter, the truth of the matter is that it is falling behind in the social race. Unless it can find a way to compete on a more elevated stage, we will continue to see Twitter’s (unfortunate) demise over the course of 2017. 

The Rise of Video Content
Video content is the way of the future, and as much as we saw a shift toward that in 2016, this will become even more evident in 2017. People want action, they want movement, and they want to be entertained. Videos are becoming more vital than ever before due to algorithms and audiences favoring them over traditional ads and content. But keep in mind as you’re creating your campaigns – videos should be optimized for both sound  on and silent viewings. Not everyone has a pair of headphones on while scrolling, so don’t dilute their experience just because of that. 

While it seems we have a pretty good handle on where 2017 is headed when it comes to Digital Media, if there’s one thing Instagram Stories taught us, is that there is always room for surprises. Buckle up, this next year is sure to be quite the ride. 

What Digital Media trends do you see succeeding (and failing) in 2017?

November Reading Wrap Up

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November was a great month for reading – I was able to finish 11 books by the time it drew to a close.

During this month, I read some of my favorite titles from the year so far, so let’s dive in!

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The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn
I read the original book about Dash and Lily a while back, and was excited to catch up with the couple over the holiday season. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t as great as I was hoping it would be, but that tends to be the case with sequels these days.

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Sully: My Search for What Really Matters by Chesley B. Sullenberger, III
This autobiography tells the story of the man behind the Miracle on the Hudson. Not only does he recount the day of the plane’s emergency landing, but he brilliantly weaves together the story of his life that led to such a heroic decision.

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The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne
With the election happening this past month, I found it fitting to read a book about kids mixed up in the politics of their families. While I do wish there was a bit more character depth, I enjoyed this book and the insight it gave into the world of Washington.

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Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
This series is my ultimate guilty pleasure. I am nothing like the main character, and often find her annoyingly immature, but I love reading about her antics and her passion for those she loves. A quick read every time, Kinsella did not disappoint with the 7th book in this ongoing series.

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The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
I’ll be honest – I’ve never seen an episode of Fixer Upper, but Chip and Joanna intrigue me nonetheless. This book tells their inspiring story of faith and perseverance, and gives glimpses into their ever so public lives. Chip and Joanna really earned my respect with this novel, and I look forward to one day catching their show.

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In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
Like any young girl, Judy Blume has always been a staple on my bookshelf. This being her first book for adults, I figured I’d give it a try, and fell in love with the story. Sure, it gets confusing at the start as to who is narrating and the relationships between people in the town, but like the stellar author she is, Blume ties everything together in due time.

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
I wanted to like this book, but just couldn’t get into it. I’ve never been a huge fan of Kendrick as an actor, but going into this memoir with an open mind didn’t even help to hold my attention. I understand she was trying to be humorous, but a lot of the time her jokes fell flat with narcissism.

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The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson 
The second book in the Shades of London series, this novel was one of my favorites of the year. I really enjoy this series by Johnson, and even though this book clearly felt like a middle stop between novels, it still had a substantial story all its own, and catapulted the reader into a new world for book three – which I can’t wait to get my hands on.

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The movie by the same name was one a big part of my childhood, so I couldn’t believe I had never read the book before now. Thankfully, I was able to fall right back in love with the magical world like no time had passed at all.

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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is my favorite author. There’s no competition. So of course I loved this book and was heartbroken when it ended, simply because I know it will be a while before I get my hands on another new work of hers. That being said, this novel wasn’t my favorite by her. This book covers the important conversations that we all need to think about today, but I felt that the controversial topic took away from the spotlight of the intricate plots of Picoult’s past works. While the controversy is complex, I was wanting a bit more from the characters and the book itself.

Keep up with my reading in December by adding me as a friend on Goodreads!