With 40 looming large, a few years ago I created a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I turned 40. I can’t say the rest of the list is going great, but I have been ticking down one of the items – #36, which is to read 75 books. Seventy five seemed like such a reasonable goal when I had one child who was starting public school. Now…with 2 more children not yet going anywhere independently during the day, and ask me how much time there is to read??? lol
The first year of keeping track, I read a paltry 8, and the second year wasn’t much better, ringing it at only 9. Last year, however, I made a great dent in that goal, reading 23 books, and I feel pretty good about the progress I made. I’m not entirely sure how I read so much more this past year; I made good use of times when I nursed/rocked, and several of these books were books I’d started in previous years and only had to finish. So I guess that helped. But I think mostly I’m getting better at reading a little bit here and there and letting it add up rather than waiting for extended chunks of time (which never appear) in which to lose myself in the books.
I won’t bore you with a review of all 23, but here are the cliff notes for my 6 favorites:
Breathing Room by Leanna Tankersley || This was my favorite book of all, a total breath of fresh air for my soul. In fact, it’s on my list to read again this year. I highlighted passage after passage, read chunks to my husband, and recommended the book to several friends. Love!
All Is Grace by Brennan Manning || This is a more intimate memoir of Brennan Manning’s life, and I’m not entirely sure why I picked up this book in the bookstore. I’ve not read anything else by him and didn’t know anything about him other than recognizing his name from somewhere. It probably was the photograph on the cover; I find it very compelling–black and white and grandfatherly and wise. I bought it because I started reading it while I was there and simply couldn’t put it down; the story was just as compelling as the cover image. It is honest and raw and a deeply interesting look at the ups and downs of a follower of Jesus. His life story reminded me of David–a man with many struggles and sins who was still called a man after God’s own heart. Highly recommend!
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist || I just loved Shauna’s first two books, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet. I read Cold Tangerines in 2014, so I didn’t put it in this image, but both books are worth the read. I love her writing style; I love that these books are individual essays I can pick up and put down as life allows. Her writing and imagery are rich, and I love her zest for life. I have her third and fourth books, Bread and Wine and Savor, and am eager to get to them this year.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling || On a completely different note than the others, but o, so fun! Mindy played Kelly on one of my favorite shows, The Office, and while her character there wasn’t one of my favorites, her real life storytelling is so much fun and very down-to-earth. It was a light and happy read. I’m super eager to read her next book.
Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett || This book…I almost don’t know what to say about it. It was truly fascinating and beautifully written, but also not my favorite read because it made me angry and irritated and heartbroken all at the same time. I think the best word for this book is journey–this book takes me on a journey on which I’m glad I went. Gritty, raw, frustrating, compelling.
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande || I’d heard about this book from several places, all highly recommending it (and, actually, anything by this author). The author is a surgeon who writes about surgical errors and how simple checklists, broadly accepted in the airline/flight industry, could revolutionize both surgery and our lives if we apply them consistently. The book was thought-provoking and made me want to implement some changes in my life and our household.
Here’s the full list of what I read last year, but what have you read that you loved? I’d love any suggestions or recommendations for this year’s list in the comments!
- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Breathing Room by Leanna Tankersley
- The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith
- Scary Close by Donald Miller
- All Is Grace by Brennan Manning
- Practical Homeschooling for Real World Families by Mary Ostyn
- Disease Proof by David Katz
- The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
- Dressing Your Truth by Carol Tuttle
- Make It Happen by Lara Casey
- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
- Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
- Love Idol by Jennifer Lee Dukes
- Anchored by Kayla Aimee
- For The Love by Jen Hatmaker
- Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans
- The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
- Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
- Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynne Hybels
- Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg