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2017 Reading List


I am trying to spend more time reading what I want to learn more about, or just what I enjoy. I took these off of my Kindle, it seems to be the only way I read anymore. For 2018, I want to read more, I have three books piling up now. If you have any suggestions, I’m open!

Life Giving

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek – an interesting book that teaches the simple (but not easy) philosophy of ‘figure out your why and your how should follow’. He gives many examples of successful companies who have done this and succeeded, as well as examples of those who never found it. He does repeat himself quite a bit.

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel – an intriguing fictional account of a family going through an identity crisis. This book opened my eyes to the issue of having a transgender child, or person in your life. It was uncomfortable and a valuable read to me.

The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship by Shaunti Feldhahn– looking back over the year I read several books that deal with being kinder and gentler to those you love most. As Feldhahn always does, she fills this book with research and accounts to help you see that you are not alone. We tend to believe that we are very kind to our families, this books helps you determine the truth, and how anyone can improve.

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis – and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse – I have been following our Senator on Twitter for more than a year, so I was excited to read what he had to say about parenting. I was so pleased to see that he didn’t use his book as a political platform, but as a soapbox. His argument is that we don’t allow our children to work hard and enter adulthood, and freeze them in adolescence. He makes a great point, and has clear ideas on how to combat this epidemic in our society.

Dare to Respect by Tammy Oberg De La Garza – this author contacted me and asked me to review her new book. Honestly I did not expect to like it, the title alone made me want to push back. But I ended up enjoying this fictional account of a group of women who read the book and the various ways they accepted the challenge within their marriages.

A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland – I was on the launch team for the writer of this book. It is a powerfully personal account of a man who had addictions and issues along with a wife and children, and eventually overcame the obstacles to even thrive as a father and husband. It is a very loving book with wisdom that anyone can benefit from.

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff – this was one of the last books of the year that I read and I loved it! Acuff is someone I have followed for years and I read whatever he has to say, but this book gives a good, solid explanation for the reason we either never start our goals, or tend to stop before finishing them. He uses research that makes it so much more interesting and valuable to the reader. I definitely learned some key take-aways from this book.

Life Changing

Whole: Restoring What is Broken Inside of Me, You and the Entire World by Steve Weins– this is a wonderful book written by a pastor in Maple Grove, MN. The reader learns some key Hebrew words and their usage and is taken on a journey through scripture and the writer’s experiences to learn how to live a life the way God intended: whole. His explanation of being shalom to others is beautiful, and a concept that keeps resonating with me. This is a book for a longtime believer who may have lost touch with why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing.

Water to Wine: Some of My Story by Brian Zahnd – I read this book at the beginning of the year and I am not sure I’m ready to talk about it yet. Brian Zahnd is a pastor in MO who pastored a large congregation, until he had a crisis of evangelical proportions and changed the way that he saw the world and preached to his congregation. This book was the first of three this year that have radically changed my perspective. I’m grateful for reading it, but life honestly life was easier before I ever did.

Sinners in the Hands if a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News by Brian Zahnd – This is the second of Zahnd’s books that I read this year, and this one also blew my box open, but not in such a big way as Water to Wine. To really understand the heart of the author, I would suggest reading them in the same order. Zahnd is seen as a radical in the Evangelical world, and not supported by everyone, and that’s okay with me. The chapter on hell is my favorite.

Life Zapping

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – I can hardly remember this book. Cool concept, not cool execution.


2016 Reading List



I grew up with a passion for reading, I can remember going to the library and dropping off a huge stack of books, only to be replaced with a similar pile, and going to the mall as a child and being old enough to ‘shop’ alone for an hour. My time would be spent sitting in the floor of a B. Dalton bookstore, poring over books, trying to decide which one was worthy enough to deserve my allowance money. When I went to college and had to read what I was told, my love for books waned significantly; then I got married and was inundated with short people vying for my attention all day and reading for enjoyment fell off my list of things to do for myself. Taking the time to sit down and read seemed selfish for a decade or so.

This year I have discovered that I still love dipping into another world, like strapping on a diving mask and thrusting my face under the water to see the life happening below and sputtering for air when I’ve been under too long. These days I justify taking the time to read by multi-tasking, combining it with exercise. I spend my time on the elliptical reading, and when I have no desire to go to the gym, the book that is waiting for me is often what gets me there. This year I have read some fascinating books, and some duds. I’m sure there are more than listed here, but these are the ones that quickly came to mind:

Life Changing

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore – this book was written several years ago and recommended to me many times. I don’t know what took me so long to start it, but it helped me view homelessness, and wealth, with more empathy and fueled a desire to help.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – it felt like my responsibility as a human being to read this book and I am changed because of it.

Coming Clean by Seth Haines – an intimate, transparent look into addiction and belief in God. Haines does a wonderful job of turning the lens back onto the reader over and over.

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott – a fascinating look into the life of a writer, rarely does an expert share the secrets of her craft with an audience. I keep learning from this book.

The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn – a hopeful, data-filled book that explains the fact that marriages are not doomed to failure and divorce, and the reasons we have come to believe that they are.


Life Giving

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – a beautiful reminder to slow down and be present, a book to linger over and enjoy.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – a compelling memoir by a neurosurgeon who insisted on viewing his patients as whole beings, after he was diagnosed with cancer himself.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – this is the only fictional book I placed in a favorable category all year. I loved it. But couldn’t even finish the next book by the same author.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – brilliantly explains the difficulty of creating.

Hope Heals by Katherine Wolf – the incredible story of a young mom who lived through a stroke, and her family has thrived as a result of it.

The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner – contemplative book on identity, the author suggests reading it several times, each time less like a consumer, and this is probably a good idea. Refreshing to read such deep thoughts from a Christian perspective.

Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – powerful book that paints a picture of what the American church often is, and what it could be.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton – I don’t agree with everything she says, but some points in this book broke open parts of me I didn’t remember existed.


Life Zapping

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende – normally I love Allende’s books, but this was a not satisfying.

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew – set in the South, I was hopeful but disappointed.

The Nest by Cynthia Sweeney – hardly remember what this was about, don’t bother.

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