What I Loved Reading This Year
As is my tradition here on Shelf Life, it’s time for me to share with you my favorite books of the year!
Call me a book geek, but I like to keep a log of all the books I read each year. It’s fun to go back and remember the amazing works I read. Many of the books were fun reads while others were honestly a bit life changing.
Today and tomorrow I’ll be sharing with you my favorite nonfiction and fiction books for the year. And then on Wednesday… it’s our biggest book giveaway of the year! I’ll be running a giveaway of all of my favorite books that you could win! Be sure to check back on Wednesday for your chance to enter.
My favorite nonfiction books of 2016
At the start of 2016, I challenged myself to read more nonfiction… which was hard for this fiction-loving girl. But I accomplished my goal and enjoyed some amazing books! Here are some of my favorites.
Confession: I had never read a Lysa TerKeurst book until Uninvited. I know! Shameful.
I started this book thinking it wouldn’t really be for me but wanted to say that I’ve read a Lysa TerKerust book. But within a few pages I was quietly wondering how Lysa knew things about me that I wasn’t even admitting to myself let alone others! If we gals are honest, there are seasons where we feel left out of things, stuck in past decisions that leave us with an unmet longing, and periods of loneliness even when we’re surrounded by friends and family.
The powerful reassurance that Lysa gives our hearts and our heads reminds us that Jesus knows all of them. And more importantly, he’s always working to redeem those moments with sweet lessons of grace, beauty, and encouragement.
This book impacted me so much that I’ve got my small group doing it. It’s cool to see how Lysa’s words are resonating with my girls on different levels than they did me. This is a great book to recommend for your next small group, too.
I love history but I generally don’t gravitate to 500 page tomes of works that delve into every inch of a historical event or significant people in history. Who has time for that? I was immediately intrigued when my sales rep at David C. Cook presented Poets and Saints by Jamie George. George invites us along on his European travels to dive into the lives of some of the world’s most respected Christians throughout history.
We travel to Ireland and England to follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, John Newton, C. S. Lewis, and George MacDonald. In France we meet Saint Therese of Lisieux before going to Switzerland and the home of John Calvin. Italy introduces us to Saint Augustine of Hippo and Saint Francis of Assisi before ending up in Israel in the footsteps of Peter.
George pulls out nuggets from each life and shows how their spiritual journey and strong convictions can influence our lives today. If you are a fan of history and get a little geeked out like me over travel memoirs then I highly recommend Poets and Saints.
We’ve had a long five year wait for a new book from Ann Voskamp. After impacting hundreds of thousands of lives around the world (including mine) with One Thousand Gifts, Ann takes us to the next step in The Broken Way. We learned how to live a grateful life in her previous work. Now we seek to live the abundant life that God has planned for us.
Ann suggests that we can’t live in this abundance until we let God redeem those places in our hearts and souls that are so scabbed over with the wounds of the world that they become part of our identity. She begins the book in a powerful way by sharing her deep scar that began in her childhood and that she’s only recently begun to address. The freedom that she has experienced as God has healed her, spoken to her, and led her through this process is an encouragement to all no matter the journey we’re on.
The Lord used this book in a powerful way to help me put into words a struggle that I’ve had for five years now. Her encouragement to ask the Lord into those struggles and broken places was hard and is honestly still a work in progress. But the Lord is showing me some really cool things in the brokenness. And I love that.
I’ve had people tell me that Ann’s books can be hard to read. Yes, I would agree with that. Her writing style is melodic and poetic. But that’s what makes her gift so special. Scripture comes alive in her sweet words. You’ll not only meet Ann through her pages but you’ll also meet Jesus. Such a treat!
Occasionally the media will report on persecution that is happening around many parts of the world. The small amounts of coverage it gets is barely a drop in the bucket to the horrible reality that our Christian brothers and sisters are facing in many dark places.
The Voice of the Martyrs is a nonprofit, interdenominational mission organization that provides practical and spiritual relief to persecuted Christians around the world. This year they released I am N to tell the stories of many believers who remain true to their Lord despite the murder and destruction around them.
It is so humbling to read their stories. Each brother and sister in the book faces the unthinkable every day. Could this be the day ISIS discovers they are Christ followers? What if they find out their children are believers, too? I am N is not only a powerful tool to wake the American church up to the plight of these believers but also an inspiration to see the power and provision of the Lord in these lives and how the Christian faith is rapidly spreading in persecuted countries.
I am N is an important book for all believers to read. Educate yourself and then intercede on behalf of these precious people.
This year I took on a personal quest to try to read several books that are considered classics. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis was my first choice. While I had to slow down my reading in order to comprehend and consider the ideas he presented, it was well worth taking the time to savor this book.
The purpose of the book, in Lewis’ words, is to “…ask people to face the facts – to understand the questions which Christianity claims to answer.” He looks at many aspects of the Christian walk and proves how they are true and viable to the individual and to the world as a whole.
Although Mere Christianity was published in 1952 the truths presented in it are just as critical to today’s world as it was to Lewis’. If you’re like me and have never read this classic Christian book, treat yourself to it in the coming months.
Your favorite books
How about you? What were some nonfiction titles you enjoyed in 2016? I would love to hear from you!
Coming tomorrow: My favorite novels of the year!