Back in December when everyone and their dog shared their top books list from the year, I missed the opportunity entirely to join in the fray, being the procrastinator that I am. But it’s still only January, so before we step into February, may I present you with a humble book list of my own?
It’s actually not my top picks. It’s everything I read. Somehow I managed to get through a long list this year, thanks to the Tim Challies reading challenge, which I’m doing again this year. So rather than rating books or limiting them to my favorites, I’m supplying you with a (mostly) one-line summary of every book I read in 2016. Because I know it’s impossible for you to move on any further with your life without knowing exactly what I read last year. (You’re welcome.)
So, in no particular order, here we go . . .
20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves by Peter and Kelli Worrall
Biblical and practical counsel from a mature, married couple, which apparently resonates well with young adults, given the traction my book review received on Lies Young Women Believe.
Queen Victoria by E.G. Browne and Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey
Sparked by my exposure to the film “Victoria & Albert,” these two accounts of England’s famous queen did not disappoint my newly formed fascination with the British Monarch in general, and Queen Victoria in particular.
Counterfeit Gods and The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
I shall soon be re-reading these eye-opening books, both of which came highly recommended and did not disappoint.
The God Who is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story by D.A. Carson
I technically finished this one in 2017, but the bulk of it was read in ’16. Regardless, it is an excellent way to walk a skeptic or unbeliever (or seasoned Christian!) through the Bible for a greater understanding of who God is.
Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, and Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
It was high-time I relived my childhood and entered into the wild and wonderful world of Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Carrie Ingalls, where the itch to go west never subsides, the twang of Pa’s fiddle soars right off the page, and the smell of those flapjacks sizzlin’ on the stove top will make you slap ya mama!
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekkyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Strange, yes, but clever and fascinating, too, which is the perfect combo for keeping one’s attention while making a ten-hour drive.
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith by Rosaria Butterfield
Anything with her name on the end of it is worth reading, but particularly this account of her journey from being a lesbian, feminist, and atheist, to a daughter of the King, wife, and mother. (Bonus: check out her radio interview on Revive Our Hearts, plus click here to read my own “interview” with her.)
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
I read the first six books of The Chronicles of Narnia at least three or four years ago . . . and yes, it really did take me until now to return to Narnia to conclude the series. (Please put down the tomatoes!)
The Joy Project: A True Story of Inescapable Happiness by Tony Reinke
Not actually a book on joy, but on the joy God displayed in His beautiful gospel story, this short read by the host of the Ask Pastor John podcast is possibly the best book I brought home from the Bethlehem Conference in Minneapolis last January.
The Princess Adelina by Julie Sutter
I needed another fiction on my list, so I dusted off this neglected book from my shelf and enjoyed this eighth-century tale of an Irish missionary married to a wicked king . . . who lives happily ever after.
Baptism: Three Views edited by David Wright, with contributions by Sinclair Ferguson, Bruce Ware, and Anthony Lane
Clearly the curiosity which motivated me to purchase this book petered off after while, as I started this book so long ago that the assistant pastor at my Baptist church who recommended it to me has since moved on and planted a Presbyterian church. (Figure that one out.)
The von Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp
When I read this family’s narrative, which goes well beyond the years depicted in the famous musical, “The Sound of Music,” I had no idea that three months later I would be walking the streets of Salzburg and climbing a mountain to sing “The hills are alive!” (And even if you never make it to Salzburg or burst out in song atop a mountain, this story is well worth your time.)
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Because every twelfth month at minimum deserves a return to this witty, charming nineteenth-century authoress.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Because every twelfth month at minimum deserves a return to this witty, charming nineteenth-century authoress. Oh wait . . .
Hiding in the Light: Why I Risked Everything to Leave Islam and Follow Jesus by Rifqa Bary
Fascinating narrative of a Muslim girl hiding her Christian conversion from her family in order to escape punishment . . . possibly even death.
The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism by Jeffrey Jones
Well, you see where my previous read on baptism led me. (Not to the Presbyterian church-plant . . . ) In all seriousness, this isn’t so much a baptismal (nor dismal) debate, but a thought-provoking treatise on covenant theology.
Crazy Busy: A Mercifully Short Book About a Really Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung
No longer able to use busyness as an excuse not to read this (as the subtitle calls it) mercifully short book, I’m grateful for the insights Pastor DeYoung shares from his own struggles and victories with managing his calendar and maintaining margin in his life.
Joyfully at Home: A Book for Young Ladies on Vision and Hope by Jasmine Baucham Holmes
Having first read this when it was published seven years ago (and when I was an unabashed Jasmine Baucham fan), and having discovered that Jasmine has reappeared in the public blogging/social media world, I decided to revisit her book to see how or if my perspective of both the author and her views on life after high school had changed . . . and let’s just say we’ve both stuck to our principles while also allowing a hopefully more grace-filled view on how those principles are applied individually.
Life of Washington by Anna C. Reed
I needed a biography to round out my reading list, so out came this little gem written one generation after George Washington and the Revolutionary War. (That’s my kind of history book!)
Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies
This is another book that came highly recommended and which I will probably read again sooner than later, because this “P” (from the Meyers-Briggs personality assessment) could always use some more organization and motivation in her life.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
This novel is not really about a witch at all, but about a young lady who learns what true kindness and love is from a slightly nutty albeit sweet widow who lives alone on the outskirts of a puritan village.
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller
Initially this is what my small group was going to work through together, but when that idea was dropped, I ended up reading it on my own and gleaning some meaningful and practical revisions for my own prayer life–which is still a work in progress!
The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption by Matt and Lauren Chandler
More commentary than self-help book, Matt and Lauren walk you through the gospel found in the Song of Solomon, and talk about dating and marriage from both the passage and their personal love journey together.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
This book is not for you unless you’re a sports lover, or a fan of the Olympics, or a history buff, or an aspiring athlete, or a proud American, or one who loves a thrilling, heart-wrenching, inspiring, epic tale. Nope, probably not for you.
Being There: How to Love Those Who Are Hurting by Dave Furman
Wow, wow, wow. Such. Good. Stuff. Whether you’re the caregiver or the one hurting–or in the rare and blissful state of neither–you should read this book. (Bonus: If I were to create a top five list, this would easily make the list.)
The Pastor’s Wife: A Courageous Testimony of Persecution and Imprisonment in Communist Romania by Sabina Wurmbrand
I picked up this book while doing research for a post on Sabina for a True Woman blog series and was both aghast and inspired by the pages written by this brave yet humble woman of God who suffered so much and complained so little.
Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Quite possibly my “favoritest” of favorite novels, I listened to the audio book of Alcott’s classic story of the March sisters (and its sequel) probably a dozen times this year alone. (Bonus: Audio books are good for more than road trips–they come in handy for stubborn, sleepless nights as well!)
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
This American novel is of a different nature (pun intended) than what I typically read, and though I’ve not actually read the first in the series, Freckles, I enjoyed quite well this whimsical tale that takes place in my neighboring state of Indiana.
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore
Beth Moore did a great job on her first novel, a suspenseful drama set in New Orleans, and pleasantly surprised me with her ability to draw together mystery, romance, and humor, with a gospel flavor woven throughout.
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds by Jen Wilkin
In this 154-page paperback, Jen covers why you’re probably not in the Word, why you should be in the Word, what tools and method to use for a meaningful experience in the Word, and where to get started.
A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker
My first ever Ted Dekker thriller . . . and call me a wuss but for this to be a Bible-based story about a girl, it was super intense! As my Granddaddy would say, “It was good . . . if you like that sort of thing.” (And it was.)
The Biggest Story: How the Snake-Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung
Although technically a children’s book, this is a simple yet beautiful re-telling of the gospel story from Genesis to Revelation, with colorful, spell-bounding illustrations by Don Clark.
Congratulations, you made it!
Some point soon (don’t hold your breath) I will share my 2017 book reading challenge. But for now I want to hear from you. What book(s) did you read in 2016? What impacted you the most? Which would be on your top five/ten/twenty list of recommendations?