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:
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.
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.
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.