My Top Five Favorite Books I Read in 2017

I love to read and I’m so grateful for the easy access to books I enjoy. At the end of each year, I review the list of books I’ve finished. This year, I finished 21 books. I start more than I finish. More on that in one of the books, below. Disclaimer: I pulled pieces of the descriptions straight from Amazon, where I am an affiliate. Shop through these links and help us fund our adoption!

Whisper by Mark Batterson

Amazon says: By learning to tune in to and decipher each language, you’ll be able to hear His guidance in simple as well as life-altering choices. God is actively speaking through: Scripture, Desires, Doors, Dreams, People, Promptings, and Pain. Batterson gives you the tools you need to unlock each of these languages.

Why I loved it: We go to National Community Church so Mark Batterson is our pastor! I read a copy of the book his publisher sent to our office when we did a story on the book. I’m just a basic little Baptist girl, so I don’t go around hearing the audible voice of God. Pastor Mark talks about 7 languages of God and the importance and art of listening to these things to discern what God is calling you to do. I think this is actually a great leadership book! I plan to use some of the material from the book in an upcoming leadership summit I’m putting together at work.

Some of my favorite quotes: “God-given gifts are what we’re best at. God-ordained desires are what we’re most passionate about. And the place where those gifts and desires overlap is the sweet spot.”

“Sometimes the circumstances we’re trying to change are the very circumstances God is using to change us.”

Format I used: Hardcover

You are Free by Rebekah Lyons

Amazon says: Freedom is for everyone who wants it—the lost, the wounded, and those weary from all of the striving. It’s for those who gave up trying years ago. It’s for those angry and hurt, brilliant and burnt by the Christian song and dance. You are the church, the people of God. You were meant to be free.

Why I loved it: Okay, first of all let’s just get it out there that I am a bit of a Rebekah Lyons fan girl. Okay, I said it. Now – one of the things I have held pretty close to the vest is my struggle with anxiety. I vented quite a bit on my old blog about the difficulties I had in my early days of marriage – balancing being a wife and a caregiver. That challenging time was traumatic – and still – there are triggers that when they happen send me into panic attack mode. In this book, Rebekah talks about her struggle with panic (and her healing!) and she gives all of us “strivers” permission to accept the freedom Christ has provided to us.

Some of my favorite quotes:*

*I pretty much highlighted this whole book. If I had ONE book to recommend to my friends, this would be it!

“These chains become ankle weights. We grow accustomed to them, excuse them, work within their limitations. We begin to grow comfortable with them, perhaps decorate or even celebrate them. We eventually claim them as our identity, denying the possibility that these chains could fall away. How tragic, for despair is when we believe we will truly never change.”

“Bravery is moving scared. Bravery requires stepping out.”

“I believe grief is our most powerful confession, because it cracks our hearts wide open.”

Format I used: Kindle app

 Finish, by Jon Acuff

Amazon says: If you’re tired of being a chronic starter and want to become a consistent finisher, you have two options: You can continue to beat yourself up and try harder, since this time that will work. Or you can give yourself the gift of done.

Why I loved it: PSA: Go follow @jonacuff on Instagram right now. You’re welcome. I think Jon Acuff is one of the funniest people on the planet. I want to be friends with him in real life, which is why I listened to this book as an audio book – so I could pretend we were hanging out. Jon gives the kind of advice I really need to hear, but I don’t feel great about needing to hear it. Because at my core, I am addicted to done. “Done” is a god. Some of his strategies are things like cutting your goal in half and deciding what to bomb.

Some of my favorite quotes: “Developing tolerance for imperfection is the key factor in turning chronic starters into consistent finishers.”

“It’s almost never ‘now or never.’ Ask yourself, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?'”

Format I used: Audible audio book

Braving the Wilderness, by Brenè Brown

Amazon says: “True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives—experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Why I loved it: We are living in a pretty divided time. I work in Washington, DC – and in the news industry. So, for me 2017 was a wild ride covering the first year of the Trump White House. I am a journalist by trade, so I don’t openly share my political views and you shouldn’t take my recommendation of this book as a reflection of my political views. I just think Dr. Brown packs this book full of wisdom and tools we could all use to see things from a different perspective.

Some of my favorite quotes: “True belonging is not passive.”

“Being ourselves sometimes means having to find the courage to stand alone.”

Format I used: Audible audio book

Hope Heals, by Katherine and Jay Wolf

Amazon says: Defying every prognosis, with grit and grace, Katherine and Jay, side by side, struggled to regain a life for Katherine as she re-learned to talk and eat and walk. Returning home with a severely disabled body but a completely renewed purpose, they committed to celebrate this gift of a second chance by embracing life fully, even though that life looked very different than they could have ever imagined. In the midst of continuing hardships and struggles, both in body and mind, Katherine and Jay found what we all long to find…hope, hope that heals the most broken place, our souls.

Why I loved it: Katherine and Jay had it all. A young, loving marriage. A bouncing baby boy. Then – BAM! Katherine suffers a massive stroke and is left with brain damage that alters her body and physical appearance forever. Her mind is completely in tact. Though I wasn’t married to Michael when he suffered his life-changing spinal cord injury – there is a lot this couple faces that I could relate to. And I actually finished this book while Michael was in the hospital just before Christmas, which had me at the end of my caregiving rope. Jay and Katherine share their story and they inspire in a way that isn’t preachy or annoying. Their perspective helped me get out of a funk. Also, I love what they say about “wheelchair time,” it’s SO true!

Some of my favorite quotes: “No amount of catharsis or perspective finding will change the fact that our situation is terribly sad and deeply broken.”

“Perhaps in the breaking, we can find the healing we long for.”

“Don’t wait to celebrate the life you have been given, even if it looks different from the one you thought you would have.”

Format I used: Hardcover book (borrowed) then I bought it in the Kindle app so I could highlight

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