My Top Ten Reads of 2016

According to my Goodreads account, I read 171 books this year.  That includes my personal books, some homeschool read-alouds and a few new picture books I shared with the children.  It’s at this time of year that I want to share the books that have been most delightful for me, in hopes that, if you’re looking for some new books to read, you will check out the ones on my list.

Breaking Busy by Ali Worthington

2015 was my year of burnout, and I began reading several books toward the end of 2015 and first part of 2016 that examined how to get out of the cycle of busy and how to establish peace in your life. Breaking busy was a valuable read to me because it helped me to establish my capacity, and to learn to say no to things that are beyond my capacity so that I can focus on my primary areas of work and ministry.

Finding God in the Ruins by Matt Bays

In this book, Bays draws upon his memories of abuse, the pains of sister’s cancer, and upon the experiences that he has had with other people in his life to tell a story about God. Bays says that at the outset, he didn’t know what this story was going to be, and he chronicles his pain and questions. He finds himself also, however, chronicling moments of grace and the images and realizations that he finds about God as a result of his own journey through dealing with his pain. This is perhaps the most moving memoir I’ve read in five years. It is an emotional roller coaster though, and I will admit that I wept several times over the course of reading this book.

The Last Ride by Susan K. Marlow

This is the third book in Marlow’s Circle C Milestone series, and this is one that I read aloud to my older two children. It’s a sweet book, full of adventure (with just a little hint of romance), and it is a book where something big and awful happens to the character.  We get to see her response and learn some lessons about bitterness and about forgiveness.  I have to admit that I was just as enchanted by this book as the children were.

Mother and Son: The Respect Effect by Emerson Eggerichs

It’s a book that I’ll be reading again as I need advice going forward. It’s full of great details for practical advice, but it’s also a firm reminder of the fact that I can correct and instruct in a way that is affirming and respectful of my sons. I don’t want to ever be in the position that my sons can say that “My Mom loves me, but she doesn’t respect me.” I want to be able to give them what they need, and this is a very helpful and eye-opening book for helping me to do that.

The Wired Soul by Tricia McCary Rhodes

This book really resonated with me. I’ve found myself going back to an older habit that I had abandoned a couple of years ago to writing down all the quotes in a book that resonated with me and reviewing/rereading those quotes on a regular basis. (I used to keep a notebook just for favorite quotes, and had abandoned it because of my busyness.) I also have read a little more meditatively and really felt like I’ve dug into both the scriptures and other books that I’ve read (whether in paper or on my kindle) a little more deeply. There’s a lot of other great advice here, and although I didn’t work through all the exercises and ideas at this time, I’m going to keep it on my bookshelf so that I can come back to it and add more ideas for scripture memorization, responsive reading and deep breathing in once I’ve built a couple of the things I’m working on now into habit. Rhodes also references much great research and several other books that look very helpful, and I would like to take some time to read some of those books as well.

Searching the Scriptures by Charles R. Swindoll

I found this to be an interesting and exciting book because it places tools into people’s hands. It gives a simple, approachable and systematic method for reading through the Bible and interpreting and applying it to ourselves and the world around us. There are things I disagree with (like his use of the NLT as a readable translation), but on the whole, I found this to be an excellent book, and an excellent way to pass on his study skills and ideas for sermon preparation onto a new generation.

The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson

This is indeed a simple and mercifully short book on homeschooling. It helped me to re-evaulate what is working in our home and places where I need to adjust my expectations.  I spent a lot of time journaling goals, writing out quotes on this book and thinking of things that I want to remember. This is a book that will help you remember that discipleship is one of the main components of homeschooling and will help keep you from panic attacks over areas of progress (or lack thereof) by your children.

Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice

I was reading this book for an evangelism class that I took at church, and I have to admit that it challenged many of my thoughts about evangelism. I thought of it as a formal “Way of the Master,” tent revival or knocking door-to-door kind of thing. Instead, I found that I was having conversations with other people about my faith that were just a part of being me, and I was challenged to cross the “painline” more often to intentionally add Christ to my daily conversations. After all, I only want people to know about the joy that I have found in Jesus, and I want to get beyond my own comfort to help others experience that joy

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I had the purest joy this year in spending much of the year reading aloud the Harry Potter novels to my children.  It had been years since I read them myself, and I had forgotten how much detail, life and joy are in those books. I admit that the seventh book in the series is my favorite because of the masterful way that Rowling deals with the interpersonal struggles between her main characters throughout the book. Every one is following Harry, but he has no clue what he’s supposed to do. His placement of duty above desire is admirable and to be respected. However, the part that always tugs at my heartstrings is when he gets the opportunity to have his dead loved ones visit him, and he uses it as a opportunity to help ease himself and build up his courage for his own sacrificial death.  I can’t even talk about that portion of the book (or Snape’s story in the book) with getting emotional.

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

This is the third book in the epic A Song of Ice and Fire, and it is amazing. There’s a lot of detail, but there’s an uptick in the plotting.  I love the way the POV characters change perspective and manage to intensify the action in their chapters. I also found the schemes of many of the characters to be intriguing and well-layered.  This book is truly Martin at his best.

So, those are my top ten for this year.  What are your favorites from 2016?  What do you recommend that I put higher on my to-read list?

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