But first –
Reading Tips for Busy Humans:
Don’t feel judged by your bedside table. Keep the pile manageable. When I was studying literature, I read up to ten books a week. When I had babies, I probably read three books a year. Don’t let your current season condemn you or make you arrogant. Capacity is a fluid thing. Do what you can do, and enjoy it.
Read. One. Book. At. A. Time. It’s counter-intuitive, but you’ll read and remember far more.
If a book is lousy, leave it. You will not hurt its feelings. I know I know – VERY hard if it’s in your DNA to finish what you start! But life’s too short to read bad books, or at least, books that don’t speak into your reality (or your real need for wholesome escapism from that reality).
Challenge yourself not to get caught in a filter bubble – only reading stuff you agree with. At the same time, reading should enrich you and strengthen your resolve to be the best version of you. Don’t keep on consuming words that detract, or distract, or undermine God’s work in your life.
I read three books each month this year, and these were my faves.
I’ve ranked them in order of how indelibly they impacted my worldview, how much they inspired my creativity, or how closely they drew me to Jesus. (These aren’t affiliate links.)
10th place goes to…
It’s a tie! Between:
This is such good news for women who get things done. The world needs Marthas as much as it needs Marys.
I bought this for Cameron (10) and thought I better read it first. It engulfed me. So poignant. Exquisitely written, à la To Kill a Mockingbird.
It’s crude here and there, and he drops the odd F-bomb. But if you can stomach that, it’s a profoundly sensitive, very telling, and obviously fairly hilarious memoir. Every South African should read it.
Adichie’s word mastery left me breathless on some pages. She inspires me to write better and better and better. Again, not for the fainthearted. She tells it like it is. I don’t totally subscribe to her worldview, but I completely admire her tenacity and her brave exposé of the stories of African immigrants in developed nations.
Something of a sweeping family epic, set in Southeast Asia. It’s a story of physical and spiritual blindness, and incorruptible love. It will stay with you.
This is an old one, with an updated edition. I wish I’d read it 25 years ago. I resisted it for ages because I thought the concept of boundaries smacked of self-preservation as opposed to laying-down-of-self. Truth bomb: Jesus had boundaries, and so should you. Without them, we can’t be all God’s called us to be.
I read these back to back. I love Leaf’s passion; I don’t so much love how it borders on propaganda. BUT, so much of what she says is so good. So I’m journaling my toxic thoughts and replacing them with life-giving truth. Plus, I bought a bread machine and my boys have had a whole school term of stone ground sandwiches. That is how much she convinced me that processed wheat is from the devil.
If you’re fascinated by war history and humanity in general, oh my goodness, just buy it already. Excruciatingly beautiful in every way.
If you’re looking for practical parenting handles, this is not the book. If you’re looking for something that will challenge and change you, and the trajectory of your parenting, look no further. Brilliant for group study. This is the sort of manual-slash-book we should all read at least once a year, forever.
I read the young reader’s edition, with my boys. It had them begging, ‘Another chapter! Another chapter! Please please please one more chapter!’ It’s the dramatic true story of the American eight-oar rowing team that took gold against all odds at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics. Grit, resilience, the triumph of the underdog, the payoff of sweat and perseverance, refusing to be mastered by circumstances – everything you’re trying to infuse in the hearts and minds of your kids? It’s all here. It made me cry.
. . .
Have you read something life-changing this year?
Here’s what’s on the menu if you’re reading this in an email: