Favorite Books in 2014 & 2015

Here are a few of my recommendations from what little I have read over the past two years.  (Since I didn't begin blogging until this year and I read some really fantastic books last year that I'd like to mention).

My husband reads about seventy books a year, so I am always a little embarrassed about how little I read in comparison (though, to be fair, he IS an audio book narrator, so he counts those books as well).  But for what it's worth, here are a few of my recommendations from what little I have read over the past two years.  (Since I didn't begin blogging until this year and I read some really fantastic books last year that I'd like to mention).

Books I Loved Best:

The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
I can't believe it took me so long to read this incredible book.  I first tried to read this in college before well, life, and I just wasn't ready for it.  The characters, imagery, themes, style, and depth of research were amazing (she spent 10 years researching for it!).  Loved it.  I feel like this is a book everyone who wants to go into missions should read as a manual of what not to do. 

Bringing up Bebe:  One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, by Pamela Druckerman
I'm a sucker for a good book on cultural differences and this book has had a huge influence on my parenting, from what I feed my babies (anything I eat) to helping them sleep through the night (if they can do it in France...).  But it mostly just gave me peace of mind that there is not only ONE way to parent because someone somewhere in the world is doing it differently than I am and their kids become responsible members of society (as an aside, watch the documentary Babies to help you feel better as a mom--you can always tell yourself, In some countries, kids eat dirt and they still grow up into healthy adults). 

Practicing the Presence of People: How We Learn to Love, by Mike Mason
Mike wrote one of my husband and I's favorite books on marriage, The Mystery of Marriage, so we knew we wanted to read any other books he has written.  This book has sat on our shelf for over a year and it wasn't until this season where I am trying to figure out how to make new friends in my 30's after moving to a new place that I finally picked it up.  I underlined over fifty percent of the book, so apt were his words, as if he were speaking right to my soul.  His writing style is beautiful and so profound that you feel deeper just by reading it.     
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, More Secure Kids, by Kim John Payne and Lisa Ross
This book has also been a major shaper of my parenting style and after reading it I promptly got rid of over half of our toys (so beware!).  But I loved how scientific it was and the ways it illuminated much of what our society deems as needs for kids are actually wants

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker
Similar to Simplicity Parenting, this book challenged much of my thinking about the sheer amount of stuff we have in our house.  I love Jen's hilarious writing style and relatability.  I can't say that I actually did everything that she suggested, but it caused me to take stock of my life and all that might be excessive about it.

Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I can't believe I never read this before.  I loved the lyrical style and timeless essays on womanhood.  Her writing reminded me of Annie Dillard, but with fewer descriptions of bugs;-)

Family on Mission, by Mike Breen
This book was recommended to me by a friend who is trying to put this style of ministry into practice.  This year, I feel that it has shaped my perception of ministry as the Breens encourage people to invite people into your life and come alongside your family instead of having ministry be compartmentalized from your real life. 

Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger
A fiction novel, this book was beautifully written and had characters that you could truly fall in love with.  It touches on the possibility of miracles and rings with themes of redemption and forgiveness.  I was swept into the story immediately and couldn't put it down. 

Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy (sequel), by Lisa See
While I was living in China, I wasn't as interested in reading books about China, but since I've been back for five years, I find I'm growing nostalgic.  I loved this book and its sequel as it was well-written and spanned many years of Chinese culture including Shanghai during the dawn of the cultural revolution, immigration to the U.S. and later life back in China in a labor camp.  Having actual characters in a story always helps me to better understand history, so I appreciated these books and feel they were very accurate to what I have read and experienced of Chinese history.

Also Worth the Read:

Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem and the Joys of Motherhood, by Rachel Jankovic

Mom Enough:  The Fearless Mother's Heart and Hope, by multiple contributors from Desiring God

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L'Engle  (this was the fourth time I've read this--one of my all time favorites)

Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, by Margaret Feinberg

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm and Other Adventures in Parenting (From Argentina to Tanzania and Everywhere in Between), by Mei-Ling Hopgood

Sacred Parenting:  How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls, by Gary Thomas

The Friendships of Women: The Beauty and Power of God's Plan for Us, by Dee Brestin

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin

Natural Hospital Birth:  The Best of Both Worlds, by Cynthia Gabriel

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows

Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce

Among Others, by Jo Walton

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

(For those who don't know about it, I would highly recommend using the website Goodreads to keep track of what books you have read, want to read and are currently reading.  It connects you to other friends and I often get my book recommendations from there.)

I have about 100 books on my list of books to read, which at this rate is going to take me about 10 years!  My goal this year?  Read 20 minutes (at least!) a day.  We'll see if I can do it...

What were your favorite books this year (or last)?  I'd love to get some new recommendations!
Do you have any reading goals this year?

Here are a few of my recommendations from what little I have read over the past two years.  (Since I didn't begin blogging until this year and I read some really fantastic books last year that I'd like to mention).

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