I love to read. Not only does it open up new worlds and new ideas to me, but it inspires me as a blogger, thinker, speaker, and writer. Of the 82 books I read in 2014, here were my top 10 favorites:
1. Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To Do List, and Letting Go of a Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters — As a Type A gal who struggles to slow down, this book really challenged, impacted, and motivated me. If you need some encouragement to spend less time distracted by devices and busyness, I’d highly recommend this book. For more inspiration, check out Rachel’s blog: Hands Free Mama.
2. The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages — If you’ve heard me give my Say Goodbye to Survival Mode talk this year, you’ll remember that I read the Fantastic Five for Him from this book. I loved the five simple but highly impactful things this books shares that wives can do to show their husbands they love him. And my husband (and other guys I’ve asked) have agreed that the list is spot on! If you are married or planning to get married, do yourself a favor and get a copy of this well-researched book. Even if you don’t agree with everything in the book, I’m pretty positive it will make you step back and examine how your actions and attitudes toward your spouse.
3. Secrets of Dynamic Communication — If you are an author or a speaker (or you hope to become one!), I can’t recommend this well-written book highly enough. Ken Davis is a dynamic speaker with years of experience and he’s a goldmine of wisdom. By following the things I’ve learned from him, I’ve become a much more effective and engaging communicator.
4. Chasing Francis — I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but the title and description intrigued me and it was endorsed by Mark Batterson (an author I love — see below!), so I read it. And I’m so very grateful I did because it messed with me in a very good way. It challenged me to step back and really examine my beliefs and how I’m living out those beliefs.
5. In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day — Since I’ve loved the other Mark Batterson books I’ve read, I picked up this title based upon his name alone. And it turned out to be the best book I’ve read in a long time. In fact, if you’ve spent any time with me in the past three months, you’ve probably heard me talk about it. If you are struggling with direction, wondering what your purpose in life is, and questioning what you were created for, do yourself a favor and read this book. You just might not be the same ever again!
6. Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval — And Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes — I highly, highly recommend this book if you find yourself (like me) having perfectionistic, people-pleasing tendencies. It’s well-written and engaging, but more than that, the message is powerful, freeing, life-changing!
7. The Nesting Place — Confession time: I’ve never nailed anything on a wall on any house I’ve ever lived in (friends & family have taken pity on me and done it for me), but this book moved me at a deep level. I want to stop making excuses that “I’m not a decorator” — borne out of my own insecurity and concern over what people will think or that I’ll do it all wrong.
Instead, I just want to be free to experiment, take risks, and try new things — not only when it comes to our home decor, but in all areas of my life. It’s time to say goodbye to performance, perfectionism, and people-pleasing… And to start living with braveness and boldness.
8. The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You — One of the perks of being an author & blogger is getting to read pre-release copies of great books like this! If you feel overwhelmed with life and can’t seem to find time to recharge your batteries, I wholeheartedly encourage you to pre-order a copy of this book.
I’ve long admired how Jessica manages to do so much, and yet still have time for things she loves — like hanging out with friends and family, scrapbooking, and blogging. In The Fringe Hours, she unveils her secrets to success and gives you the tools, tips, and techniques you can use to find time in your full schedule to refresh yourself and refill your tank, too.
9. Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life — Ya’ll. Do yourself a massive favor and go pre-order this book. It is SO good. Michele is one of the best communicators I’ve ever known. The way she paints pictures with words moves and inspires me as a writer.
But her book is much more than beautiful word pictures; it’s the story of a woman finding hope and peace in the middle of messes, heartaches, and unexpected difficulties in life. Highly recommended.
10. Me Before You — This was one of the most heart-breaking, compelling, and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. I thought it was very well-written and found it hard to put down. In fact, I read the entire book in one day! Caveat: This book is not written from a Christian perspective, has quite a bit of language, and the plot line deals with suicide in a very raw form. I didn’t agree with the outcome of the book, but it made me dig deep and think hard… and books that do that are ones I feel are very worth my time.
What were your top reads from this past year? Any books that I must, must read? I’d love to hear!