I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions, for the same reason others don't make them: they never really seem to happen. My New Year's Resolution for 2015, though, was to read at least one book every month. My reading had kind of fallen off the wagon in high school and college, but I love to read; I find that it has consistently done a lot for my spiritual and emotional life. It relaxes and renews me, and I missed it.
Below is a list of everything I read this past year. It's really fun to look back and see what I've plowed my way through. It shows what I'm interested in, and where other reading has led me. One thing tends to lead to another. Maybe some of the titles on this list will interest you. Enjoy!
Books of 2015
The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination - Matthew Guerrieri
A scholarly book about music: initially hard for my story mind to get into, but really fascinating.
The Four Loves - C.S. Lewis
My main man himself writes four essays about different types of love: affection, friendship, romantic love, and charity. I cried.
Miracles - C.S. Lewis
Brought me to a new understanding of the nature of Christianity. Don't you just love Clive Staples?
Gospel-Centered Discipleship - Jonathan K. Dodson
I read this because the awesome staff at my church recommends it. The main idea: we are constantly evangelizing even ourselves, as believers, as well as discipling. These two go hand in hand; we cannot have one without the other. This book has altered my understanding of the gospel and my need for it.
I didn't finish anything -- but I promise I read things!
FINISHED Gospel-Centered Discipleship
Grace for the Good Girl - Emily P. Freeman
A gift to my soul about the recovery from "should" and welcoming the healing kindness of Jesus.
A Million Little Ways - Emily P. Freeman
One of my all-time favorite books, about how to move into the world as the people we most fully are -- as the artwork God created us to be. Whether you think you're creative or not, you need this. Trust me.
Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have - Annie F. Downs
The font of a lot of my ideas about courage. Annie writes conversationally, she is hilarious, and I want to be her best friend. This book is a joy.
All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
I discovered this book in Falmouth, and I tore through it in six days. Gorgeously written, and probably one of the best books I've ever read. Get thee a copy. Stat.
The Problem of Pain - C.S. Lewis
In this book, Lewis attempts to provide the answer to the problem of pain and suffering in a world run by a God Who is both all-powerful and all-good. I don't think there is ever a satisfactory answer to that question, but Lewis gets as close as I think we can. Like all his books, this one was super convicting.
The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
Part of my annual re-read of Lord of the Rings -- an old favorite, dearer to me than any books around (besides the Bible).
Simply Tuesday (Advance Reader Copy) - Emily P. Freeman
As if no one has heard me talk about this book enough. Grace and kindness abound as Emily reminds us to "celebrate our smallness" and move downward with gladness. I adore this book. I was on the launch team for it, and I recommend it to everything that moves.
Yes Please - Amy Poehler
We all want to be best friends with Amy Poehler. Don't deny it. I love reading about people who have pursued their dreams and are successful in their fields. Her book is hilarious and inspiring all at once.
The Inklings - Humphrey Carpenter
Bought in Oxford, this book is a biographer of the group of friends that centered around C.S. Lewis in his rooms at Oxford. The book is largely dedicated to Lewis, and it is utterly fascinating. The dynamic between these men was something special, and I love Carpenter's depictions of their conversations. I want to be their best friend.
Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
This is on the list of books I probably should read, but hadn't. I bought this on our family vacation when I ran out of stuff to read, and I did not expect it to be so intense. Absolutely excellent, and full of beautiful Gothic imagery.
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography - Humphrey Carpenter
Tolkien doesn't features so much in Carpenter's biography of The Inklings -- because Carpenter had already written this book. A wonderful, in-depth, authoritative picture of my favorite author of all time. I wish I had his mind, and I love his passion for language and Northern-ness. I feel like he and I would have been buddies.
The Great Divorce - C.S. Lewis
This one had been sitting on my bookshelf for years, and I finally picked it up. A beautiful imagining of Heaven as everything we've ever needed it to be -- and a reminder that Hell is not as different as we might think it is.
The Nesting Place - Myquillyn Smith
Technically, this is a decorating book. But the manner that Myquillyn (a.k.a. The Nester) has about her is so friendly as she reminds us that "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." Amen.
The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkien
Lots of Tolkien feelings. Other readers tell me that this is the hardest volume of the trilogy to wade through, but it's 1000% worth it.
Emma - Jane Austen
I always have a difficult time starting Jane Austen books, but I'm always glad I did. So excellent, so hilarious, so page-turn-worthy. I ran around the apartment venting to my roommates about Emma. They were quite bemused.
Reflections on the Psalms - C.S. Lewis
My main man sheds a lot of light on my favorite book of the Bible: scholarly insight and a fresh perspective that I keep returning to in my personal study of the Psalms.
The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
Have I mentioned yet that these are my favorite books of all time?
Longing for Paris - Sarah Mae
Written by a mom for moms, so it was kind of hard to get through at points (I am obviously not a mother, and I skipped some chapters). But I love what she had to say about finding beauty and the fulfillment of your longings right where you are. It reminded me that my craving for adventure has already been met -- that I can find the answers right where I am.
The Light Between Oceans - M.L. Stedman
A story about a couple who take in a baby when she washes ashore on their little island. When they return to the mainland, they discover that their choice has torn some lives apart. An excellent story, full of poignancy, dominated by a lighthouse.
Richard III - William Shakespeare
I love me some Shakespeare. This history play is full of Plantagenet politics, but still a page-turner.
Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way - Shauna Niequist
Probably one of the best things I've read this year. I would read anything that Shauna ever wrote. Her perspective is beautiful, and her words and way of expressing herself are phenomenal. They speak to me in my deepest soul. She writes a difficult season in her life in prose beautifully descriptive of the spiritual life. I want to see life the way she writes about it. In addition, she has wonderful things to say about being a creative that really resonate with me.
Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling
We also all want to be besties with Mindy Kaling. Her second book is hilarious. I tore through it and then shared it with my best friend. It's delightful.
Paris In Love: A Memoir - Eloisa James
Eloisa James is a romance novelist, and I don't enjoy romance novels. However, I loved her memoir about living in Paris for a year with her family. It is comprised of excerpts from journals, scribbles, social media posts, etc. The life she lived there for a year is so lovely. It makes me want to go live abroad even more.
Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter
On my to-be-read list for a while, because of these central factors: Italy and old Hollywood. Those feature prominently, as well as a lot of modern Hollywood sleaze and cynicism, with a healthy dash of hope, heartbreak, and dreams. Not the best thing I've ever read, but still a quick, enjoyable read.
Claudius the God: And His Wife Messalina - Robert Graves
One of my favorite books ever is Graves' I, Claudius, written as the supposed memoirs of the fourth emperor of Rome, Tiberius Claudius Cæsar Augustus Germanicus Brittanicus (say that five times fast). While I, Claudius covers Claudius' life before he became emperor, Claudius the God deals with his thirteen-year reign. Claudius' voice is hilarious: he is plainspoken and intelligent, and Graves makes him sound like a dry Englishman, which is delightful. If you like Roman history, you'll love this.
Waiting Here for You: An Advent Journey of Hope - Louie Giglio
I decided to observe Advent this year, as a way of celebrating the quiet beauty of the Christmas season. The primary way I did that was with this little book, written by pastor Louie Giglio. It consists of daily devotionals to remind the reader of the faithfulness and kindness of our God. It made Christmas so deeply meaningful to me.
Breaking Busy (Advanced Reader Copy) - Alli Worthington
I'm on the launch team for this book, too, and it's exactly what the title sounds like: how we can break the busy-ness in our lives. Alli talks about topics that I find incredibly important, like freeing our time and finding our worth. This book will be released January 26 -- you should take a look!
What books did you read and enjoy this year? Feel free to share in the comments -- I'm always looking for recommendations!