15 Books I’ve Read and Loved

I can’t remember the last time I picked up my knitting needles and created anything out of yarn, or pulled out my spray paint except to loan it to my neighbor, or  redecorated a wall after searching pinterest for ideas. I did try my hand at making gigantic hair bows for the girls, with medium success, so there’s that. It just hasn’t been my year for arts and crafts.

But it has been my year for reading. I feel like I’ve been reading a lot, and I’m not sure when I did it all, but mostly I think it was when I was sitting in the carpool line waiting for the kids to get out of school, often with Landis climbing all over me or standing up through the sun roof and waving at strangers.

I feel like all of the books I’ve read this year have been truly meaningful and good. I wouldn’t consider myself the best critic, with lists of pros and cons in my back pocket. But I don’t love every book I read, so I have some sort of discernment. Anyway, the ones I’ve read this year have been beautifully written and compelling, books I could definitely read again, some of which I’ve already read two times.


Most of the books I read I buy the hard copy, because I just loving having the paper in my hands and I learn better that way. But I also read a few books on my kindle that I’ll mention as well.

Let’s talk Emily P. Freeman. Why have I not read her books until this last year? She speaks my language, and remarkably I think we have quite a bit in common, except for the part about her being an actual published author bit, but that’s a minor detail. I keep thinking how I’d love to have lunch with her and have a heart to heart, I just feel like I relate to what she says so much.

Grace for the Good Girl is the one I read first, and I loved it so much I re-read it with our community group women, and it led to some meaningful discussion and definite opportunities to probe the heart and try to tackle the depths of the subject of hiding behind self-made masks. It was a real eye opener and very convicting. I will definitely be re-re-reading this one.

(on a further note, she has a book called Graceful which is much of the same material but is written for teenage girls; I have it and plan to read it and see if Amaleah should read it at some point coming up.)

Simply Tuesday was a good read, kept me moving mentally and had some really good thoughts. I’m still pondering it a bit, but I think the overall simplified gist is learning how to embrace your everyday moments and to be willing to be small, and how to see what Jesus is doing right here and now in my life. In some ways I feel like I get what she’s saying, and in other ways I feel like it’s just out of my reach. But I like it.

A Million Little Ways–I’m almost finished with this one, and let’s just say it’s the exact book I needed for this very moment in my life. I bought it quite a few months ago when I bought her other books but I had no idea what it was about. Then last week I just needed something to read while I was sick in bed and it was the only book in my side table so I started it. And really I think it was a book ordained by God for me to read as I approach this new year. It speaks to my soul about what it means to be image bearers of God, and how to uncover the things He has already designed in you and to live as an artist even in your every day life. It’s a freeing read and has put words to thoughts I’ve had but couldn’t really verbalize them.

Big Love, and The Hardest Peace, by Kara Tippetts. Big Love is an e-book, and a wonderful look at choosing kindness in parenting. Oh man, I need this book again. The Hardest Peace is Kara’s story of walking in God’s grace through the most difficult days of her life. Deeply moving and highly recommended. (be ready to cry some though)

Nobody’s Cuter Than You, by Melanie Shankle. Melanie is Amaleah’s friend’s mom and it’s been so fun to read all of her books (Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room) and get to know her some in real life. She’s completely real and down to earth, and hysterical. This book is about friendship, and I promise you it will remind you of your closest friends and you’ll come away feeling more endeared to them.

For the Love, by Jen Hatmaker. This book is basically a collection of really great articles. Each chapter is completely different and about an entirely different subject. It’s chalk full of laughs, as promised because obviously it’s Jen Hatmaker, and quite thought provoking. I love how she can speak the truth, be direct about some things even in the Church today, but you come away feeling like she loves everyone and hasn’t insulted anyone, because she has such an amazing way with words. Some of my favorite chapters were “Run Your Race,” “Tell the Truth,” “Surviving School,” and “Dear Church,” but of course all of them are great.

Home is Where My People Are, by Sophie Hudson. This is basically and autobiography of Sophie’s life, in a style uniquely her own. She tells a very real story about her life and struggles, where she’s been and who she is, and it’s so sweetly laced with the Gospel and how God drew her to Himself over time and trials and growth. It’s a page turner.

Wild in the Hollow, by Amber Haines. Okay, so this girl can write. It’s like a poem without it being a poem, its just gorgeous. This book too is almost an autobiography, and is deeply profound and personally challenging. She’s been through some stuff in her life and God has definitely enabled her to see His grace in it all and to come to a place where she’s freely walking with Him. A beautiful read.

You Can Change,  by Tim Chester. We have loved Tim Chester’s Gospel Centered Church, and now really love this book. We did it as a community group together, and it allowed for some open and honest discussion. He encourages you to work on a change project throughout this whole book, primarily learning that change comes through what you believe about God and how that trickles down to what you believe about yourself.

A Loving Life, by Paul E. Miller. I absolutely loved his book, A Praying Life, and so I picked this one up and we started it as a group of women (sadly didn’t finish it together). It’s basically a study of the book of Ruth, digging deeply into what it means to have selfless love in relationships. I have to admit some of this book is hard to grapple with, maybe because it’s calling us to so much self-sacrifice and my flesh wants to fight that. In some ways I think he stretches out the book of Ruth a little much, but overall I think it’s a good read about the nature of love even in difficult relationships.

A few others I read:

Writing Life Stories (currently working through this one, it’s a teaching book about writing), by Bill Roorbach; The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Butterfield; Still Alice, by Lisa Genova; Just 18 Summers, by Michelle Cox & Rene Gutteridge

Gosh, after going back through all these books I’m kind of amazed I read all these in one year. I hope you read some of these this year, and tell me how you like them.


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