Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Book List

It's time for my yearly book list! I attribute my higher number read to bed rest, and I am going to predict that my 2017 number is going to significantly drop. You know, because I'll be chasing twins :)

1. The Racketeer by John Grisham // I had placed a hold on a few books at the library, and this one finally became available, so it was the lucky winner to kick off my 2016 book list! Again, you have to be a mystery/legal fan to enjoy Grisham's stories. This one read a little slower than some of his others, but I still enjoyed it. It was an interesting look at racketeering, though I have to say that I was disappointed in his disclaimer at the end that he didn't research very much for this book.

2. When Empty Arms Become a Heavy Burden by Sandra Glahn and William Cutrer // I attended an infertility Bible study in the Spring, and this was one of the books they recommended. I had read another book by Sandra Glahn in 2014, so some of the information was a repeat, but this one was much better presented. She wrote this one with her doctor, so it provided both perspectives. It read less like a textbook and more like a helpful, informational resource. I would highly recommend this one for those starting their infertility journey.

3. A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson // I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't get into it. It's a collection of stories from her Southern life, and is meant to be sweet and funny. I barely made it through the book and have to admit that I skimmed more and more toward the end. It was too cutesie and was a little all over the place, and not my kind of humor. It just wasn't for me. 

4. Gray Mountain by John Grisham // This was a little different from Grisham's other books; it's the first of his books with a female protagonist. It was the story of a rookie New York lawyer who gets furloughed after the financial crisis and ends up taking an unpaid internship in the Appalachia Mountains, where she gets caught up in the life and drama of coal country. Not my favorite Grisham book, but still a fairly enjoyable read.

5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery // I LOVED the Anne of Green Gables series when I was young, and it's the first time I can remember falling in love with reading. I decided I wanted to re-read the series, and I'm glad I did. It brought back sweet memories of my bookworm childhood, and I just enjoy L.M. Montgomery's story telling. I love Anne's vivid imagination and use of words like "tragical." Just a sweet book all the way around.

6. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis // This was another re-read. I read this book several years ago, but have talked about it a lot in recent conversations, so I decided to re-read it. I think every Christian should read this book. It is such an incredible look into spiritual warfare, and it makes you re-evaluate sin and how the enemy works to draw us away from God. It's slightly terrifying, but in a good, healthy way.

7. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins // Not sure how I happened upon this book. It was a quick read and fairly interesting, but it left me feeling so sad. It was fairly predictable, but it still kept my attention and was a mindless read. Warning: there is language in this book. 

8. Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue by R.C. Sproul // With the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I happened across this book. R.C. Sproul is just so smart and constructs his arguments so well. This book was hard to read. As a Christian who is pro-life, it was hard to read. As a mama who has lost babies, it was especially hard to read. But it was well-written, and I think every Christian should read it. It's so important to be able to construct rational arguments for such a critical issue.

9. Word-Filled Women's Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church by Gloria Furman & Kathleen B. Nielson // I have wanted to read this book since it came out and finally was able to get a good deal on it. It's everything I want women's ministry to be about. The book walks through the purpose of women's ministry, what it looks like in a biblical context, and provides examples of how women across the globe are serving Jesus to His glory. I believe every women's ministry leader, volunteer, and supporter should read and consider its suggestions.

10. Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong- and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster // My first pregnancy book! :) She has an interesting approach to making decisions. Be prepared for a lot of research, pros/cons, and risk/rewards. If you can get past the way her brain works, there is actually some helpful information. While I may not agree with all of the conclusions she made, and often felt like she was finding research to back her preferences, it was a good reference to think through decisions that forced me to do my own research. This book encourages you to ask the "why's?" behind pregnancy-related norms.

11. Missionaries are Real People by Ellen Rosenberger // A missionary friend of mine promoted this book, so I wanted to check it out. I wanted to better understand some of the unique struggles of my missionary friends. In a lot of ways, they are similar to those in church planting. I appreciated the author's candid conversation about what life is really like on the mission field. If you can look past some of the editing and repetition, it is a great resource for those interested in missions and those wanting to better understand the missionaries they support.

12. What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff and Sharon Mazel // Because it's THE book to read during pregnancy, right? I wouldn't say it's the only pregnancy book you should read, but I found it very thorough. It's a great, comprehensive resource that touches on all things pregnancy-related. It would probably be better as a reference book, rather than a sit down and read novel, because it's a TON of information.

13. Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon // I read this book hoping to gain some good insight into a natural childbirth. I would say about 10% of it is helpful information on natural labor {what your body is doing, what your baby is doing, etc}. The rest I really struggled with. I believe in educating yourself on all sides of the issues, but this book did a terrible job of presenting its side. I hated the tone of this book: preachy, condescending, the frequent use of fear tactics. The author thinks very little of anyone who doesn't ascribe to her way of thinking, which is very evident in her language and tone. I knew going in that the information might be outdated, but I didn't realize that the way the information was presented would leave me questioning a lot of what it had to say. 

14. Husband-Coached Birthing: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley // After reading #13, I was really skeptical going into this book. I wanted to give it a chance, since it's written by the person who developed the Bradley method, and I personally want Mike to be my labor coach. But I definitely wanted to read it first before I asked him to read it. While it was better than #13, I still just didn't like the tone of the book. I did appreciate how Dr. Bradley was supportive of laboring in a hospital. But other than that, I still found the book preachy, and I found some of his ideas outdated, out-of-touch, and even a little quacky. I want to like this method of childbirth, and I will probably use some of its principles. But I just can't get behind the whole movement, at least not based on how the information is presented in these books. I'm disappointed, because I wanted a resource for Mike, but I won't be asking him to read this one.

15. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee // I was intrigued by this book because I have always enjoyed Harper Lee's original classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Supposedly, this book was actually written first, but I don't think it would make as much sense without the original. I enjoyed the author's storytelling, and it was an interesting turn of story and characters from Mockingbird. I understand the controversy over Atticus' character, but I didn't think it was as appalling as some made it out to be.

16. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally // I saw the movie years ago, but had never read the book. It was definitely intense and somber, but it was well written. There were some parts that read a little slow, but I appreciated the accounts portrayed of Oskar Schindler, and it was still such an interesting read. It's hard to say that I enjoyed the book, as the content is not enjoyable, but I appreciated the narrative.

17. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis // I have read her blog for a few years now, and I have found it so inspiring. So when I had the chance to read her book, I was really interested to read more of her story. It is an easy read, and you feel like you are just listening to a close friend pour out her heart. It is incredibly challenging. This young girl abandoned everything to follow Jesus and simply love the people of Uganda. Her stories of God's faithfulness are powerful. Definitely a good read.

18. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp // The first part was a little slow, but the rest of the book was filled with a lot of great information. I kind of felt like it was the happy medium between the whole attachment parenting and cry it out debate, and it was the least judgmental baby book I have read. I actually found it interesting and insightful. I can't say helpful yet, only because I haven't actually put any of the ideas into practice, but the book made sense to me. It will be nice to have some extra ideas in our arsenal as we try to navigate life with 2 babies :)

19. The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler // This was my chosen marriage book for the year. He walks through the Song of Solomon and helps the reader unpack what it says about dating, marriage, and sex. It was a quick read, and was helpful in unpacking the poetry of Solomon's book. I think this would be a good resource for couples preparing for marriage.

20. Defending Jacob by William Landay // This was a completely random find, and I enjoyed it, for the most part. A fictional account of an ADA whose son is accused of murdering a classmate. If you enjoy mystery/lawyer type books, then this is an easy and good read. I didn't love the ending; it seemed to come from out of nowhere, which I am sure the author was going for the shock factor, but it just seemed odd. Maybe it's just that it didn't wrap up well. But overall, a fun fictional read. Warning: some language, though not throughout.

21. None Like Him by Jennifer Wilkin // I have so much respect for this lady. I love how she teaches women to study God's Word, and I appreciate her humility as she speaks about varying issues regarding women in the church. I loved her first book and I loved this one as well. I actually started it and then realized I wanted to dig a little deeper, so started over to go through it a little slower. She shared 10 attributes of God that are exclusive only to Him, and I really enjoyed this book. It really was a good little devotional.

22. The Bridge by Jill Cox // Ya'll. My friend Jill wrote this book! She is my go-to person for book recommendations, and I had the privilege of reading her first book, even before it was released. It is a fun, light read; the perfect beach read or curl-up-on-the-couch-with-some-hot-cocoa read. I read it in one day. And I loved it even more because I could see so much of my sweet friend's personality in the pages of the story. You can get your copy here.

23. Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden // Mike got this book as a gift, and I decided it would be fun to read. It was hilarious! But it actually was pretty helpful information. It's definitely a fun gift for a new dad! {Disclaimer: this is a secular book, so there are some pieces of advice that cannot and do not endorse. Thankfully it's only a few short sentences and not at all a main part of the book}.

24. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery // I read the second book of the Anne of Green Gables series at the beginning of October {I thought it was fitting}. I didn't love this one as much as the first book, but I still enjoyed the stories. And I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

25. Steadfast Love: The Response of God to the Cries of Our Heart by Lauren Chandler // This book was not what I expected. When I purchased it {and even in the introduction}, it seemed as though it was going to be a memoir of how they managed the trial of her husband's cancer diagnosis. But it wasn't that at all {though she did talk about it at the very end}. Instead, she walked through Psalm 107 and shared some other life stories on how the Lord taught her about His steadfast love. It was biblically sound, but I have to admit that it was hard to follow at times. I think the structure was confusing and probably needed a bit more organization. I did appreciate her raw honesty and exhortation for readers to anchor their lives in the steadfast love of God.

26. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty // I have seen this author's books repeatedly show up on book lists, so I decided to give them a try. This was the first one that became available at the library {and I also had a friend give me a copy at the same time}. This was a good book- well written and entertaining. I enjoyed how there seemed to be 3 stories going at once {and it actually wasn't confusing}. Just a fair warning: this book has many triggers for infertility and loss. It's not the main story line, but it's a large part of the book. I didn't know that going into it, so wanted to offer the warning to others. I don't think I could have read this book last year; it would have been too difficult.

27. Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson // A friend recommended this book to me since I like historical fiction. It was a quick read, a book about homestead life. It was a little slow at some points, but overall I enjoyed this book.

28. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J.D. Greear // I was intrigued by this title, because Mike and I have had discussions about the idea of "asking Jesus into your heart" and whether that does more harm than good when presenting the gospel. I think this book is a good resource for those who struggle with assurance of salvation. It's also a good resource in clarifying the heart of the gospel.

29. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty // I liked the first book I read by her, so I decided to try another. This one seemed to be many people's favorites. And it turned out to be pretty good! It was different from What Alice Forgot, but it was still a fun fictional read.

30. Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty // I had reserved a few of her books at the library to see which one I could get first. This one came up right after the other, so I got to read a couple of her books in a row. I will say that I did not like this one. I liked the idea of it {story of triplets}, but it was more crass than her others. This was her first book apparently; if it had been the first one I read, I wouldn't have read any of her others.

31. Prayers of an Excellent Wife by Andrew Case // This was definitely more of a devotional, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I appreciated the prayers outlined in this book, and I prayed one each day over Mike. I would highly recommend this book for wives who want to be more intentional about praying over their husbands.

32. The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller // This was my daily devotional for the year, and I really found it helpful. He walked you through the Psalms, offering a daily devotion and prayer. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a good book to guide you through the Psalms.

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