As the year winds to a close and an opportunity for a fresh start approaches, I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads from 2017. Stories have always inspired me and encouraged me to keep going through my hardest days. I find comfort in the redemption stories of others, and in seeing that I am not alone in the darkness.
Here are some of my favorite non-fiction reads from this year. Check back next week for some of my favorite fiction reads!
The Princess Saves Herself In This One is a modern poetry collection by Amanda Lovelace. Amanda’s collection is powerful, honest, and deeply personal. Her style isn’t for everyone, but her story is relatable and her words draw me back again and again. Amanda knows what darkness is and her collection is proof that yo can come out the other end of it. I was lucky enough to chat with Amanda about her story and her work, look for that interview soon!
I devoured many of these books, but especially Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, Anne Lamott’s newest work. It was very timely and personal for me. Lamott discusses the limitless power and presence of mercy in our world and how to embrace it. I recently took a spiritual gifts assessment and mercy was listed as my number one gift, so it is no surprise I connected to Hallelujah Anyway so much. I will likely pick this one up to re-read in the coming months. Like a few others on this list, there is so much good content that is impossible to soak up in one read.
Present Over Perfect was one of those soul refreshing reads that I so needed to start my year with. Shauna Niequist has long been a favorite of mine. I read her book Bread & Wine last year and I cook her Gaia cookies regularly. She’s the reason I started doing regular dinner parties or impromptu girl’s nights. This idea of present over perfect became sort of my mantra this year. The message came through in many other reads and Niequist was the beginning of God sending me this message to slow down and savor my days.
Several of my non-fiction reads this year were directly related to faith or published by Christian writers/speakers. A few of my favorites that deviated from that genre this year were Born A Crime by Trevor Noah, Wild by Cherly Strayed, The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (whose loss I am still mourning), Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Several of these touched on race relations and societal structures, and there was a lot of talk about being true to yourself. I recommend all of them, but fair warning – if you’re going to listen to The Princess Diarist, do it alone with some tissues.
Several of my other non-fiction reads were more faith based, soul searching, love of Jesus and this broken world reads. I sincerely enjoyed Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey and Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. I also regularly seek out both of their blogs each week. I found Learning to Love the Darkness by Barbara Brown Taylor and Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown this year and learned so much from them. These are both books I will likely go back and re-read.
Earlier this year, I discovered one of my new favorite people, Emily Ley. She is the founder of the Simplified Planner, which I can not wait to start using in the new year. She is the author of two books, Grace Not Perfection and A Simplified Life. Emily’s motto of holding yourself to a standard of grace not perfection is something I have clung to this year. She released A Simplified Life a few days before Thanksgiving and it made Amazon’s top 5 books in no time. I read through it on my holiday break and could not wait to get home and implement some of her suggestions. I have gone back to it several times already.
My last book is one I will probably read several more times next year. I borrowed a copy from my library and then immediately sought out a copy to own. About a month later, I listen to the audio book during my daily commute. I still am not sure I really soaked it all in. The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp poured so much hope and faith into my cracked soul this year. This quote has become so true in my life. My soul spent years breaking but God is redeeming my story and his power is moving in my soul now, his light instead of the world’s darkness.