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The 5 Books I Finished in January

I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books will be books I already own.

(You can see which books I picked to read from those I already own here).

Some of you have told me you think I shouldn’t set book goals and I should just enjoy a book for a book’s sake. Here’s the thing: I actually find book goals fun and motivating. And so long as I’m really enjoying the books in the process, I’m going for it.

By the way, I’m truly loving using GoodReads to track my reading.

Here are the 5 books I finished in January and my honest thoughts:

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

#1 and #2: Angels Walking & Chasing Sunsets

I listened to both of these on the Libby app for free. They are the first two books in a fictionalized series of how angels are walking amongst us and helping to protect us on a daily basis (based upon verses like Psalm 91:11 and Hebrews 13:2).

While I disagreed with some of the theological implications and don’t know that I agree with some of the ways that she presented angels as humans, I found it so good to remember that there are spiritual forces — both good and evil — around us at all times and that there is power in the name of Jesus.

I also found it encouraging to be reminded how God sometimes uses really hard things in our life to turn into some of the most beautiful things. It’s easy to forget this.

The audiobook is narrated by two different voice actors (depending upon who was narrating each chapter in the books) and I thought it was well done and engaging.

My verdict: 3 stars

#3: My Morning Routine

This book is a collection of interviews about the morning routines of a very varied group of people — authors, artists, business owners, and so many others. Some are high profile people. Some are people you’ve never heard of.

But I found it inspiring to read about how so many different people start their mornings with intention. There were many practical ideas and takeaways… and it was also just a great refresher on how to start your mornings well and how the things you do first in the morning impact your entire day.

I will say that there was some repetition in how many people started their mornings and there were also some vastly differing viewpoints on many topics (such as beginning the day with exercise or not, using an alarm clock or not, what you should eat first thing in the morning or whether you should skip breakfast altogether).

Note: this book is not written at all from a Christian standpoint and it profiles a wide variety of people and you will likely not agree with the beliefs or practices of some of the people featured if you are a Christian.

My verdict: 3 stars

#4: Eat Cake, Be Brave

I listened to this book on the Libby app for free and I loved hearing this in her voice. I felt like it made the book come alive and seem so much more authentic.

Melissa has gone through so much in her life from weight struggles, to infertility, to infidelity, to losing a child, to rejection. And almost all women will be able to relate in some way to her story and her bravery will inspired you.

I found myself want to jump up and down and yell “preach it” as I was listening… and I’m not even a very charismatic sort of person. 😉 And I loved the book so much that I ended up buying a copy from Amazon after I finished listening to it since I wanted to have it in my library so I could re-read parts of it and loan it out to others.

My verdict: 5 stars

#5: Deep Work

This book is actually one I had planned to read in 2018, but I’m really glad I saved it for the beginning of 2019 because it was the perfect book to kick off the year.

Deep Work is a little more scholarly than most books I read, but I’m so happy I stuck with it because it really challenged me to think of how I’m approaching life and work and whether I’m investing time every day in what the author refers to as “deep work” — that kind of work that is meaningful and really makes a difference.

The author encourages you to have periods every day where you are completely offline and not distracted by all of the hustle and bustle of life to allow for this “deep work”.

One of my hopes for 2019 was to do a better job of compartmentalizing my work and family life so that they are better separated and I can be fully present and I loved many of the thoughts and strategies presented in this book to help make that a reality. This book provided practical suggestions and helpful ideas in this regard and inspired me to continue to prioritize this compartmentalization.

If you struggle to focus or get things done, if you wish you could be more structured in your day, or you’d like to look back on your week and guarantee that you devoted time to work that matters, I’d definitely recommend reading Deep Work.

My verdict: 5 stars

Book I Started But Didn’t Finish

Beartown. I tried. I really tried to get into this book since I loved A Man Called Ove. But eight chapters in, I just couldn’t deal with the crass language of the teenagers, so I gave up on it.

Bible Reading Progress

I started January 1, 2019 with my commitment this year to begin every day with 30 minutes of time in God’s Word. I’m reading through the New Testament using the She Reads Truth Bible plans at the beginning of each book of the Bible.

I finished all of Matthew and read half of Mark in January.

Speaking of books, I’m giving away this stack of books over on Instagram. Go enter to win here.

What did you read in January? Are there any books you really think I should read in 2019?

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  • Cheryl says:

    Hi! This is what I’m currently reading: All You Ever Know, by Nicole Chung. It is a true story of a Korean girl and her own life story of being adopted and the culture surrounding it. Very interesting and insightful. I’m also reading Homespun edited by Lorilee Cracker which is about Amish and Mennonite women in their own words.

  • BetsyD says:

    I would love for you to read “The Gospel Comes with a House key” by Rosaria Butterfield. Excellent and will absolutely challenge you to consider moving out of comfort areas.

    I read the newest biography on Susannah Spurgeon (Susie) this month and Robert Whitlow’s book “The Witness”. Good books.

  • Ashley says:

    I read “Anne of Green Gables”, “The Read Aloud Revival” and “Christy” all in January. I think that’s a record for me! Anyhow, “Christy” enamored me. I couldn’t put it down! I had never read it before, but loved how it is fact-based and introduced me to a culture that I had honestly never recognized before. You have a heart to further the opportunities and love for people in South Africa, so I think you would enjoy this story if you’ve never read it. ?

  • Kyra Tillman says:

    So far, 2019 has been all Mark Batterson for me. I really enjoy his books. I read In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy day a few years ago (after hearing about it on your blog) and I loved it! I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read more of his work. In January I read Circle Maker, Whisper and Chase the Lion. Now I’m switching gears and diving in to Deep Work.

  • Brooke says:

    Oh man! I would love to win that stack of books, but I’m not on Instagram. 🙁

    In Jan, I read The Life-Giving Home, The Nesting Place, The Known World, Sacred Rest, Dare to Lead, and Tattoos on the Heart.

    You should absolutely read, “Tattoos on the Heart” by Gregory Boyle. Inspiring, challenging, life-changing! Will for sure be one of the best books I read this year!

  • Jody says:

    Like the new format and rating system!

    I am reading “Mom Up” and it is extremely good, very inspiring to mother from a place of being filled up by the Lord. She tackles intentional motherhood, genuine community, refreshing rest, and embracing the chaos. Like you I am not a huge fan of the parenting genre of books but this one is very different and very impactful. I highly recommend it!! Once I’m done with Mom Up next in my que is Parenting the Whole Hearted Child based on your recommendation.

  • Denise H says:

    I’m glad you’re loving Goodreads!

    Did you ever read or watch Christy? If you did and enjoyed it I would recommend Pepper Basham’s new book: My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge.

    Another good one I read recently was from a debut author: We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels.

  • Lisa says:

    I would really love to hear your thoughts on Educated!

  • Debi Z says:

    In January, I finished Cheaper By the Dozen (which I loved), At the Water’s Edge by Gruen (I won’t be reading more titles by her), Sarah’s Key (SO good), Waiting For the Moon by Kristen Hannah (not so much), The Restorer by Sharon Hinck (loved the twists!), and We Are Completely Beside Ourselves. I loved it! If you’re going to read it, don’t read anything about it, just jump in! The cover gives away something I totally didn’t see coming because I didn’t read the cover 🙂 I also read Hillbilly Elegy which was amazing! I usually get bored with nonfiction, but not this book!

  • Myria says:

    I know you said you didn’t finish Beartown and I would urge you to try to stick with it. Yes, the language can be rough however the main message of the book is wonderful. I picked it up because my kids were reading it in school and I was glad to be able to read it along side of them and to have an open discussion about it. A Man Called Ove is my favorite book read of 2018.

  • Stacey says:

    Oh, I totally understand your reasoning behind not finishing Beartown, and I struggled to get into it for different reasons. In the end, it was one of those books that stuck with me so long after I finished reading it. Actually, it’s still with me.

    I finished 6 books in January, the Tearling trilogy (it was ok. I wasn’t happy with how it wrapped and found the first two books better than the third), Blogger Girl (cute, light, fast read), a Tami Hoag that has been on my shelf forever (didn’t love it) and The Last Mrs Parrish….really good. Thank goodness for Goodreads to track them because I forget the titles when I close the book it seems!

  • Rosanna says:

    I read quite a few books in January but some were started in December, already, so I counted those in my total. I read “Keep Your Love On” by Danny Silk. I have read this one before and I think you’d really enjoy how he talks about grace for family members and how to love as Christ does. I also read “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. I finally read it because I had to figure out what the controversy was about. It was an okay book for me, not a lot new but a few reminders that I probably needed. I also finally finished reading “Becoming a Parent After God’s Own Heart” by Stormie Omartian. I am now using this to pray for my kids more regularly. I read Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness.” This is the first book of hers I’ve read. I thought that the way she talked about belonging really was enlightening to me. I realized a lot about myself in that book. I have a bunch of books on the go now.

  • Rosanna says:

    Lol! I just realized that the praying book is actually called “The Power of a Praying Parent.” Opps..

  • Kandra Hawkins says:

    Love Karen Kingsbury…give her other series a try as they come with different perspectives. And have you tried any of the Thomas Kincaide series (Cape Light or Angel Island)? And how about Emily March’s series Eternity Springs?
    I read probably 2 to 3 books a week now that my kids are older. Great that you are committing again this year to your goal!

  • Monica says:

    I love seeing your book suggestions/reviews and have added many to my list! Thank you! I’m currently reading Present Over Perfect. I have to stop and start it so that I can have time to think through the content but I’m finding it very refreshing and I really, really want to move to the lake. 😉 I also just started The Noticer and Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl. Happy Reading!

  • Jenny says:

    Yes yes yes to The Gospel Comes with a House Key. I just finished Lisa Wingate’s “Before We Were Yours”…fantastic and sad all at once. These posts are my favorite. Thank you!!

  • Michelle says:

    Beartown and it’s sequel Us Against You were two of my favorite books last year. The language is hard and the premise is ugly, but his writing is so elegant and the way he crafts a sentence and develops his characters is exceptional. There is a lot of shallow fiction out there but when you find something that sticks with you for months afterwards, you know you have read an amazing book.

  • Becky says:

    I love to read but have the attention span of a fruit fly! My son’s 5th grade class is reading “Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson, about a young slave girl in New York during the American Revolution. I decided to read it with him and was pulled into the story on just the first page! It definitely does not read like a Young Readers book, and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it, and am now starting “Forge”, the second in the “Seeds of America” trilogy by Anderson. I highly recommend the series for your readers who enjoy historical fiction. And I think I’ll look for more Young Reader books – they may hold my attention better!

  • Brynn Greene says:

    I read No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert. A fiction story that talks about racism through the eyes of 3 very different women. Loved it and opened my eyes about racism and how it very much still exists today.

  • Leslie D. says:

    I agree with Betsy D. above. The Gospel Comes With A Housekey, by Rosaria Butterfield is fantastic. But, I would strongly suggest reading her memoir, Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, first. It is an AMAZING story, first and foremost, of just how far and wide God’s love reaches to all of His creation. And second, Rosaria’s obedience to God’s calling is both inspiring and convicting. TGCWAHK is really a continuation of her life as a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom, so the first few chapters might be a struggle if you didn’t know where she was coming from. Can’t recommend (both of them) enough. She’s an English professor, so her writing style is poetic and engaging. I keep re-reading sections of the memoir over and over.

  • Jeanette Pham says:

    An American Marriage was excellent and highly recommend it on audio. Reading House Girl right now, too early to tell if I like it or not. Thoroughly enjoyed Bob Goff’s book, Everybody Always as well as Storytellers Secret.

  • Ashley says:

    So I read 11 books in January (I’m on a reading kick right now), but my favorite was actually a middle grade novel called Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Its one of the best books I’ve read in the past 5 years! It’s so so good! (And I’m normally not huge on middle/grade YA). It’s about a 9 year old girl and her family who emigrate from China to LA in the early 90s and get a job running a motel. It just so beautifully captures the immigrant experience and the experience of poverty without being depressing. And a lot of it is based on the author’s experiences (some of the more amazing bits actually happened!). Can’t recommend it enough!

  • Toni says:

    I read Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns and loved it. I also read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames.

  • Kathy Bragg says:

    I agree with everything you said. I don’t want to fill my mind with evil words, no matter the final outcome. Reading 30 minutes of Bible is so much more profitable. I’m doing a read-through of the Bible this year too, the Chronological Bible. I’ve read God is Able by Priscilla Shirer, Everybody Always by Bob Goff, Losing My Mind by Thomas DeBaggio (true story of his thoughts going into dementia), and It is Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst.

  • Asheritah says:

    Deep Work is one of my favorite reads from last year, so I preordered his new book (just released last week) called Digital Minimalism. My husband is reading it first and he’s really challenged by it. I can’t wait to read it next.

    I also switched from tracking on Pinterest to Goodreads, but I’m not sure how to view books read by year. Did you create a new shelf for 2019, or do you just mark them “read” and add them to your “read” shelf?

  • Angie says:

    I just finished reading “The Girls Who Went Away” by Ann Fessler ?
    My dad was put up for adoption and we found his mom, but she request no contact. This book gives the heart wrenching stories of unwed mothers who surrendered their babies in that time period. My heart aches for these mothers and for my grandmother. I have a completely different view and understanding now.

  • Jennifer C. says:

    I read “Just Mercy,” “Beneath a Scarlet Sky,” “Homeless Bird,” “Hollow City” (2nd book in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series & “The Watsons Go to Birmingham.” Some of these are young adult books b/c I try to read what my kids are reading or read ahead of them to check out content. I love your
    book suggestions & those of your commenters as well. Thanks for the great ideas!

  • I’ve finished a couple books since January but the one that keeps getting me is Everybody Always by Bob Goff. Wow! Good stuff right there! It is quickly moving up in spots on my favorite books ever list. Have you read anything by him before?

  • Bethany says:

    I just started (and am loving) Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not About You by Sharon Hodde Miller. It is such a refreshing perspective in an egocentric culture.

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