Books are all over my house. On my husband’s office shelves, tucked under tables, or sitting pretty on a bookcase. There are at least eight books on my nightstand right now, not counting the ones in the drawer and sprawled open beside my bed on the floor. My dining room table contains my basket of currents morning or weekend reads, many of them piled beside it because they simply don’t fit in.
Through the years, I’ve thought about minimizing the number of books I read. This year, I say, I will only have one book open at a time. It’s never worked. And I think I’ve finally figured out why. I adore the gift of words and want to unwrap them as quickly as possible. I love picking up pages punched through with powerful ideas and thoughts that stick with me like a friend through different periods of my life.
I’m not exaggerating when I say this- I come to every book with an eagerness to see how it will transform me.
I highlight, I underline, I fold the corners of pages. I interact with the sentences and let them lead me down paths I wouldn’t otherwise have gone.
So, without further explanation, I’m sharing with you a list of books I’ve read just in the past couple months, or am currently reading. My hope is that you will start (or continue) to gather your own collection of good stories around your home, piling them high, stuffing them in corners, and letting their pages serve as a reminder that you’re in the middle of your own story and it’s better than any book. Write it well and let every page, every day, be a transformation of sorts.
Come Matter Here: Your Invitation to Be Here in a Getting There World by Hannah Brencher- Pleasantly surprised to find out this book had a lot to do with her ongoing struggle with anxiety and depression. Her perspective on mental health is one we unfortunately don’t hear enough of! Hannah’s words renewed my passion to stay in step with the Holy Spirit even when (especially when) His words to me are more like, “slow down, stay here awhile, and take care of yourself” instead of “move here or go there.”
Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality by David G. Benner- I read a chapter every morning and was convicted every morning in the best sort of way. For instance this sentence made me swallow hard and journal pages of thoughts, “Fearful people live within restrictive boundaries. They may appear quite cautious and conservative. Or they may narrow the horizons of their life by avoidance and compulsion. They also tend to be highly vigilant, ever guarding against life’s moving out of the bounds within which they feel most comfortable.” A short read but one that will leave you stunned and breathless with the profound extravagance of God’s love and it’s centrality to ALL we do. I know I’ll be referring to this one for years to come.
Water To Wine: Some of My Story by Brian Zahnd- This author has been an integral part of my husband and I’s journey over the last year and I can’t wait to read more of His story! I’ve read his book, “Beauty will Save the World” last year and have since started asking some of the deepest questions I’ve ever asked about what I believe about God and is it actually TRUE?! I want to read this one by him too, “Sinners in the Hands of A Loving God.”
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull- As someone who, only in the last few years, has dared to call herself creative, I am especially grateful for books on the topic. This one came recommended to me through some of my favorite artists- Jonathan and Melissa Helser and their A Place For The Heart community. You can find their full list of other books here.
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist- I’m not sure why it took me so long to snatch this one up! I read it on our family beach vacation in June and every chapter was a YES followed by a how-can-I- implement-this-right-now-in-my-life!
Different Drummer: Bold Thinking for the Rebellious Creative by Erik Lokkesmoe- This book came in the mail the other day and I haven’t been able to put it down. I first heard about Erik through an interview on the Makers and Mystics podcast and knew I had to order his book immediately.
Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans- I know some of you may disagree greatly with her journey, her questions, her views on God and the Bible, but this book is pushing me to appreciate mystery and knock me out of my black and white, super comfortable approach to thinking about everything, especially the Bible. (eeekkk!)
Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition by Wendell Berry- I’m learning to love and appreciate Wendell Berry’s words. His style is not something I would have been drawn to in times past. But his writing makes me want to cultivate the earth beneath my feet and take care of every little, living thing.
An Intentional Life: A Life-Giving Invitation to Uncover Your Passions and Unlock Your Purpose by Karen Stott- Her words in Chapter 4 stuck with me the entire book, “Over the years I’ve encountered thousands of women and had hundreds of conversations that have all seemed to start with a simple seed. A God idea. And it made me wonder something.
What is your seed?
What is the idea that keeps nagging you, the dream that keeps you up at night?
What is the “Maybe I should” that is coming to your mind right now?
…you owe it to yourself, and to the God who planted it there, to pay attention, give it some water, and take the first step toward bringing that seed to life.”
Be careful, this book will launch you into an adventure with Him!
The Crosswicks Journal Book 2: Summer of Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle- I read a few pages every night before I turn out the light. This book has unexpectedly gifted me with a stronger desire to genuinely get to know the people in my life and to hold their hearts and stories with tenderness and understanding.
Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor- Could it be true that we as Christians can over expose ourselves to the light? Yes, yes it is. I don’t know about you, but I fear darkness on so many levels. I remember falling asleep every night as a child facing my bedroom door because I thought someone would come and kidnap me if I didn’t. Darkness has always equaled scary to me, but reading this book is opening my eyes to the beauty I’ve been missing out on for so long!
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard- I’m reading this simply because I heard so much about it. Slowly, slowly I’m working my way through these pages. What keeps me coming back to this book is her detailed descriptions, her childlike discoveries, and the way in which she pays attention to all of life. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to see the world the way she does, but I want to practice!
Walden by Henry David Thoreau- Another book that will take me awhile to digest, but I’m okay with that. I need more books on my shelves that read like Thoreau- every sentence a line of poetry, forcing me to stop and think and re-read sentences over again until I understand.
Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff- All I can say about this book is- go get it. Then, let yourself laugh, cry, and weep like a baby. At least that’s what I did, at midnight, when I finished the last few chapters in my bed. Bob Goff has a way of telling stories that will make you want to go out and live yours with wild abandon.
Enjoy your weekend friends!