Am Reading

Good Reads in 2017 {& hope for 2018}

I tried to join Goodreads a couple of years ago. I entered all the books I own, divided them into lists, marked the ones I read, and even wrote some reviews. I loved the idea of keeping track of what I’d read. But as with most technological things, I realized I’d rather just put pen to paper. It was just one more thing to keep updated and I lost interest. But now it’s that time of year when everyone shares their reading lists and I wish I kept better track, because I read some great books this year.

And, if you know me at all, you probably know that recommending books might be my love language.

So here were my top ten books I read this year, in no particular order:

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The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)

This was recommended by a friend and it was so. good. Hard to read at times, but beautiful and necessary. “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, the #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.”

 

The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom)

This book wrecked me in all the right ways. I read it shortly after moving and it was a gift of perspective. I’ve come back to Corrie’s illustrations and experiences over and over again. I followed it up with the Amazon series, Man in the High Castle and was shocked by how much commentary both offered on life today.

 

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (Rosaria Butterfield)

There were so many things to glean from this memoir. Rosaria is educated and articulate and her insight into Christian culture as an outsider is profound and needed. I read this when we visited Westminster and found it a helpful and hopeful introduction to the Reformed world.

 

A Woman’s Place (Katelyn Beaty)

I came across this book on display at my local library. At the time, I wasn’t sure who Katelyn Beaty was but I’ve since become incredibly grateful for her voice. This book looks at the importance of women and work and breathes some freedom into what can be a controversial and frustrating topic for women in the church. Also, I’ve discovered that I love journalistic writing. Shortly before this one, I read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women WorldwideYou should probably read them both. 🙂

Teach Us to Want (Jen Pollock Michel)

One of the most frustrating things to me about Christian books is how much bad writing is tolerated for the sake of teaching a lesson. This book was so. refreshing. because the writing is as beautiful as the content. I highly recommend it, and look forward to reading Jen’s newest book, Keeping Place.

 

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Trevor Noah)

I probably wouldn’t have discovered this one on my own, but my sister recommended it and it turned out to be wonderful. Trevor Noah is hilarious, but as he tells his story he also offers incredible insight on race and class, politics and religion.I highly recommend the audiobook.Warning: there is a fair amount of profanity.

 

Is the Bible Good for Women? (Wendy Alsup)

The subtitle of this book is, “Seeking clarity and confidence through a Jesus-centered understanding of Scripture.” I think that’s why I appreciated this book so much. It didn’t necessarily answer every theological question I had, but it gave a helpful framework for how to approach these questions. I’m looking forward to delving into the topic in more detail in a class at Westminster this spring.

 

Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance)

I saw this book recommended in multiple places but didn’t really know what it would be like. It’s a memoir, but it’s full of insight and commentary on an overlooked segment of society. “From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class.”

 

Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling)

This is me trying to group 7 books into 1. 🙂 I was in high school when the Harry Potter books came out and I couldn’t have been less interested. But I started the series a year ago and got sucked in. When my brain stopped functioning in the midst of all the transition and chaos of last year, Harry Potter was basically my friend. I was a little traumatized towards the end, but also was so sad when the books were over. The third one was my favorite.

Refresh (David & Shona Murray)

Okay, I guess I meant 11. I stumbled across Shona’s account of depression and was brought to tears. It’s been a rough stretch here, and it was so comforting to hear someone else express what I’ve been feeling. I’m so grateful for the Murray’s commitment to looking at the whole person, body and soul. This book provided a framework to evaluate my life and consider what changes I need to put into place to be living in a healthy “grace-pace.” I’m using aspects of it as I plan for 2018.

in 2018:

My reading list in 2018 is *slightly* unreasonable, so I won’t set myself up for failure by telling you all 86 books on the list. 😉 Instead I’ll just share what I’m currently reading and what’s on deck:

Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home (Amber Haines)

Learning to Love the Psalms (Robert Godfrey)

A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives (Kelly Brogan & Kristin Loberg)

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy (Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Groothuis)

Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)

What were your favorites in 2017? What’s on your 2018 list?

4 Comments

  1. I loved Butterfield’s memoir… she is the reason I went to TGCW in 2014. I just had to meet her. She was so smart, articulate, warm, honest… I felt like a doofus, but I stood in line to have her sign my copy of this book!

    Whitehead’s novel was great. I’d recommend Exit West as a book that reminded me of Underground Railroad in all the best ways, but was about modern-day political refugees. Also, I just started Behold the Dreamers by Mbolo Imbue and it seems like a solid follow-up to Whitehead’s novel, too! Happy Reading in 2018 (and get thee to Goodreads! I love it there!)

    1. Laura, I love hearing your recommendations. I think you’re who alerted me to Whitehead’s novel. I immediately put it on hold at my library. 😉 I’m adding your other suggestions to my list. (Which is pen on paper, sitting on my desk. ;))

  2. I read a couple of Wendell Berry novels in 2017 (one binged during Christmas break) that were just lovely. I read mostly non-fiction, so these felt like a breath of fresh air and made me wonder if fiction might be a more effective conveyor of truth.

    1. Michele, I’ve never read anything by Wendell Berry! I should add one to my 2018 list. What’s your favorite? I wonder the same thing about fiction…I have several classics on my list for this year.

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