One of my favourite bloggers, in sharing the books that most deeply impacted him this year, quoted CS Lewis today: we read to know we’re not alone. I have found myself not alone as I read my way through 2014. The company, the sharing, the changing that comes from basking in someone else’s written words are an intense dash of heat through the body in what can be a cold experience of being human.
I set myself the goal of trying to read one book a week in 2014. This was easy for the first couple of months (the cold, dark, wintery months call for more solitude and a slower pace) but as the year picked up and I rode the waves of managing a charity and planning a wedding/setting up a home, I didn’t fit in the 4 monthly reads I wanted. I’m not beating myself up about this by any means. I’ve read more this year than in any other, and I’ve greatly benefitted from newly formed patterns and the nuggets I picked up both from what I read and in the act of reading itself.
I’m not going to tell you about each book I read. I’m also not going to mention books I read but wouldn’t recommend (in this post). Rather, I’ve categorised the year’s books into groups and will share highlights from each one.
There is a lot of rubbish written about marriage out there. Beware. However, there is also a lot of good stuff. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages was practical and lasting advice. As For Me and My House by Walter Wangerin was a profound exploration of the themes of forgiveness, true love and being grace in marriage. And Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley was a great reminder to two perfectionists at the beginning of their careers to prioritise our relationship above other voices crying out for attention, however loud they may be. Honourable mention to The Conscious Bride by Sheryl Paul which in some parts vastly bizarre but in others exactly what a stretched, busy, thoughtful bride needs to hear.
Switch by Chip and Dan Heath was an excellent study of how change happens that I was able to apply directly to my role at work, but also in thinking about how I live and what impact I would like that to have. Quiet by Susan Cain, although not yet finished, has let me off the hook for being an introverted leader (who would have thought!?) and thinking about how to mobilise people with different personality traits. Brene Brown taught me some life-changing lessons on vulnerability which affected me in leadership and in relationship in Daring Greatly, and Christine Caine fuelled the fire that makes me do what I do in Undaunted.
Henri Nouwen greatly impacted me this year. I love his compassionate way of journeying with his readers, his OK-ness with the grey, his perspective on life and its difficult parts and his overwhelming ability to communicate love. Life of the Beloved was a highlight. I also really benefitted from Chrysalis by Alain Jamieson who reflects on the journey of faith. I’ve just begun Ann Voskamp’s A Thousand Gifts and as a result feel unable to not begin the year with a newly impassioned sense of gratitude.
I embarked on a hormonal health journey this year and Alisa Vitti had my back with Womancode. Biography is a favourite genre of mine and it was both heart-breaking and heartening to read Diet Eman’s Things We Couldn’t Say. The Nesting Place by Smith Myquillyn (the second book in the post to have been given to me by one of my cousins) is a treat for the eyes and for the mind with handy DIY tips, interior design ideas and permission for none of it to be perfect!
Have you read this year? What did you enjoy the most? Are you setting out to read any particular themes/genres/authors next year? I’d love to know. Send me your recommendations for my 2015 reading list, too!