There’s not much I enjoy more than a room with books. Today I thought I’d take some time for a round-up of the books I made room for in 2015.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.
Here they are, followed by my making a little game out of which ones I loved, loathed, and left out.
I didn’t read quite as much this year as I did in 2014 but was actually surprised when my book count for 2015 added up to twenty-seven (not including the New Testament and a ton of blog reading). I wasn’t nearly as intentional this year, but it turned out I was only six books shy of the amount I read last year. As I looked back over my selections, I found it interesting to see the genre choices…. 25 nonfiction and 2 fiction. Yep, that’s me.
The nonfiction breakdown:
- 9 Autobiography/Memoir
- 7 Christian Living
- 4 Bible Study
- 3 Self-help
- 1 Health
- 1 How To
- 1 Historical fiction
- 1 Mystery/Whodunit (so not my genre, but I attended a book club at the beginning of the year, and this was the chosen read)
Three of the books I read this year were re-reads. To me this speaks extremely well of a book since there’s hardly enough time for all the books I’m interested in much less time to read something I’ve read before. Therefore, high praise goes to three:
Only 77 pages, this book reveals a hidden truth in Ephesians that might just change your life.
Discover what might be keeping you from fulfilling your calling in this profound book by one of my favorite authors.
AN ABSOLUTE MUST if you love the message of grace and have never read this book!
Led me to a great little discovery ~
Need some inspiration to dare to live your dreams? If you’re interested in seeing how one person finally got honest about her life, admitted what her dream was, took deliberate steps to make it happen and followed through against all odds, then read this book. As a result of the practice of doing what’s known as morning pages (a practice of daily stream of consciousness writing heralded by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way), this ordinary woman opts for a drastic life change, moves to France and through an interesting turn of events finds an art form that turns into a charming, lucrative, and fulfilling medium. This gal’s story is daring and fun (although a bit risqué when she finds love in Paris). I hate to spoil the fun of the book, but if you’re not going to read the story of how it all started, do at least check out this video on her website and her Etsy store to see what I consider to be a great little discovery as a result of reading this book.
Most Unexpected Surprise ~
I love libraries more than I can explain, but honestly, finding a great book while wandering the aisles can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, sometimes it happens…and happen it did when I stumbled upon this book by a man I’d never heard of. You’ve never understood some of the parables of Jesus like you will after reading this book. The author, an Episcopal priest, has a revelation of grace that is likely more radical than any of the “grace preachers” you might be familiar with. I will definitely be re-reading this book with a Bible, pen, notebook, and concordance at hand. The perspective presented will contort your mind into a new way of thinking, a grace way of thinking, about stories we’re familiar with and think we understand. Although the author could be accused of taking God’s unearned, undeserved favor to an extreme that seems to border on Universalism (although he does NOT leave off the part we play in having to believe to receive that grace), I can honestly say his radical interpretation of the scriptures analyzed in this book will, at the very least, serve to shake and shatter any mistaken mindset we might have lingering in the shadows as to the scandalous love God has for us. Beyond even this, this amazing book masterfully highlights how these same stories reveal the equal emphasis God puts on our showing this same extreme, revolutionary, profound grace to one another. A fascinating read.
Least favorite ~
It’s not that the subject matter of my least favorite book of the year was undesirable (renewing the mind is one of my very favorite topics), however, I could not make sense of how the facts shared in it were presented. I came very close to not finishing it but pressed through thinking it would eventually clear up. Not so. If you’re interested in the brain’s anatomy or the physiology explaining what the brain does in response to our thoughts then it might interest you. For me though, this could have been more practically true to its subtitle by emphasizing the admonitions of Paul in Philippians 4:8 and II Corinthians 10:5. If you want less technical and more practical I would rather recommend this book .
Most Disappointing ~
One of the things I focused on this past year was the subject of prayer. Someone I respected gave this book high praise so I put it on the list of books to read while my husband was in Africa during the summer. Unfortunately, it turned out to be another book I forced myself to finish . I always think something’s going to change and I’ll miss it if I don’t finish. It might be that some of the content in this book seemed elementary to me. An extensive use of quotes from theologians like Calvin, Luther and Augustine made it more theological than practical. I wish I had spent my time actually praying instead of using it to read this book. I’m sure I would have been further ahead.
Best and Most Surprising Ending ~
You would think the mystery/whodunit book would hold the prize for most surprising ending, but no mystery I’ve ever read caught me by surprise or was more unexpected than the ending to this memoir. The honest, brave conclusion this author wrote as an end to this diary was written six months after his seven month cloister with Trappist monks in the Upstate New York monastery he entered to deal with his restlessness. The decision to separate himself from his busy life as a professor and priest and devote himself to solitude and prayer was made with the intention to see lasting change as a result of this extended and solitary focus of attention and energy. A noble quest indeed, one I have often thought would benefit me as well. My commitment to read the diary was at times just that…a commitment. I was likewise seeking answers…hoping to be inspired regarding my prayer life from seeing the fruit of it heralded by someone who had made it a priority in such an unorthodox and extreme way. As usual, with the many books I read on spiritual topics, I pressed on, attending to every single word with hopeful anticipation. In this case I am so glad I didn’t quit before finishing. Thank God this man had the courage to end his book as he did. Truly, it provided the answer…the one and only answer to all our searching. The closing statements made the time I took to read this book worth it! Just when I thought I would find another secret to a deeper walk through more dedication to and understanding of prayer, I was overjoyed at the staggering reminder via this fellow seeker of God who finally and mercifully discovered that all is grace!
Most favorite ~
I really don’t have the words to tell you how much I love this girl and her writing. I’ve followed her blog for almost two years now and still get giddy when I see she’s published a new post. And now this first book, my very favorite read of the year, a full 272 pages of her masterful word weaving. I was first drawn to her because of a heartfelt post she wrote describing the unfamiliarity and loneliness she felt in having just moved to Atlanta from New York. My son had just moved there and was experiencing the same emotions so my heart engaged with her immediately. The book is a memoir of her ever so challenging season living in New York during which she began writing poignant letters to anonymous people and leaving them all over the city. Purely unplanned, it has since become a movement, eventually leading to her being asked to do a TED talk which as of this writing has been viewed over one and a half million times. This girl is honest and extremely talented. She has a way of crafting the story of life with all its unknowns, its highs and lows, its promise in a way that makes you feel like you’re not crazy or the only one experiencing the wonderings and wanderings of life. She is becoming more and more aware of the reality of God and has begun sharing Him with bold authenticity. I am thrilled to watch what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in this girl’s life. If you like genuine and genuinely good writing, this girl’s for you.
One of many wonderful quotes:
“It’s not about you. It’s not about what you want. Look for that selfless place inside of you and just start stacking wood for the fire there. Search until you find that place, though it won’t be easy to find. Still, be relentless in finding it. Build from the selfless place inside of you that is not big or loud or selfish or proud. Build from that little spot inside of you that burns quietly and unceasingly for others.”
I could go on and on talking about books but I’ll shorten things up by mentioning a few books (ones I absolutely recommend) by way of quotes, quirks or comments.
~ You’ll never meet a more whimsical, radical doer! Need someone to talk to? The author ends this book by giving you his phone number!!
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.
~ Praying God’s will for that child you’re sending off to college? God has ways of pursuing and overtaking even when we’re not pursuing Him.
In conclusion, let me say that although I shared my favorite read of the year, if I had to recommend the one book that I would want absolutely everyone to read (with highlighter in hand) it is this one. As I stated, if you love the message of grace and haven’t read this book you will not be disappointed. Trust me…you haven’t heard it communicated like this before. As of today the Kindle format is only 2.99!
I’m looking forward to another year of reading great books. If you’ve read any you recommend please let me know in the comments. I’m compiling my 2016 book bucket list.
Happy New Year everyone!
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