20 Books You Should Read This Year

This is the time of year when folks make resolutions.

I’ve seen a few people saying “I want to read more books in 2016. Any suggestions?”

I am by no means a literary expert, but I’ve been dabbling in various books for the past year or so, and I have a few that I think you might enjoy. This is mostly a random selection of stuff I’ve read in the past year, or bought on Amazon to read next year, or found at a thrift shop last week. Most of these are not particularly new, but if you’ve never gotten a chance to read them, they are worth your time.

So here, in no particular order, are 20 books you should read next year:

1. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

More than anything else I’ve read this year, this book on shame and vulnerability has changed some deep, deep stuff in me. It’s like a year’s worth of therapy packed into a paperback.

2. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

This is the follow-up to Daring Greatly. Here, Brown focuses on owning our stories, and other stuff probably. I’m only on the first few chapters. It’s really good so far though.

 

 

3. Scary Close by Donald Miller

This one isn’t for everyone, but it hit me right between the eyes. It’s a quick and easy read, and lays out a simple and beautiful model for healthy relationships and families. More therapy in a book.

4. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I don’t know if this counts as a memoir per se — it’s more of a collection of personal essays strung together to share bits and pieces of a remarkable life story. For anybody going through some shit (and that’s all of us, isn’t it?) Glennon’s story offers light and hope and laughter along the way.

5. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

I first tried reading through this classic almost ten years ago, and I guess it wasn’t the right time for me. This time through, it’s like hearing the Gospel as if for the first time. Read it slow, and underline everything.

 

 

6. Naked by David Sedaris

I had never read anything by this dude, but found a copy of this book for fifty cents at a library sale. It’s hilarious. I laughed out loud several times, and was constantly amazed by his writing style. So unique and so good.

7. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Because after Naked, I found this one for $3 at a thrift store. It’s just as hilarious and well-written as the first. And because it’s a collection of essays, you can just read one at a time instead of having to carve out a big chunk of reading time.

8. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on order from Amazon. I’ve listened to a bunch of Liz’s podcasts this fall though, and every single one has been a huge shot of inspiration for my creative / writer soul. I can’t wait to dig into this mess.

9. Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

Full disclosure: Erika is a client and dear friend, so I’m biased. But did any other book I read this year make me bawl on an airplane all the way from Chicago to New York? Nope, I didn’t think so.

 

 

10. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

This is a simple, short story about dying and living. You might cry a little bit. It might make you want to be a better human.

11. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

If you like Mindy, you’ll like this book. It’s just like listening to her talk. And she’s hilarious. If you don’t like Mindy, what the heck is wrong with you? (Also, this book prompted an existential crisis for me. But don’t hold that against it.)

12. Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey

I haven’t even bought a copy of this one or read a single word of it, but I would bet many dollars that it is worth your time. Ain’t nobody loves Jesus as much as Sarah Bessey does, and it comes through in every single word she writes.

13. It’s Not What You Think by Jeff Bethke

I haven’t read this one either, but I need to. I have so much respect for Jeff and the work he’s doing, and I think this one is going to be worth our time too.

14. Coming Clean by Seth Haines

Seth is a friend, and I was an endorser on this book, so take my enthusiastic recommendation with a grain of salt. But I really enjoyed this. Seth takes us on a simple, achingly honest journey of faith doubt and sobriety and it is heartbreaking and healing all at once.

 

Coming Clean

 

15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

I’m not even sure what to say about Dave Eggers. His work lives somewhere between memoir and fiction, and is wildly unique in its tone and structure. He does things with storytelling and words that just blow open the boundaries of what writing can look like for me. And it’s pretty funny too.

16. Man Enough by Nate Pyle

If you’ve been in Christian circles a while, you’ve probably heard a lot of stereotypical messages about masculinity and shit. Nate’s work is different. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve been a fan and friend of Nate for a while and I know this is going to be good stuff.

17. All I Once Held by Gaylynne Sword

I probably wouldn’t have heard of this book unless the author sent me a copy, but I flipped it open one day and wound up devouring the whole thing in one gulp. It messed me up. Even though it’s a fictional story, Gaylynne somehow captures in amazing detail the feeling of drowning in fundamentalist Christianity and how much it costs to escape.

18. Revolution by Russell Brand

This book is part Ecclesiastes, part watered-down pseudo-anarchist political philosophy, and part self-indulgent celebrity memoir. But it’s worth reading — partly for Brand’s terribly crass laugh-out-loud tone and partly for the ridiculously naive and oversimplified call for revolution. It made me feel things.

19. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

Rachel is unparalleled in her ability to put into words what so many of us have experienced in our complicated relationships with the church and spirituality. This book — based on the seven sacraments — is for all of us sorting through all that baggage.

20. My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman

I’ve been working through this one for over a year now, and I’m only halfway through. It’s part post-modern theology, part angsty poetry that goes right over my head. But every line and every word makes me think. Essential for anybody who wants to believe.

 

My Bright Abyss

20 Books You Should Read This Year

January 7, 2016 | 6 minute read

books

This is the time of year when folks make resolutions.

I’ve seen a few people saying “I want to read more books in 2016. Any suggestions?”

I am by no means a literary expert, but I’ve been dabbling in various books for the past year or so, and I have a few that I think you might enjoy. This is mostly a random selection of stuff I’ve read in the past year, or bought on Amazon to read next year, or found at a thrift shop last week. Most of these are not particularly new, but if you’ve never gotten a chance to read them, they are worth your time.

So here, in no particular order, are 20 books you should read next year:

1. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

More than anything else I’ve read this year, this book on shame and vulnerability has changed some deep, deep stuff in me. It’s like a year’s worth of therapy packed into a paperback.

2. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

This is the follow-up to Daring Greatly. Here, Brown focuses on owning our stories, and other stuff probably. I’m only on the first few chapters. It’s really good so far though.

 

 

3. Scary Close by Donald Miller

This one isn’t for everyone, but it hit me right between the eyes. It’s a quick and easy read, and lays out a simple and beautiful model for healthy relationships and families. More therapy in a book.

4. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I don’t know if this counts as a memoir per se — it’s more of a collection of personal essays strung together to share bits and pieces of a remarkable life story. For anybody going through some shit (and that’s all of us, isn’t it?) Glennon’s story offers light and hope and laughter along the way.

5. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

I first tried reading through this classic almost ten years ago, and I guess it wasn’t the right time for me. This time through, it’s like hearing the Gospel as if for the first time. Read it slow, and underline everything.

 

 

6. Naked by David Sedaris

I had never read anything by this dude, but found a copy of this book for fifty cents at a library sale. It’s hilarious. I laughed out loud several times, and was constantly amazed by his writing style. So unique and so good.

7. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Because after Naked, I found this one for $3 at a thrift store. It’s just as hilarious and well-written as the first. And because it’s a collection of essays, you can just read one at a time instead of having to carve out a big chunk of reading time.

8. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on order from Amazon. I’ve listened to a bunch of Liz’s podcasts this fall though, and every single one has been a huge shot of inspiration for my creative / writer soul. I can’t wait to dig into this mess.

9. Bandersnatch by Erika Morrison

Full disclosure: Erika is a client and dear friend, so I’m biased. But did any other book I read this year make me bawl on an airplane all the way from Chicago to New York? Nope, I didn’t think so.

 

 

10. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

This is a simple, short story about dying and living. You might cry a little bit. It might make you want to be a better human.

11. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

If you like Mindy, you’ll like this book. It’s just like listening to her talk. And she’s hilarious. If you don’t like Mindy, what the heck is wrong with you? (Also, this book prompted an existential crisis for me. But don’t hold that against it.)

12. Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey

I haven’t even bought a copy of this one or read a single word of it, but I would bet many dollars that it is worth your time. Ain’t nobody loves Jesus as much as Sarah Bessey does, and it comes through in every single word she writes.

13. It’s Not What You Think by Jeff Bethke

I haven’t read this one either, but I need to. I have so much respect for Jeff and the work he’s doing, and I think this one is going to be worth our time too.

14. Coming Clean by Seth Haines

Seth is a friend, and I was an endorser on this book, so take my enthusiastic recommendation with a grain of salt. But I really enjoyed this. Seth takes us on a simple, achingly honest journey of faith doubt and sobriety and it is heartbreaking and healing all at once.

 

Coming Clean

 

15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

I’m not even sure what to say about Dave Eggers. His work lives somewhere between memoir and fiction, and is wildly unique in its tone and structure. He does things with storytelling and words that just blow open the boundaries of what writing can look like for me. And it’s pretty funny too.

16. Man Enough by Nate Pyle

If you’ve been in Christian circles a while, you’ve probably heard a lot of stereotypical messages about masculinity and shit. Nate’s work is different. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve been a fan and friend of Nate for a while and I know this is going to be good stuff.

17. All I Once Held by Gaylynne Sword

I probably wouldn’t have heard of this book unless the author sent me a copy, but I flipped it open one day and wound up devouring the whole thing in one gulp. It messed me up. Even though it’s a fictional story, Gaylynne somehow captures in amazing detail the feeling of drowning in fundamentalist Christianity and how much it costs to escape.

18. Revolution by Russell Brand

This book is part Ecclesiastes, part watered-down pseudo-anarchist political philosophy, and part self-indulgent celebrity memoir. But it’s worth reading — partly for Brand’s terribly crass laugh-out-loud tone and partly for the ridiculously naive and oversimplified call for revolution. It made me feel things.

19. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

Rachel is unparalleled in her ability to put into words what so many of us have experienced in our complicated relationships with the church and spirituality. This book — based on the seven sacraments — is for all of us sorting through all that baggage.

20. My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman

I’ve been working through this one for over a year now, and I’m only halfway through. It’s part post-modern theology, part angsty poetry that goes right over my head. But every line and every word makes me think. Essential for anybody who wants to believe.

 

My Bright Abyss

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