My December 2016 Reads

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December-- you were the month I finally tackled that big, massive reading goal I set for 2016. (Well, my first and second levels of that goal were met months ago, but you helped me cross the finish line of the big 150 goal!) Even with all the holiday craziness and a busy calendar, I managed to get through 11 books this month and finish the year strong at 153 books total.

It has been QUITE the year of reading for me! In case you missed it, I shared about the two reading challenges I tackled this year, as well as a whole list of all the best books I read this year, so be sure to check those out.

In the next few weeks, I'll be sharing about the reading challenge I've decided to take on for 2017, too! Stay tuned for that.

Here's what I read this December:


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Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I think it was through Krista Tippett (go read/listen to everything by her!) that I heard about this book. It's a collection of writings on everyday words, and it's really beautiful. So many of the thoughts on these words resonated deeply with me, and I loved the deep dive into trying to wrap up complex emotions and feelings and words into words. This one is a must-read if you're a words lover!


Accidental Saints: Finding God in all the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber

MY RATING: 2/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I am a big advocate of reading books about faith from people who believe and live differently than I do, and this was a great example of that. Much of what I read in this book differed from my own beliefs, but I appreciated reading Nadia's perspective and seeing how she built community with unlikely people in unconventional ways. I was challenged to better love the people around me even when they are different from me as I read this book, but it wasn't one I really could click with or really loved in the end.

IN ADDITION: I received this one from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review!


Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I read this one for #COLLABOREADS so check out my review there!


Wildflowers: The First Collection by Katherine Henson

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: A sweet online friend wrote this collection of poetry, and it was awesome to be able to hold her words in a REAL BOOK in my hands. So impressive! These words are real, many are (admittedly, she writes in the introduction) unfinished, and they're all beautiful. I wanted more from Katherine as I read through all of these poems. So many just felt like "YES. THIS." and isn't that the best part of poetry?

IN ADDITION: You can buy her book here -- it's $18 and so worth it.


How's Your Soul?: Why Everything that Matters Starts with the Inside You by Judah Smith

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I liked this book more than anything else I've read from Judah Smith -- it was insightful, still had his signature flavor of humor and lightness, but was more meaningful and relatable to me than Jesus Is___ was. I'm a big fan of books that look at faith through the deeper lens of the soul instead of just what's on the surface, so I found this to be a solid read (although nothing totally blew me away) and one I'd happily share with friends. I think our culture really overlooks the importance of soul-care, and this was a great reminder that our souls are where our true identity and meaning and worth lie, and that we should pay better attention to them.

IN ADDITION: I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review!


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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: This has to be one of the most raved about books of 2016, am I right?! Especially with how this election has played out, I was really curious about this one, but still reluctant to actually read it. (Always the case with books that get so much hype.) I'm glad I did, but I admit I wasn't as wowed as many others seem to be. It's solidly written, but I think it could have and should have been shorter. Many parts felt unnecessarily long and slow to me. I really wanted there to me more commentary on the culture as a whole than I got-- it's MUCH more a memoir than it is a book about the hillbilly culture and how it plays into our world (which is more of what I was expecting). Still, a fascinating look at a lifestyle, a region, a people group, and primarily a family that is radically different from my own and therefore incredibly fascinating to me. I really do recommend everyone reads this one, if for no other reason than to open your own worldview up to another.


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The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: Oh, books about writing. I have so many feelings about you. I didn't hate this one, but I just didn't really like it either. There were a few key lines I loved, but mostly, I was annoyed by the rambling stories and analogies she shared, and I wanted more practical wisdom instead. It's a super short read, so no real loss here, but just nothing I would recommend to other writers.

IN ADDITION:


Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: Here's a confession: I fully expected to HATE this book. I went into it all like "I'm a feminist, hear me roar!" and then was surprised by how much I actually didn't hate it after all. It's much more complementarian in nature than I would say I am, but every time I verged on thinking/feeling "uh wait, no, what about..." she would address my exact thoughts in the next chapter. This isn't a book I 100% agree with or am on board with, but as far as books about womanhood (and especially about being a wife) go, this one is a solid read. There were definitely parts that really rubbed me the wrong way, but there were equally parts that I really loved and felt encouraged and challenged by. There was still a lot of talk of submission and housewife duties that I was like OH HECK NO to, but I expected way more of that than I got. All in all, I'm glad I read this one and gave it a fair chance, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found here. Curious to hear other thoughts about this one-- drop a comment below if this is one you've read!

IN ADDITION: This book was the one that officially meant I completed my reading challenge of 150 books for 2016!


A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I can't remember the last time I read a play -- it was probably when I took a Shakespeare class in high school! This one was prompted by the Book Riot Read Harder 2016 Challenge, and I'm glad for it. (See all the books I read for reading challenges in 2016 HERE!) It's definitely a well-written, relevant play (focusing on an African-American family in Southside Chicago  sometime after WWII) that read well as a book. Sometimes reading plays can be confusing or not very effective, but I genuinely enjoyed this one and followed it easily and well! It's a short one (150 pages, and the book itself is tiny in size) and a really quick read, but was such a descriptive and engaging glimpse at a family in a short but trying time of their lives. Definitely recommend reading this one if you get a chance! Anyone seen this play?! Curious how it is on stage!


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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner 

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: This was a Book of the Month Club pick from a few months back (still one of my favorite book subscriptions EVER) since I've really realized I LOVE thrillers... but this one just didn't thrill me. It felt super slow for a long time, but I kept reading since I wanted to figure out how the case turned out and how the different characters connected... but it just wasn't terribly exciting or really enthralling. Not my favorite.

IN ADDITION: If you want to join Book of the Month Club, it would literally make my day (and give me a free book, HOLLA) if you used this link! :)


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Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas by assorted authors

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I found out about this book from Emily Freeman's post of advent book suggestions here, and I knew I would love it as soon as I saw it. So many of my favorite writers were included in this book (Lewis, Merton, Dillard, etc.) and it was a thoughtful, intentional, not fluffy daily dose of reading that I really enjoyed throughout advent, Christmas, and even after. This is a GOOD one. Highly recommend.  


Tell me: what was the BEST book you read this month?

One year ago on the blog: What I Read in December

Two years ago on the blog: The Books I Read in 2014

Three years ago on the blog: A Facebook comment and a desire of my heart.


BIG NEWS, #COLLABOREADS FRIENDS!

I have a new co-host for this fun little link-up! Kristin from Taz + Belly is joining in on the fun to help me host every month, and we're so excited for a new year of reading and sharing! We're brainstorming ideas for themes every month and can't wait to dive in -- we'll be linking up on a new day too-- Join us on January 24!