First of all, it’s T Swift’s birthday.
And if you don’t think I’m celebrating, you don’t know me at all.
Christmas is fast approaching with the new year coming in right on its heels. I wanted to take some time to reflect on the books I’ve read this year. I am passionate about reading and writing, and I believe that literature gives us the ability to see from perspectives that are different than our own.
The art of writing is equally important. Through writing, we’re able to share our unique stories with one another. Because of social media, writing has the potential to reach so many people.
Also, God chose to teach us about Him through a book, so . . .
Many of the books I read this year were challenging, so I wanted to share the five I feel have made a lasting impact on my beliefs and ways of thinking.
1. Interrupted || Jen Hatmaker
Why I Loved It
In Interrupted, Jen shares her experience of Jesus shaking her understanding of Him. The entire book challenged my thinking and understanding of Jesus as well. Jen points out how Jesus viewed those who are considered the “less thans” in society, and how that changed her belief of how the church should function.
I am only responsible for myself. I am not responsible for how others use their resources. My ultimate responsibility is to live how God has called me to live.
2. Uninvited || Lysa Terkeurst
Why I Loved It
Lysa is someone I admire very much, especially since I’ve watched (via social media . . . we’re not best friends yet) her desire to love Jesus above all else through the challenging year she’s faced. In Uninvited, Lysa takes a look at where we find our identity. As humans, we are fickle and messy, so we can’t base who we are on the opinions of others.
I read Uninvited shortly after I lost my job. It served as a wake-up call about where I was placing my own identity. Anytime I place who I am on a shaky foundation, I am basing my worth on something that will eventually let me down. My goal is to find my identity in who I am in Jesus, the only foundation that is everlasting.
3. Present Over Perfect || Shauna Niequist
Why I Loved It
If you’ve read any of my other posts, I feel like it’s fairly obvious that there are three people in this world I adore: Shauna Niequist, Jen Hatmaker, and Taylor Swift (obviously). Shauna and Jen have had a huge influence on my writing and my spiritual life, whether I’m listening to their podcasts or reading something they’ve penned.
(If they ever read my blog, I’ll be thoroughly embarrassed by my excessive fangirling)
Through Present Over Perfect, Shauna shares her struggle with business and performance, something I relate to very well. She explores the importance of boundaries and self-care, as well as the value of saying yes and no to the right things.
I actually read Present Over Perfect twice this year. Overall, I learned a lot about living in a way that is healthy. I want to make sure my best self is reserved for those who are close to me, those I love very much. Every person is valuable and important, but I shouldn’t drain myself trying to please the opinions of people who don’t have intimate relationships with me.
4. Braving the Wilderness || Brené Brown
Why I Loved It
If you’ve never read or listened to Dr. Brené Brown before, please do. Her TEDtalk on titled “The Power of Vulnerability” is a good place to start (it’s actually the 5th most-watched TEDtalk in the world).
In Braving the Wilderness, Brown discusses the importance of belonging – not only belonging to a group but belonging to one’s self above all else. She shares stories and research to show what it means to truly belong, not just fit in. Since humans are social creatures, our need for belonging runs deep and is as vital as any other physical need. Brown believes that we are all connected at a deep, spiritual level, so therefore we need to move beyond our “us vs. them” culture and learn to respect each other despite differences.
I believe that we are all created in the image of God, but sometimes I forget that applies to every single person on the planet, not just Christians. Humans are created for connection, but we tend to dehumanize those we don’t agree with.
5. Empire of Storms || Sarah J. Maas
Why I Loved It
If Shauna and Jen are my biggest nonfiction role models, Sarah J. Maas is my fiction one. I love her writing and I love her characters. Empire of Storms is my favorite book of hers. She does an amazing job of describing character development and creating intricate storylines. Even though it’s fiction, I include Empire of Storms because fiction is a huge reflection of our culture and can teach us just as much as a nonfiction book can.
Most books tend to focus on romantic relationships while poorly depicting deep friendships. Maas creates stellar female friendships. Her heroines are kick-butt – they’re fiercely independent and powerful. But they also support one another. Women need fierce lady friendships and examples of that in literature, movies, and TV. Too often we see friendship portrayed as mindlessly supporting one another. That’s not what friendship is. It’s speaking the truth to one another and being willing to call one another out on crap. This depth of commitment true friendship requires is shown through Maas’s heroines.
There are multiple other books that I read this year that have impacted my life; however, I didn’t want to bore you by writing 50 more essays. Here is a list of a few others that I highly recommend:
- The Throne of Glass Series || Sarah J. Maas
- To Kill a Mockingbird || Harper Lee
- Beyond Shades of Gray || Ruta Sepetys
- Salt to the Sea || Ruta Sepetys
- Messy Beautiful Friendship || Christine Hoover (I wrote a review of this here)
- The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck || Sarah Knight
(sorry about the language, but this book was a 10/10)
- Violet Grenade || Victoria Scott
- A Court of Thorns and Roses Series || Sarah J. Maas
- For the Love || Jen Hatmaker
- Brave Enough || Nicole Unice
2017 held some of the best books I’ve ever read, but there are so many good books I’m excited to read in 2018! Shauna Neiquist’s husband has one that’s set to be published in August that I cannot wait to get my hands on. Overall, my goal for 2018 is to read 70 books.
What were some of the best things you read this past year? Do you have a goal of how many books you want to read in 2018?