It has been said, "You are what you read."
I know that to be true in my own life. Books change me. They shape my ideals. They enlarge my vision of the world. They help nourish my mind with compassion, empathy, and understanding as I'm able to walk in another man's shoes for a few pages.
For better or worse, I am never the same person after I read a book.
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This year, my TO READ shelf on GoodReads was brimming with potential titles. And while I wasn't able to get to them all, I was able to enjoy many.
Here's a list of my Top 10 picks from 2015. (Quick disclaimer: I did not agree with every single word in any of these books. A couple of them made me bristle. But, to be honest, sometimes those are the most valuable reads. They make me examine my beliefs, take stock of Truth, and hold fast to my convictions. They force me to know that I know what I know.)
By Deeanne Gist
Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of fiction. A story really has to be compelling to hold my interest. But this summer as I was staring down a three-hours-both-ways road trip in the passengers seat, I decided I needed to bring along a light, breezy fiction to keep myself occupied. A Bride in the Bargain came highly recommended by some online sites I trust. It did not disappoint. It was light. It was breezy. And most importantly, it was all that a quintessential Christian romance novel should be.
By Alice Ozma
This, too, was quite a departure from my normal book choices. Written as a series of short memoirs, this book details the impact books had on the shaping of a young woman's life. When she was a girl, Alice's dad made her a promise. He vowed to read aloud to her every night until the day she left for college. He made good on his pact and created a lifetime of shared memories with her. This book was so inspiring and definitely a good reminder to prioritize read aloud time in my homeschool day.
By Rachel Held Evens
I'm gonna be really honest, this book was a challenge. I disagreed with a large majority of it, as I think the author took much of her Scripture "proofs" out of context. But, there were nuggets here and there that were so good and so life-giving that I think it is worth adding to my TOP 10. If nothing else, THIS was the book that propelled me to search Scriptural truth the most this year and for that, I can only be grateful.
By Neil T. Anderson, Rich Miller, & Paul Travis
What started out as a research book for a talk I was giving to a large group of women, quickly became one of my favorite reads of the year. I think I may have highlighted and underlined half the book. It was a compelling look at how Christians try hard, harder, hardest to be good enough for God and provides practical tips for finding freedom from guilt, shame, and pride.
By Debrah Bell
Years ago, before I ever started officially homeschooling, I read The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. It is a fantastic homeschooling primer and really helped me launch into home learning on solid ground. Since my daughter began taking her first high school level course this year, I reached out to Ms. Bell once again. Like its predecessor, this ultimate guide really is ULTIMATE. It's jam-packed with resources, lists, and all-things-high school. It's like the Mary Poppins carpet bag of homeschooling older kids-it holds it all! This is definitely a book worth adding to your homeschool reference library.
By Ruth Soukup
As a ministry blogger, I have the unenviable task of balancing faith and finance. On the one hand, there are mommas who need encouraging and equipping, and on the other, there are little mouths to feed and bills to pay. I never want to proselytize my readers and abuse their trust in me. This short eBook helped me find a healthy middle ground amid the dichotomy. If you are a blogger or have blogging aspirations, I'd highly recommend this quick read. The information is current and on-point with the latest blogging trends.
By Myquillyn Smith
At first glance, this might appear to be another superficial decorating book for the wealthy and privileged. But, it's not. While it is a book dedicated to helping you create beautiful spaces, it is so much deeper than that. It invites you to welcome the imperfect of life, to be fully present in and grateful for the space you've been given, and to embrace your real YOU. While reading it, I found myself quoting lines from this book to anyone who would listen.
By Jen Hatmaker
Written as a collection of short essays on all-things-faith-fun-and-family, this book is hilarious and profound wrapped up with a ribbon of big Texan love. I'll admit that the author is a bit crass at times, and even a tad indelicate. But, it's mostly in order that she might prove a worthy point. For the most part, it is SPOT ON and I'd highly recommend it.
By Gladys Hunt
(There is something strangely paradoxical about writing about a book about books on a list of TOP 10 books. Anybody?? But, I digress...) This book summed up all my long-held beliefs about books and laid them all out on the black-and-white page. My poor husband had to endure many nights of, "Let me read you this paragraph. It's so great!" My TO READ book shelf is now brimming with additional titles thanks in part to the great book suggestions that flow from each page.
By Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.
This book was a game-changer for me. Written by a medical doctor who spent years as a practicing herbalist, it is a wonderful balance of both worlds. Americans, myself included, have gotten so lazy in their home health abilities that our natural knee-jerk reaction for any ailment is to head to the nearest clinic. But, seeing a doctor for common accidents and/or illnesses is like using a chainsaw to cut something when a butter knife would do. A doctor and the pharmaceuticals he/she would prescribe can usually cure all of the simple stuff, but there are simpler home-remedies that are often safer, less-invasive, and just as effective. My family's sustained health this year is a glowing testament to the helpful advice and wisdom found in this book. So long colds and flus that just won't ever seem to go away!
What were your top picks from this past year? Got any suggestions you think I might like? Do tell.