Discussing my reading highlights terrifies me. Much as I comfortably talk about my messy feelings here, sharing my reading highlights renders my knees wobbly. It’s appallingly intimate.
I’m a scared panda.
Maybe sharing your reading is nerve-wracking for you, too? If so, you’re not alone, friend.
I want to mark disclaimers separating me from books on the list, perhaps to make myself look smarter or more holy. But, those are cheap shots, and it’s cowardly.
I’m not going to apologize for my reading choices, particularly books that I loved and that challenged me to grow. I will, however, note disclaimers similar to ones the authors themselves often attach to their work.
Here are the books that changed me in 2016.
- Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Accidental Saints, Nadia Bolz-Weber (I loved it! And I’m not going to qualify that statement, but if cussing deeply offends you, this book is not for you.)
- Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans
- Rising Strong, Brene Brown
- Dog Songs, Mary Oliver
- For the Love, Jen Hatmaker
- The Compassionate God, C.S. Song
- Between the Dark and the Daylight, Joan Chittister
- Tribe, Sebastian Junger
- Faith in the Face of Empire, Mitri Raheb
- On Writing Well, William Zinsser Knowlton
- Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson (Wildly and hilariously inappropriate, which is oddly enough, a major part of Lawson’s charm. And like my earlier statement, if cussing deeply offends, this book is not for you. What really stood out to me: Lawson’s frank discussion of living with mental illness.)
Some books challenged the way I communicate about God (Between the World and Me, For the Love, Faith in the Face of Empire, The Compassionate God).
Some knit me back together as I wrestled with failures and insecurity (Rising Strong, Dog Songs, Between the Dark and the Daylight, Furiously Happy).
Others made laugh out loud repeatedly (For the Love, Accidental Saints, Furiously Happy). A few made me weep (Between the World and Me and Accidental Saints).
Some made me wonder at the power of Church and community (Accidental Saints, Searching for Sunday, Tribe).
A handful even reminded me why I love writing, in spite of its challenges (On Writing Well, Furiously Happy, Accidental Saints, Dog Songs).
And I hope 2017 proves to be as good a year for reading as 2016 was.