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If I wrote down all the books I start each year, the list would be long and tedious. But the number of books I finish? Well that list is far more manageable. For the last several years, I’ve started writing down the titles of books I finish – partial reads don’t go on the list.

There are still a few weeks left in 2016, but as of now I have finished 27 books. This is less than I planned (and less than usual) but I did start quite a few I haven’t yet finished. We’ll see how 2017 goes.

Of those books, I’ve chosen my top 10 favorites to share with you, listed here in no particular order. All of the “about the book” descriptions come directly from the Amazon book summaries where I am a grateful affiliate, followed by a short explanation of why I loved the book.


First Women by Kate Andersen Brower

Genre: Politics & Social Sciences

About the book: “An intimate, news-making look at the true modern power brokers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: the First Ladies, from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.”

Why I loved it: While I’m not motivated to read about the policy of politics, I am deeply interested in the people. What makes them tick? What is it really like to live in the White House, to raise a family in such a high stakes political environment? I loved learning the answers to some of those questions and reading a lot of behind-the-scenes stories of the First Ladies, their relationships with their husbands, their staff, and one another.


The Way Of The Heart by Henri Nouwen

Genre: Christian Living

About the book: “The Way of the Heart clears before us a spiritual path consisting of three stepping-stones: Solitude (learning not to be alone but to be alone with God); Silence (the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive); and Prayer (standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart).”

Why I loved it: I always appreciate the way Henri Nouwen can say what he means in so few words and still be deeply profound.


All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth

Genre: Memoir

About the book: “This is the searing story of Edie’s soul-searching journey out of the rubble of her childhood, through the devastating choices of her adulthood, and into a life of healing and forgiveness that she never dreamed possible. ”

Why I loved it: This book both broke and healed my heart. As I read the details of Edie’s life growing up in southern Appalachia, I hung on every loss, every redemption, every connection, and every regret.

Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I read in the carpool line, on the airplane, at my kitchen island while the dinner cooked. I stayed up too late and woke up too early just to read this book. In the end, I loved it because understanding her story helped me understand my own.


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the book: “The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.”

Why I loved it: I finished this book last week and am still walking around in a bit of a fog thinking about it. First, I love books about sisters – the complicated loyalties and conflicting personalities that often surround sister characters. The setting remains fascinating to me (German-occumpied France in WWII). Mostly, though, I just loved the writing. So good.


Wisdom Distilled from the Daily by Joan Chittister

Genre: Spiritual Growth

About the book: “An examination of how the Rule of Saint Benedict continues to be one of the world’s greatest models for spiritual growth and connecting with God.”

Why I loved it: My spiritual director recommended this one when I told her I wanted to learn more about establishing a rule of life. If you don’t know what that is (I didn’t), it’s simply a way of intentionally choosing a life-long rhythm to foster healthy spiritual formation.

Dallas Willard calls it “curriculum in Christ-likeness” while John Ortberg says it’s a “game plan for morphing.” I read a little every morning and thoroughly enjoyed it.



 Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

Genre: Christian Living/Spiritual Growth

About the book: “This book is for anyone who is weary–who longs for rest but doesn’t know how to make it a reality. Miller shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives–from small windows of time to a whole morning or day.”

Why I loved it: Shelly knows the importance of creating space for our soul to breathe. Quite simply, I loved this book because it re-awakened my long-held yet recently over-looked desire to Sabbath, to put practical, tangible rhythms into place so that I can actually, fully rest each week. I will be forever grateful to Shelly for re-awakening that in me.


Falling Free by Shannan Martin

Genre: Christian Living/Spiritual Growth

About the book: “Shannan Martin invites readers into the messy beauty of living open to God’s upside-down best by telling the moving, funny, powerful story of her family’s adventure of finding God in the margins.”

Why I loved it: I’ve been waiting for Shannan to write a book for years. When I finally got my hands on an early copy of Falling Free, I had a hard time putting it down. Shannan has a way of turning a phrase into something so surprising, so stunning it will both catch your breathe and break your heart. This happened for me on nearly every single page, which is why I loved this book so much.



The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

Genre: Christian Living/Spiritual Growth

About the book: “A provocative and poignant look at the radical, no-holds-barred love of our Heavenly Father. It is a message that will forever change how you view God.”

Why I loved it: When I think of Brennan Manning, I think of the love of God. That is the legacy he left behind – a simple story of how God loves as as we are not as we should be. I read this book on my kindle app on my phone through this year and it was the perfect message to take with me on the go to read in the normal pauses of time of ordinary days.



The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

Genre: Christian Living/Self-Discovery

About the book: “Witty and filled with stories, this book allows you to peek inside each of the nine Enneagram types, keeping you turning the pages long after you have read the chapter about your own number.”

Why I loved it: I’ve read a lot about the Enneagram online but this is the first full length book I’ve read from cover to cover about it. I already knew I enjoyed Ian Morgan Cron’s writing voice (his book Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me was one of last years favorite reads) so I was appreciative of this non-clinical perspective of the Enneagram.


The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Genre: Fiction

About the book: “A dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate at a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War.”

Why I loved it: My friend Jessica Turner recommended this one to me and she’s not steered me wrong yet. This book is fast-paced, heartbreaking, and difficult to read at times. But I’m glad I read it and the characters stayed with me long after I finished.


As you make your own lists of books to read next year, here are my favorite books of the past two years:


Every month I send out a list of what I’m currently reading, along with a secret post you won’t find anywhere else.

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Happy reading!