Ninety-three (2015 Book List!)

DSC_0101My 2015 reading includes lots of series/author binges.
I’m somewhat sad to see that I’m 2 books short of my goal for the year. (58 out of 60) Not too shabby, though.

The books in bold are my favorites and top picks for the year, and I’ve included Amazon links to those (if you purchase through these links, you’ll support my church…so thanks!).

I don’t think I’ll put a numerical goal on my 2016 reading, but I do want to read even more non-fiction next year.

Happy reading, friends! 

January-
The Invention of Wings
The Funeral Dress
Grace for the Good Girl- Emily P. Freeman
Midnight in Austenland

February-
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years- Donald Miller
When Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
The Ragamuffin Gospel- Brennan Manning
Love Does
Mr. Kiss and Tell

March-
Big Love
The Hardest Peace- Kara Tippetts
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (read out loud to my oldest)
Jane Eyre

April-
Hands-free Mama
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Scary Close
The Art of Asking
The Knowledge of the Holy- A.W. Tozer

May-
The Prodigal God- Timothy Keller
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
First Impressions
Wearing God
Honeymoon in Paris

June-
Design Mom
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
The Girl You Left Behind- Jojo Moyes
Still
Lessons from Madame Chic
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Everything I Never Told You- Celeste Ng
Garden Spells- Sarah Addison Allen

July-
Mudhouse Sabbath
Simply Tuesday- Emily P. Freeman
Boy, Snow, Bird
Go Set a Watchman
800 Grapes
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

August- 
Jesus Outside the Lines- Scott Sauls
First Frost
Notes From a Blue Bike
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
The Sugar Queen
The Peach Keeper
The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Counting by 7’s- Holly Sloan

September-
For the Love
It Was Me All Along
I Capture the Castle- Dodie Smith

October-
Lost Lake
Big Magic- Elizabeth Gilbert
Someday, Someday, Maybe
The Royal We

November-
Still Life- Louise Penny (I am in love with this mystery series)
A Fatal Grace

December-
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
The Greatest Gift- Ann Voskamp
Prayer- Timothy Keller

Seventy-five (Numbered Weekends)

IMG_0232Trying my hand at something new today- a round-up of links I’ve enjoyed this week and what I’m reading and/or watching right now.

From Edie @ Life in Grace: I adore Edie. Her posts never fail to inspire and encourage me.
When you take care of her, everything else will be okay.  When you focus on her and when you listen to her and when you make sure she has what she needs, your needs will be met without you even noticing.
I heard this at a talk one time and it burned itself into my brain—and I paraphrase, “There are two types of people – those who walk into a room and say: ‘Here I am!’ and those who walk into a room and say: ‘There you are.’”

From Stephanie Bryant @ the (in)courage blog: I texted this one to my husband because it was such a timely post for us. I’ve all but lost hope that our house is going to sell and we will be able to follow this move to OKC, which we believe God wants for us.
But when you hear clearly from God and you see Him changing your circumstances to create the vision He shared earlier, you stay the course. It may take months or many years to see the change you so fervently pray for — even one small step in the direction of His vision — but you trust Him and the dream He created and planted.”

From Nina @ Shalom Mama: As I’ve been talking (to death) about self-care and passions and life-giving things, it was great to come across this post.
“Function is great and all, but what about beauty? What about the simple pleasures in life that make the difference between a drab, purely functional life and a beautiful one filled with wonder?”

From Emily @ Chatting at the Sky: She and I seem to be exploring some of the same ideas right now.
“What events, circumstances, or activities are life-giving and which ones are life-draining?

I’m “mostly” ditching Facebook for the month of September because it most certainly falls into the “life-draining” category for me. Honestly, I feel a difference already. I’ve also incorporated a new book and the spiritual discipline of writing a reaction to each days’ reading. I usually read very quickly and never really interact with what I read. I want to change that.

What I’m reading and watching now:

For the Love, by Jen Hatmaker– just as everyone is telling you, it’s hilarious and inspiring and encouraging and hilarious. So hilarious.

Rising Strong, by Brene Brown– I read the introduction and know it’s going to be amazing, but I can’t seem to make myself read it. I better start though, because I only have it from the library for another week.

Parenthood, Season 2– I watched this show from day 1 to the very end but have never rewatched it until now. I forgot how amazing it was from the very beginning, and I appreciate it even more because I know how it all ends. And Lauren Graham? So incredible.

Have a great {long!} weekend, friends. For me it will be filled with football watching (or, more likely, reading in a room where football is being watched), iced coffee, and time with my people. Enjoy.

Thirty-four

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I’ve gone to church my entire life, so all things Christian have always been a part of my existence. I go to church, I know lots of hymns, I know stuff about most of the stories in the bible, I read my bible most days. But reading my bible is far too often just something I do in the mornings and figuratively cross off my list and go on with my day. The legalism runs deep in me.

I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book and, just a few chapters in, it’s changing the way I read scripture.

Peterson calls us to take the scripture into ourselves; to chew it, digest it. That’s not what I’m in the habit of doing.

In 2012, I started on a three-year plan for reading through the bible. I should have finished this past December. I’m currently in 1st Timothy- a dozen more books ahead of me. Some of that is due to laziness and getting behind and stopping altogether for a while. But now I’m ignoring the (already long past) deadline and trying to “Eat” the scriptures most days.

One thing I’m trying out (and I believe Peterson will talk about in later chapters) is to read multiple versions of the same verses. Most of the people in my circle are hard-core ESV fans. It’s not my go-to bible. The bible I reach for is the same one I’ve used since high school. It’s the NASB, and I like both the language it uses and the actual bible itself, as it has good-sized margins for note-taking. When my mom died, my dad gave me one of her bibles, a New Living Translation that I thought was weird. But I like having one of hers. There are a few things underlined and I like to think about what she was thinking or feeling or experiencing when she underlined them.

Earlier this week, I was reading John 1:16-17 and I studied four different versions of the same two verses.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

English Standard Version (ESV)

16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

New Living Translation (NLT)

16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.

The Message (MSG)

16-18 We all live off his generous bounty,
        gift after gift after gift.
    We got the basics from Moses,
        and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
    This endless knowing and understanding—
        all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
    No one has ever seen God,
        not so much as a glimpse.
    This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
        who exists at the very heart of the Father,
        has made him plain as day.

I’m familiar with these verses, which is a blessing and a curse of being a lifelong Christian. A curse, because really amazing things (like GOD’S WORD) become “commonplace” and lose their awesomeness. Which is why reading all these different versions was so eye-opening for me.

Grace upon grace. Good stuff. Stuff I’ve heard and sung and will hang on my reading room walls. Stuff I “know” pretty well.

One gracious blessing after another. The same idea, just a bit different, and already piquing my interest even more.

Gift after gift after gift. Generous bounty. Exuberant giving. 

I loved that language. I loved seeing familiar scripture in a new way.

There’s nothing profound here. I haven’t stumbled upon something that no one else has discovered or experienced. But I’ve felt the freshness of God and His word in such a way that I’m excited to read it again and excited to share it with you.

Thirty-one

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Have you ever tried reading the right book at the wrong time? It might be a great book, well written, highly recommended, but you just can’t get into it?

When I graduated from high school, my soon-to-be brother-in-law gave me a copy of R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God. He tucked a note inside about how this book forever changed the way he viewed God. I remember sitting in the hall outside of my freshman dorm room trying to read it. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand it, but I just wasn’t ready for it yet.

Right book, wrong time.

About a year later, I was ready, and that book played an integral part in the grand shift of my worldview and theology.

Right book, right time.

I’m about to finish Emily Freeman’s first book, Grace for the Good Girl. I bought it back in 2011, after my first counseling session following the death of my mom. I hadn’t known it until my counselor said it in response to something I said in that session, but when he said, “Oh, you’re a good girl then?” it made complete and total sense to me. Of course I am. So I bought her book, read a couple of chapters, and set it aside.

Right book, wrong time.

I picked it up again in November and I’m underlining and journaling and finding her words perfectly describing the “try-hard” girl I’ve always been.

Right book, right time.

Have you experienced this phenomenon?

Twenty-six

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I remember being amazed when my friend Doug would read 52 books in a year. A book a week? How is that possible?! In 2014, my goal was 50, and I exceeded it by 6. I did this by reading first thing in the morning, over lunch (usually), on my Kindle before going to bed at night, and really as often as possible (my TV watching has dropped considerably in the past few years, except for binge-watching shows on Amazon Prime). Some books were fluff, some were monsters (The Goldfinch! Over 700 pages, people!), some are worth a reread and some I’ve already forgotten completely.

(If I’ve done it correctly, these are affiliate links, so if you happen to make a purchase, I think I get a little something? Some of these are at a great price on Kindle right now.)

January
Happier at Home
The Alchemist
This is Not the Story You Think it is…
Crossing to Safety
Flight Behavior

February
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Gone Girl
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
The Fault in Our Stars

March
Where’d Ya Go, Bernadette?
The Inner Voice of Love

April
The Husband’s Secret
The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag
Wonder
Steal Like an Artist
A Red Herring Without Mustard
Wednesday Wars

May
The Sunset Limited
Sober Mercies
The Help
Congrats, By the Way

June
Me Before You
The Kite Runner
The Rosie Project
Veronica Mars
Delancey
100 Cupboards
Parnassus on Wheels
All is Grace

July
On Writing
Crazy Busy
The Lightning Thief
La’s Orchestra Saves the World
I am Half-Sick of Shadows
The Julian Chapter
The Nesting Place
Pastrix

August
The Magician’s Nephew
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Speaking from Among the Bones
Prince Caspian
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

September
Eleanor and Park

October
Longbourn
Rules of Civility
The Goldfinch
Breathing Lessons
The Age of Miracles
Chop, Chop

November
The Praying Life
Bossypants
Lizzy and Jane

December
Yes Please
All the Light We Cannot See
Mockingjay
Bittersweet

Fiction recommendations:
The Alchemist (beautiful)
The Flavia de Luce series (so fun)
The Fault in Our Stars (lived up to the hype and better than the movie)
Where’d Ya Go, Bernadette? (more than the fluff book I was expecting)
Wonder (one of the best books I read this year)
Wednesday Wars (a great YA book)
The Help (this was a reread, and I love this book so much)
The Kite Runner (a reread- if you haven’t read it, put it on the TOP of your list)
The Rosie Project (fun, and unexpected)
Parnassus on Wheels (fun and sweet)
The Goldfinch (so long, so brutal at times, but so good)
Breathing Lessons (a reread- this is the FIRST novel I remember being recommended to me, back in 10th grade, by my English teacher. I appreciated it much more this time around.)
The Age of Miracles (couldn’t put this one down)
Lizzy and Jane (just a good easy read)
All the Light we Cannot See (at the top of my list of best books I read this year)

Non-fiction recommendations:
This is Not the Story You Think it is…(so, so good)
The Inner Voice of Love (follow the instructions at the front of the book and read this one slowly)
All is Grace (read in conjunction with Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel for the full experience)
The Nesting Place (motivation and freedom for caring for your home)

Joining the linkup with Modern Mrs. Darcy today!