Friday, December 30, 2016

16 in 2016

It's time again for me to highlight some of my favorite books from the year. I love going back and remember all my quality reads. I've also decided that once it hits 2020, I'm going to keep it at a top 20. If I can maintain the reading of 20 excellent books a year for the rest of my life, I will be happy with that.

This year, I worked extra hard not to play favorites with the books I read most recently. I combed through my journals from throughout the year and carefully considered each book

In no particular order  -

1. The Gospel of John. Last year it was Luke, now it's John. This gospel took my breath away a hundred times this year. I even memorized the first fourteen verses and enjoy meditating on each one.  In the beginning was the Word...

2. The End of the Perfect 10 by Dvora Meyers. This is a book for gymnastics fans, coaches, athletes, and history buffs. It is an amazing commentary on the evolution of the greatest sport of all time. But I'm not biased at all, of course.

3. Ruined by Ruth Everhart. This book has a huge trigger warning on it for sexual assault. It is the true story of Everhart and her roommates, whose home was broken into and robbed at gunpoint while the two perpetrators took turns raping each young woman. It is also her journey towards her healing and her overcoming. A powerful read.

4. How to Survive a Shipwreck by Jonathan Martin. This book is about what happens when you crash. I actually wrote and entire post about it when I first read it in July. It's an encouraging book for those who feel pressured to be the same after tragedy happens to them. You will not be the same. But you will survive.

5. When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman. Zierman is my author of the year. This is her first memoir, an authentic telling of the fiery faith of her youth, and its evangelical subculture, and her growing out of it and longing for something more. I thought of Christina immediately and she sent Addie the most incredible email about her story and asking if she wanted to be friends. Addie replied and was kind and personable and of course she said yes. If you are tired of he Christian cliches, this is for you.

6. Night Driving by Addie Zierman (I told you). This is her second memoir, and tells her story as a mom of two still trying to find her way.  This book is about a beautiful, simple, ordinary, holy faith. It's not always about eliminating your darkness, it's learning how to see in it. Glory.

7. The Cake Therapist by Judith Martin. I swear I try to read novels. This was a good one. I love books about people using their intuition and gifts to help other people in profound ways. In this book, the protagonist has a cake shop and uses a keen sense of smell and perception to create the perfect,healing, celebratory cakes for her clients. Delightful read from start to finish.

8. Finding God in the Ruins by Matt Bays. This one was recommended by Zierman. Go figure. In any event , like Shipwrecked and Night Driving, it is a beautiful book about the way God is always with us.

9. You are What You Love by James Smith. It seems a book about idolatry often creeps its way into my yearly list. It is so necessary for me to constantly check in and see where my affections are going. O Lord, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.

10. Unashamed by Lecrae. The most anticipated book of my year, I was not disappointed. It tells the artist's life story, but what I most appreciated was his social commentary and his approach to engaging popular culture. Really stellar read for all Christians who create (aka all of you!).

11. Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord by Michael Morales. This is the thickest theology book on the list this year, and it's all about Leviticus. I feel so encouraged by the fact that I've always spent time in a church that preached the gospel throughout the entire Bible, but this book lends even more depth to a connection I already knew was rich. Please do not be intimidated by this deeply valuable commentar
12. God is on the Cross by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I love church history and the celebrations of seasons. This is an excellent book to take up during the season of Lent, and was a new addition to my usual Lenten readings that I will be adding to my traditions.

13. Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler. I first became transfixed with the word steadfast after I read a praying life by Paul Miller. The Hebrew word is hesed, which lends the connotation of a loyal, faithful, complete love. This is, of course, the love that God has for us. He is so faithful to hear us and is doing everything in our lives to draw us closer to Him. Chandler's book clearly deponstraes her own intimacy with the Lord and draws readers into it as well.

14. A Year With CS Lewis by CS Lewis (duh). A year of daily readings from Lewis' works. I usually have a hard time with daily books like this, and it was hard not to read them all at once, but I did it! I enjoyed visiting these classics every day.

15. He Speaks in Silence by Diane Comer. This is Comer's story of losing her hearing and finding her full identity in Christ. It is a truly intimate and vulnerable story for everyone.

16. Harry Potter by JK Rowling (All 7 books). This is totally cheating but I don't care. I binge read these books in just over a week and it was really fun. I hadn't read them in a long time and doing them all together like this allowed me to appreciate how gifted and clever Rowling really is. Except the afterward to book seven was totally unnecessary and should have simply ended with Harry in the Gryffindor common room, wondering if Kreacher will make him a sandwich. It was the perfect ending. Sigh. Also, don't talk to me about the Cursed Child. I'm pretending it didn't happen.

Clearly, I love memoirs/biographies.

Honorable mentions: Messy Grace, Carry On Warrior (I have complicated feelings about this book, which I actually liked most of but had strong objections to some parts, but I have a strong conflict about the author's second book and some of her personal revelations surrounding the book's release), The Gospel According to Ezekiel, The Memory of Lemon (sequel to The Cake Therapist), and The Candidate in the Rye (read for a good laugh).

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