15 December 2016

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2016

So far this year I have read 81 books. Last year the final number was somewhere in the mid-sixties. 

For the last two years I have started writing down the titles of books I finish-partial reads don't make the cut.

While I still have a few weeks left to 2016, I don't think I will make my goal of reading 100 books. 

Of the books I have read, I've chosen my top 10 favorites that have been most challenging, eye-opening, and powerful books over the last year.

So here the books with a short explanation of why I loved the book!

First Women by Kate Anderson Brower
Why I loved it: I love history and especially the stories behind very public people. This is a compilation on all the different women who have been the First Lady. What makes them tick, how to raise a family in the public eye, and learning about their own personal struggles was fascinating. It is full of lots of behind-the-scenes stories and insights into their lives, marriages, and their husbands.  

Overrated by Eugene Cho
Why I loved it: This was a recent read, and one that really surprised me. The premise is too easily we talk about justice but saying that are we even living justly? What does that look like for us Americans today? A local Seattle pastor and founder of One Day's Wage, Cho wrestles with honest, difficult questions every Christian should seriously pray with and reflect on.

He explains the biblical understanding of justice and the struggles we Americans can face in trying to live a just way when so many people have so little.

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
Why I loved it: The entire message can be summed up in this: God loves to take our brokenness and turn into abundance for His Kingdom.

Read it. Give it away to others. And if you don't follow Ann's writing do that like yesterday.

Thomas Merton: Essential Writings by Thomas Merton

Why I loved it: If you have never read anything by Merton, this is a great place to start!
 Merton (I would say) is on the most prolific writers on spirituality, peace and justice, silence and contemplation, and ecumenical dialogue of our modern times. 

This gives small pieces of some his most well-known spiritual writings. Lots of depth and many things to ponder.

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne 

Why I loved it: A young man who starts to ask deep questions of what does it really mean to live as a Christian. For Shane, a true disciple is committed to works of peace, justice, and action. Being a disciple means "incarnational living." 

Shane is an amazing story-teller and faces head-on the hard stuff too. His journey takes him to work with a leper colony in India with the Missionaries of Charity all the way to Iraq in peaceful protest of the Iraqi war.

Rooted: The Hidden Places Where God Develops You by Banning Liebscher 

Why I loved it: This came book came very highly recommended from a friend right around the New Year when I filed for divorce.

God wants to develop us, to strengthen our roots before we are sent out. Expanding our root systems in the hidden places of our hearts is what makes us stronger. This resonated with me on so many levels, and was exactly what I needed to be reading at this time in my life.

Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community by Andrew Marin

Why I loved it: Because it is an eye-opening, pastoral read into a conversation (very often) Christians do not have well or just ignore. Wherever your stance is to gay marriage, I'd highly recommend this book.

You agree with it and you may not. But I firmly believe there is such value in reading and talking with people whom you may not always agree with.

Marin openly discusses and looks at what does it mean for Christians to have healthy conversations on spirituality and sexuality, and also what does it look like to really build bridges with the LGBT community. Very insightful.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

Why I loved it: Well first of all because I LOVE a good book on time management.

But this was different than any other one I have read. The author shows real-life data and study how time-tracking actually shows you exactly where all your time goes. 

I have used her research in re-making my morning routine and it has taught me a lot!

Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny by Christine Caine

Why I loved it: Her message in this book has become my battle cry. Shame is perhaps the most negatively, destructive force in knowing our identity as beloved in the eyes of God.

Caine faces head on the roots and reasons for shame, as well as drawing upon Scripture to bring her message to life. I found myself writing and dog-earing pages of my library copy.

I think her message is especially relevant for women today, because I think this one of the greatest lies women specifically face in the modern world. But the good news is the shame stories we tell ourselves don't have to stay on repeat.

It spoke a lot of truth and personal healing into my own life. Read it. You won't be sorry.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful, Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Why I loved it: This is the raw, honest story of a sinner and saint. Heavily tattooed and at times foul mouthed this Lutheran pastor has fascinating experiences and thoughts on culture, life, church, and spirituality. 

I got to hear her speak in the fall at a local Episcopalian church and her speaking is as profound as her words.

Insightful and very thought-provoking read!

So those are my favorites! What would be your 10 best books of 2016?!

As you make your own lists of books to read in 2017, here are my favorite books from 2015 too.

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  1. Oh man, I'm going to have to come back to this list when I need some new reads! These sound awesome!! Off the top of my head, I'm not sure what my top favorite reads of 2016 would be (I read a lot of books). I did really, really enjoy "Manalive," by Chesterton, and I finally finished "Seven Storey Mountain," by Merton, which I loved. Oh, and I finally read "Mansfield Park" by Austen, and totally loved it.

  2. I love the idea of this list, Patty! And hot dang it's such a good one. Love is an Orientation sounds like something I need in my life. I'm reading Accidental Saints right now but didn't read Pastrix first so that's fun to see on your list too. Also: Merton 4eva. Basically we just need to be bffs.

    1. I started with Accidental Saints too, but the other one gives more background info, both still good though:)
      #Merton4eva !!!!


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