I didn’t read as much as I had intended to last year. In fact, I read far less than I have in previous years.
Life was busy and full, which is good, but it didn’t leave a lot of room for extra reading time.
And if I am being completely honest, I didn’t use my free time the best.
Regardless, I still read some good books this year and as always, my shelves are overflowing with books I want to read and still plan on reading in the New Year.
For today though, before I look forward and start planning my reading goals for 2018, I want to take a look back and reflect on the books that I did read this year that I really enjoyed.
These are the books that I became completely engrossed with, challenged me, made me think, and I looked forward to opening each day.
I used Goodreads to help me organize the books I was currently reading and to set a reading goal of the year. I love having the app right on my phone as it served as a visual reminder of the books I was reading, had already completed, and wanted to read. Are you on Goodreads? You can be my friend here.
So without further ado, here are my personal favorite reads from the year.
My Favorite Books from 2017
The Lifeging Table: Nurturing Faith Through Feasting, One Meal at a Time by Sally Clarkson
About the Book: “Make your table a place where your family and friends long to be―where they will find rest, renewal, and a welcome full of love. In The Lifegiving Table, Sally shares her own family stories, favorite recipes, and practical ideas to help you get closer to the people you love . . . and grow in faith together.”
My Thoughts: I love everything Sally writes and value her as a trusted mentor and encourager to women. She writes from the heart and from her years of experience, and everything she shares is rooted in Scripture.
I actually listened to this on audio but also have a hard copy because there were so many times I had to pause and make a note in my book, which leads me to believe I should have just read it to begin with! 😉
The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis by Nancy Guthrie
About the Book: “Gain a fresh perspective on the book of Genesis, a broader understanding of Jesus as the fulfillment of Scripture, and much more, when you join with Nancy on this incredible journey to see Jesus in the Old Testament!”
My Thoughts: Last spring, I worked through this book and Bible study with a group of ladies from my church and it was amazing. Studying Genesis is not something I had ever done, in fact, most Bible studies are typically on books in the New Testament.
So to spend time digging deeply into the first book of the Bible and to uncover the promises of God and to really see the promise of Jesus was truly eye-opening!
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
About the Book: “It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.”
My Thoughts: I’ll admit that this has been on my to-read list for over 10 years, and I’ll also admit that while reading it, I really wasn’t enjoying it too much. I think that had more to do with what was going on around me and I typically like more fast-paced books.
This was a slow story but beautifully written. In fact, in the weeks and months, after I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It stayed with me like a good story should.
While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin
About the Book: “In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother. Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie’s wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war. And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse. Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected and ultimately discovering truths about God’s love… even when He is silent.”
My Thoughts: I’m a fan of WWII fiction and this one, told from the viewpoint of those on the homefront in the states, was different than other books based on the same time frame. I loved how three sets of characters all intertwined together as the story unfolded.
In fact, I actually learned something new! I had never really understood where the current conflict in Isreal took it’s modern roots from until I read the final chapter which leads me to my own history lesson. I love how historical fiction can help teach us about some of the most important events!
About the Book: “Faith, character, manners, initiative, gratitude—these are just a few of the qualities and skills children need to take to heart before they leave home. Yet parents today do not always have a clear vision for how to cultivate those traits. What does it look like for a mother to train her child’s heart to excellence and goodness? In 10 Gifts of Heart, Sally Clarkson shares biblical wisdom and practical insights from over thirty years of motherhood to show the way.”
My Thoughts: This felt like a combination of some of Sally’s most popular books and thoughts on motherhood but was easily summed up into one practical book. I read this through the summer while she was also doing a Podcast series on the book so it was really helpful to read her words, then to hear her and her friend dive into the subject more.
Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline by Catherine McNiel
About the Book: “Bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, without a moment of peace and quiet, you wonder if the spiritual life you crave is even possible. But God sees you. He designed this parenting journey, after all. He understands the chaos of motherhood. And he joins you in everything―whether you’re scrubbing the floor, nursing a fussy newborn, or driving to soccer practice. Catherine McNiel invites you to connect with God right here, in the sacred mundane of every mothering moment.”
My Thoughts: Different than other books on parenting, this one offers grace and helps to point out God’s love during the long days of motherhood that otherwise feel mundane. I didn’t walk away with lots of “tips” on how to “survive” my days, but rather ways to see Jesus working in my everyday.
One of my favorite quotes from the book: “Mothers serve their families in all manners of dirty and undignified positions, willingly taking on a workload so extensive and ongoing you could never hire someone to do it. To meet the unquenchable thirst of our children’s needs, we empty ourselves again and again. “I have nothing left.” We have all said it at one time or another, even if no one is around to hear it. The services we perform as mothers bring us to the ends of ourselves… And yet it is here, at this broken, depleted moment, that motherhood is most powerfully a spiritual practice. The goal of spiritual disciplines is to bring us to this place, to the place we have lost everything but God. In this deep emptiness, we must cast ourselves upon Him and wait on Him, for we have nothing else, no other hope.”
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
About the Book: “London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is.”
My Thoughts: Another historical fiction piece set around WWII (are you seeing a pattern here?) and I loved this book. It was my favorite read of the year.
I loved the characters and the story that unfolded through the letters written back and forth. I’m leary of books that are written in letter format, but this one did an excellent job of describing the stories, the characters, and the dialogue. A movie version is being released sometime this spring and I’m kind of excited to see it!
Together: Growing Appetites for God by Carrie Ward
About the Book: “Christian parents have a responsibility to make sure their children know and love God’s Word. But what if you struggle as a parent to read the Bible yourself. How can you pass a love for God’s Word along to your children if you struggle with it yourself? That was Carrie Ward’s story. Until God gave her a plan to help her develop a consistent time in the Word, right along with her children.”
My Thoughts: I devoured this book in one Sunday afternoon sitting. It was a quick read, not a book where pages are underlined. More of a memoir of what Carrie did with her family but the message has stayed with me and had helped me feel equipped to begin reading the Bible aloud to my own children.
Comforts from the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time by Elyse Fitzpatrick
About the Book: “Comforts from the Cross provides bite-sized readings to remind women of their place in Christ and of his love in the midst of their busy lives.”
My Thoughts: I read this devotional during Lent and am already planning on re-reading it again this year. If you want a daily devotional book that will point you clearly to Christ, nothing else, and both challenge and encourage your heart, I highly recommend this one!
What were some of your favorite reads of 2017?