Reading {AND WINNING!!} Good Books

This list of books has only sat here waiting on me to share it for 6 weeks. If it’s dated in February, it still qualifies as a “New Years” post, right?

There are a variety of factors contributing to this post's tardiness, not the least of which is that I basically re-read 3 or 4 of the books while doing my “research” for the post, and also had nostalgic flashbacks of all the year’s highlights as I listed each one.

When you think about a book you’ve read, does it take you back to the season, place, or experience you were having while you were reading it? I think of a book and suddenly can smell the salty sea air, feel the anxious motion of the plane over the Atlantic, hear the May chorus of birds feeding their young and mosquitos feeding on skin.    

And, as if “reading” while driving to the gas station, chopping onions, cleaning the closet, brushing the dog, clipping one’s nails, etc. etc. wasn’t a good enough list of reasons to adore audio books, I’ve concluded that listening makes the recall even more vivid. (Did you think you’d get my book list without paragraphs of audio book accolades? Think again. I need to become a paid affiliate for Audible already.) Something about listening engages the senses even more. I’m pretty sure this is scientific, John Tesh can you back me up?

Good books, in any form, have the ability to expand your imagination and exposure to the world, while also enhancing the current reality you’re in.

I didn’t finish as many books last year as I’d hoped, although 16 is a fitting number for 2016. The older I get, the slower I’m reading. And no, I don’t mean because my eye sight is going bad, contrary to the assumption of my teenage friends, who think 30 is basically one stumble away from the nursing home.

I just don’t rush through, desperate for the end anymore. I’m intent on catching the nuances and letting the story sink in, so I re-read pages and hit the 30 second replay again and again. Hopefully this appreciation for the journey over the destination I’ve found in reading will become a trend in all areas of life.

Ok then, here are the books.

Asterisks mean I would read again/recommend. (A) means audio.

Nobody’s Cuter Than You- Melanie Shankle (A)

Why Not Me?- Mindy Kaling (A)

Everything You Ever Wanted- Jillian Lauren (A)

*What’s So Amazing About Grace- Philip Yancey

*Big Magic- Elizabeth Gilbert (A)

Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris (A)

*Help, Thanks, Wow- Anne Lamott (A)

*Bittersweet (read again)- Shauna Neiquist

*Tattoos On The Heart- Gregory Boyle

Obsessed- Ted Decker

*Man’s Search For Meaning- Viktor Frankl

*Present Over Perfect- Shauna Neiquist (A)

*Coming Clean- Seth Haines

*Quiet- Susan Cain (A)

*Behind The Beautiful Forevers- Katherine Boo (A)

**Rising Strong- Brené Brown

A quick rundown on my three favorites:

Tattoos On the Heart- Boyle’s life is full of the most colorful characters (who also happen to have colorful language), and his stories enable us to see beneath the rough exterior of a population often written off as despicable and dangerous, to the tender hearts inside. The book gives a glimpse into his decades of experience living and serving in the gang capital of the word, and allows us to see beyond the political rhetoric surrounding border control, poverty, drug dealing, gang violence, etc. and into the living, breathing, aching human hearts we often miss. Tattoos On the Heart is heartbreaking and hilarious, filled to the brim with grace and compassion.

You stand with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: kinship. You stand with the belligerent, the surly, and the badly behaved until bad behavior is recognized for the language that it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear.


Rising Strong- This book is perhaps an example of my taking savoring too far. I started it in February, and, desperate to absorb the message, read a page or two at a time and didn’t finish it until after Christmas. Brené brings understanding to shame, sensitivity, empathy, vulnerable relationships, and whole-hearted living. Her attainable research and real life examples have been instrumental in my emotional healing and growth. Choosing one quote to leave you with was nearly impossible since I had no less than 17 pages dog-eared, and hardly one of the 280 was without underlining or with exclamation marks in the margins.

 “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”


Coming Clean- Memoirs are currently my favorite genre, and Seth Haines’ did not disappoint. In the chronicling of his journey to sobriety, we can all find our stories even if alcohol has never been our vice, because none of us are strangers to pain, fear, emptiness, the ache of unanswered prayers, and the doubts that try to flood out faith.

“…the friends of Job, the agnostics, the atheists, me—we all grope about for God, trying to make sense of his character. Some of us fancy ourselves theologians, rest in structure and our practices. Some of us float about on mystic spirit winds. Others live in doubt or disbelief. But we are all together, bumping into each other as we try to make sense of this cosmic moment we call life. We are sometimes the abusers, sometimes the abused. But even still, we are always loved by God; we are called to love like he loves, too.


Honorable Mention: Quiet- I can’t miss the chance to put in a quick plug for this book. It was a little dense for audio and would be easier to digest if read the old-fashioned way, but I highly recommend it. If you’re an introvert, a highly sensitive person, are fascinated by personality types and the history, science, and culture behind them, or struggling to understand a loved one whose personality drastically differs from yours, put this book in your Amazon cart asap. It’s full of fascinating studies, examples, and stories that keep it interesting and not text book-ish.

And now for the fun part…A free book!! Comment here or directly on the social media post and share one of your favorite reads from last year, and also which book on this list you’re most interested in. You can comment again and tag a friend to get more entries. I’ll select a random winner on Friday the 3rd, and send the winner their book of choice from the list. Happy reading, friends!

(*Giveaway is now closed.)