More books! I’ve spent the last couple weeks curating and hashing over the details of this list. I have finally narrowed it down to my absolute favorites and I am so excited to share all of these books with you.
First the details of my year. I read a lot. A lot a lot. More than I’ve documented reading before, but I’ve also read sooo many amazing books this year. Here’s how they break down in various ways.
- 138 total
- 77 Fiction, 61 non-fiction
- 109 by women, 30 by men
- 44 books by authors of color, 94 by apparently white authors. (I want to do better here this year!)
- 107 library copies, 17 review copies, 14 purchased new, thrifted, or found on cheap kindle deals.
Goals for 2019 Reading:
- More diverse authors.
- More of the books from my own bookshelf.
Here are a few of my favorites. There could be more, but I’ve narrowed it down to a couple dozen so your eyes don’t glaze over right away. The non-fiction is listed in the order in which I read it, fiction is loosely grouped genre/feeling. Enjoy!
- Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor – Christianity and culture has often portrayed emotional, mental, and physical darkness as bad or possibly a display of spiritual evil that you should try to get free from right away, but this non-fiction book was so helpful and hopeful. Teaching about the idea of darkness and exhibiting again and again the reasons God is really right there with you in the dark -making strong, new things happen even in the midst of hurt, confusion, pain and darkness – and maybe we shouldn’t be so pain-avoidant.
- The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, More Creative by Florence Williams – This book inspired my year. A look at what being in nature (and at differing degrees) does for our health and our brains exhibited through scientific experiments and quantifiable data. I was inspired to get outside in more wild places more often. Read it and you’ll be going outside more, too!
- The Practice of Spiritual Direction by William A. Barry – This book is geared more towards people who are becoming or are spiritual directors, but it was very valuable for me. Good for considering your own journey with God and beginning to learn to walk alongside others’ journeys.
- The Wisdom of Your Heart: Discovering the God-Given Purpose and Power of Your Emotions by Marc Schelske – excellent! I always feel vaguely confused about emotions. I love how this book interwove the basics of emotional experience with the Christian experience. (This book was great read in sequence with the previous book.)
- Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One’s PTSD by Cynthia Orange– A genuinely helpful, honest, and encouraging book from someone who has been through it all and wants to help.
- Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Laura Cron – I loved this book for the psychology AND the writing advice. Super interesting. Also: Now I want to write short stories.
- Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up by Kathy Khang – I really liked this one and felt very supported in continuing to learn to use my voice for things that matter to me. Practical, encouraging, and challenging. (Review copy thanks to IVPress)
- It’s All Under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee – If you’ve ever found yourself trying to control all the outcomes, feeling a little out of place because of how motivated you are, or constantly taking on way too much, this book is for you. (Review Copy thanks to Tyndale)
- The Body is Not an Apology: The power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor -I loved this book. The cover is beautiful and the book is just heartening and freeing for self-love. Also: The audiobook is so worth it and powerful.
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – Most likely you’ve already heard of this one. Written by a lawyer who specializes in representing people on death row. Powerful story telling, compelling arguments, and an especially revealing look at the justice system in the US.
- Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much by Ashley Hales – Excellent: theological and accessible, practical yet inspiring. This book challenges how we think about our everyday life in the consumer focused suburbs of the United States, while compassionately encouraging us to look a little deeper even while we stay right there in our already chosen place. (Review Copy thanks to IVPress)
- It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids by Heather Shumaker – This book feels like it could be magic if I could only memorize it and apply it…which seems to be the problem with great parenting books. Freeing, Kid-positive, empowers parents and kids to live as themselves in this parenting gig.
- Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (YA) – navigating friendship, highschool and relationships while questioning social constructs around body image and assumptions about who can do what. This book was sweet, sassy, and hilarious. Such a body positive read and the audiobook is delightful (The narrator’s southern drawl is perfect). (In my opinion the content is appropriate for young adults, not young teens.)
- If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim – Tragic, honest, This is a story about young woman finding her way after becoming a refugee during the Korean war. Motherhood, womanhood, mental health, family. I was rooting for this story.
- A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza – This book is just as good as the hype. The second fifty pages were slow for me, but the next 200 went by in a flash. A beautiful story of family dynamics, cultures, and family history.
- Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa – Glad I picked it up on a whim! A charming story about learning a craft, tradition, relationships between generations and carrying on. Set in modern day Japan and translated from Japanese. This one was such a pleasure to read.
- The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – (Middle Grade Fiction) Such a lovely story. History, hard reality faced with persistent hop, good strong kid characters with grownups who emphasize their inherent worth and belonging. There are some difficult plot lines driven by a terrible mother, but the other adults in the story make up for it. I’d recommend these to any human who can handle a three hundred page book.
- The Crescent Stone by Matt Mikalatos – YA fantasy. A fascinating story. It reminded me all the same time of Neverwhere, Narnia, and The Phantom Toll Booth. I am looking forward to the sequel later this year!
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – fantasy, magic, politics, sociology, some similarity to history history with a firebrand heroine. It is a very lively tale and I would read it again.
- The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – This. was. magic. I want more like this – Culture + Fantasy + Well-done relationships! A fantasy/dystopian world set in China with all the surrounding cultural history. The second book comes out this August!
- The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R Pan – about a teenager dealing with the loss of her mother to depression told through a magical collision of memory, present day, raw emotions, and fascinating surrealism. Stunning, devasting, brilliant, and beautiful.
- The Widows of Malabar Hill (A Perveen Mistry Novel) by Sujata Massey – Another series I will be happy to follow up on. The story of three muslim widows living in purdah and their female lawyer who, particularly motivated by her own past, hopes to solve the mystery surrounding their estate. Really intense at times, but I love a chance to look into another time and culture with strong notes of feminism and women doing the job. If you like Louise Penny, this is for you.
These are just a few of my very favorite books from the year! What’s a favorite book you read last year? Any reading goals? Any questions about my reading habits?
(Disclaimers: I received a few of these as review copies, but all my devotion and opinions are my own. And: If you purchase something through my Amazon Affiliate links I might receive a small commission. Thanks!)