As much as I hate to admit it, I'm not much of a reader. I could talk and dream all day long about the books I want to read, but in the moment, I rarely think to myself, "Oh, now would be a good time to pick up a book." I'm much more of a do-er than a be-er, so reading isn't always at the top of my list.
Originally I was going to highlight my favorite books from 2016, but as I sat down to list the books I've read this year, I'm embarrassed to say I couldn't even come up with ten. If I'm being generous, I could list six, but only because I tend to read halfway through a book, and once I get the main message, I move to the next thing. Anyone else do this? Or is it just me?
Come December I typically set aside time to reflect on the year, the wins and the losses and all the in-betweens, and then create goals for myself before January begins (more on that later). Although neither my reflections nor my list is complete, I do know one of my goals is to #readmorebooks.
I'm one of those people who has to say her goals out loud, otherwise I won't take them seriously. You could say I need accountability more than most. :) In light of this fact, I've decided to post my book list for 2017 to see if A) you'd like to join, and B) you'd consider holding me to this goal. You heard it here first folks: I need you.
Below is a list of good reads I've compiled from family and friends, all of whose opinions I highly respect. I prefer nonfiction to fiction, although I love a good autobiography and memoir, and I tried to incorporate a variety of genres and styles. At first I was a bit ambitious and listed nearly twenty books, but I narrowed it down to twelve, hoping I could read one book a month this year.
The list is in no particular order, and I may pick up one or two at a time, depending on how I'm feeling, but I'm going to read all twelve of these books before this time next year. Wish me luck!
1. The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voscamp
I've a big fan of Ann's first book, One Thousand Gifts, so this seemed like a no brainer to me. I also think more people need to be talking about the value and experience of brokenness - it happens to everyone (in varying degrees), and it's played such a vital role in my own development and personal journey.
2. America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Several people recommended this book to me. I love all things American history, and last year I visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, and was so inspired. This book is about his daughter, Patsy Jefferson. It seems she was very influential in her father's life and in the development of the nation.
3. My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
I just finished reading another one of Ruth's books: Tender at the Bone (one of my six books of 2016). It was sweet, entertaining, and made me feel right at home. Ruth was the editor of Gourmet magazine, and after the company was bought out in 2009, she was shocked and knew uncertain times were ahead, so she took to the kitchen, and then wrote this book.
4. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I saw this book at the bookstore last week and was instantly intrigued. It's a novel about a female slave who escapes from a plantation in the south during the pre-Civil War era. If I'm going to read fiction, historical fiction is my first choice, especially when it weaves together relevant concepts and ideas, drawing from another time to communicate a valuable lesson for today.
5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
I received the most recommendations for this book by far, so I knew I had to put it on my list. It's a memoir written by a young neurosurgeon in search of the meaning of life, especially in the face of death, after being diagnosed with cancer. I'm already hooked.
6. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
After the election results and the dozens and dozens of conversations I've had with my minority friends, I've come face to face with the reality that racism does very much still exist in our country and in my backyard, even if it looks different than before. It's important to me, then, to educate myself by reading other's perspectives and experiences. This book has been highly recommended and considered a "must read" for anyone advocating for social change in our nation.
7. Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly
Growing up, I remember my Dad listening to Bill O'Reilly on the radio almost every time he got in the car. As a kid, I was annoyed, but grew to appreciate this quirk of his; it became familiar. I've read reviews of O'Reilly's first two books about the assassinations of two other important figures (John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln) and thought this one would definitely be worth the read.
8. The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Capon
My friend Claire described this book as a "hilarious book with theological thoughts about cooking and some recipes too." I knew I had to add it to my list - it involves so many of my favorite things!
9. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
The title alone sounded interesting enough to me to qualify for the list, although it was also recommended by several people. Scazzero writes about becoming emotionally mature and includes parts of his own story with practicals for receiving this sort of breakthrough yourself. In my opinion, more people in the Church need to be talking about heart issues and emotions and how to handle them in a Christ-like way.
10. Santa Biblia: The Bible Through Hispanic Eyes by Justo Gonzales
Two of my dear friends recommended this to me last weekend. Don't be fooled by the name - it sounds like a Spanish version of the Bible, right? Sort of. It's a book about interpreting scripture through a Latin American's eyes and how culture shapes the way we see, apply, and understand the Word of God. I couldn't agree more and can't wait to pick this little book up.
11. Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth by Samuel Chand
One of my pastors recommended this book last year, and one of my best friends just finished it, urging me to put it on my list. Although I'm sure most of us don't want to admit it, pain is usually a good teacher - one we end up confessing taught us the most in the end. I'm excited (and maybe a little scared) to finally pick up this book.
12. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
The little explorer in me jumped at this book. A story of a woman who took to hiking after feeling as though she came to the end of herself, I was told it would make me want to hike, so I'm prepared to act on this impulse after I finish.
I'd love to hear what books are on your list, and I could use all the encouragement this year to just keep reading. 2017 here we come!