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These are my favorite books (in no particular order) — the ones I’ve rated as “amazingand given my highest star ratings. Click the images to read my review, and click the titles to purchase through Amazon affiliate links.


fiction


non-fiction

 

The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth

by chris heuertz

You should know by now I am a BIG personality type nerd, the Enneagram especially! I preordered this one from Heuertz a while ago and dove right in when it showed up on my doorstep. There's a lot of helpful foundational Enneagram info in this one (which, if you know a lot about it already, might not be new to you) and also a LOT of new info I hadn't heard before and loved. The faith focus of this one is beautiful, and I'm so grateful for the ways Chris layered different aspects of the Enneagram to really add complexity and understanding to my knowledge of my type and all others. I learned a LOT and wrote many "!!!" and "how did he know?!" in the margins... This one was just GOOD.

 

eleanor oliphant is complete fine

by gail honeyman

This one was SUCH a delight! Read it all this weekend and didn't want it to be over but love how it ended -- Eleanor is a character unlike any other but I fell in love with her quirks and oddities and love how this story progressed. There were moments I felt like I knew how it would end, but I was never right, and Eleanor kept surprising me! I'm such a fan of strong character development, and this has that to a T -- definitely recommend this one. (Also, side note: love that there was counseling in this book and that it was depicted so accurately based on my experiences in counseling! I think that matters so much and I was so happy to see that here.)

 

the pillars of the earth

by ken follett

I didn't expect to like this one, much less love it! It's massive (literally the only book bigger than this that I've ever read is the Bible...) and set back in medieval times... you guys, this story is just GOOD. It's so fascinating, it never felt slow or boring, and it was just really, really well-written. Highly recommend this one to EVERYONE. I ordered the sequel moments after finishing this one and can't wait to dive into it! (Be warned, there is some pretty descriptive rape/violence throughout that made me a little uncomfortable, so just a trigger warning there!)

 

Whole: Restoring What Is Broken in Me, You, and The Entire World

by steve wiens

This book was exactly what i needed to read in this season. Convicting, compelling, helpful, healing. I tend to focus solely on my brokenness and forget to remember God is in the business of wholeness and restoration, and this book reminded me of truth and the way to the Father’s heart where freedom lies. So, so good.

 

the seven husbands of evelyn hugo

by taylor jenkins reid

I loved everything about this book. It hooked me and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it, and I loved every twist and turn and heartbreak and reunion and power move and tear jerking moment. This is fiction done SO RIGHT.

 

an altar in the world: a geography of faith

by barbara brown taylor

I adored this one. I know I've said before that certain books feel like a breath of fresh air, but goodness, this one really did. It brought faith to life in the most elemental, sacred, simple, beautiful ways -- even things like folding laundry and digging up potatoes in the garden can be holy acts of worship, and Taylor writes about it in a way that just makes you feel like ahhhhhhhhh. Life is good and I am grateful. It's rich and it's so pure and just feels counter-cultural in all the ways I desire and long for in the craziness of my life. I read this one slow and savored it, because it's one you just need to savor.

 

hannah coulter

by wendell berry

I could not have loved this book more. I read it slowly because it's absolutely a book that must be savored, and I already can't wait to read it again. Beautiful doesn't feel like a strong enough word for the writing of this one. My friend Rebecca wrote a great blog post about where to start reading Wendell Berry, and I'll echo her words on why to read this one: "If you are a good woman, know a good woman, want to believe in good women, read Hannah Coulter. She’s mighty and strong, and yet so tender and human."

 

the secret to hummingbird cake

by celeste fletcher mchale

I absolutely loved this story. I think I had misjudged it as a more foodie novel based on the cover and title, and it threw me when I realized pretty quickly that food wasn't the focus of this one. It's much more about friendships and relationships, which I loved, and the unexpected twist in this one really hooked me and made me race through to the ending.

 

felicity: poems

by mary oliver

I am a huge Mary Oliver fan. This new book of poems was delightful and made for such a sweet late night poetry binge. A must-read.

 

the language of flowers

by vanessa diffenbaugh

I really, really enjoyed this one. It was fresh and new in a way that I haven't come across in a while. The story was engaging (Goodreads describes it as "a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past"), and the layer of all the meanings of the flowers that was woven throughout the storylines was fascinating to me. I was rooting for Victoria from the early pages, and was so curious to see how her life would play out, and really enjoyed the way this one wasn't what I expected it to be at all.

 

mere christianity

by c.s. lewis

This is one of my all-time favorites, and this was my third time reading it through. I'm still just as in love with it. Lewis is just one of the greats. No matter where you are in your faith journey, there are amazing things to be learned from this one, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Love.

 

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own

by joshua becker

I'm so attracted to the idea of minimalism, but I'm also such an over-spender and shopper and Target lover, ya know? So this one definitely sparked my interest when I saw it come by the office book pile of advanced reader copies we get from publishers. It, like Marie Kondo's book, made me PURGE my closets and room and everything, which I think is exactly the point. I'm really adopting much more of a minimalist mindset about my spending and really trying to streamline how I spend money and what I purchase, and I'm loving the process. This is an easy read, but the implications of what Becker talks about are powerful and I highly recommend this one if you're at all curious about what it looks like to live minimally or you're feeling overwhelmed by all the things in your life.

 

americanah

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This one has been on my shelf for quite a while, and one of my best friends recommended it, and this summer was finally time to give it a go. Goodreads describes it as "a powerful, tender story of race and identity" and that sums it up perfectly. It's told from two characters' perspectives, a woman and a man who had once been in love but whose lives took them in very different directions. Their lives are so completely different from mine, and although my experiences were different, I was so drawn into theirs and so curious about the way things would play out for them both. I fully understand and agree with all the hype and all the awards this book has gotten. I'm on a mission to read more books by people of other ethnicities, and I'm so glad this was one of them this year. A really interesting look at race, power, relationships, and success both in America and Africa. Definitely grab this one!

 

the red tent

by anita diamant

To be honest, after seeing the cover and reading the description, I wasn't interested. It didn't seem to be the kind of book I would like (Christian fiction rarely interests me, with the singular exception of Redeeming Love) but I have not stopped hearing about this one from several friends I really love and trust. I finally put it in my stack of books to read this summer, and let me tell you: I AM SO GLAD I READ THIS. I legitimately loved it. The book is the story of Dinah, a woman who is scarcely mentioned in the Bible although her family is extremely popular in its pages (her dad is Jacob, who married Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah). This book was beautifully told, and a fascinating look at what it could have meant to be a woman in those days. It was a little slow to get going, but as I kept reading, I fell in love with Dinah and wanted to follow her story to the end, through all the tangled family relationships and heartbreak and struggles of being a woman in that time. Her story (although fictionalized here, I know) is a stunning one, and I can't recommend this book enough.

 

hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet

by jamie ford

This was a historical fiction story that showed a whole different side of World War II, focusing on Japanese people in America who were sent to internment camps. I found this story highly engaging, beautifully written, and eye opening. I've read quite a few WWII books lately, and this one stands out as a fresh take on it all that I'm glad I am more aware of now.

 

my name is memory

by ann brashares

Oh, this story. Totally had me hooked. I had the feeling at one point while reading this that I might have read it before, but it's reminiscent of other time-travel stories too, so who knows. I don't believe we are reincarnated into other lives, but the thought is still fascinating, especially when you think about what it means to be a person (is it physical body that makes you you? or is it your soul, your spirit, your heart?). This one is beautifully written, it keeps you engaged as you follow these characters through their many lives and desperately want to see them end up together. Well-written, and a unique kind of love story that will whisk you away.

 

the essential henri nouwen

by henri j.m. nouwen

I just LOVE Nouwen. LOVE him. I picked up this little book a long time ago when I first heard of him and wanted an overview of his writings (I've since read quite a few of his books). It's broken up by topic, with quotes and excerpts pulled from all of his books, so it's a great place to start if you haven't read Nouwen or just want to read based on specific ideas or topics!

 

learning to walk in the dark

by barbara brown taylor

I could not have loved this book more. After talking to a close friend (who happens to be a pastor at my church, an author, and one of the wisest women I know) about feeling like I was in a dark season, this surprise showed up on my doorstep. Such a gift. The words in this book just resonated SO deeply and in the most beautiful, poetic, personal, and meaningful way. I cannot praise this one enough. I've never read a book that just made it all make so much sense and also showed me how beautiful the darkness can be. I'll forever be singing the praises of this book. If you feel like you're in a season of darkness or depression or anxiety of any kind, please pick this one up. I'll even mail you a copy! It's that good and I want you to read it that badly.

 

Redeeming Love

by francine rivers

I never thought I would ever read (much less LOVE) a book that's categorized as Christian fiction, but this one just shatters every stereotype I had about the genre and makes me almooooost want to read more of it.

You can't help but absolutely adore and feel for Michael in his relentless pursuit of a wandering woman, and you can't help but see yourself in Angel as she runs from the very man who loves her and desires intimacy and a relationship with her. Every time she flees and fights back, I see myself in her. Every time Michael chases after her, I see the Lord and how He loves my restless, distrusting heart. I couldn't love these characters more.

 

the art of stillness: adventures in going nowhere

by pico iyer

A while back, I stumbled upon a TED talk called "The Art of Stillness" and fell in love with the way Pico Iyer talked about going nowhere. I love travel and adventure and exploring new places, but I also deeply love my solitude and times of stillness and quiet, so what he said affirmed my belief that the calm is so crucial in our lives. This book was just 65 pages and meant to be digested in one sitting. It's full of tranquil and stunning photography and a slightly more detailed look at the art of stillness than he presented in his talk, but both are wonderful and worth your short amount of time!

 

The secrets of mary bowser

by lois leveen

Knowing this book was based on a real woman, Mary Bowser, who was born a slave in Richmond, VA (my city!) and was freed and educated in the North but came back to the South to fight for freedom as a Union spy, I was instantly engrossed in this story. I loved all the Richmond references and imagining my city back in the 1800s. I don't know that anyone else will think that's even remotely interesting, but I absolutely loved that about this book!

This girl is GUTSY. She made choices and did things I could never even imagine doing myself, so I became her biggest fan and admirer as I saw how relentlessly she fought for freedom even after she was free herself.

 

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World

by tsh oxenreider

This book was on my Amazon wish list for well over a year, and I would move it in and out of my cart, always interested in reading it but never feeling quite motivated enough to pull the trigger. The new year was the push I needed to go ahead and buy it, and from the first few pages, I knew why. I needed to read this book in this season of my life, when my plate is full and my heart feels pulled in a million different directions and everything within me is craving stillness and silence and selah. This book was like a drink of cool water-- refreshing and encouraging and such a sweet, necessary reminder to slow down enough to live the life I know my soul and mind and heart and body need. It's heartfelt advice woven throughout snippets and stories of Tsh's own life with her family, and it inspired me to immediately make positive life changes...so good.

 

The Great divorce

by c.s. lewis

Oh, C.S. Lewis, how I love you. Your words challenge me, open my eyes to new perspectives and ways of thinking and believing, and constantly push me to make my faith more real and more my own. This book was a beautiful fantasy, what Lewis calls in the preface an "imaginative supposal" of what Heaven and Hell might look like. It was a great afternoon read (in my Eno in perfect weather, no less) and one that will linger in my thoughts as I think of what might await us someday. As always, I highly recommend ANYTHING Lewis writes, because he's the best.

 

Big Magic: creative living beyond fear

by elizabeth gilbert

This book IS PURE GOLD. Let me shout that from the rooftops and get your attention so you'll buy it IMMEDIATELY. It is so good. Her podcast is equally amazing.

 

Coming Clean: A story of faith

by seth haines

This book, while mainly about Seth's journey through sobriety after alcoholism, is striking and poignant for any and all of us. The way he writes is powerful and poetic and incredibly raw. I didn't know what to expect and definitely didn't anticipate connecting with any of the themes, but I loved this one and would recommend it to anyone who has felt stuck in a pattern they know they need to break free from.

 

little women

by louisa may alcott

This book was my all-time favorite book as a kid, and when I found this gorgeous copy at my favorite Richmond used bookstore, I bought it without hesitation. I remembered much more of it than I was expecting to, but I was surprised when I came to the end and none of the sisters had gotten married and all of them were still alive...until I realized this old version was only just part one of what eventually became two parts joined together as one novel in more recent editions. So, I found my other copy on my bookshelf and finished part two, which concluded much more like I remembered! This book is such a classic and it's just so good. If you haven't ever read it, you need to.

 

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

by brene brown

This. Book. It's one I want to shove into the hands of every single human I meet. Everyone needs to read this. I discovered Brown through her TED talk a while back and fell in love with her research, completely. This book was wonderful. Based on so much sound and thorough research, it dives into "how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead," so it's relevant to every single living person. Read this book. Now.

 

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

by shauna niequist

This book is a "collection of essays about family, friendships, and the meals that bring us together" next to exquisite recipes, and I can't say enough good things about it. Obviously I love Shauna Niequist, but it's more than that. This book welcomes you into a kitchen buzzing with activity and full of the most incredible tastes and smells, welcomes you around the table where love overflows and real life happens.

 

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas

by Ann Voskamp

This book. Stunning. Holy. Soul-filling. I cannot say enough good, worthy words. Every day of this Advent season, this book and Ann's glorious way with words quieted my soul, drew me to bended knee in awe of my Savior and this season, and was such a breath of quiet, fresh air I desperately needed. I will absolutely be returning to this work of art every Advent to come. (ps-- there is a version for children and families that I'm sure is out of this world!)

 

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t stop talking

by susan cain

EVERYONE. READ THIS BOOK. NOW. I've never wanted to give a book to everyone I know so badly (okay, except maybe the Bible). It's gold. As a hardcore introvert, this book resonated with me on every page and made so much of how I feel and see things and respond to things make so much sense. It was hugely helpful, absolutely brilliant, deeply insightful, fascinating, wise, and just so very good. "The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking" -- YES. Introverts and extroverts alike-- read this and I promise you will understand people and yourself more clearly and it will change your life. Also-- Susan's TED talk is incredible too, if you're more into that sort of thing than you are into reading a whole book. Whatever you do, just soak up her goodness ASAP.

 

Small victories: spotting improbable moments of grace

by anne lamott

Anne's writing is a breath of fresh air-- I laughed out loud at her self-deprecating humor and appreciated her honesty about the reality of life and faith as she shared her thoughts and experiences on some of the best and worst of it all. She feels like that best friend you can count on to crack you up while also giving you a swift kick in the pants as she points you back in the right direction toward Christ, all in her honest, frank, wise and witty way. A must-read collection of essays and stories, no matter if you have read stuff from her before or if you've never heard from her.

 

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

by cheryl strayed

This is one woman's compelling, honest, beautiful story of her adventure "from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail." I know it's about to be a movie, so read this first before you see it. You won't want to put it down, you'll feel like you were there every step of the way, and you'll fall in love with Cheryl page by page.

 

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

by shauna niequist

Shauna's "thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way" was poignant, beautiful, and soulful. This book is like a warm hug from a dear friend while you're curled up swapping life stories on a comfy couch over mugs of coffee. It's warm and real and reflective in the best ways. I hang on to her every word and feel like we've been best friends forever every time I read her stories

 
 

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too)

by gretchen rubin

This book is chock-full of straight up WISDOM. I'm a big Rubin fan already (her book Better than Before is where this original concept came from!) so I preordered this one way in advance! The four tendencies relate to how you handle expectations, both inner and outer. The types are: obliger, upholder, rebel, and questioner. I'm a rebel through and through, which makes life reaaaaaally interesting, ha! This book gave me so much helpful insight into the way my tendencies play out in my life, how to still get things done, how to understand others, how to stay motivated, etc. I was underlining and highlighting SO much of this book and found it so incredibly enlightening! If you're somebody that gets skeptical about personality types or feels boxed in by them, I'd still encourage you to give this one a read, since it's much more about understanding your habits and tendencies than it is about trying to give you a label.

 

The Sound of gravel

by ruth wariner

Couldn't put it down. The story is about a young girl growing up in a crazy twisted Mormon-ish impoverished cult in Mexico, and it's one of those stories that breaks your heart while making you so engrossed in the story while also making you want to adopt all the poor babies living in awful circumstances... it's a must-read. That's all I'll say about it, because I don't want to give this one away.

 

Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants

by louie giglio

I attended several Passion conferences as a college student and have heard Louie Giglio preach at Passion City Church on trips to Atlanta, and I was excited to grab his latest book, because he always brings a WORD. This one was no different-- bold, unapologetic, Bible-focused, powerful, and convicting. Centered on the story of David and Goliath, Giglio talks about how fear, rejection, addiction, anger, and comfort all must fall, and let me tell you, it will PREACH. The story isn't cliche (even if you've heard the Sunday School version a million times) and I walked away with so much more insight into this story and what it means for my life-- it's so good. Highly recommend this one.

 

new and selected poems, volume 2

by mary oliver

My girl. Can’t ever get enough of her words.

 

the unlikely pilgrimage of harold fry

by rachel joyce

This story was so great-- not what I expected, and so heart-warming. You want to root for Harold on his unlikely pilgrimage, and you want to see how the story will play out once he reaches his destination, even though there really isn't a ton driving the plot along. Sweet old Harold will be reason alone for you to keep reading, I promise! This isn't a heavy read, but a super sweet and encouraging story, and there are just enough little surprises and pieces uncovered along the way to keep you hooked and wanting to know how it all ties together in the end.

 

The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life

by dan b. allender

This one was recommended to me by my counselor (he read many excerpts in our sessions, and I knew I wanted to read the whole thing) and I can't rave enough. This book is rich and helpful and meaningful and so incredible -- if you're on any sort of healing journey from any sort of hurt, abuse, pain, grief, etc... read this one. It's a soothing balm for any aching soul.

 

dreamland burning

by jennifer latham

This one is another one that is INCREDIBLY powerful and moving-- it flashes back and forth between 1921 during the height of race riots, and present-day, and both are eye-opening, heartbreaking, and necessary to read about. The story is fast-paced and compelling, and so, so, so good. A must-read.

 

no one ever asked

by katie ganshert

I was SO pleasantly surprised by this book. The plot was so well crafted, and the story was so engrossing and well written. I have loved reading fiction books like this one throughout this year that clearly address current events and hot topics in America right now without beating you over the head with it-- it was subtle yet incredibly powerful. Addressing racism, segregation, education, relationships, marriage, adoption, and all the aspects of family and community life in such an artful was is incredibly impressive, and this book did it VERY well. The varying characters in this story all won me over and I connected with them easily, despite them being very different. The struggles in the plot felt real and believable as well as relatable even though my own life looks different. I really, really enjoyed this one and didn't want to put it down! I can't wait to read more from this author.

 

the highly sensitive person: how to thrive when the world overwhelms you

by elaine aron

This book is one of the ones that just felt like such a gift to me -- one that left me feeling SO much less alone and less insane for feeling the way I do about the world around me. It's so well-researched, really accessible, incredibly interesting and helpful, and really a fascinating guide to how to live in the world as somebody who is highly sensitive. If you think that might be you at all, I can't recommend this one enough. (And there are quizzes throughout to help you understand yourself better!)

 

the martian

by andy weir

I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was the first audiobook I've listened to and I just couldn't get enough. I wasn't sure if I would follow well or track with some of the more scientific and technical parts, but the reader was fantastic and it was so engaging the whole time. I could not stop listening to this one and crushed it in like two work days. A must-listen (or must-read)!

 

when breath becomes air

by paul kalinithi

I heard about this one from Anne Bogel's podcast first, and instantly added it to my list. I had seen it around but never really knew the premise, and even once I did, I wasn't sure what I would think. Knowing it was about Paul (a neurosurgeon in his residency) and his own cancer that took him too soon, I was afraid it would be horribly depressing and morbid, but it was beautifully written and poignant. I couldn't put this one down (I literally only did because it was late and I really needed sleep) and wept like a baby throughout his wife's epilogue. This is a 5 star, must-read! It won't take you long and it will be a lovely look at how to live well even in the face of death.

 

Wild and Free: A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough

by Jess Connolly and hayley morgan

It is RARE that I love books written by Christian women these days. Usually I find them to be cheesy or cliche or just way too glossy and not real at all, but this one really surprised me. It was honest, relevant, fresh, and not at all cheesy. I loved the way Jess and Hayley took turns writing chapters, but also both responded to the other chapters with their own thoughts. I was encouraged by this one and felt very empowered to live as my truest and freest self, which was awesome. This is one of the best books about Christian womanhood I've read this year.

 

i let you go

by clare mackintosh

I could NOT put this one down. There were so many twists I never EVER saw coming (which I loved and was so mindblown by) and I was flipping pages as fast as I could, just trying to make sense of it all and figure out how things were going to end! I don't even know how to describe this one without giving it away, but if you like thrillers with mystery and suspense and plot twists galore, this is the book for you. My heart was racing even when it was done (it doesn't wrap up with a bow, which I really appreciated with this one!) and I'm still thinking about it and wondering... Gah, SO GOOD.

 

The Essential Enneagram: The Definitive Personality Test and Self-Discovery Guide

by david daniels

I am a personality type nerd, for SURE. I find them so fascinating and helpful. I've long been interested in the Myers-Briggs types (INFJ over here!) and have become so intrigued by the Enneagram after seeing more and more of the bloggers I follow talking about it. I had read a few articles about it and had a sense of what I thought my type was, but this little book (I had it on my Kindle app on my iPad!) was SO helpful in really dialing in my type and diving deeper into what it means. (I'm a Type 1, wing 2!) So, so, so much more to learn here, but this is a great start and a resource I highly recommend if you're just starting to dig into the Enneagram. Good stuff here!

 

the night circus

by erin morgenstern

I had heard HIGH praise for this one, which usually means I want nothing to do with it. It's probably the rebel tendencies in me, but I typically avoid things with a lot of hype because I rarely find that they live up to it. This one on the other hand, did. It really did. I was so captivated and intrigued by all the magic and mystery in this book. Here's an example of a book that excelled at switching between perspectives and time periods, and drew you more into the story each time instead of confusing you as the reader. I found this to be beautiful, enchanting, curious, and fun, and would definitely recommend it! It was well worth the wait and well-deserving of the hype and high praise.

 

the kitchen house

by kathleen grissom

I couldn't put this one down (and I was on a beautiful beach with the ocean beckoning me, so that's saying something!) and was so engrossed in the characters and how all of their lives (white and black, free and slave) blurred and intertwined. This is a must-read, a powerful and beautifully written work of fiction that feels SO realistic and representative of the mess of our country in years past. Can't recommend this one enough.

 

the nightingale

by kristin hannah

I had heard so many rave reviews about this one, and you should know by now how I feel about hype... But joining in for the #readathon and finally having this one in hand from the library was enough motivation to give it a chance. People. I couldn't put this one down. It was amazing. Beautifully written, completely engrossing, powerful, and eye-opening. I have read many books about World War Two, but hearing this one totally from the perspective of women was both good and hard. I felt overwhelmingly grateful for the freedoms I have and the way war has always felt far from me, but also deeply challenged by thinking about how I would act (and should act) when the world around me falls apart. I haven't stopped thinking about the power I hold and how I should be using it for good around me, and for a fiction book to leave me so convicted and moved is a mighty thing. This is absolutely deserving of every bit of hype, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It will make you want to be braver and bolder in the face of injustice and opposition and cruelty. It will also make you cry, so get ready. And I rarely cry at books.

 

vegan freak: being vegan in a non-vegan world

by bob and jenna torres

I have been vegan for a few years now, but I admittedly haven't done the kind of reading about veganism that I need to. This book was so enlightening, so thorough, so informative, and just a really great read, too. I didn't agree with everything in this book, but it definitely solidified and also challenged my own beliefs and habits. Be aware, there is cussing in this one, there are many very strong opinions, and the authors don't take things lightly when it comes to how animals are treated. I strongly encourage everyone to read books like this especially if you aren't vegan, but know it's not for the faint of heart! If I hadn't already been vegan, this book would have made me one in seconds for sure.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia

by C.s. lewis

CLASSICS. There are debates about the best ways to read these, and I'll just say that I really don't think it's that serious, personally! I read them most recently in chronological order, but have also read them in the original release order. They're magical, wonderful, rich, symbolic, a blast to read, powerful in any season of life, and just truly masterful works of art and literature. The ways that Aslan has helped me come to better understand and relate to Jesus are COUNTLESS, and I'm so grateful. If you're reading with kiddos, want a fiction read, want a symbolic story of faith, and just want a great adventure series, start with Narnia!

 

when the heart waits: spiritual direction for life’s sacred questions

by sue monk kidd

Kidd is the one who wrote bestsellers like The Secret Life of Bees, but this book is something totally different from her. It's deeply personal, journeying through a phase in her life characterized by much waiting and change and evolving and growth. I read this one slowly, picking it up periodically and always finding that what I read resonated with me in that moment. This book is probably more geared toward middle-aged or older women (as that was Kidd's age when writing through it) but I found it to be just as relevant to my life as a younger twenty-something still. The metaphor of a cocoon repeats throughout the book and there are many other images and parallels she describes that have still stuck with me in poignant ways. This one is a really good one if you feel like you're in any in-between, waiting season at all.

 

the crossroads of should and must: find and follow your passion

by elle luna

A while ago, I stumbled upon a post on Medium called "The Crossroads of Should and Must" and instantly fell in love with the words and the writer. It was brilliantly, creatively presented through heartfelt narratives and adorable doodles. When I learned the post went viral, I wasn't surprised, and when I learned she would be turning it into a book, I was excited. It was such a fun read that reminded me of the power in choosing must and following our creative passions. If you're a creative of any kind, or if you've ever had a passion or an inkling or an idea, read this beautiful book. (Also-- if you're following my #100daysofRADpages on Instagram, Elle Luna is the mastermind behind #The100DayProject!)

 

all the light we cannot see

by anthony doerr

I started reading this book last Tuesday evening probably around 7 or so, and the only time I put it down was for a quick walk around the block with my mom and our pup. I was up until close to 2 am reading all 530 pages...it was that riveting and THAT GOOD.

The plot line of this book took a little bit to get used to. It is broken up into thirteen chunks by year, but they jump forward and backward and time a little bit (in the BEST way possible, once you get used to keeping better track of the jumps in your head so everything makes sense). Within those thirteen big chunks, the book has mostly really short chapters that shift focus like from "Leaflets" to "Bombers" to "The Girl" but again, once you get used to hopping around, it starts to really flow beautifully and all the pieces weave together in the most elegant and exquisite way.

I fell in love with the characters-- Marie-Laure is a young, blind girl with a father who absolutely adores her and does everything he can to give her the world, Werner is an orphan who is talented and brilliant and even though he goes to an academy for Hitler Youth, you connect with him, root for him, and always know he is pure-hearted and just trapped in a world he can't escape. Even the supplemental characters are incredible, and you are introduced to them gradually in a way that builds your interest in them and love for them.

Honestly, I've never read another book like this one. It was ten years in the making, and you feel that dedication and thoroughness and attention to detail on every page. There's an Anne Frank correlation due to the time period and young-girl main character similarities, but the way this book was structured and woven together is unlike anything else.

 

Prodigal summer

by barbara kingsolver

These characters live a life that is SO incredibly different than mine, and I absolutely loved that. I can't imagine living totally on my own in the Appalachian mountains, without any power or connection to the outside world like one of the characters. I can't imagine marrying into a huge farming family. I can't imagine having my livelihood based on bringing an extinct species back to life. I couldn't get enough of their lives and everything that was part of them!

 

leavings: poems

by wendell berry

I've heard about Wendell Berry from a fellow friend and writer, and when I stumbled upon this little collection of poems at the bookstore a few days ago, I couldn't resist. I absolutely loved it-- his simple yet intricate words struck deep chords in me as he tackled topics I feel strongly about with such an elegance. I cannot wait to read more from him.

 

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

by Malala Yousafzai

Malala's story, from the very first page to the very last page, is powerful. I kept having to remind myself that she was YOUNG. She was a middle-schooler when most of the story took place. It's amazing to me how brave, mature, worldly, passionate, and dedicated she was to a cause and a life so much bigger than herself, even when her own life was in total chaos and confusion. I was blown away by her courage.

This book, since it's the story of Malala's life, was less twisty and turny than some fiction books, but it was still gripping and engaging throughout. At times, there were passages that seemed dry or didn't hold my interest very well, but they still were necessary to set the stage of her circumstances growing up. The way she opened the book with the most dramatic (and well-known) tragedy of her life and then flashed back to give context was very smart in terms of plot line, I thought.

 

Station eleven

by emily st john mandel

THIS BOOK. Couldn't put it down. It was sort of post-apocalyptic, but then not, so riveting, so fascinating, so well-written...I loved this one. The library did me so well this month! Imagining a world like this, when twenty-first century civilization like we know it comes to a total end, was so intriguing to me. This book wasn't depressing like The Road or similar end of the world books are, but instead made me really grateful for the life and world we have, and also really struck by the human experience and what we all would do if everything changed. Grab this one! Do it. It's so good.

 

fates and furies

by lauren groff

I've seen this book everywhere, and although I've made an effort not to buy fiction that I typically don't re-read, I bought this one earlier this fall. I couldn't get enough of it. I read it through in two days. Even when the plot seemed slow, I kept reading, eager to find out more of Lotto and Mathilde's story. I should have guessed (but didn't) that this book would be told in two parts-- the fates, then the furies-- ultimately telling the twisted, layered, complex, intricate story of a marriage. This takes the prize for best fiction I read this year, which is not an easy feat considering how many great books I read in 2015. Grab this one ASAP!

 

A Prayer Journal

by Flannery o’connor

This collection of writings from O'Connor's journals is honest, raw, unedited and wonderful, "the record of a brilliant young woman's coming-of-age, a cry from the heart for love, grace, and art." A short and stunning read.

 

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

by Ann voskamp

This book is a beautiful challenge-- "a dare to live fully right where you are." Grab a notebook and prepare your heart for a whole lot of thankfulness and start writing your own list of one thousand gifts. It will change your outlook on life.

 
 

what happened

by hillary rodham clinton

This book was SO worth a read. I proudly voted third party this past presidential election, and always had mixed feelings about HRC, but this book made me really respect and admire her a TON. Girl has guts and brains and heart and soul and I’m really glad I gave her an honest shot by reading this one and hearing her perspective. I learned a lot about her actual platform (and about the email scandal that so stupidly took away from her actual beliefs and policies) and a lot about how the whole campaign played out — it was a fascinating behind the scenes memoir that was enlightening, entertaining, and enjoyable to read. I especially loved her thoughts on being a woman in politics— so much wisdom to be gleaned from the way she has climbed the ladder (and from her admitted failures and mistakes too). Highly, highly recommend giving this a shot whether or not you voted for her— I think it will open your eyes and change your thoughts about so much. Well done, Hills.

 

small great things

by jodi picoult

You guys. This book. Forget every other recommendation I've ever given you, and get this one ASAP. Block out a day or a weekend or a whole week if that's what it takes, and read it without stopping. Prepare to have your own identity wrecked (it's all about race, and it will truly wreck you) and your privilege brought into the spotlight (uncomfortable but SO NECESSARY) and your heart just torn a million different ways as you relate to, love, hate, root for, and want to kill these characters. WHAT A STORY. Picoult tackles the hard topics in the most powerful way, and I cannot put enough good words around this one. Wow.

 

Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times

by carolina de robertis

Absolutely loved this one. It’s exactly the words I needed in this political season in America that often leaves me feeling discouraged and hopeless. These letters written by so many diverse and brilliant authors are wildly different from one another, collectively pointing to hope, beauty, bravery, and a better tomorrow. They are rich, moving, heartfelt, striking, and convicting. They opened my eyes and broke my heart and encouraged me so much. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum or how you feel about the state of things these days, I highly recommend reading this one if for no other reason than to better understand how others are feeling these days. This should be required reading for all Americans right now, really.

 

the enneagram: a christian perspective

by richard rohr

Rohr is the most common name associated with the enneagram, and I was looking forward to reading his take on the whole personality type system. This book is dense, but it's brilliant and helpful and so, so good. I didn't read this one cover to cover (mostly just all the really fascinating introductory material, the chapter on my type, and all the really really intriguing deeper theories and thoughts about the subtleties of the types found toward the end!) but it's one I highly recommend, for sure.

 

the school of essential ingredients

by erica bauermeister

I cannot rave about this one enough-- it was absolutely beautiful. The writing about food just made me MELT -- it's perfect. The stories are so charming and precious, but never in a way that felt cheesy. If you like reading about food and incredible people's stories and how they intersect, grab this one ASAP! So good.

 

beartown

by fredrik backman

This was a really different kind of story from Backman, I felt like. I have loved everything I have read from him, so I was excited to get this one from the library! I loved that the story centered around hockey (my favorite sport!) and one small town, and the plot had me hooked from the very beginning. I didn't put this one down (literally read it in one sitting) and was so captivated by the plot and the characters the whole time. Really loved this one. Again, be warned that there is a sexual assault scene, if that's a trigger for you!

 

let your life speak: listening for the voice of vocation

by parker palmer

I first heard Parker J. Palmer on the On Being podcast and fell in love with his thoughtfulness, intentionality, authentic way of living, and his gentleness. This one is short but mighty, and I highly recommend reading it!

 

glory over everything

by kathleen grissom

I didn't think anything could top The Kitchen House... but this did. Incredibly written, powerful, moving... just wonderfully done. Can't rave highly enough. Start with The Kitchen House and make sure you have this one ready as soon as you're done. SO GOOD.

 

bandersnatch: an invitation to explore your unconventional soul

by erika morrison

I could swoon about this book for days, and I have been. It was beautiful. Stunning. Engaging. Magical. Powerful. Inspiring. Challenging. Convicting. Life-changing. This book awakened things in me and in my faith that I hadn't ever known how to name or identify before, and it spoke so clearly to my soul and the way my heart and mind work. It was AMAZING.

 

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

by henri nouwen

This book... so good. I've heard (and been wrecked by) the whole point of this story in that both brothers are lost, even though only one ventures far away, but this book just went so much deeper than that. As somebody who genuinely loves and appreciates art, I couldn't get enough of all the meaning Nouwen pulled out of the Rembrandt painting. I always felt like the older son was more me (always been the homebody, the rule-follower, the "good one") but the way Nouwen described the lostness of both brothers and the ultimate goal to move toward the welcoming, loving, forgiving father for the lost ones in our own lives hit me hard and will stay with me, I'm certain.

 

between the world and me

by ta-nehisi coates

With all the news headlines telling of black lives taken prematurely, brutally, and unfairly, I've become much more aware of both the brokenness around me and the privilege within me. It's been hugely eye-opening to realize how my own identity as a white, college-educated, salaried woman puts me in a bubble that protects me from so much danger, while people of color live in fear with a constant need to fight for their safety. It's sickening to realize. Books like this one are powerful beyond words. My eyes are more open now to what it means to be black in America in 2016, and although it wasn't easy to read, I am so grateful to have read it. I'm convicted of the ways in which I, too, have been one to judge or ignore or look down on others who are different from me. I'm broken by the truth that there isn't a neat and tidy solution to racism and injustice. I don't want to stay sheltered by my privilege but instead to step out of the bubble and into the brokenness where I can listen to stories like this one, let my heart be broken, and steep my soul in the truth of the world around me. I do not have answers. I do not know solutions. I know I can listen to what people of color are saying. I can hear their stories instead of silencing their voices. I can choose to not live like those before me who put people down because of skin color or ancestry or geography. I can start by opening myself up, and I'm grateful that this book could be part of that. Please read this one.

 

secrets of a charmed life

by susan meissner

I read this one so fast because I just didn't want to put it down. There are SO MANY WWII books out right now but this one still had me swooning. You can't help but love these sisters and root for Emmy as she defies the adults around her to chase her dreams (even when tragedy strikes). There's also the spin of the modern scholar interviewing the main character and then the story being told through her flashbacks that makes this one different, and I really, truly loved the way it was told. I appreciated how this one ended, too, which isn't always the case with books about this time period.

 

Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters--and How to Talk About It

by krista tippett

I have recently fallen in love with all things Krista Tippett does (mainly her On Being and Becoming Wise podcasts-- must listens!) so when I saw this on Audible, I jumped on it. I will confess, I am NOT a auditory learner and really not a fan of audiobooks (I have since canceled my subscription to Audible, ha) but her voice and her thoughts are lovely to listen to. I instantly added this book to my Amazon cart, because it's definitely one I want to revisit and highlight the heck out of. She talks about faith and our lives in a way that is so thought-provoking (but in a gentle, inviting way) and brilliant. She is a masterful interviewer and just wonderfully captivating. I loved this one, everything about it.

 

dear mr. knightley

by katherine reay

I've seen this one all over the place and was excited to finally grab it from the library. I even read half of it sitting right in my favorite library chair, which tells ya it's an easy read. It wasn't some great work of literary fiction or anything, but it was a really great book that surprised me, kept me interested, and was fun to read! I almost always hate books that are written in all letters, but the way this one did it really worked and made it enjoyable instead of distracting.

 

the lightkeepers

by abby geni

A coworker of mine recommended this one to me and I'm SO glad he did. I'm still thinking about this one days later-- the characters are all so mysterious and quirky and I'm still trying to figure them out, the location is unreal and described so well, the animal life is written about beautifully, it's all just so other-worldly and bizarre that you can't put this one down. The narrator is unreliable (I still cannot be sure of what I think happened...) but in the best, most engaging way, not in a frustrating way. This one wasn't what I expected at all, but if you're a fan of things that leave you wondering, READ THIS ONE. It's worth every one of my 5 stars.

 

walking on water: reflections on faith and art

by madeleine l’engle

I read L'Engle's fiction as a kid, but have been wanting to get my hands on some of her non-fiction books for a while. This was a used bookstore find and had been on my shelf waiting for me, and my crazy "buy no books in 2016" challenge prompted me to finally dive in! I loved this one-- any book about the intersections of faith and art in our lives is one that will surely grab me. Her writing is just lovely and many of her thoughts are still sticking with me, which is a true sign of a great book.

 

the road back to you: an enneagram journey to self-discovery

by ian morgan cron and suzanne stabile

I am obsessed with this book. I'm obsessed with the enneagram. I can't shut up about it. I'm going to write a whole blog post about it. For now, just get this book ASAP and fall down the enneagram personality type rabbit hole with me so we can talk all about it. I can't get enough. Most helpful tool, and BEST book about it!

 

Watch for the light: readings for advent and christmas

I found out about this book from Emily Freeman's post of advent book suggestions, 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.

 

Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life

by gretchen rubin

This book was incredible. I'm a person who is pretty much obsessed with personality tests and self-reflection tools and self-analysis, so I absolutely devoured this one. I have always been awful at creating good habits and breaking bad ones, and this book was incredibly enlightening as to why that is. It gave me so many solid insights into my personality and how to play into my strengths to create solid habits that I will actually keep...it's just an excellent resource that is full of research and practical, manageable advice but reads easily. I haven't read anything else by Rubin, but now I want to read EVERYTHING. This book will absolutely be one I refer to over and over as I keep growing and learning!

 

delicious!

by ruth reichl

I had this book on my wish list for ages, but finally found it at the library and grabbed it. I'm a huge foodie and watch the Food Network whenever possible, so reading a book with such a focus on food was right up my alley. I was so enamored with this book-- the plot did not at all go as I expected (in such a delightful way) and I loved all the layers of story Reichl wove together. I was blown away that this was her first work of fiction-- it's fantastic and I would have expected her to be a fiction pro by the way it was written. You will absolutely fall in love with the characters, be surprised by the way the plot turns, and will want to eat every single thing Reichl writes about.

 

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

by steven pressfield

I've heard about this book from several people, and I SEVERELY judged it by its cover. I mean, come on, isn't that the WORST cover you've ever seen? What is even going on there? I finally decided to give it a shot and I have to admit-- it was AMAZING. So good. It's easy to read, with many pages having only one paragraph of text (which meant I could write lots of notes and process right on the pages themselves! bonus!) Pressfield talks extensively about Resistance-- the thing that keeps us from doing the very things we were created to do. Basically, I decided that Resistance is Satan's alter ego-- he hates when we try to do the things the Lord gifted and called us to, and will do anything and everything in his power to keep us from it. This book was a swift kick in the pants and a big motivational speech all at once. No matter who you are, this book will speak to you. Guaranteed there's something you feel called to do (even deep, deep down), but something's keeping you from doing it. DON'T LET IT. Grab this book, wake up, and go after it.

 

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds

by jen wilkin

This book is practical, insightful, and a simply convicting reminder to dive into the Word fully. This is one that hasn't left my bedside table-- I refer back to it often and love the plan Wilkin lays out for Bible study. Women-- this is excellent. (Read more of my thoughts here.)

 

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

by brene brown

I'm basically the biggest fan of Brene Brown that there is. (Probably not true at all because everyone I know who has read her loves her...but anyway.) I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, and it did not disappoint. After reading Daring Greatly, I loved how this book took her thoughts to a deeper and richer place and added more richness and research to the conversations around shame and vulnerability and courage and owning our stories. The cover says "If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up." We all fall and we all we fail and really, we just all need to read this book and rise stronger together. I can't recommend it enough. I would buy it for everyone and their dogs if I could.

 

Surprised by Oxford

by Carolyn Weber

I don't think I've ever loved a memoir this much. Scratch that, I know I haven't. THIS BOOK... I don't even have adequate words for how much I loved it. I couldn't put it down. I devoured it in less than 24 hours, reading it during every spare second, and immediately wanted to read it again once I finished. It's an incredible story of coming to faith, it reads like fast-paced and fantastic fiction, it's lovely, it's about England (where I spent a summer and therefore can't get enough of), it paints amazing pictures of all the layers of questions and seeking and belief that faith holds... it's the best kind of love story, the kind about a girl finding her true self and coming fully alive in a relationship with her Creator and Father. READ THIS RIGHT NOW. Buy it for yourself and all of your friends and read it and savor it and love it like I do.

 

the opposite of loneliness: essays and stories

by marina keegan

This book is "an affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world's attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation." Marina died in a car crash five days after she graduated, and this is what she wrote before that. It's beautiful. I loved every word-- both her fiction and her essays equally. She was 22 when she died, and being 22 now myself, I was struck by (and slightly envied) her poignancy, raw talent and elegance-- I so highly recommend this book.

 

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

by Shauna niequist

This book is electric, alive, fresh, and free. It's all about "celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life" and it's such a refreshing read, much like a cold tangerine would be. I fell in love with Shauna after the first few paragraphs, and knew I would be reading anything she ever wrote in that moment. This book was a delight and a joy.

 

An American Marriage

by Tayari jones

Worth every ounce of the hype. Will be thinking about this one for a loooooong time. Powerful, relevant, necessary... wow.

 

The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For

by jo saxton

I loved every word of this book. It’s been a while since I’ve truly wanted to savor a book and not just fly through it, but this one was one to read slowly and soak up. It was absolutely the book I needed to read in this season, and I’m so grateful for Jo's heart and wisdom and love in this book. The way she wrote the letters that opened each chapter, the way she brought stories from Scripture to life in fresh ways, the way she shared her own story... all beautiful and deeply meaningful to me. All the love for this one.

 

LIFE OF THE BELOVED: spiritual living in a secular world

by Henri Nouwen

I cannot say enough good things about this book. I have already come back to it more than a handful of times to soak up the words again and again and again. I have always loved and wrestled with the idea of being beloved, and this book illuminated all of that. Originally written by Nouwen for a Jewish friend, I found it incredibly convicting and humbling and stunning as a lifelong Christian. I want to get the word beloved tattooed on my body to remind me forever of the core truth of my identity: I am His Beloved.

 

THE MOTH PRESENTS: ALL THESE WONDERS : TRUE STORIES ABOUT FACING THE UNKNOWN

by Catherine Burns

As a HUGE fan of sharing stories (stay tuned for something super exciting I'm bringing back to life soon!!!) I knew I had to read this one. Also, that cover. Goodness, I love that cover. Anyway. The stories inside are wonderful-- eclectic, nuanced, well-told, funny, heart-breaking, intriguing... All the stars for this one. (Also, when talks can translate well from being spoken to being written, that speaks volumes, and these DO.)

 

Liturgy of the ordinary: sacred practices in everyday life

by tish Harrison warren

Attention: there is a new book contending for a spot on the list of my all time favorites, and it is this one! Can’t rave highly enough. I didn’t make a single note in it as I read (so unlike me) because I just wanted to soak it up and savor it... and because i know I will return to this one time and time again. The ordinary? The rhythms? The day to day life? It’s beautiful and meaningful and worshipful if we are intentional about it. And I’m so grateful for the invitation into deeper living in the middle of the mundane.

 

inward

by yung pueblo

So glad a friend told me about this one — these poems are ones i have savored over the last few months and always found to be exactly the words I needed each and every time I’ve picked them up. So poignant, beautiful, simple yet deeply meaningful... loved them.

 

where the crawdads sing

by Delia owens

I would give this one more than five stars if I could. I adored it— the story, the stunning way Owens writes about nature, Kya and her complex character, the dynamics and tension between the characters, the way a story of a girl growing up flawlessly wove together with a murder mystery, the layers that built upon one another beautifully throughout the pages... I didn’t want this one to end but also couldn’t put it down. It will be a favorite for the year (and years to come) for sure.

 

pilgrim at tinker creek

by Annie dillard

I loooooove Annie Dillard and have ever since reading An American Childhood in high school— this book was the PERFECT summer riverside read. Stunningly beautiful, so reminiscent of Walden, centered on place and poetic and effervescent and just lovely in every way.

 

The Eternal Current: How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us from Drowning

by Aaron niequist

I can’t quite put words around just how much I loved this book— it spoke right to the heart of what’s been stirring in my heart lately about faith, church, spiritual discipline, and following Jesus wholeheartedly. It’s practical but beautiful, compelling and complex but also so simple and tangible, inspiring and informative. He has lead by example with what these practices look like, and he paints such a rich picture here of what it looks like to diversify our faith to truly become people who swim in the Eternal Current. It’s more than just showing up on a Sunday. It’s more than just a formula. We can instead build toolboxes with these disciplines (coming to the table, liturgies, prayer, service, etc) that equip us to build long-lasting and life-saving faith in God as we build his kingdom here on earth, and it’s a refreshing and real way to live as believers that I think we have lost sight of in our culture today. Gah, I could go on and on about how much this book helped shift my perspective on church culture and daily disciplines, and encouraged me to truly engage with this redemptive work well. An Instagram review doesn’t do it justice. Can’t recommend this one highly enough. Thanks for helping us see a new (yet old) and better (truer) way, @aaronieq.

 

Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful

by Katie Davis Majors

Oh, this book. Heart wrenching and hopeful and beautiful and brave and full of all the good, hard things that come with a life lived in total obedience to God. I loved her first book back when I read it (in high school? College?) and this one was no different. These words are a gift to the world and I’m grateful she shared them.

the light we lost

by Jill santopolo

THIS BOOK. I don’t even know what to say because I don’t want to ruin a single bit of it... but wow. I loved it.

 

FROM THE LIBRARY OF CS LEWIS: SELECTIONS FROM WRITERS WHO INFLUENCED HIS SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

This book is just that-- a gold mine. I've been obsessed with Lewis and his books for years, but this was all "selections from writers who influenced his spiritual journey" and it was fascinating. I think one of the best ways to get to know somebody is to read the books they love, and this was like doing that with Lewis. Not a page went without underlines or sticky notes or big fat stars from me, and I have a whole new wealth of information from writers I never read before or knew about. These selections span many centuries and are deep and brilliant and categorized by theme to break it up-- it's an excellent book and resource that I loved every word of.

 

Chasing slow: courage to journey off the beaten path

by Erin loechner

This book. I love, love, love this one. It's beautifully designed (seriously, all the heart eyes for white space and fun typography, always) and so thoughtfully written. It will be at the top of my favorites list for quite some time, I'm certain.

 

No More faking fine: ending the pretending

by Esther fleece

I really, really loved this one. I needed to read it exactly when I did, and was so glad I had it waiting on my shelf. Fleece's story is seriously unreal-- I can't imagine going through what she went through-- but instead of telling it in a way that invited pity or feeling sorry for herself, she tells it honestly, openly, and in a way that really makes it bigger than just herself. It's a book I'm absolutely going to share with people struggling through feelings of depression/loneliness, because it's exactly the book I needed to read in the midst of my own season of those feelings.

 

Daisy jones and the six

by Taylor Jenkins reid

Thanks to Random House for the free book! // I LOVED this one. TJR has done it again (literally HOW does she write such incredible and unique books?! love when an author isn’t just churning out versions of the same story!). I seriously kept thinking “wait is this about a real band?!??” because it was just so well-written and engaging. It’s written all in an interview style, similar to a long form magazine profile or a documentary style, and I really loved it! Some “A Star is Born” vibes for sure (big fan) and a whole lot of sex, drugs, and rock n roll and I just FLEW through it but didn’t want it to end (and loooooved how it did). All the stars for Daisy and The Six!

 

How to Survive a Shipwreck: Help Is on the Way and Love Is Already Here

by Jonathan martin

This book found me RIGHT when I needed it. Oof, I loved this one. I probably underlined half the pages... just SO relevant to my season of counseling and unraveling and rebuilding. It’s beautifully written and poetic and powerful. Huge fan. Seeing him at the Evolving Faith conference only solidified that.

 

The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God's Goodness Around You

by Shannan martin

I’m not quite sure how to put into words just HOW MUCH I loved this new book from Shannan Martin. I mean, I have two whole pages in my journal of quotes I just HAD to copy down so I wouldn’t forget them. It’s convicting in all of the best (and most blessedly uncomfortable) ways. It has stirred me to actually look around my ordinary places and see the beauty there, and has invited me to a deeper, truer, richer way of life that looks a whole lot more simple than I tend to make it, but is a lot more meaningful than shallow living ever could be. Goodness, I’m challenged and changed by this one, and so grateful Shannan has let us in on this glorious truth we so easily miss, that the best place for us to be and love and serve is right where we are, right in our ordinary places, right now. You’ll want to RUN and preorder this one before it releases on October 9, and snag your preorder freebies too (they're so good)! You’ll be so glad you did. 🙌🏼 So thankful this one was sent to me by the publisher as I’m part of the launch team!

 

tell me three things

by julie buxbaum

I loved this book so much. I’m so sad it’s over. What a good story— of high school, moving, grief, love, drama, connection— this one was perfect start to finish. The mystery of who the anonymous emailing/IMing guy was kept me guessing, I loved the characters and could so relate, it captured the nuances of high school so well... gah. So good.

a bridge across the ocean

by Susan meissner

I absolutely loved Secrets of a Charmed Life by this same author, so when I saw this one was out, I snatched it up. The story is really different (more of a supernatural/ghost focus) but equally as well-written, engaging, and wonderful. Highly recommend this one. The cover doesn't do it justice, so don't judge it based on that!

 

THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES

by John Boyne

I don’t know what took me so long to read this one! It blew me away. Such beautiful character development, such incredible writing, such a dynamic character, such an honest look at life and sexuality and relationships and hardship... gahhhh SO GOOD. Flew through all 500+ pages in two days because I just couldn’t put it down!

 

new and selected poems, volume one

by Mary oliver

Ever since I heard that quote by Oliver, I've been dying to read more of her poetry. I finally got my hands on this collection, and I absolutely am in love. I spent several evenings curled up in bed just reading and re-reading these poems (and even reading some aloud to myself because that's when poetry truly shines). It's one I know I'll read over and over again-- her words are just gorgeous.

 

The Hate U Give

by Angie thomas

This book. Powerful. Relevant. Necessary. Heartbreaking. Moving. Important. Read it.

 

Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life

by jen hatmaker

I loved this one from Hatmaker. Her signature snark and sass are strong, but it's tender too and hits some really beautiful and poignant notes to make it a really well-rounded collection of essays. I've enjoyed other things I've read from Hatmaker, but this one definitely takes the cake for me!

 

running home

by Katie arnold

Thanks to Random House for this one. // I absolutely adored this memoir. ADORED IT. It is so beautifully written and is such a completely fascinating look at running, ultramarathons, family, pushing yourself, and ultimately, love. I haven’t even run a whole mile, so the thought of running 30, 50, 100... it’s WILD but was so fun to read about. I’m so blown away by the strength (literally) that it takes, and the endurance, and the sacrifice, and the sheer willpower. The writing here just wowed me— it is so, so, so well done, moving and poetic and compelling and just beautiful. High praise for this one.

 

Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

I read the Christmas edition of this book back during the Advent season, and loved it. This one was no exception -- it's such a fantastic collection of short writings from MANY acclaimed Christian writers, speakers, and thinkers. I loved the progression of the pieces throughout the Lent season, and loved that it didn't just end on Easter Sunday but continued for a few weeks beyond. This is an excellent companion to any Lent study or just as a standalone book to read throughout the season as well! Highly recommend these.

 

This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems

by wendell berry

I adore Wendell Berry. His poetry is grounded and honest and simple and rich. His faith seeps through his symbolism and his love for the Creator and creation are evident in every word, and I enjoyed this collection of old and new-to-me poems immensely.

 

Gospel Medicine

by Barbara brown taylor

BBT is my girl. I met her in real life last year and it’s still one of the coolest things I’ve ever done! She is BRILLIANT and wise and these words are straight up power— soaked them up, savored them, already want to read them again. (but I have new books by her to read so I can share a post of where to start reading her books!)

 

Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood

by Mari Andrew

I adore Mari and this book was a delight. Her art, her heart, her whimsy, her words, her incredible way of illustrating the hard and beautiful and weird parts of life... she is a TALENT.

 

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved

by Kate Bowler

File under: books everyone should read; books that will break your heart and put it back together again; books that will linger with you long after finishing; books that make the world better; books that tell important stories; etc. I could rave about this one forever.

THE MYTH OF EQUALITY: UNCOVERING THE ROOTS OF INJUSTICE AND PRIVILEGE

by Ken Wytsma

Love, love, loved this one (even when it hurt to read or made me cry or made me angry at how real and rampant injustice is). Grateful for the ways it opened my eyes to more of my own privilege and what I can do about it, more of the division in our country and how it has formed, more of how other people are experiencing very different things because of their race, and more about how we can actually work to bring about change and true freedom and healing for all people. This one was challenging, convicting, powerful, and necessary. It’s well researched yet reads easily, doesn’t come across as condemning or preachy, and helped me to see and understand more of reality. A must read.

 

GOD HAS A NAME

by John Mark Comer

I absolutely loved this one. I'm a big fan of Comer (LOVED Garden City) and love that he's a One on the Enneagram like me (nerd alert) -- his writing style is just exactly what I love. Rich, deep, really honest and real, incredibly thoughtful and beautiful... just stunning and helpful and illuminating. This is one you must read.

 

This is how it always is

by Laurie frankel

I don't even want to tell you more about the plot of this one-- I just want to tell you to read it RIGHT NOW. This book broke my heart and opened my eyes and brought me to tears and changed my perspective on such important things forever. Cannot recommend this one highly enough -- please give it a read and let this story change you.

 

The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday

by rob walker

Big fan of this one— already added it to my Amazon cart so I can have a copy on hand whenever I need a creative boost! It’s chock full of exercises (from easy to more advanced) to help you really keep your eyes open, fuel your creative fire, and stay inspired, and I looooved it. I already put a few into action (and felt super validated by some I already do!) and found them so helpful and motivating.

 

remember god

by Annie f. downs

This is every bit as good as you all said it would be. Read it cover to cover this morning (perks of actually waking up at 5:30 instead of snoozing!) and was CRYING by the last few chapters. I’ve long been a fan (and felt like a friend) of Annie and I’m just so dang grateful for the way she shares her heart so vulnerably, honestly, and bravely in this book. This is her best work by far, and I don’t think it’s a surprise that it was also the hardest for her to write — it feels raw and real in the most mighty and stunning ways and it’s just such a gift to this world. I need to daily if not hourly if not EVERY DANG SECOND remember God and His kindness, and I’m just so moved by Annie’s story of learning to do the same. OOF THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD, JUST READ IT AND FEEL THE FEELS WITH ME OKAY

 

I’m still here: black dignity in a world made for whiteness

by Austin Channing brown

This has jumped to the top of my “everyone in America needs to read this book ASAP” list and I cannot rave about it enough. Austin has so powerfully and honestly told her story in a way that has opened my eyes even more and changed me in ways I won’t forget. This is just simply a must-read. It’s incredible and I’m grateful for her voice and work in a world that has so, so far to go

 

I’ll be your blue sky

by Marisa de los santos

I loved every single thing about this book. It’s perfect. I devoured it. I didn’t see the storylines coming. I was surprised by it. I was so drawn into it. I loved the characters. I loved the parallel points of view. I found it poignant but not heavy handed, lovely and not long winded, compelling and captivating and clever. There’s mystery, there’s drama, there’s romance... this book has it all. Best fiction I have read in A LONG TIME.

 

Come Matter Here: Your Invitation to Be Here in a Getting There World

by hannah brencher

This book was beautiful and relevant and powerful and just so. dang. good. I'm so grateful for Hannah's voice and the way she lives so authentically and boldly. This book met me just where I am and encouraged me to live fully, presently, intentionally, and meaningfully alongside others and toward the Lord, and I'm so grateful I read it in this season of being thick in the woods of counseling and some serious personal growth work. Her words are like a balm to my soul and like a love letter from a dear friend, and I can't rave about this one enough. Plus, HOW PERFECT is that cover?!

THE CHEERLEADERS

by Kara Thomas

OMG THIS BOOK. If you like Riverdale, you’ll love it. YA mystery/thriller about a town where the cheerleading squad all died— from a car crash, a murderer, a suicide— and while the town just wants to forget, the sister of one cheerleader wants to get to the bottom of it all. I was HOOKED on this one. It’s been a long time since a story had me so enthralled, and I didn’t predict the twists at all (which i loved). This was SUCH a good one! I was screaming and gasping and freaking out all the way through the last few chapters... so yeah, it gets five stars from me. (edited to add: it was not a perfectly written story and i have a lot of questions and some loose ends I’m unsure about... but still!)

 

WHAT TO SAY NEXT

by Julie Buxbaum

Loved this #YA read -- my first from this author (but can't read to go back and read more!) and there was so much more to it than I expected. Sweet, touching, surprising, quirky, endearing... such a solid, fun, easy read!

 

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?

by Kathleen collins

Such poignant and lovely stories about love, such nuanced glimpses at race and relationships and the ties that bind us— so, so good. Highly recommend.

 

No Man is an island

by Thomas merton

"This volume is a stimulating series of spiritual reflections which will prove helpful for all struggling to find the meaning of human existence and to live the richest, fullest and noblest life. --Chicago Tribune" That little snippet is so true. This book was gold. Rich and wise and heartfelt and poetic and powerful... I couldn't get enough of it. I rarely ever want to re-read books, but this will surely be one I return to time and time again. I cannot wait to read much more by Merton-- he's exactly the kind of Christian writer I love. I read this one slowly because I needed to savor it, and I'm so glad I did. I already want to pick it back up!

 

how the light gets in

by jolina petersheim

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for this one! // I didn’t expect to like this one and for some reason had in my mind that it would be cheesy Christian fiction, but I quickly fell in LOVE with it and legitimately didn’t want it to end. It’s a loose retelling of the book of Ruth which I just finished up studying with my bible study, funnily enough, and it was SO VERY GOOD. The characters, the twists, the sense of place, the hints of biblical themes... all so well crafted. Her writing is beautiful and moving and i was so completely immersed in the story from the beginning until the end. It wasn’t what i expected at all, and it totally blew me away. If you loved Redeeming Love, you’ll love this one — highly recommend.

 

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

by Daniel coyle

Our team at work read this together for book club over the last few months, and I really loved it. Such a helpful look at teams, organizations, creativity, leadership, and strengthening individuals and groups to be truly successful in what matters most. It was a really enjoyable read with lots of fun anecdotes and applicable examples (like from Pixar, the Navy Seals, etc). It provided great launching points for team discussions too, so it made an excellent work book club choice! Highly recommend this one if you’re a leader of any kind, if you’re driven to create meaningful change in your workplace or your team, or if you just find success stories and coaching helpful.

 

Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence

by Anne d leclaire

Introverts especially will love this one, but I think anyone feeling burned out or burdened by all the noise and chaos of life will find this refreshing.

 

The path between us: an enneagram journey to healthy relationships

by suzanne stabile

This was an excellent enneagram read— perfect for building on The Road Back to You and diving deeper into the relational side of our personalities and how we connect, communicate, and love well. I wouldn’t read this one first if you’re new to the enneagram, but I highly recommend adding it to your arsenal if you know your type and the types of others in your life and you want to take your relationships to the next level. There’s nothing more fascinating to me than continuing to explore the depths of personality!

 

TRAVELING MERCIES: SOME THOUGHTS ON FAITH

by Anne Lamott

She's frank, honest, refreshing, sentimental, wise and witty. An author with dreadlocks that shares thoughts on faith but isn't afraid of cussing is my kind of author. This book is a great collection of Anne's "thoughts on faith" -- a definite must-read.

 

THE ALMOST SISTERS

by Joshilyn Jackson

This one really surprised me, and I LOVED it. I had never read anything from this author before, but I've been hearing consistently wonderful reviews about her books, so I snagged this one at the library. It's surprising, heartwarming, fun to read, poignant, and just really, really good.

 

city of girls

by Elizabeth gilbert

This book has ruined me. I adored it. Every page. Every layer. Every line. I want to start it over again right now just so it never has to end. Magic, magic, magic.

 

Upstream: selected essays

by Mary oliver

Mary Oliver... I love you. Your writing is just stunning. This was the perfect book to read on a chilly Saturday with blankets and candles and coffee. I felt rejuvenated, challenged to live my life in a better and truer way, and left thinking about life and my beliefs in new ways. Her writing is poetic and powerful and just so, so worth reading. If you're less into poetry, grab this one from Oliver for sure!

 

Millenneagram: The Enneagram Guide for Discovering Your Truest, Baddest Self

by Hannah paasch

I loved this one. It’s unflinching and frank, it’s hilarious and honest, and it’s SO GOOD. It’s like the enneagram and Urban Dictionary got blended up together and this book came out, or like an old personality type got a new makeover, complete with tattoos and piercings and a sassy new outfit. I have loved following Hannah on Twitter for a while, and am just so, so, so glad she poured her heart and soul into these pages for us to have and learn from and love forever. I mean, anyone who calls enneagram Ones “The Machine” is someone who GETS IT. This one isn’t for your grandma or your preteens, but it’s definitely for anyone who wants to dive deeper into who they are and how to be the best version of that self (and who isn’t afraid to get hit hard with the truth in the process). It’s feisty and fiery and fun and fresh and I loved it, loved it, loved it.

 

November 9

by colleen hoover

SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD. Not at all what I expected (the cover threw me off for some reason?) but as soon as I picked this one off my shelf and read the first few pages to see if I should return it or keep it, I was hooked! Literally read it all in one sitting that night! If that isn’t a rave review, I don’t know what is.

 

the great alone

by Kristin hannah

I could NOT put this one down today. Thankfully I had a totally chill Saturday and could read it cover to cover... it’s SO DAMN GOOD. I absolutely loved The Nightingale and had super high hopes for this one, and it blew me away. If you’re looking for incredibly well written fiction, HERE YOU GO.

 

Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness

by joy Beth smith

I wish I could give a copy to every single gal I know, to everyone on staff at my church, and even my married friends so they can’t understand where I’m at.

 

Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More

by Erin boyle

Adored this one. Erin's voice is a gift, a breath of fresh air, a guiding light— her words here feel like such a balm to my too-stressed soul. I read this book thoughtfully (as you should), taking stops along the way to purge my bathroom cabinets, my closet, my bookshelves, my kitchen, my life, really. And I’m grateful. Simple does matter. Simple is better. And while my life and style may not look quite like hers, I’m finding my own was to meaningful simplicity, and I’ll treasure this book’s wisdom for a long time as a tool on that journey.

 

The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe about Ourselves

by curt thompson

“To relationally confront our shame requires that we risk feeling it on the way to its healing.” // You guys, THIS BOOK. A friend describes it perfectly as the most accessible book on shame right now from a Christian perspective. It’s powerful, moving, deeply impactful, and really well written. (i read it as part of my counseling journey, and strongly feel that anyone and everyone would be better for reading it, whether you are on your own counseling journey or not.) I heard Curt speak this weekend at a conference all about this book’s themes and I will be thinking about it and working through it for a WHILE. So, so good. If you’re a fan of Brene Brown and the like, you should grab this one ASAP— be prepared to do some deep soul work and find some real freedom as you do!

 
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