I shared a list like this at the beginning of 2016, and it was fun. When things are fun, sometimes you do them again.
The hero of this list is the Amarillo Public Library. Of my four books, 3 of them were checked out from that wonderful place. In fact, of the 54 books I read last year, 30 of them were loaned to me, physically or virtually, from the best-we-spend-taxpayer-money-on-in-my-opinion, the public library!
I said virtually in that sentence because, miracle of all technological miracles, I can check out e-books AND audio books on my iPhone. Thank you Uncle Sam AND Steve Jobs!
The other hero of this list is the webpage Goodreads. I love my little Goodreads app where I can keep track of what I read, because I know I wouldn't have remember all 54 of those books. It helped tremendously in making this list.
I love me some goals, and Goodreads has an annual reading challenge. Last year I set my sights on the goal of reading 52 books, and I crushed reading in December and surpassed my goal by 2. Go me!
Here's 4 books that really got me in the gut, mind, or heart. These books changed me a little, and I think they are well worth your time.
1. Unashamed by Lecrae
I was touched by Lecrae sharing the truth about his childhood. I've been working in inner-city ministry for about 20 years. When you've had a middle class upbringing, you might read Lecrae's story and assume that he is the exception or unique. I think most of the kids I've encountered in our ministry would relate to Lecrae's early years, the physical abuse, the sexual abuse, being handed off to grandparents for months, the hurt of being fatherless, and/or the pressure to find your place in a violent culture. There are kids just like Lecrae in your cities and towns, with just as much potential!
I also admired Lecrae's honesty about his early Christian years, becoming very legalistic. I recognize myself in that struggle. It just took me longer to figure out I couldn't be good enough, because I am such a good girl.
I think the reason Lecrae has found an audience is because we all feel like an anomaly, we all don't fit in on this Earth. I look forward to Heaven, when we will all be fully ourselves and fully the Bride of Christ. On that day, I'll be happy to stand beside brothers like Lecrae as well as brothers and sisters from every nation and worship The Lord as one. Until then, we can learn so much from audio-biographies like this one that help us understand cultures different from our own. If you had a childhood similar to Lecrae, this story can help you process your own grief, but if you didn't it can bring you understanding. Either way, this book can lead us to be a better version of His Church while we are here on Earth.
2. Falling Free by Shannan Martin
I thought I knew what to expect from this book because I had read quite a bit of Shannan's blog and listened to interviews from Shannan, but this book surprised me in all the best ways. I didn't expect to be so challenged. I had to rethink some ideas that I thought I had already pushed so close to Jesus, they had to be right. Shannan's stories draw me even closer to that every pressing goal of thinking, talking, acting, and living more Christlike. She shows the grey, the not easy, in the pressing on and pressing in. All of this idea-wrestling is done with lovely, kind, poetic, beautiful words. Her book is a friend that isn't afraid of the hard days.
Shannan's writing is relatable, kind, interesting, inspiring, and down-right challenging. If you read it, like I did, I know you will love it. My copy is getting a good re-read, as currently I am going through this book with a group of ladies who are meeting monthly to discuss it. In re-reading this, the Lord has already used Shannan's words to push me farther into freedom and trusting Him.
The chapter that has really was a lifeline for me during this crazy time of trying to climb the mountain of international adoption is chapter four, Unplan. Listen to this quote.
Yep. That's truth right there. And thank the Lord that he doesn't just lead me back to myself. I would make an awful, horrible, no-good god.
3. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
This book pushed me WAY out of my comfort zone, but I will never look at this country of ours the same again. I thought the constitution protected our citizens. Now I know it doesn't. I know that sounds dramatic, but there is great misuse of the 4th amendment and abuse of the 13th amendment in our country right now.
I think stories speak louder than political debates, so I will share this quote with you. It is a long one.
If these heartbreaking injustices don't hit close enough to home, I was not surprised to see that the Tulia drug bust debacle was mentioned on the first few pages of The New Jim Crow.
I know the idea that our wonderful, glorious country could have such a huge flaw in our justice system is extremely uncomfortable. I know as a white girl, I have the luxury of ignoring the problem or believing the criminalization of people with brown skin is warranted by bad decisions and actual criminal activity. It isn't always true.
I pray that our justice system becomes more just. I pray we all will get past our preconceived ideas and just try to understand the ideas in this book.
4. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Ok. That last book was intense. Here's some fun, easy, enjoyable fiction. I had way too much fun reading this. I especially loved that the author cashed in on the nordic obsession starting to find its way into our culture (Ikea, hygee, biking, danish food becoming more mainstream.)
To be honest, this wasn't the best fiction book I read last year, but it was the most fun. Sometimes when the world is a little dark, fun is just what we need.
I hope you found a book you want to add to your "to-read" list from my list.
If not, I'm on Goodreads updating what I'm reading all year long. I'd love for you to be my friend on Goodreads. Click here to view my profile, and click "add as a friend."
My favorite band had just released a new album when I did my "4 Books I Loved in 2015," and now one year later, they have another new album. It feels like the happiest of accidents or just a mid-level band with incredible work ethic.