Sunday, December 30, 2018

24 Books for 2018

One of my 2018 resolutions was a simple one: 

Read more!

When I looked back on 2017, I realized I'd spent too much time with my nose in the screen instead of in the pages, so I set a goal for the new year:

 I decided to read 24 books in 12 months. 

It seemed like an easy number to track, but not quite easily attainable. In 2017, I'd read less than one book a month, so I knew this goal would require a bit of planning and pushing.

(On a side note, telling people I wanted to read two books a month was an interesting experience. For some people, this number was far lower than their regular reading rate, and for others, it felt quite unattainable. Just another lesson in choosing personal goals that are reasonable for you, but also push you to do better.)

It was a fascinating experience! I didn't start out with any kind of reading list or design. It could be a mix of old and new, fiction and non-fiction. Some were given by friends, some written by friends, some were books I reviewed, and others were just finds along the way. As I went through, I realized that length had to be a factor. When a month included one long book, I also needed to read a short book to squeeze them both into four short weeks.

Reading on tour proved to be a bit of a challenge, too. Even though I'll always be a paper girl, e-books became an easy way to lighten our luggage and read at night.

As the year unfolded, certain books would spark others. When I read "The Happiness Project," I was so inspired by Rubin's excitement for St. Therese that I then picked up "Story Of A Soul". And someday I'll need to write about the intriguing connections I discovered between St. Therese and, of all people, Anne of Green Gables. Unusual themes also unfolded. Without planning it, I read three very different books on World War II, all from different voices and with different insights.

It was such a powerful experience that I've already set my 24-in-12 goal again for 2019!

So what are your reading plans for 2019? 
Have you read any on my list? 
What books would you recommend? 
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments...

Here are the 24 books I read in 2018:

Your Best Year Ever
By Michael Hyatt

This was an awesome book to kick off 2018. 
Actually, I'll probably read it again in January 2019. 
An easy and powerful approach to goal setting for the New Year.

Free Of Me
By Sharon Hodde Miller

This was a book I received for review.
You can read my review HERE.

The War Of Art
By Steven Pressfield

If you're going to achieve anything creative, you'll need to overcome Resistance.
Pressfield's classic is a powerful and practical book on conquering the things that hold you back, and helping you to achieve your dreams.

I Am Malala
By Malala Yousafzai

A Christmas gift from my sister-in-law, Kristi. I'd wanted to read this book for a while, and it was fantastic. It gave so much more insight to a story we all think we know. A moving and challenging book that will leave you inspired.

The Hiding Place
By Corrie ten Boom

I'd seen lots of quotes by Corrie ten Boom floating around the internet, but it wasn't til I watched an episode of See, Hear, Love that I was inspired to pick up this book. When a table full of women are calling it one of the most influential books they've ever read, you want to pay attention.

I devoured this book. The true story of a Christian family that literally hid Jews in their house during WWII. I can't recommend this book enough! Difficult and fascinating and surprisingly inspiring!

Paul: Apostle of Christ
By Angela Hunt

This was a novelization of the movie by the same name.

I reviewed the movie HERE and the book HERE.

Do The Work
By Steven Pressfield

The follow up to The War Of Art. You'll notice several of Pressfield's books on this list. I can't recommend him enough!

I Will Not Fear
By Melba Pattillo Beals

Written by one of the Little Rock Nine.

I reviewed this book HERE.

The Happiness Project
By Gretchen Rubin

What if you spent an entire year trying to increase your overall sense of happiness?

This was the challenge taken on by Gretchen Rubin. A fun, smart, easily devoured book that can either be simply read or practically applied.

One of the side perks for me was the chapter on spirituality that sparked my reading of Story Of A Soul...

Truth & Beauty: a friendship
By Ann Patchett 

Known for her fiction, Ann Patchett opens a vein and shares with us her beautiful, difficult, and passionate friendship with poet Lucy Grealy. I couldn't put this one down. My own dear friend, Martha Tatarnic (also a writer!) lent me this, and I'm forever grateful. Patchett is a glorious writer, and I've already added several of her titles to my 2019 list.

Story of a Soul
By St. Therese of Lisieux

This is a book that kept coming to me, so I had to read it. St. Therese passionately tells the story of her short life, and her desire to live our her faith in her "Little Way". Gerald and I have had the chance to sing for the staff and students at the St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, SK, and see the Little Way in action. This April, I'll be sharing a message on St. Therese during an Advent Cafe preaching series, so I imagine I'll be digging back into this book over the next few months...

Anne of Green Gables
By L.M. Montgomery

The one, the only, the original! I picked up this special Canada 150 edition at L.M. Montgomery's birthplace in PEI this spring. What a gorgeous story and beautiful writing! I read the books as a little girl, and re-reading as an adult was wonderful. A perfect summer book!

Life Happens
By Stacy and Derrick Mueller

Written and given to me by my friend, Stacy Mueller. Stacy and her husband, Derrick, tag-teamed this short book to share their stories of abuse, brokenness, and healing. Written with bold rawness and honesty.

The Prophet
By Kahlil Gibran

Probably the 3rd time I've read this? We had the chapter "On Marriage" read at our wedding. There's always something new to discover in this classic.

The English Patient
By Michael Ondaatje

When this was awarded the Golden Man Booker prize this summer (best novel in the past 50 years), I decided to pick it up for a re-read. Definitely the most involved book I read this year. A slow detailed read worth every minute.

My second WWII book of the year...

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows

I picked this up (also a re-read) after the movie was announced. Still haven't seen the movie, but I devoured the book. This is probably one of my all-time favourites. The writing, characters, and storytelling are so lovely. Told in a series of letters, this is a uniquely told bit of WWII history.

And yes, that marks my third WWII book of the year! An unplanned theme, but interesting to see one period shared from three very different perspectives...

Every Hallelujah
By Sue C. Smith

Written by my mentor and (I hope I can say) my friend, Sue C. Smith. This is a great book for Christian songwriters, calling on inspiration from the Book of Psalms. This book is personal, inspiring, and incredibly practical.

Sue runs an amazing songwriting conference called Write About Jesus and is also Gerald's cowriter on our radio single, My Soul Is Spoken For.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers
By InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship

It was interesting to read two books on Christian writing back-to-back. Unlike Sue's book with her singular, personal perspective, this book is a collection of essays, stories, and poems by the writers of the InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship. The pieces were widely varied on themes and approach, but all aimed to provide inspiration, encouragement, and practical support.

Our talented friend, Sally Meadows, is one of the contributors!

Jonathan Livingston Seagull
By Richard Bach

I read this for very practical reasons - I needed a short book on my iPad that I could quickly read on tour. Again, I've probably read this book about three times, but there's always something interesting and inspiring to be found within its sparse pages.

The Artist's Journey
By Steven Pressfield

His latest and my third for the year! This books encourages the artist to step back and take a wide-angle view of your creative life. As always, inspiring and must-read for anyone on the artistic path.

I'd Rather Be Reading
By Anne Bogel

I read this book for review which you can read HERE.

Probably one of my favourite review books ever! I would have grabbed this from a bookstore any day. A love letter to books and "the reading life."

By Michelle Obama

I've always been a fan, but my admiration for Michelle grew through reading her inspiring story. Her writing is beautiful and engaging, and her transparency is startling. It's a book about family, values, finding your path, and lifting others up.

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens

Tis the season! I've seen lots of movie adaptations, but I don't know that I'd ever read the book? After sharing that I'd be reading it during Christmas week, my Dad also decided to pick up a copy. Even if you think you know the story, Dickens is such an engaging writer that it's well worth making an eggnog latte and spending an evening with this classic.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
By Dr. Suess

Okay, not a full novel, I know! I found myself at 23 books for the year with only a few days to go. I thought I'd cut myself a break and read one well-written, substantial seasonal story to round out my 24.

And what a perfect choice! Writing, characters, story, voice - brilliant in every aspect.

So those are my 24 Books for 2018!

Please share your thoughts, or your book suggestions, in the comments below...

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Book Review: I'd Rather Be Reading, by Anne Bogel

I'd Rather Be Reading 
- The Delights And Dilemmas 
Of The Reading Life

With a title like this, how could I resist?

As soon as I saw I'd Rather Be Reading on the review list, I ordered my copy. I've been dipping my toe into the e-book world over the last few years, but something told me that this one would be best read in hardcopy, and it was definitely the right call.

This sweet collection of essays is written by a reader, for readers. If you love books, reading, bookstores, libraries, book clubs, book shelves and all aspects of literary life, this wee tome is for you.

I wasn't familiar with Anne Bogel's work before this, but I'm curious to look into her blog, podcast, and other writings.

It can be quickly read in one sitting, or devoured over a few days in bite-sized portions.

I started it last week, but finally finished it by sitting up late this week, reading well past midnight by the light of the Christmas tree. Somehow, I felt Anne might approve...

If you love books, you'll love I'd Rather Be Reading. I might even recommend buying several copies - one for yourself, and ones to give your other reading friends. 

I received this book to review from the Nuts About Books Blogger Program and Graf-Martin Communications Inc.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.