Most of you know that I spent last year trying to reach a goal of 50 books in a year. I didn’t quite make it, but came in a little over halfway. I thought I’d spend this year doing the same, but as my life is known to do, I haven’t read as much. Some years I journal, some years I don’t. Some years I read, some years I don’t. Some years I paint and draw, and still other years I don’t. It really depends on the season.
All of that to say, I HAVE been reading this year, just not quite as much as last year. I’m still trucking toward 50, so we’ll see how many I can crank out between now and December. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Home by Julie Andrews
I think the title and author speak for themselves here, right? Seriously, if you even remotely love Julie Andrews, read this. It is a melody. If you are in true love with Julie (like me), then this will make you feel like a dear old pal of hers. Who wouldn’t want to be?!
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
We read this in small group. The premise is great, but it seems to get a little repetitive in the second half of the book. Nonetheless, it helped remind us how important prayer is and how to be bold in prayer, rather than only asking for what we think we can “afford.”
If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher
This is another one of those “need I say more?” books. I’ve met Hannah in real life on a couple of different occasions. I’d call us friends in the distant sort of way, and this girl, her heart is golden. God took her brokenness and turned it into an ocean of encouragement for so many people. I love it and I love her heart to help other people and to be exactly who she is for all the world to see. She is a light. Read this book.
Nobody’s Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle
This is the first of Melanie’s books that I’ve read. Her most popular is Sparkly Green Earrings. She has a great writing style. This particular book is about friendships and was so refreshing to read. Her stories were hilarious and heart-wrenching all at once.
The Color of Grace by Bethany Haley Williams
Y’all, I read this right after Uganda. It is so much. I cried. I laughed. I fist-pumped. It was exactly what I needed in those few weeks fresh back in America. She chronicles the start of Exile International, an organization doing incredible work in Uganda and the DRC with former child soldiers/slaves. Again, this is a story of God taking someone’s brokenness and turning it into a force for good. Even beyond that, BHW paints a vivid picture of grace and loving people right where they are. Read this.
Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker
I bought this when I bought The Color of Grace because I love Jen Hatmaker on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. She is one of the funniest people in the world, I think, and she doesn’t even try hard. She just talks about her life. This specific book is really the prequel to “7” – her most popular book (until For The Love hit shelves a few weeks ago – it has soared in popularity to the point of being a NYT best seller – obviously I’ll get that next). In Interrupted, Jen (and Brandon) talks about God moving them from the safety of “ministering to Christians” to a life lived in community with those around them. I, honestly, recommend this to all church leadership teams and staff members as well as anyone else. If you want to know how to make your church “successful” – start here. There are few books that really packed a heart-changing punch for me. This is one of them.
Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf
We also read this in small group. If you don’t have a scientific brain, you’ll struggle through some parts of this, but the entire message of the book is incredible. We were not created to be worriers, negative thinkers, or overrun with anxiety. Unfortunately, it’s been patterned into us by society. We can fix that by changing our thought patterns. I love when science and scripture coincide, so reading this was fun despite the levels of science I couldn’t even try to understand.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Let’s just say, this was depressing. I love Wharton’s style the same way I love Kate Chopin. They challenged ideologies of their time by examining social structures and lifestyles. The issues they touch on seem idyllic in a sense, but also very real. Wharton always deals in a harsh realities, even if she dances with dreams and desires throughout the text. A classic.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Her reputation precedes her. I mostly liked Amy Poehler before reading this book, but really love her afterward. It’s the little “get to know you” stories she includes that really did it for me. Not to mention, she can’t be serious about anything for more than a half second. And there are huge colorful pages inside, so don’t let the weight of the book scare you. This is a quick, but great read. Poehler has great advice and insight into real life.
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
Part of the backstory on this little firecracker is that it was a “first draft” of To Kill A Mockingbird, the novel that made HL famous and has stood the test of time in its comments on race relations and society in the South during the early 20th century. I realize Go Set A Watchman would not have survived the way TKAM did, had it been published first. I do, however, believe that TKAM sets a firm foundation for Watchman to thrive. I read many discontent reviews before picking up the novel myself. Most of them stated that this novel paints Atticus in a lousy light after his heroic victory in TKAM (sorry if I’m ruining that for anyone who didn’t read it a million times in school), but I disagree. As much as HL touches on race here (it is a very real subject worth exploring in the text), I don’t think that’s the purpose of this novel at all. And, in the end, I don’t believe Atticus is left out to dry or cut off at his knees. Regardless of what you’ve read from other reviewers, give this one a try and make your own opinions.
I finally got my library card, so I’m making a list of what to read next. Let me know what your favorites have been recently in the comments or over on Goodreads.