Books I Read in 2016

Another year has come and gone. I love looking back at what I’ve read in the past year. It reminds me of what God was up to, themes that ran through my year and the wise words of others that He used to shape me.

I was disappointed that my list wasn’t longer but God was up to something different in the last year of my life. He took me on the unexpected adventure of starting a business, so my time for extra/leisurely reading (and writing as well) has been limited. My business has been a huge surprise and an immense blessing. Through that I ventured to read books that I usually wouldn’t have picked up, like all the ones on Network Marketing. I’ve read more about leadership in the last year than I have in a long time and it’s shaped and sharpened me in really good ways. There’s actually quite a variety in here and I love that.

So here’s my list from the last year:

All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir by Brennan Manning — This is a heartbreaking and yet inspirational story of a man who has influenced millions of lives and yet had dark, dark days. It is the tale of God’s scandalous grace for all of us, notorious sinners. “God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.”

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Graenstein — Jenna was begging me to read this book so we could talk about it. It was a fun read about a famous game maker who then builds a library that is full of surprises. It’s no ordinary library. Only a handful of kids are invited to come for the overnight grand opening, which then turns into a game of how to get out of the library. It was a fun read and I get why Jenna loved it so much because it talks about history, the love of books and strategy. Right up her ally, not so much mine, but I love her so it was worth it.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley — I also got this from the young people section in the library and both Jenna and I read it. I love stories that are fiction but are still set in a real time in history. It was a fabulous story of a girl, her brother, their unexpected new life with a woman named Susan and how the war saved their lives.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling — I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to most people because Mindy can be crude and not everyone’s cup of tea so to speak in her humor. I wanted to read what it was like for her as a woman and a minority to be in the world of tv and Hollywood. I think that she’s brilliant, gifted and has amazing grit and I can appreciate and champion that.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield –– I need to go back and read this again already. I love that he encourages you to live up to your God given potential no matter what you’re dong. He talks about Resistance and how that plays out and keeps us from moving forward, accomplishing our goals and overcoming our fears. To reach our goals we must overcome resistance. Here’s a great quote, “There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell-This was a great book that talks about major things that need to be true or present in our lives to be great leaders. It was challenging, practical and helped me see my strengths and weaknesses in a new way.

Failing Forward by John Maxwell-Oh man, this is a good book for anyone like me who hates to fail and a recovering perfectionist. There are so many awesome truths in this book. It’s not the failures in our lives that can define us but what we do with them.

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently by John Maxwell- If you’re in a profession that is people oriented at all you should read this book. I think it’s great for anyone because we all communicate daily with others. It was insightful, gave practical steps to help you think through how you communicate with others and if you’re actually doing it in a way that they hear you and can respond. If we don’t communicate with others in ways that they can filter it then we aren’t going to be heard.

Go Pro by Erric Worre – This is a great book for those in Network Marketing.

Quarter Life Crisis by Paul Sohn– I LOVED this book and although it’s aimed at 20 somethings you don’t have to be in your 20’s to glean amazing things from this book. He balances biblical truth, leadership, and practical help to figuring out what your sweet spot in life, work and ministry are.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson – I love getting lost in a good novel and this was fabulous. It was the story of a young woman with hopes and dreams, pursuing teaching and writing in a time when that was not smiled upon. There is small town drama in a Downton Abbey sort of fashion, the War breaks out and of course love and sorrow intermixed. All the great qualities of an enjoyable read.

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch– I have loved Kristen’s blog We are THAT Family for such a long time. They love the Lord, are honest about their lives and desire to serve (they are the founders of Mercy House) and parent in ways that go against the grain of our culture. This was an encouraging and helpful book as we continue to figure out what it is that we value as a family, how we’ll live that out in our family and how to persevere through the times when the kids don’t like or get our decisions.

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequest – I love Shauna and this book was a refreshing read that I think most women (and men) can relate to right now. Many of these truths that she shared in her book the Lord has been teaching me over the past couple years but it’s always nice to read someone else articulate them and remind you that yes, you are on the right path. Be who you are called to be, be present and let the rest go so you can thrive.

The Four Color Personalities for MLM: The Secret Language of Multilevel Marketing by Tom “Big Al” Schreiter — I have done a lot of “personality” tests in my day. This was also really helpful in understanding how people think and are wired. I think it applies to not only network marketing but all professions and I’m glad that I read it. It gave me more insight into myself and others and that’s always helpful if you put it to good use.

Welfare Faith for the Least of Us by Kyle Raney — My friend Kyle wrote this and I loved it. It’s a vulnerable, real and also funny at times tale of their own lives and how they found themselves in need of welfare. As Christians and those in ministry it can be terrifying to tell others about a struggle like that and face others judgment of being one of “those.” I love how God showed up for them, what they learned along the way and incredible truth about the gospel that is found in welfare faith.  It might just challenge some of your prejudices and beliefs, but in all the best ways.

The Cure & Parents by Thrall, Lynch & McNicol —  I loved this book so much. It didn’t focus on how to change our kids but on the heart of the parents themselves. One of the hardest truths in this book was the thought that if I’m having a hard time with one of my kids it’s because I may not be mature enough to handle it. As parents we have to continue to mature and grow so that we don’t stunt our children’s growth as well as our own. We are not in the line of behavior or sin management but shaping hearts and that means that ours is shaped along the way as well. I will definitely be reading this one again.

I not only read these books but have about 5 others I’m still in the middle of and haven’t finished.  I listened to dozens of podcasts, read hundreds of articles and blog posts, watched many documentaries and have filled my heart and mind with things that have challenged and changed me. I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned in the last year and look forward to another year of reading, listening and learning. What’s on your must read list this year? Do share! I’m always adding to my list.

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