Can I just say that I love reading? There is a definite sense of loss as I finish one book and don’t have another one with which to replace it. Thankfully Pinterest has been a handy tool to help me pick out my next book.
Here are my top picks from this year! As always, there is quite a bit of diversity in what I found myself enjoying.
Trust: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback
Throughout the second half of this year, I have read numerous books on fear in preparation for a group I helped lead on fear and anxiety at church. This gem is one of a series of four (others include Joy, Purity and Contentment). It includes short devotionals that are packed full of gospel centered truth. This book is perfect for those who are struggling with anxiety and works for those hurried days when a longer devotional time isn’t possible. Here is one of my favorite quotes:
Rest assured that nothing can touch you apart from your heavenly Father’s permission. Out of his love for you, he is well able to prevent the thing you are so afraid of, and out of that same love he might allow it. Either way, whatever happens, he only allows what is going to work for your eternal happiness and blessing and his glory…. You are safe in God’s keeping every moment of every day.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
What a wonderful book! I don’t always love books composed of letters, but I loved this one. It is witty, funny and smart. Not only that, but it creatively tells the story of the German occupation of Guernsey Island during WWII several years after the end of the war. I love books that include characters that are well-defined and able to be “known” by the reader. This book is full of such characters. They come alive as you journey with them.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
I loved this book! I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. It is superbly written, engaging and funny. Through a series of events, a white girl ends up living with the African-American Boatwater sisters in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. The book explores the lessons they learn together about love, family, and healing. (Note: The book contains some weird feminist theology and themes of self-empowerment which typically turn me off. However, the writing is so good and the story so engaging that I found myself gladly overlooking these things in favor of the story as a whole.)
True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre
“True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God.” This book is a GEM. I have always been a bit perplexed on how to approach the subject of beauty and body image as a Christian. This year, beauty and the self-consciousness that often accompanies the subject hit me square in the face. Even as I was knocked off balance by these things, I was encouraged and refreshed by the authors’ approach. They were balanced and completely God-centered. This book is not legalistic nor does it tell us to neglect our appearance. Pick it up and you will be blessed!
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp
This year was one in which we were suddenly and abruptly confronted with many of the issues that come with parenting tweens/teens. Paul Tripp does an excellent job of humbly and honestly presenting the calling and blessing that can come from parenting teens. He focuses on how to reach the heart of your teen. I will be honest, this season has made me somewhat apprehensive, but I was encouraged by the vision Tripp cast for parenting during these years.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
What can I say- I just love Pride and Prejudice! I re-read this classic after I discovered a whole new genre of literature: Pride and Prejudice spin-offs. I wanted to refresh my memory and do some fact checking.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. A trilogy by Pamela Aidan
An Assembly Such as This, These Three Remain, and Duty and Desire
This trilogy tells the story of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s perspective. In my mind, there were always a few holes in the original story. Like, how did Darcy possibly fall in love with Elizabeth when it seemed so obvious that she hated him? Why would he take her back after she was so unkind? What did he do to get Wickham to agree to spend his life with someone as annoying as Lydia Bennett? I loved hearing the story from his side. I loved seeing what life was like for a gentleman in the 1800s. I loved having all the gaps filled in. I was sad when the series came to an end.
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Confession: I tried reading Mere Christianity this year and couldn’t finish it. I just didn’t have the bandwidth to concentrate on the heavy philosophy it contained. I mentioned this to a friend and she suggested this title, an allegory. In general, I tend to gravitate toward symbolism, which means that I enjoy allegories- especially those written by brilliant people like C.S. Lewis! Lewis has some wonky ideas about heaven and hell with which I don’t agree. However those differences faded away as he painted a picture of the decision every human faces: Will you give everything up and live for God? -or- Will you continue to live for the shadowy representations of God/morality you have created? There can be no combination of the two.