It's that time again! This is the third annual "What I Read This Year" post. Why in the world am I posting such a list on a random day in August instead of on New Year's Eve? Well, because it's my birthday! And if you have been reading this blog for awhile you know about my yearly reading goal--1 book per year of age. As you can see by the title of the post, I far exceeded that goal (and now it has me wondering, should I try for TWO per year of age? Type A first born here, in case you can't tell), and am excited to present to you my list of 66 books in the order I read them. My taste is really eclectic so there's surely something for everyone here. Happy Reading!
* denotes my top 15 (10 favorites just didn't seem to cover it)
1. The Assistants by Camille Perri--Fluffy chick lit. Meh.
2. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle--Love anything Glennon writes.
3. Simplify by Joshua Becker--Book about minimalism.
4. Before The Fall by Noah Hawley--Decent thriller.
5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi--Rich, deep novel covering multiple generations of slave descendants. Great read.
6. Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica--Not my favorite Mary Kubica
7. Rock Paper Scissors: God's Mighty Power, Jesus' Covering Forgiveness, and The Snipping Refinement of the Holy Spirit by Allison Sullivan--I read this because the author used to go to my Bible study.
8. How To Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach--Great book full of recipes and celebration ideas from the author of one of my favorite cookbooks (Dinner, A Love Story)
9. Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill--Supposed to be portrait of a marriage. I just found it depressing.
10. Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes--Page-turning thriller, kind of a Sleeping with the Enemy vibe.
11. Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley--I loved this book. Beautiful writing, beautiful message.
12. Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison--Read this for book club. True story of a family who fostered gobs of kids over their lifetime. I cried several times; a good, but tough, read.
13. My Story by Elizabeth Smart--Wow. Elizabeth Smart is my hero.
14. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris--Decent thriller, if that's your jam.
15. Basket Baby by Kelli Donley--Really enjoyed this novel set in Bolivia.
16. Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller--Anything Tim Keller writes is gold.
17. The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg--Fun easy read about the Danish lifestyle and approach to happiness. Minnesota is a really great place to practice hygge in the winter.
*18. A Long Way Home: A Memoir by Saroo Brierly--This is the book that the movie "Lion" is based on. I still haven't seen the movie because I'm sure it can't be as good as the book. Stunning, almost unbelievable story. Don't miss it.
19. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware--Didn't live up to all the hype
20. You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein--Funny memoir, but not a must-read
*21. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner--This is a beautiful book. I have come to adore Erin Loechner. She has a blog (designformankind.com) and she writes the most beautiful, meaningful essays. A relevant memoir for "busy" people.
22. The Mothers by Brit Bennett--Fair.
23. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal--I really enjoyed this book. If you like to cook you will like this fun novel.
24. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater--Read this aloud with my girls. I can't believe I never read it before. It's so funny! The perfect read aloud for young kids.
25. In a Dark, Dark, Wood by Ruth Ware--Much better than Woman in Cabin 10, in my opinion.
*26. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh--This is a great novel. Beautiful story, and I also learned a lot about flowers.
27. Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel--Read this for Bible study. Lots of good nuggets.
28. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda--Good thriller. Told in reverse chronological order, and I really enjoyed that.
29. Good As Gone by Amy Gentry--Not worth the hype
30. Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen--Decent non-fiction, focused on reminding of us that God loves us just as we are.
*31. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman--This one started out slow, but it turned out to be such a wonderful book. If you don't love Ove by the end something is wrong with you. Read it!
32. Love Lives Here by Maria Goff--I want to be an honorary Goff. I adored Maria's husband, Bob's book "Love Does" and this was her memoir. It did not disappoint. What an amazing couple. So inspiring. Read this.
*33. The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner--Wow, just wow! This is a crazy memoir of a woman who escaped polygamy. It was so heartbreaking and crazy and also inspiring. Memoir that reads like a novel. Highly recommend.
34. How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White--A few good tips in here, but nothing transformative
*35. Only Love Today by Rachel Macy Stafford--OK, this book. It is everything. Buy it in the paper copy (I have since done so after reading initially on my Kindle) and just read a chapter a day as a devotional or quiet time of inspiration. She is wise and you will feel inspired.
36. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena--Good, twisty thriller
37. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah--This is yet another one of those memoirs that reads like a novel. Trevor was born to a mixed race couple during apartheid. I learned a lot of things I didn't know about apartheid and South Africa in general. What a story!
38. Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro--Another beautiful memoir. She has several memoirs (I actually read all 3 this year, as you will see), but this was my favorite. Super relatable as a middle-aged wife and mom trying to find her spiritual place among family traditions and current beliefs. Really good.
*39. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance--Everyone in 'Merica should read this book. I learned a lot.
*40. America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie--Such a wonderful novel based on the diaries of Thomas Jefferson. Wholeheartedly recommend this one.
*41. At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider--I have been a Tsh fan for a long time. I've read her other books and faithfully listen to her podcast (The Simple Show). This was her best book yet. It chronicles her family's story as they spent one year traveling around the world with their three young kids. I didn't expect to like it, and really only read it because I have read all her other stuff. But this one was the best.
42. The Vegetarian by Han Kang--Terrible, terrible book. Do not bother.
43. Slow Motion by Dani Shapiro--See note above on #38
*44. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver---Oh I loved this! Beautifully written memoir of a family's quest to eat completely local and in season for one year. If you are a foodie or a gardener/farmer, you will love this one--guaranteed
45. Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro--See note above on #38
46. The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander--Very sad. That is all.
47. Falling Free by Shannan Martin--Inspiring read about how we sometimes end up choosing a life we didn't intend and loving it anyway.
*48. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis--This is a life-changing book. I actually dreaded reading this for Bible study, but forged ahead and it just blew me away. So much wisdom tucked inside.
49. The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda--I still do not fully understand what happened at the end of this book, despite copious google research. So frustrating.
50. I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh--Really, really, really good thriller.
51. The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke--Also a good little mystery read
*52. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel--This book. It wins my all time favorite book of the year. The characters are so real, the topic so relevant, and the story so rich. I did not want it to end.
53. Control Girl by Shannon Popkin--Some good nuggets for those of us control freaks. Who, me?
54. I Found You by Lisa Jewell--I liked this one (I tend to like most anything she writes). Recommend.
55. The Dry by Jane Harper--The story was so-so, but the setting was great--Australian outback amidst a long draught. Meh.
56. Troublemaker by Leah Remini--I waited a long time for this one at the library, and it was worth it just to read the chapter about Tom and Katie's wedding. INSANE. But otherwise, if you've seen the documentary about her, you've read the book.
57. American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis--Pretty funny stuff. Some of the essays were hilarious.
*58. The Lucky Few by Heather Avis--I am obsessed with this family! If you don't already, follow macymakesmyday on Instagram. This family is just wonderful. This book is written conversationally and tells the story of how a couple became a family by saying 'yes' to what God put in front of them. You can apply their story to your own life and challenges. They are super cool, and I wish we were neighbors.
59. Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia--A decent thriller, but extra fun because it is set in southeast MN.
60. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch--OK, I am not a sci-fi fan. At all. But I read this book after listening to a podcast, and I really enjoyed it. Could not put it down.
61. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood--I read this for book club. It is a very well-written, rich story, but uncomfortable to read at times as the mom of daughters. Sad family situations.
*62. Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman--I love Britt-Marie! This book has so many messages inside it. Highly recommend.
63. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker--Not my favorite of Jen's (for the record, that would be 7), but still infused with her wit and humor.
64. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza--Too fluffy.
65. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile--OK, this is one of those life-changing books if you really get into it. I have always loved reading about personality and have heard so much buzz about the enneagram recently. I found this book fascinating and really spot-on. The Enneagram is such a great way to learn about and understand your own personality, and the personalities of your family members. I don't think I will be able to loan this book out because I will refer to it often in the future. (For the record, I'm a 1 on the enneagram)
*66. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly--I couldn't pick a better book to end my reading year on if I tried. I. Loved. This. Book. It's based on true events from World War II and the "Ravensbruck Rabbits". It's a must-read. Don't miss it.