Lately, I have been so surprised as to how each book I've read has been the book I needed to read. There isn't usually a reason for the next book that I pick up, but I do try and have three current reads at a time, especially if I have a goal to read a certain amount each year. For instance, this year I want to read 24 books and I have my books separated into genres/themes and I try to have one from each grouping going at a time. Besides this, I normally just pick one randomly when it's time to begin a new one. But so far this year, when I've finished a book, I have realized that it was the book I needed for that moment. I wish I could recap all of them so far this year, maybe one day I will, but today I'll talk about "The Secret Garden" and how it met me right where I am in learning how to simply choose truths over lies.
Each year, I set a goal of what books I want to read. And usually, I make it nowhere close to that goal. I say this same thing each year as well: this year will be different. So, whether that happens or not, we will see. Regardless, this year I wanted to read more of the books that are on my shelf. Because, friends, I buy so many books. Yet, I don't make the time to read them. Which is so sad to me, because I love to get lost in a really good book. With the exception of a couple of books I had pre-oredered, most books for my list this year are already on my shelf or Kindle. If not, I'm making a trip to the library! I also wanted to fully take part in the reading challenge by Modern Mrs. Darcy. Each year she hosts a reading challenge with great categories. Lastly, I wanted to challenge myself to read one classic a month. There are still a couple of spots to fill, but here are the books I want to read in 2018.
Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge
What is on your reading list this year?
Affiliate links are present on this post. Meaning if you purchase, I also get a little something.
Since my last bookshelf update, I've finished a couple, started some new ones, I'm still working my way through a couple, and I've dropped a few to return to at a later time. The good thing is, my Christmas vacation includes a six hour drive to see family in Memphis, so many books accompany me on the trip. Here are a list of books I've read and a few that I'm still currently reading.
Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst | This book was on my currently reading list last post. I've since finished it and can say that it was such a timely read! I preordered this book the moment I saw the title: Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. I have felt like all three of those things and during those times, I feel anything but loved. This was such an encouraging read for my heart and soul, giving me words I desparetely needed to hear, when I felt unseen and forgotten by God. I read this book along with the Proverbs 31 Ministry and their online Bible study. It was a fun experience to read this book along with that community and hear from other women who have felt many of the same things I have. It also allowed me to go through the book slowly, really soaking in Lysa's words. If you've ever felt less than, left out, and lonely, I encourage you to pick up this book. It's less than $10 on Amazon right now!
Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson | This book really opened my eyes to pride that I have in my life and how that can hinder me from really finding rest with God. Humble Roots explores how pride hinders you, but humility grounds you as it also feeds your soul. Anderson often compares gardening to the cultivating of humility in our lives. The similarities of how gardening and growing, as well as learning humility and overcoming pride, both take time, is a fresh insight and reminder that what we want isn't always going to appear overnight. At times, I felt like Anderson could have dived deeper into her findings, as some points felt short lived and cutoff, leaving me wondering and thinking there was more, only to not be found later on. Humble Roots also has beautiful sketches before each chapter. Whether they were to be colored or not, my copy is now full of colorful flowers and fruits, perfect to accompany my many margin notes and thoughts. (I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.)
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple | I saw this one floating around social media and blog worlds awhile back. I was strolling through the bookstore one day and picked it up off the bargain shelf. Halfway through the book, Bernadette was still (and always ways) a central character in the story. I was beginning to wonder when she would disappear or if she would. There were many characters, but all fit together so well. Towards the end, I wasn't sure how it was going to end and who's side I would be on, only knowing that I felt for Bernadette's daughter, Bee, in her journey, and how all she wanted was simple trip for good grades. This was a fun, fast read, perfect for the days I found myself laying on the couch fighting a sore throat over Thanksgiving.
Rest Assured by Vicki Courtney
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
At the beginning of this year, I created a list of books to complete a 2016 reading challenge. Well, that challenge never happened and instead, 2016 became the year of book launch teams. It all started when I joined the team to help launch Kaitlyn's book, Even If Not. Then, I joined another and another. And I've found myself on a total of four book launch teams this year! I'm pretty sure it's my new favorite thing to do, because I love books, love the authors, and love that they are brave enough to write their words in a book. Also, the community that builds itself around an author before they launch a book, is so special and fun! Every book that I've read this year has been so timely and much needed. I recommend them all and I'm pretty sure I have to various friends.
Even If Not by Kaitlyn Bouchillon | Kaitlyn's blog was one of the first that I started following when I first began blogging. She writes honestly and openly, but leaves you encouraged at the end of every page. Even If Not is just the same! This book is one that meets you right where you are. Whatever season or whatever part of your story you find yourself in, you will see yourself in this book. Even If Not is a book that reminds us that our personal story is important and that we are loved by a God who is mighty. Kaitlyn reminds us that wherever we are in our story, wherever we are on the dash, we can trust the Author, because He writes a more beautiful story than we could ever imagine. Even If Not is a book that spills over in encouragement and has you screaming, "me too!" on almost every page. Open it up and find your place, you have one!
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson | This book by Batterson challenged me in the way that I pray and ask God for things. Whether it be big or small, or something I fear, Batterson shows us how to draw circles around our prayers -- to keep praying until something happens. And something will happen, because God is looking to answer our prayers, fulfill our dreams, and erase our fears. After reading this book, I listed out three big prayers, God-sized prayers, that only He can answer. I've seen ways, slowly and sometimes not as often as I would like, that He is working to answer those prayers fully and faithfully. Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge can accompany this and I'm hoping to add that to my bookshelf as well.
Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs | This was another book launch team that I was on. In fact, the day I found out I was on her team, I was watching her welcome video and heard my roommate also listening to it in our living room. We were BOTH on her launch team and didn't know it! I've followed Annie around social media for awhile and have read her blog, but this was actually the first of her books that I read. And wow. When every chapter ended, I just sat quietly and let all my memories and lovely moments flow back to the front of my mind. Annie is open and real with sharing her lovely moments, encouraging us to not look over our lovely moments. She continuously points to God, Who is the giver of those moments. The sunsets, the trips with friends, the places that speak to our hearts. Little lovely moments that remind us how great and wonderful our God is. Plus, she sent our books in packages of confetti. You can't help but smile.
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay | Different than the rest of books on this list, in that this is a semi light-hearted fiction read. I had seen this book float around social media a bit, but then forgot about it until I was in the bookstore one day. It caught my attention because of the cover and slight Jane Austen feel. I read the back cover and then the first chapter while in the store. (that's how I know whether I'm buying a book usually. if the first chapter draws me in, while I'm standing in the store, I'll buy it.) The story tells of Samantha Moore, a lover of words and all things Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. She tends to answer as them, instead of herself, to her friends. An anonymous donor offers to put Sam through journalism school, she simply must keep writing to the stranger known as Mr. Knightley. Her letters become more and more open to the stranger as she navigates through life, learning to love. I honestly was not expecting the ending, nor to connect as deeply with Sam as I did. Looking forward to reading Reay's other beautifully decorated books.
Wreck My Life by Mo Isom | I've only met two LSU fans in my life that I've liked. Mo is now the third. Football rivalries aside, Mo's story is incredible and I was also able to be on her book launch team! Tragedies, setbacks, and heartbreaks are overcome by triumphs, victories, and love. Mo's personal testimony is a true picture of how to figure out your faith for yourself and live it as God has called you to. And how God will use you in unexpected ways, as long as you are faithful and willing to be obedient. A quick, but sometimes heartbreaking, read, Wreck My Life absolutely wrecked me in the best way possible, but encouraged me to be bold in my faith and how I listen to God.
Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Have you read any of the books on this list? What are you currently reading?
Several weeks ago, I pre-ordered and anxiously awaited for a book to arrive in my mailbox. I love mail and I love books, so this is nothing new. But, the book I was waiting on was one that I knew I needed to read. The day I got it in the mail, I skimmed through all the pages and gazed at the pretty front cover. Suddenly, I knew this was going to be a hard book and reading it was going to come slowly. When I pre-orderd Uninvited, the first five chapters were sent to my e-mail and I immediately read chapters one through four. Then, I stopped. See, I have a hard time with follow through and finishing things. Especially when things tend to get hard. Y'all, this book is hard, and so, chapter five of Uninvited is still not read.
Lysa TerKeurst not only writes timely books, but she is also the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Proverbs 31 does online bible studies, because "life can be crazy, but your Bible study doesn't have to be." I saw that their current study was going to be on Uninvited and I knew it was the push I needed to actually read this book. This is my first time doing an online bible study with Proverbs 31, but joining in and listening to what others are learning through this book has been so refreshing. We have only begun week 2, but already have I been challenged to dig deeper into the Word and be honest with myself and God about my feelings of loneliness and feeling left out. The challenge of 2 Corinthians 10:5 to "destroy arguments...take every thought captive to obey Christ" led me to think about lies and untruths that the enemy throws at me and replace them with truths and promises that God speaks over me. I've always thought that I'm better at giving advice than receiving it, but how can I properly encourage others to feel valued and believe they are seen and heard by God, if I first do not believe those things? So, here are some truths that I am telling myself when the enemy throws lies at me. Let us take captive every thought and imagination that is not from God and replace it with His words of truth.
6 Truths To Remember
When you feel unworthy, know that you are valuable to Christ.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31
When you feel alone, know that you are united with Christ.
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-23
When you feel invisible, know that you are seen by God.
"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be."
When you feel ignored, know that you are heard by God.
"Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have give me the heritage of those who fear your name."
When you feel uninvited, know that you are wanted by God.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
1 Peter 2:9
When you feel defeated, know that you are victorious in Christ.
"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
1 Corinthians 15:54-58
Remember how I said that I never read chapter five of Uninvited? Well, guess what one of the two chapters we are reading this week in bible study is? Here's to getting better at follow through...and believing the advice I actually give to others.
If you have seen Uninvited floating around and it is on your "to-read" list, I recommend getting it now. It's most definitely a book for those who feel less than, left out, and lonely. But, the moment you crack open the spine of this book, you will know that you are most definitely not alone in that walk. This isn't something to wait on for later, it's for right now.
"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word."
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I was not asked to write this post, nor do I get anything for writing it. I just believe in this book. Plus, when you buy a book, you are helping to change the lives of women in India. So, go. Buy one, two, or more and start healing all the old rejections and start getting rid of lies and replacing them with truths.
Oh, friends. I'm so sorry if you have been coming by here expecting a new post and have been disappointed. There have been some life changes happening and I have been getting settled into a new routine. There is so much that I need to spill about. Like goals for January and my new goals for February. I want to talk about my word of the year, "fear" and two apps that I'm loving for spiritual growth (ScriptureTyper and Echo). I want to tell you about this great shop that has handmade gifts. And I want to tell you about the TWO book launch teams I am on. I want to tell you all about my NEW job that the Lord has placed me in. Literally, you guys. It's all Him. Every detail. There is so much, but I haven't quite found the best rhythm yet, so here we are. I hope all of these posts come soon, so you'll have more to go by than just a jumbled, confusing mess like the rambling paragraph above. They will come, all in time. So, as we wait for those posts, I'll leave you with something fun!
One of the 27 things I wanted to do this year was read 12 books. Last year I set a goal to read 24 books. While this may seem light to some, it was lofty to me. And I got nowhere near completing that goal. So, I backed it down this year and I am aiming to read one book a month for 12 total. How do you like that simple math? ;) Well, then Victoria told me about this fun reading challenge created by Anne. It has twelve fun and unique categories making it the perfect challenge for me in meeting my goal. Although my goal is 12, if I read more, great! I've finally chosen my twelve books and here they are!
2016 Reading Challenge
A book published this year | I already know that I'll be reading TWO books in this category. I'm on TWO book launch teams this year and I cannot wait for these books to come out and actually hold. I also can't wait to share more about them with you guys. The first is Even if Not by Kaitlyn Bouchillon and the second Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs.
A book you can finish in a day | Shopgirl by Steve Martin
A book you've been meaning to read | And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller (who also happens to be my roommate) | The time mom met Hitler, Frost came to dinner, and I heard the greatest Story ever told by Dikkon Eberhart
A book you should have read in school | My Side of the Mountain by Craighead George
A book chosen for you by a friend (again my roommate) | The Princess Bride by William Goldman
A book that was banned at some point | I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
A book published before you were born | 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (Originally a memoir published in 1853)
A book you've previously abandoned | Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
A book you own by have never read | Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
A book that intimidates you | Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
A book that you've already read at least once | The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Do you have a reading goal for this year? Have you read any books that I've chosen above? What book choice surprised you the most?
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The Pursuit of God written by A.W. Tozer is a book filled with ten chapters of eye-opening wisdom and words meant to encourage and deepen your faith. It may only be ten chapters, but they are best read slow and steady and maybe more than once. These chapters need to be read slow and poured over with great intensity. For the past ten weeks it's been my Saturday morning read. I would read one chapter each Saturday morning, because that was all my mind and heart could handle.
The Pursuit of God deepened and encouraged my walk with God immensely. It also convicted and struck me to my core. From the first chapter urging Christians to follow hard after God as he encouraged a "mighty longing after God" to the last in touching on the sacrament of living and how "it is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it." Each chapter is like a mini essay full of wisdom and captivating encouragement desperate to make us long and want more of God daily.
I read Tozer's book on my Kindle, so it is full of virtual highlights. But I will be buying a hard copy, because this is a book that will always need to be on my nightstand. It is one that you will always be able to open up and find a chapter relevant to whatever season or step in your pursuit of God you are in. Whether you want to know what the gaze of the soul really is or need the reminder that meekness and rest are found in Jesus alone. I highly recommend having a copy on hand, within grabbing distance, to be read often. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer has made it on the list of books I will read at least yearly.
When we lift our inward eyes to gaze upon God we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us, for it is written that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout all the earth. The sweet language of experience is 'Thou God seest me.' When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on this earth. -- A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Have you read "The Pursuit of God" by A.W. Tozer?
What is a book that has changed and challenged your faith in God for the better?
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I have to admit, when I was in elementary school, I loved doing book reports! I especially loved doing book reports where we had to dress up as a character from the book we read. My most memorable? Pippi Longstocking. Oh man, do I wish I had a picture to share with you guys. We would have so much fun laughing and enjoying those pigtails stuffed with pipe cleaners. Seriously though, I love books and I love reading. Although I may not read every night as I wish I did, I love opening a book and getting lost in it. I love having dreams where it feels like a page out of my favorite book. And, yes, I do love the smell of books. All that to say, I was so excited to see that this month's topic for The Circle with Kiki and her co-host Anne was a book report. I might be a little late to the game this month, but I can't wait to go and see what you all are reading and hopefully get a few new ideas for my bookshelf.
Favorite Book(s) Of The Year?
I've enjoyed some great ones, like Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Divergent, and I Am Malala. However, I have to say my most favorite read of the year so far is The Book Thief. I'm sad that it took me this long to read it, but I'm so glad I did. That book is so tragically beautiful. I got so attached to the characters and their relationships with one another. The friendship between Max and Liesel is just incredibly heartwarming. The Book Thief is now one of my top favorite reads ever.
What Are You Reading Right Now?
Currently, I am reading The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers. I was given this book by my secret sister at church and decided to give it a read. I tried reading Redeeming Love by Rivers earlier this year and just couldn't get into it. I tried and made it about halfway, but I just couldn't finish it... However, this one has drawn me in!
What Book Did You Just Finish?
Well, like Kiki said, I just finished reading Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins which was for my preschoolers...but when talking about a book for me, it was I Am Malala. It was a fantastic book. I definitely recommend reading Malala's story. She is definitely an inspiration and I was very happy to see that she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
What Are You Reading Next?
I really want to re-read Mockingjay before the movie comes out. Or even the whole Hunger Game series once again. However, I have a couple of books I have had for awhile and have been meaning to read, like Hearing God (which I have previously started) and Let Hope In.
Favorite Book(s) As A Kid?
My favorites were the Nancy Drewbooks, The Chronicles of Narnia (which I still love very much), and The Little House on the Prairie series. I also really loved Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and Pippi Longstocking! Scholastic book fairs at school were like Christmas to me...and maybe still are.
What Book Would You Take On A Deserted Island?
Deserted island questions are always so hard for me... I'm going to cheat and say that I would take my Kindle because then I could take multiple books and read until my battery ran out. However, I would miss turning pages...so, because of that I would bring two. Pride and Prejudice and the Bible. Pride and Prejudice is a story that never gets old to me, it is one of my most favorites. And the Bible teaches me all I need to know for life, encourages me when I'm low, and feeds me truth that will never lead me wrong.
Are you a book lover?
Is there one book that you could read over and over again and never get tired of?
What would be your desert island book?
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Today's post is inspired by Amy's post, where she got the idea from this post that Kiki mentioned once on her blog.
I'm a big lover of books, that really isn't a secret. The two storage drawers under my bed are filled with books and I have a giant tub in storage full of books that are dying to get out and be on a shelf again. Since I'm living at home right now, I don't have room of my own to spread them out here and there or have a room that is solely devoted to my books. My dream house definitely has a small library with a giant over-sized chair in it. I'll probably live in that room alone if it ever comes to being.
When I had my apartment at college, my coffee table and side table had a couple of books on them for when company came. My favorite was a photo book I made of landscape pictures that I had taken while living in New Orleans. It is full of the architecture of the city, the people, downtown, uptown, and everywhere in between. One of my friends even thought I had bought it while down there! A compliment I was very excited about. The day it comes out of storage, I will definitely share it with you guys! Now, I do not have a coffee table, but I do have a side table in my room that has a nice little collection of books. They all have one common theme as well: California.
This is one of my favorite parts of my room, when I found this old map of California at an antique shop I knew I needed to have it. I have a serious thing for maps. It's the perfect compliment to go along with those books down in the corner.
This was one of my most favorite series when I was a kid. So, when I discovered this whole box set at a consignment shop, I knew I wanted to snag it! Sadly, I always forgot to go back and pick it up. But, my mom surprised me with it for Christmas! It was one of the greatest gifts ever!
I found this old children's hymnal in a thrift store, mainly with the intention to do something fun with the pages. I went through and found some of my favorite hymns and then framed them around my room.
I acquired this book when I was cleaning out a room at church when in Tahoe. After visiting San Francisco for the first time, I fell in love with the city. This is an old travel book that has information all about the area around San Fran up to the Oregon border.
This is one of my favorites! I came across this book when browsing through a thrift store in Tahoe. John Muir was a naturalist, author, and one of the earliest advocates for the preservation of wilderness. He fought hard to preserve Yosemite Valley and for that I will always be thankful. If you ever get a chance to visit Yosemite or any of the Sierra Nevada area, do it! It is some of the most beautiful area I have ever seen. I'm looking to read this book entirely this summer.
Just for fun, here are some of my most favorite quotes by John Muir:
"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark."
I picked up this book when I visited Alcatraz in 2012. I'm also a big fan of museums and historical places. This definitely is one of those places. First, you get to take a ferry ride in the Bay to "The Rock." Then, you can take a self-guided, audio tour of the old prison. Some of the world's most notorious criminals were placed at Alcatraz, like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Going into that place you literally step back into time. This is an interesting article to read to learn more about Alcatraz. #5 was one of the most interesting things I learned on my tour to the island.
National Geographic is by far one of my most favorite magazines! The ultimate dream would be to have an article and my photography in that magazine. Oh, to dream! I also love the Traveler magazine, which takes you all around the world and gives perfect ideas for places to see and things to do on your next trip abroad. This one had a special article on San Francisco, so naturally, I kept it and it made it's way into the side table collection.
This book is by far one of my most favorites in this whole collection! It is all about San Francisco, written in the 60s. The pictures are all black and white (love!) and there is a grid of the city on the inside covers. It is fun to see how the city has evolved and grown since these pictures were taken. But, the beauty has always been there. Just look at those photos of The Golden Gate Bridge! Swoon!
Books I Hope to Add to the Collection
Another favorite side table book I have is 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler's Life List. There is also a second edition out now with more places added! If I even get 10 of these places marked off my list I would be happy.
The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge.
And these Disney Art books: The Art of Tangled, The Art of Brave, and The Art of The Princess and the Frog.
And Jimmy Fallon's Thank You Notes 1 & 2.
What are some of your favorite coffee table books? Do you love travel guides or books on one particular place?
I'd love to know what is on your table or night-stand!
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