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What I Read in 2017

What I Read in 2017

Wow! After gathering lists from around the house and double-checking library accounts, I was surprised to see how much I actually read this past year. My grand total is 47 books complete, including the Bible. I am in the middle of six more books at the moment, but they'll have to wait for next year's list. 

A few things aided me in reading this year:

  • I am writing more so I am reading more. 
  • I became a Colson Fellow in the fall. 
  • I homeschool my kids.
  • I am trying to keep my phone in the other room
  • I am in a neighborhood book club.
  • I don't have small children anymore. That's huge. 

Below is a list of the books that are listed (mostly, but there are overlaps) by category and then with my favorites at the top of each section. It's not completely scientific but it gives you a rough idea. I've indicated by abbreviation why I read the book (see key) and with stars to show how much I liked it. 


  • SG = Spiritual Growth book
  • PI = Personal Interest book
  • CF = Colson Fellows book/Worlview book
  • HS = Homeschool book
  • BC = Neighborhood Book Club
  • WG = Writing Growth book

Spiritual Growth Books

1. Bible - SG, 5 stars. I did read the Bible from start to finish this year. It's challenging, but well worth it. Here's a blog I wrote about getting started on it one year ago. It is a lofty goal depending on your season of life, but you might consider listening to it, or just tackling the New Testament. 

2. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller - CF, 5 stars. This was one of my favorite reads all year. I love the way Keller writes--very engaging and respectful to non-Christians, clear reasoning, depth of wisdom, robust quotes from other deep thinkers. I would love to see all my Christian and non-Christian friends read this book. 

3. This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax - SG, 5 stars. I just finished this book and I am so glad that I squeezed it in at the year's end. Get yourself a copy or listen to it while you commute. It is an excellent investigation into current issues and how we might think about and behave Christianly as we engage them. 

4. Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands by David and Shona Murray - SG, 5 stars. I want to strongly encourage all women to read this book; it was one of my favorites this year and I reviewed it here

5. Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age by David Platt - SG, 5 stars. This is full of excellent wisdom for walking as a Christian through specific current cultural issues such as marriage, abortion, modern-day slavery and others. 

6. Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything by Gloria Furman - SG, 5 stars. This is a great companion for anyone who wants a deeper look at Paul's letter to the Ephesians. 

7. None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin - SG, 5 stars. This book is solid theologically and something you should read with your girlfriends. 

8. Wilderness Wanderings: Finding Contentment in the Desert Times of Life by Stacy Reaoch - SG, 5 stars. This is a wonderful month-long devotional--rich in theology and relatiblity. I reviewed it here

9. and 10.  The Sermon on the Mount and 1 Peter by Jen Wilkin - SG, 5 stars. I completed both of these Bible studies with a group of women in 2017. They're both excellent--use them in your women's ministry. 

11. The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken - SG, 5 stars. This is a page-turning autobiographical account of modern day missions in Africa.

12. Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God by Tim Challies and Josh Byers - SG, 5 stars. I read a little bit of this book each day with my kids last spring and it served as a great tool of growth for all of us. 

Personal Interest Books

13. Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home by Jen Pollock Michel - SG, PI 5 stars. This is an excellent book especially for global nomads. It made me weep. 

14. Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies - PI, WG, 5 stars. This is a useful handbook on productivity for any Christian who wants to wisely steward their lives for God's glory. I consider Tim Challies my blogging big brother--he's only a couple years older than me, but I am always eager to glean his wisdom and this book has a lot to offer. 

15. The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-First Century Refugee Crisis by Patrick Kingsley - PI, 5 stars. This is a captivating inside look at the personal stories of refugees fleeing North Africa to Europe. I could not put this book down. 

16. Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis by Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Issam Smeir - PI, 4 stars. This is a helpful handbook written by three refugee experts from World Relief for Christians wanting to understand how to think about and engage with the global refugee crises. 

17. Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk, and True Flourishing by Andy Crouch - SG, 4 stars. I just discovered Andy Crouch in 2017 and he's great writer. This book provides great stories and godly guidance for being a leader who seeks others' best.  

18. The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up by Cathy LaGrow - PI, 4 stars. This was a deeply moving and true story, which I reviewed here

19. Camino Island: A Novel by John Grisham - PI, 4 stars. This was a total vacation read. Pure binge entertainment. I do enjoy John Grisham and this story was interesting because the main characters are writers. But it's a bit smutty, so I can't actually recommend it. 

Worldview Books (Colson Fellows Books)

20. A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle - CF, 4.5 stars. This is a must read for any parent who wants to walk our current cultural climate next to their children. It is thorough and helpful. 

21. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi - CF, 5 stars. Nabeel graduated to heaven this year, but not before leaving an immeasurable impact on Christians and Muslims alike, the whole world over. This is a must-read for any Christian wanting to understand Islam. 

22. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis - CF, 5 stars. This is a classic and must read for all Christians and seekers. I blogged about a few poignant quotes here

23. Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read and Live the Bible Well by Glenn R. Paauw - CF, 4 stars. I appreciated several important lessons in this book, which you can see in my review, which is linked here.  

24. Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis - CF, 5 stars. This is another classic must read for Christians, especially applicable in our current cultural climate in which we are surrounded by "men without chests." I reviewed it here

25. Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. - CF, 5 stars. All Americans should both read the text and listen to King's voice read this important and historical letter. You can find it here

26. The United States Constitution - CF, 5 stars. I'm not sure I've ever read the Constitution before this year. Seems like a good idea for all of us in the USA. 

27. Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home by Glenn S. Sunshine - CF, 4 stars. This book is exactly what the subtitle says it is. Dense and informative. 

Books for Writers

28. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott - WG, 4.5 stars. People say this is required reading for writers. I confess, it had me howling. Lamott is very funny. She also offered me some helpful principles that I do apply daily. But she's also crass and inappropriate and dark, so it's hard for me to recommend. 

29. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser - WG, 5 stars. This short book is full of wisdom. It's my favorite book on writing so far. 

Books I Read With My Kids 

30. Tabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide - PI, 5 stars. My kids and I love these books by Ytreeide. He has written many captivating historical fiction books for kids to be savored during Advent and Lent. I reviewed them here.  

31. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor - HS, 5 stars. This book is one of my all-time favorites and makes me sob every time I read it. It tells the story of one black family in Mississippi during the Great Depression. Please read this book to your children. 

32. The Winged Watchman by Hilda von Stockum - HS, 5 stars. This is a captivating novel about a Dutch family actively resisting the Nazis during WWII. My kids and I couldn't put it down. 

33. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Better Bao Lord - HS, 4.5 stars. This is the story of a girl who immigrates from China to New York City in the 1940s. As Third Culture Kids, my girls really enjoyed this book. 

34. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin - HS, 4.5 stars. This book is full of captivating make-believe stories weaving in Chinese folklore and traditions. My kids love this author and have read all her novels.

35. A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt by C. Coco De Young - HS, 3.5 stars. This is a story about an Italian family in Pennsylvania during the Great Depression. It was especially interesting for us because of my husband's Italian heritage, but it is a bit slow. 

36. Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? A Fast, Clear, and Fun Explanation of the Economics You Need For Success in Your Career, Business, and Investments by Richard J. Maybury - HS, 4 stars. I read this to my kids and while the explanations are simple and helpful, I don't remember them! This just isn't my field. But my 14-year-old ingested the principles and applies what she learned to our dinner table conversations about the economy. 

37. Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun by Rhoda Blumberg - HS, 4 stars. We are studying Asia this year and we lived in Japan. Therefore my kids found this fairly interesting. Beautiful illustrations. 

38. Master Puppeteer by Kathleen Paterson - HS, 4 stars. Same as above! 

39. I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Wilson - HS, 5 stars. My girls and I loved the adventure of this brave girl in Mongolia. A page turner and culturally fascinating! 

40. The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam by Huynh Quang Nhuong - HS, 4 stars. These true stories recounted by the author of his own childhood provide a wonderful glimpse into life in Vietnam before the war. 

41. Mission to Cathay by Madeleine Polland - HS, 3 stars. This is the historical fiction story of the first Jesuit missionaries to China in the 1900s.

42. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis - HS, 4 stars. I enjoyed this book just as much as when I read it to my firstborn four years ago.  The book provides a glimpse of China in the 1900s from the perspective of a young apprentice in a changing city. 

Neighborhood Book Club Books

43. Where'd You Go Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple - BC, 4 stars. This book was entertaining, for sure.  It explores the identity of Bernadette who is a mom, wife, and gifted architect.  She ends up in Antarctica.  I did laugh quite a bit.  Watch out for the cuss words.

44. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel by Dai Sije - BC, 3.5 stars. This is an interesting historical fiction about teenagers sent to a re-education camp in China during the Cultural Revolution. It includes fascinating perspectives on literature, culture, and even abortion. 

45. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson - BC, 3 stars. I loved the first half of this book--funny, interesting, great insight to the Appalachians--but the second half really dragged. 

46. Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Shadows of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iversen - BC, 2 stars. This   history of the secret nuclear weapons plant located in my hometown of Denver, CO was interesting but too long.  

47. Age of Miracles: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker - BC, 3 stars. A young adult fiction dystopian work, I finished this book in one day, as I lay sick in bed. It was interesting, but not really my genre. 


It's interesting to see that I am evenly split on my top reason for reading: spiritual growth and homeschool. There are 12 books in each of those categories.  

And I am in the middle of six more: Daughter of the Mountains (HS), Making Sense of God (PI), Treasure Island (HS), How Now Shall We Live (CF), The Aviator's Wife (BC), and A Little Book on the Christian Life (SG). I'll have to report on those in 2018! 

2017: A Year in Review

2017: A Year in Review

Physical Food and Spiritual Food: We Crave What We Eat

Physical Food and Spiritual Food: We Crave What We Eat