Since I'm about to clear my book list from 2010, I thought I'd run through them and give some very quick reviews. (Then I can start my 2011 list!) If you're looking for some good reads, feel free to take a look:
"Huck" by Janet Elder: A very cute story about a family who finally gets their first puppy and falls in love with it... Then loses it when they go away on vacation. 'Huck' the dog is staying with relatives when he gets out of the yard - but don't worry it's a happy ending - and a true tale of generosity of spirit as the entire New England town comes out to help find Huck! A fun weekend read.
"Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller: A memoir of one man's journey of faith. He's part of my generation and I related to his thoughts on religion and spirituality through different phases of his life. Funny. Profound. Loved it. (This was my second time reading it.)
"When Christians Get It Wrong" by Adam Hamilton: This was a book group pick. It was good... But didn't really challenge me. I felt like I already was in line with what the author was sharing. A message of compassion and grace.
"Beauty" by John O'Donohue: I'm loving this book! I'm reading just a bit at a time, during my morning reading. It's beautifully written, Celtic-based thoughts on what beauty is, where it is, and how we access it. It's a series of essays and easy to read just a few pages at a time.
"The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg: I've been reading this book as a resource for some of our church's monthly theme discussions... And have found that I really like John Ortberg's way of talking about faith and spirituality - with humor, insight, and in ways we can all relate to. This book has challenged me in the use of some of the spiritual disciplines - very cool!
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini: I had heard several people say that this book was not as good as "The Kite Runner," but I really disagree! I found this book to heart-rending and heart-warming at the same time. I laughed and cried. It's the story of two women finding friendship and family in each other in a VERY hard world... Yeah, I probably cried more than I laughed - but it was so good. I didn't want it to end... I wanted to continue following these courageous women!
"Be the Surprise" by Terry Esau: A fun, quick read by a local author. He talks about praying everyday for God to use us to surprise others (with kindness, love, and faith). I love the premise - and the stories spark some cool ideas of ways to live our faith!
"The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness" by Karen Armstrong: This was another Book Group selection. I didn't really care for it much - but many in my group loved it. It's the story of a woman who entered the convent at a very young age during a time when convents weren't very compassionate places. She develops epilepsy while there and when no one acknowledges her medical issues, she spirals into deep despair and depression... By the time she leaves the convent, she doesn't know how she will ever survive in the "real world." The book is a memoir, following her through these dark struggles and into the light again.
"Same Kind of Different As Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore: A Book Group selection that I LOVED! It's funny, sweet, profound, and made me change the way I see the world. A beautiful story of a friendship that grows between a homeless man and a successful art dealer (all because the art dealer's wife says that God showed her that they would be friends!). A wonderful story of following God's guidance and trusting in God no matter what comes your way.
"Fearless" by Max Lucado: If you're familiar with Max Lucado's writings, it's more of the same. If you haven't read him before, give him a try! He has a soft and gentle way of talking about faith - in a way that makes it accessible to all of us. His writing is compassionate and loving, tender and truthful. And this book, in particular, challenges us to live past our fears by placing our trust in God in all we do.
"Amazing Grace" by Kathleen Norris: Another Book Group selection that I loved! She breaks down words that are often used when talking about faith - and defines them in ways that allow love and grace to shine through (rather than the judgement and doubt that we often associate with the words). She redefines a life of faith in beautiful ways!
"The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin: A fun book, a memoir, talking about how the author made intentional decisions to let a little more happiness into her daily life. Great inspiration for us to do the same! Fun ideas to spark a little more happiness in all of our lives!
"An Altar In the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful book! I loved the way this book challenges you to see the sacred all around you, in all you do.
"Journeys to Simplicity" by Philip Harnden: A fun little book. It's compiled of a series of lists - lists of what people (famous and ordinary) have taken on journeys or had in their homes... Living simply takes on a whole new meaning!
"Less is More" by Mina Parker: Love this! I'm still reading a little bit every week. Her words offer us peeks into cherishing the simple blessings in our lives. (And it makes a beautiful, small, coffee table book!)
"This Beautiful Mess" by Rick McKinley: Hmmm... Not my favorite. His messages are good, but he's a little too evangelical for me. Basically, the message is about being more compassionate and loving our neighbors - and through those actions we share the love of God with our world. Like I said, great message! Just didn't care for the style or writing.
"Outlive Your Life" by Max Lucado: I was given this book at a conference this year, so I read a second Max Lucado book in one year! And it's good! Real good! The message is about living your life in a way that makes a difference in the world, that shares the love of God, that opens us up to how God can use us. Love it!
"Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert: One of my favorite reads of the year! I know people have mixed feelings on this one - either you love it or you hate it... But I'm a love it kinda gal. The first time I started it, I hated it - maybe it depends where you are in your own journey... I just loved the insights she learned about herself, her world, her spirit, her future. It inspired me to look at a little closer at my own journey (although a little closer to home!).
"Something More" by Sarah Ban Breathnach: The same author of "Simple Abundance" which I loved... Can't say I loved this one as much. It felt like the author was dealing with her own issues through writing this book, and many of the topics I just couldn't relate to. Of course, there were still some wonderful insights, too - but if you're reaching for one of her books, I would recommend "Simple Abundance."
"A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller: Another of my favorite reads of the year... In fact, probably my FAVORITE book this year - it has changed the way I live my life. He asks, if your life was a storyline - what would you want it to look like? What do you want your story to be and how are you going to make it happen? What are the choices you are going to make everyday to accomplish this? He does it with humor, honesty, and faithful insights... LOVE it.
"Unbinding the Gospel" by Martha Grace Reese: I read this for my research and small groups at church. A great way to understand what evangelism can look like in today's world - and what it doesn't have to look like! It took away a lot of fear of the "e" word for me - and made it a fun topic to discuss!
"The Lakota Way" by Joseph Marshall: We read this to prepare for our mission trip to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota last summer. A beautiful book of short stories, told by the Dakota culture. Spiritual, warm, and full of culture - I really learned a lot and liked this book.
"When You Pray" by Rueben P. Job: A daily prayer book that follows the common lectionary. It includes scripture references, essays, quotes on prayer, and prayer prompts. I love it for daily prayer times!
"The Blue Zones" by Dan Buettner: Not the kind of book I usually read... It's about the "blue zones" on the planet, the places where people live the longest and the healthiest. It breaks down the components of diet, exercise, vitamins, lifestyles - all the things that contribute to the longevity of these places. Very cool! I'm looking forward to reading his new book, "Thrive."
What was your favorite book of the year? I'd love to hear!
Things I am thankful for today:
1. Finally getting some good sleep in the wee hours of morning.
2. An "easy" workout.
3. The song, "I Wanna Lay You Down" by ALO. It was great encouragement on the elliptical this morning!
4. WW weigh-in: 3.2 lbs lost!
5. Getting more little projects done around the house.
6. Reading for my new small group and to prepare for preaching this Sunday. Good stuff.
7. New snow falling!
8. New highlighters.... Always fun.
10. Trader Joe's Joe Joe Mint cookies. Mmmm...
11. Oh! I almost forgot: The owls that were hooting outside our windows in the early morning hours this morning... It was so cool to lay in bed and listen to them calling back and forth!
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