2016 Books and Beds

Jackson Street Booksellers, Omaha

In this second annual round-up of the books I’ve read and the beds I’ve slept in, I gotta admit I’m cutting corners on the reading list. Every year, I promise to keep better records, because by December it’s all a jumble. I’m left to cobble together notes, scan my bookshelves, log in to Amazon and Goodreads to patch together what I’ve read.

Some books were read on my Kindle Paperwhite, some were on Tom’s iPad, some were paperbacks, and some were hard-covers. I find notes of what I’ve read mixed in with travel notes; sometimes my reading selection is ignited by my travels. Uncharacteristically, there were even some books I didn’t finish. This is an incomplete list, but even so, I remember so much more about the year when I recall what I was reading along the way.

Which brings me to my 2016 bed count: 54 beds in 45 cities. My records are pretty good on this account, because I reserve beds but stumble upon books. Also, I need to document my whereabouts so that when you (or I) search our site or ask us for advice, you’ll hit upon something. (And so will I.) Oh, THAT place!

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Books and beds together define my year, and describe so many places I’ve visited, not by land or by sea, but by imagination.

Hotels 2016
Quote in Viking stateroom, Yangtze River Cruise. I often read in bed, but seldom read the headboard.

One thing is sure, I will read more poetry in 2017. I’ve promised myself that. Poetry and notable passages jump out to me now in a more urgent way. I suspect I’m not the only one leaning in to try to understand more, do more, change more. My reading and notes are already more focused this year.

Eight of these titles have some Minnesota connection.

A favorite read this year

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman

When I'm Dead All This Will Be Yours!: Joe Teller – A Portrait by His Kid, by Teller

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

Augies's Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip, by Neal Karlen

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James

Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews

Evangeline, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith

Inspired to re-read this classic when we visited the site of the Acadian expulsion.

LaRose, by Louise Erdrich

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison

Inhabited, by Charlie Quimby

The Wait [unpublished], by Jennifer Bonner with Susan Cushman

Backpacking with Dracula, by Leif Pettersen

Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver

Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang (The short story upon which the movie “Arrival” is based)

Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal

Why Still Dance, by Phebe Hanson

Hotels 2016
On New Brunswick's Grand Manan Island, the SeaCup Inn was one of our favorite places in 2016.

54 beds in 45 cities


St. Paul #1
New York City, Hotel 32/32


Minneapolis (house and dog sitting, with pleasure)


San Jose del Cabo, MX – #1 Casa Natalia
Sea of Cortez – Uncruise Adventures
San Jose del Cabo #2  – Marisol Boutique
St. Paul #2

hotel 2016
Casa Natalia, San Jose del Cabo, Baja Sur. High recommendations


Lutsen, MN  Solbakken Resort


Lincoln (2), Kearny, and Omaha, NE – AmericInn
Bloomington, MN – Radisson Blu Mall of America


Quebec City #1, QB – L’intendant
Chicoutimi, Saguenay, QB – Auberge le Parasol
Village Val Jalbert, QB – Village Historique de Val-Jalbert
Saint-Jean, QB – Chalets sur le Fjord
Saguenay – Hôtel Castel de la Mer
Quebec City #2 – TRYP Québec Hôtel PUR
Montreal – Travelodge Montreal Centre

Hotels 2016
The kindness of friends at the ranch in New Mexico


(New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada)
Halifax, NS #1 – Lord Nelson
Sussex, NB – Amsterdam Inn
Fredericton, NB- Fredericton Inn
St George, NB- Granitetown Hotel
Grand Manan Island, NB – Seacup Inn
Saint John, NB – Mahogany Manor B&B
Wolfville, NS – Old Orchard Inn
Pictou, NS – Braeside Inn
Baddeck, NS – Water’s Edge Inn and Gallery
Louisbourg, NS – Peck’s Housekeeping Cottages
Halifax #2 NS- Lord Nelson


Santa Fe – Sage Inn
Raton – A friend’s ranch
Santa Fe – Inn of the Governors

hotels 2016
Travel Tip: if you don't know the alphabet, a photo or transcript of your address might come in handy for finding your way home.


Hong Kong – Hotel Panorama By Rhombus
Macau – Grand Lapa
Taipei – AirBnB
Seoul – AirBnB
Beijing – Fairmont Hotel
Xi’an – Shangri-la
Lhasa – Shangri-la
Yangtze – Viking Emerald
Shanghai – Fairmont Peace Hotel on the Bund


Rome #1 – AirBnB (with spiral stairs)
Split – Piazza Heritage Hotel
Dubrovnik – Hotel Lapad
Rome #2 – Apartments in Trastevere TocToc
Amsterdam – Radisson Blu airport

hotels 2016
The hotel bar in Shanghai's historic Fairmont Peace Hotel on the Bund.


Tom in Madrid – Hotel Europa and Petit Palace Arenal
Malaga, Spain – Picasso Suites
Sevilla – Petit Palace Santa Cruz


Council Bluffs, IA #1 – Courtyard Inn
Council Bluffs, IA #2 – the ol’ homestead

We've provided some handy links above. In some cases, we have affiliate relationships. So if you order books via our Amazon links, for example, we might earn a couple cents. Hey, that's what our opinion is worth!

We've linked to hotels we especially liked, and we are affiliates of Booking.com, too. But mostly we just want you to know what we liked.

Our sponsored trips this year included Quebec and Maritime Canada, the AmericInn hotels of Nebraska, Viking Roof of the World River Cruise (China) and UnCruise Adventures' Sea of Cortez. Context Travel, another affiliate partner, provided us with some great guided tours in Canada and Asia.

We do an annual roundup of books (and sometimes beds) every year. Here are the posts from those years.

Recommended books for 2014
Books, 2015.
Books and Beds, 2016.
Books and Beds, 2017.

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16 thoughts on “2016 Books and Beds”

  1. Sounds like 2016 was a bed-hopping year! :) I always love to find another passionate reader and had a great time going through your book list. Currently, I’m about halfway through “A Man Called Ove” and enjoying it tremendously and “Animal Dreams” is on my list for the near future. It’s a rich life when we can combine traveling to amazing places in real time or in our imaginations!

    • Glad to hear of our common interests, Anita. Animal Dreams was one of my favorite reads of the year (along with LaRose). It’s only the second Kingsolver book I’ve read, I think; it was recommended to me by my daughter. All the better!

  2. Such a cool concept for a post, Kristin. I always have the best intentions to read AND travel, but I’m usually so whacked from touring the places we are that I don’t get much reading in. But thanks for a great list of books to consider when I’m not dropping to sleep immediately upon hitting the pillow! (oh, and congrats to you and Tom on the NATJA awards!)

  3. I love the idea of counting beds and books over the year. I was surprised to discover I haven’t read any of the books on your list, although at least one is on my list of “to-reads”.

    • Some selections are inspired by my book group which, of course, I’m rarely able to attend. Every year we have the hardest time choosing what to read! For 2017, everyone contributed one idea, and mine was Red Sparrow. If you like spy books, give it a read. (Soon to be a motion picture:)

  4. That’s a lot of books! And, apparently, I have to add every one of them to my book list because I haven’t read any of them. I recently discovered a site that sends me daily updates for the best deals in Kindle books, some are free, 99 cents or maybe $1.99, I am building a Kindle library for next to nothing. Because let’s face it, there’s nothing like a Kindle for traveling.

    If you find yourself in New York City, spend a night at the Library Hotel, it’s the best of both worlds!

    • haha, I wish I could read as much as I sleep. Yes, I felt ready to move into the SeaCup–and Casa Natalia. This year’s total was actually down from 2015 when I crashed in 70-some different beds! More is not necessarily better.

  5. Love your caption, “I often read in bed, but seldom read the headboard.” under the Viking photo! Hilarious! I’ve only read ONE of the books you listed, “A Man Called Ove” and it was recommended by another blogger. i give you credit for reading so many. I find that when I travel, I”m either exhausted or reading travel guides or checking the internet.


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