2017 Reading Recap

It’s been a while – sorry about that!  I had several commitments in November and December that pushed blogging way down on the priority list, but fortunately, I was still able to read a good number of books.  I finished book 100 on November 13, and currently sit at 110….which is probably where I will end up, considering there aren’t many hours left in the year and I really need to clean out some closets.

Just for fun, I took a picture of 110 books to get a visual for how many that actually is, and WHOA! I didn’t read these books (most of my 2017 reads were library loans or kindle versions), but that’s a lot of books to fit in one (poorly staged) picture.

110 books

I thought for this post I would quickly list what I read in November and December, then share my favorite books of 2017.

So, without futher ado…


Home is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong (Sophie Hudson) – a sweet memoir from a writer who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) – a bit darker than I expected, but I enjoyed this book.

Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home (Amber Haines) – my favorite genre to criticize (ha!), I did appreciate this one.

In this Moment (Karen Kingsbury) – the cheese factor is HIGH in this one.

Before We Were Yours (Lisa Wingate) – this one is GREAT! You’ll see it again later in this post.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling) – I finished Harry Potter! And actually liked it! About halfway through book 4, I finally began to appreciate it and by book 5, couldn’t put it down.  As Harry got older, the story got darker and I liked it. What does that say about me? Oh well.

I, Eliza Hamilton (Susan Holloway Scott) – I thought that the fact that it was being told in first person would make it less boring than a biography, but no.

The Identicals (Elin Hilderbrand) – several of the book bloggers I follow are big fans of Hilderbrand. This is the first one I’ve read.  I didn’t really care for it. Not my style.

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy (Sue Klebold) – Sue is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the perpetrators of the Columbine tragedy. This book was heartbreaking and un-put-down-able.

The Things We Wish Were True (Marybeth Mayhew Whalen) – I enjoyed this book, which details the events that in occur in a single neighborhood one summer.  It’s told from the perspective of multiple characters and Whalen brings them all to life.  I’ve liked every one of her books.

And now, my favorites of 2017 (in no particular order, with Amazon’s description):

Before We Were Yours (Lisa Wingate) – BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. “Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.”

Free of Me: Why Life is Better When it’s not About You (Sharon Hodde Miller) – “We live in a culture that’s all about self, becoming the best “me” I can be instead of becoming like Jesus. This me-centered message affects every area of our lives–our friendships, our marriages, even our faith–and it breaks each one in different ways. The self-focused life robs our joy, shrinks our souls, and is the reason we never quite break free of insecurity.
In this book, Sharon Hodde Miller invites us into a bigger, Jesus-centered vision–one that restores our freedom and inspires us to live for more.”

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land (Monica Hesse) – “The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate―there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning.”

When We Were Worthy (Marybeth Mayhew Whalen) – “When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.”

Beartown (Fredrik Backman) – “a poignant charming novel about a forgotten town fractured by scandal and the amateur hockey team that might just change everything”

Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to be Noticed (Sara Hagerty) – “Every heart longs to be seen and understood. Yet most of our lives is unwitnessed. We spend our days working, driving, parenting. We sometimes spend whole seasons feeling unnoticed and unappreciated. So how do we find contentment when we feel so hidden? In Unseen, Sara Hagerty suggests that this is exactly what God intended. He is the only One who truly knows us. He is the only One who understands the value of the unseen in our lives. When this truth seeps into our souls, we realize that only when we hide ourselves in God can we give ourselves to others in true freedom—and know the joy of a deeper relationship with the God who sees us.”

Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything (Gloria Furman) – “God’s grand plan for the redemption of his creation has been in motion since before time began. The book of Ephesians lays out this glorious vision, revealing what Christ’s redemptive work means for the people of God and showing us how we should live in light of that reality. Alive in Him draws us into the main themes in the book of Ephesians, showing us how the blessings we have received in Christ empower our obedience and love for God.”

Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi)   “Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.
Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.”

No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God (Aimee Byrd) – “Why are so many well-intentioned women falling for poor, even false, theology? The Devil has been effectively targeting women from the beginning, so why are they often left to fend for themselves in so-called women’s ministries?”

The Mothers (Brit Bennett)  “A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community—and the things that ultimately haunt us most. Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition.”

Completely unintentionally, I ended up with 5 fiction and 5 nonfiction on this list.  It makes me wonder if that’s representative of my reading this year. I’m too lazy to check, but my gut says that it isn’t.

And now it’s time to set some goals for 2018 and get a TBR list ready.  Let me know your 2017 favorites in the comments!


Friday Finds: 10/6/17

I hope it’s feeling like fall where you are – it’s almost 90 here, but I’m trying not to complain about it.

Here are a few links and other things for your weekend.

The National Book Award announced its nominees earlier this week. Out of 20 books nominated in non-fiction and fiction, I am both surprised and a little embarrassed to say I haven’t read a single one! I do own Sing, Unburied, Sing (it was one of my Book of the Month picks last month), so I will make reading it a priority. I haven’t even heard of most of them.

I mentioned Free of Me by Sharon H. Miller in my September reading summary.  Sharon wrote a great piece for The Gospel Coalition highlighting the themes of her book. Read this and if it resonates with you, get her book.  I think it’s great.

Melissa Kruger also had a great post on TGC’s site this week: Life in the Shadow of Death.  She’s another one of my favorite authors.

Worth a Listen

Here are a few sermons/podcasts that made me say “Amen” more than once.

Curtis Jones of Bayou City Fellowship in Houston, TX: “The Good Samaritan and Race in America”

Nancy Guthrie at TGCW16: “Three Little Words that Change Everything”

Rockbridge Church (my church!): “Church Works: The Building” and “Jonah: Part 1”

And, lastly, a couple new albums that I’ve been playing on repeat: Where His Light Was by Kristene Dimarco, and Lecrae’s latest release, All Things Work Together.


Friday Finds: 9/29/17

This may be the weekend in which fall arrives in Virginia! It’s been hot as blazes this week, but the weekend forecast finally shows low 70s, which is wonderful considering I will be outside much of the day tomorrow.  College Gameday is going to my beloved Blacksburg so I will be watching closely for views of my hometown (and, later, tuning in to see the Hokies upset the Tigers…hopefully).

Here are my notable “finds” of the week:

If you need some reading recommendations, there are several good books on this list. I like that they are all on the short side — sometimes 400 pages is intimidating — even for me!

These articles have an interesting take on solitude and being alone: “The Pursuit of Loneliness” and “The Importance of Being Alone.” I’d love to hear what you think.

So Hugh Hefner died this week and while I really don’t want to give him any additional attention, the response on Twitter has been fascinating.  He was clearly a polarizing figure for obvious reasons, so it was no surprise for some to hail him as a hero and others to make him the villain.  What I appreciated, however, was this post by Emma Gray of the Huffington Post — I think it’s worthwhile because it shows the way the Sexual  Revolution is actually anti-feminist (and does so from a non religious perspective): “The Contradictory Feminist Legacy of Playboy’s Hugh Hefner”. And, since I’ve already brought it up, did you hear about how he bought a spot in the mausoleum next to Marilyn Monroe? He’s basically a stalker/sexual predator even in death . It’s disgusting.

I also found this rather old article by Jen Wilkin and really liked what she had to say – I guess this is Christian feminism…? No matter what you call it, let’s raise strong girls who can’t be easily manipulated: “On Daughters and Dating: How to Intimidate Suitors.”

If someone wants to buy me this poncho, I wouldn’t be sad.

And, last but not least, I have a sad story. I spent the better part of an hour last night looking for a new pumpkin recipe to try. I couldn’t find one! It seems people are all about pumpkin and chocolate combinations this year, and that is one flavor profile I cannot get behind.  What about you? Fan or no? And do you have a non-chocolate pumpkin themed recipe to share? I’d love one!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Finds: 9/22/17

This has been the longest week! A relatively good one, but a long one nonetheless. I have a pretty busy weekend lined up, but hopefully I’ll find a few hours to rest – I need it.

Here are this week’s finds.

For those of you craving a fall drink and don’t love the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks has a few new drinks to try. My sister tells me the Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte is pretty good.  I’m personally looking forward to trying the Maple Pecan Latte.  It sounds delicious!

I am beyond excited about my summer plans (already, I know).  In June, my sisters and I are attending The Gospel Coalition’s Conference for Women in Indianapolis. I cannot wait to hear some of my favorite teachers in person – including Jen Wilkin, Gloria Furman, and Melissa Kruger.  And speaking of Jen Wilkin, here is a great article she posted this week: “Think Fake News is Scary? Try False Teaching.”

Some of you may know, but I love personality typing systems. I’ve recently learned about the enneagram and find it fascinating.  Here’s a link to a great podcast I listened to yesterday with Annie Downs and Beth McCord (it’s podcast episode 53).  Beth is an enneagram coach and you can take an assessment on her website here.  I still can’t figure out which number I am – I’ve narrowed it down to a couple, but haven’t convinced myself of either one.  On the podcast, Annie recommends a couple books that I want to get my hands on.

That’s all I’ve got….enjoy your weekend!

Friday Finds: 9/15/17

Happy Friday – we’ve made it through another work week! Mine was extremely busy so this post will be brief.  Here are a few finds from the last few days.

I really appreciated the way the Modern Mrs. Darcy described her 9/11 experience. Her words reminded me of the way I felt after the April 16, 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech.  Trauma is real and impacts us in ways we can’t predict.

I think I’ve mentioned the podcast “Pod Save America” on here before, but it’s worth mentioning again. This week’s episode is an interview with Hillary Clinton and summarizes much of what she discusses in her book, What Happened, which released this week.  While I don’t agree with Clinton on every issue, I respect her greatly and appreciate what she has to say about sexism in America.

And since there’s so much heaviness in the world, I’ve had to make sure my TV watching provides an escape, so I’ve been watching “Parks & Rec” and I LOVE IT! I know, I know, I’m way late to this phenomenon but I’m glad I found it now.

What are your plans this weekend? I will be getting my household chores done, reading, and watching football on Saturday.  On Sunday, we’re celebrating my nieces’ second birthday(s?) with family.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone…and holding my nephew Will who was born this week!

Friday Finds: 9/8/17

I don’t have a whole lot to share today – it’s been a wild week. Even today has been full of ups and downs.

Who’s excited for football?!?!  I loved this article written by Josh Jackson’s uncle.   Josh is the freshman starting quarterback for Virginia Tech and his uncle is the college football beat writer for Penn State.

I found another recipe for a fall-themed cake I want to try: Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Pecan Praline Glaze.  It looks delicious!

And lastly, I want to recommend the current She Reads Truth study on The Sermon on the Mount. I think it’s a four-week plan, but you can start anytime.  The plan is free on their website or $1.99 on the app.  Check it out here!

Have a great weekend, friends! I will spend mine doing household chores and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first nephew!

Friday Finds: 8/25/17

Today’s Friday Finds will be a quick one!

First, what did y’all think about Taylor Swift’s new single “Look What You Made Me Do”?  Personally, I find it a bit creepy, but I look forward to hearing the album.  She’s changed so much since “Tim McGraw“.  I’m feeling a little nostalgic.

And while we’re thinking of the old Taylor, here’s a fun quiz:  Which Taylor Swift Era Best Describes You?  I got “Red.”

So the eclipse happened and I was really excited until I wasn’t.  I knew 88% vs. 100% totality wasn’t ideal, but I thought I’d get a lot more than I did.  I am so jealous of all those people who got to see the real thing.  Emily P. Freeman’s words are so relatable:  When the Eclipse is Underwhelming…

I hope I can figure out a good 2024 road trip.  I’m astounded by the ways God reveals Himself to the world.

And here’s another Pretty Cool Eclipse Story about a woman who was born during a solar eclipse and then gave birth during one.  I wondered if the eclipse would increase the number of women going into labor the way full moons and new moons do.  I hope someone is running that data.

And lastly, a recipe I am dying to try: Cinnamon Coffee Cake.  I love a good bundt cake/pound cake, but this one isn’t compliant with my diet.  I’ll save it for the next time I’m baking for a crowd.

Have a great weekend, friends!