As of today, 2016 is halfway over.
We’re halfway to Christmas.
What in the world.
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Maybe it’s because I’m nosy or maybe because I’m a nerd, but I love it when people share what they’re reading. Whether it’s on Instagram or on one of my best friends’ blogs, I love seeing what people are reading and what they find in the pages of a book (because books are magical and I’m a nosy nerd).
So, the following is what I’ve read so far this year, broken down by month.
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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew – C. S. Lewis
Returning to Narnia for the first time since middle school was a blissful experience. The re-read started while my bff and I were in Oxford, England (it seemed appropriate), during the first part of the year and it did not disappoint (the book nor the town). Lewis is one of my favorite thinkers and writers and his Narnia books are no exception. What beautiful words and pictures that teach us to long for the true and better Narnia that awaits all who know the true and better Aslan.
The Things of Earth – Joe Rigney
This is one of the most influential books I’ve ever read. It has opened my eyes to see God and His gifts like never before and I’ve returned to this gem time and again since finishing it in January. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. In fact, I’ve written about it here and here.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy – C. S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – C. S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C. S. Lewis
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners – John Bunyan
After reading Bunyan’s classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, several times it was time to read his autobiography. He wrote this for his children and it was a short, easy read, although, wow, his conversion was such a drawn-out experience filled with speed bumps and setbacks that I found myself—while reading—praying God would be so kind as to hurry up and save him. (Whoops?)
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness – Tim Keller
A teeny-tiny book with a big message. Basic and profound all at once, this book helped steer my heart toward humility and seeing more outside of myself. It would be an excellent addition to gift baskets or for spiritual birthday gifts (or just because).
Seated with Christ – Heather Holleman
Delving into the topic of cultural comparison and looking sideways rather than into the face of the One who has seated us in heavenly places, Holleman beautifully and simply addresses our desire for security, recognition, and validation. An excellent resource that traces our longings back to the Garden and original design and then gives theological signposts for what to do with them (the desires).
Dear Mr. Knightley – Katherine Reay
I love this book. I read it within 24 hours while battling a stomach bug, it was just what my sick body needed to relax and refuel. I love how Reay works in Jane Austen (one of my all-time favorite writers) and does it in a lovely and captivating way that honors Austen. The story is great, the writing is great, the morals are great, Jane Austen is great. I love everything about it, from the beautiful cover to the font choice to the page design to the last sentence.
Exalting Jesus in Mark (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) – Daniel Akin (edited by David Platt and Tony Merida)
This is the second Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary I’ve worked through and they are my very favorite when preparing curriculum for my girls or helping in my own studies. The questions, illustrations, and breakdown of the text (line upon line, precept upon precept) is weighty, beautiful, and filled with the Gospel. Praise for solid resources to help me see Christ in every page and better equip my girls to do so.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair – C. S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle – C. S. Lewis
Me Before You – Jojo Meyes
First: this book shredded my heart.
Second: this book challenged (in a positive way) my ability to explain why I am, in every sense of the word, pro-life. This created many opportunities for discussion, questions, critical thinking, and Scriptural reasoning, all of which are things I love that served to sharpen my mind and heart.
Third: this is a beautifully written story that is somehow simultaneously tragic and uplifting.
Fourth: the following quote is from Samuel James, who offers a rebuttal-like response and warning regarding the book/film over on The Gospel Coalition, and I couldn’t agree more: “Life cannot be measured by the function of our bodies, whether we can run, swim, make love, or even feed ourselves. Human dignity is grounded in the Creator whose image we bear and whose image cannot be destroyed by even the worst physical trauma.” This would be good to keep in mind were you to read the book, watch the movie, or discuss it with others.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J. K. Rowling
Last summer I watched all the HP movies with my small group girls. This came after years of encouragement to read the books and watch the films and also years of being raised with the “Christian” understanding that witchcraft is bad, Harry Potter is witchcraft, therefore Harry Potter = bad. However, HP is 100 percent awesome. I have seen the Gospel more clearly because of these stories and I am grateful for the talents and giftings the Lord gave J. K. Rowling to craft such intricate and amazing narratives. Read them and see the Gospel. Read them and remind your heart of the good news: In the end, light will always trump darkness.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling
Continuing my thoughts on HP: the movies were great but, of course, the books are infinitely better. If you’re worried about the massive time-investment required to read seven big books, you are not alone. That was me. I was so happy just watching the movies, but the books are masterpieces that echo the Great Storyteller and His divinely-scripted stories and are worth the time.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling
(This is my favorite book of the series, so far.)
Life in Community – Dustin Willis
This was my second time through this book and it was better the second time. After reading Life on Mission, Willis’ book with co-author Aaron Coe, I wanted more and Willis delivered. This is an excellent, basic and thorough overview of what church life is to look like—community. We are a body, redeemed by God to work in harmony together in all aspects of life. I highly recommend this for your church, small group, and personal library.
Lizzy and Jane – Katherine Reay
I listened to Lizzy and Jane as an audiobook while doing a lot of driving and a lot of cleaning and it was beautiful. Again, Reay has a way of bringing elements of Jane Austen and other classic works into modern stories that are beautiful, realistic, uplifting, and not overtly faith-y. Though not as good as Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy and Jane was a fun and easy read (listen).
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J. K. Rowling
Dad is Fat – Jim Gaffigan
I have contrasting opinions on this one (which I also listened to [with my mom] on audiobook during a road trip). Gaffigan clearly loves his wife and family and is pro-life and pro-big family (praise) and his stories are hilarious but sometimes his self-degradation was too much for me. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book.
This is Awkward – Sammy Rhodes
Packed with humor, the right kind of awkward, and the glorious Gospel, This is Awkward is helpful and necessary for the church today. Rhodes weaves his personal journey through “awkward” topics and issues with the truth of Scripture and the reality that Jesus embraced our awkward and messy so we could get His righteousness and purity. Astounding. This has been a huge help in discipling my small group babies and giving us a platform to discuss a variety of topics that desperately need to be addressed. I’m on my second read-through and I especially love his affinity for Harry Potter references and his chapters on friendship, depression, and marriage. So helpful.