Who has time to read?
This busy parent does. Yes, it is wedged between after school activities and homework. It is interrupted countless times. It is done next to looming piles of I-should-be-cleaning. But at the end of the year, as I reflect on this list, I wouldn’t trade one book for a cleaner laundry room or another scroll through Instagram. Although, I might trade one to have whipped my husband’s bottom in Trivia Crack.
This is the first year I hit two dozen books and it might have everything in the world to do with my baby starting preschool.
Here is my Book List from 2018, starting with parenting books:
- Brave Moms, Brave Kids -Lee Nienhuis It was an honor to be on the launch team for this book. Many practical tips and stories kept this important message from feeling too overwhelming. I really, really want Brave Kids who aren’t intimidated to try new things and be crazy for Jesus. If you do too, or if you would like to be nudged further away from your mama fear, read this one.
- Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: Connecting your Family to a Wider Community -Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof I went into this one a bit doubtful. I feel so strongly about parents teaching our kids about God and not leaving it up to the church. I was wondering if they would tell me otherwise. But instead I was reminded of what the Church is here for: community. We parents are not alone. Our kids need mentors and adult friends and resources beyond us. I found myself cheering throughout the book.
- Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind -Brenda Yoder I am still in the pre-launching stage and rather looking forward to shooing them out of the nest one day. *brushes palms together. Job done! But Brenda’s wise words tell me there will be grief and regret along with the good vibes. And she says that we can start preparing our homes, our souls and those kids in the pre-Fledge years. It was an honor to be on the launch team for this one-of-a-kind book.
- Raising World Changers in a Changing World -Kristen Welch I don’t cry when I’m hurt or sad, I cry over Jesus and this one had me grabbing my tissues. Ok, I used my shirt, but the tears were legit. The Welch family has learned the joys of generosity and it gave me a hundred ideas for my own family. Top Parenting Pick of the Year.
- Never Say No -Mark and Jan Foreman (Parents of Jon and Tim of Switchfoot) If you cross intentional parenting with the free spirit of the 70’s, this book will pop out of thin air. Ok, fine, books take more work than that. I am challenged to be quicker with my Yeses and my oh-my-gosh-she-is-amazing-s. I was challenged to see the deepest potential in all of my little rascals.
- First Ask Why -Shelly Wildman Good solid basics for intentionally raising kids with a heart for Jesus. And the why behind it. My favorite was her chapter on cultural awareness and why it matters to our kids. I’m a fan of anyone who tells me to travel.
- The Missionary Mom -Shontell Brewer This mama is crazy passionate about intentional parenting, especially showing her kids what Jesus looks like. And she is funny to boot. If you need a reminder that your job is important, this one is for you.
The rest of the two dozen are a mix of memoirs, easy-reads, theology, leadership and non-fiction.
- A Million Miles in a Thousand Days -Don Miller I’m paying more attention to writing style and I think he is one of my favorites. At the very least, Donald is one of my easiest reads. He is a great story teller and in this book, he convinced me that if I don’t like the story being told, I can start to write a better one and invite others into the new story too.
- The Nesting Place -Myquinlyn Smith Mostly when I see pretty decorating books I want to hate them. But this one became my friend when Mrs. Smith pointed out that her front cover chair had a broken leg and was propped up by two books. She has convinced me that my home doesn’t need to be perfect to be beautiful and I love her for it! 😘
- Mennonite in a Little Black Dress -Rhoda Jenzen If a writer can make me laugh at losing her husband to Bob from gay.com, she’s got something special. Her Mennonites are a different stripe than my own, but I loved the food commentary and quips about gender and thrift and her Mennonite mother.
- Of Mess and Moxie -Jen Hatmaker Good grief. I would read and reread cornbread boxes if this woman was writing them. It’s not so much that I love what she has to say, although I do. It’s that I love how she says. The short essay chapters are light and easy and my favorites were the How-To’s, inspired by her FB Groupies. Funny stuff, that Jen.
- My First White Friend -Patricia Raybon Such honest thoughts on hating white people because they hated her. And then drawing them close and then forgiveness. Patricia is a brave one. “Nearness has a funny way of dispelling old demons.”
- Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us -Seth Godin Even though it was my second time through it, 45% of this book had me drowning in overwhelm. Fortunately, 55% had me jumping up and down about initiating and risk-taking. If you lead anything, anywhere, get to know Godin.
- Joining Jesus on his Mission -Greg Finke I get sweaty and overwhelmed when I think about talking to strangers about Jesus. It feels heavy. So right now I just want to hug Greg for this long exhale of a book. He reminds us that God is already doing things in people’s lives and we are called to simply join Jesus instead of trying to make things happen. He asks, What would be Good News for that person right there? I’m not so sweaty anymore. I owe you one, Greg.
- Made Like Martha -Katie M. Reid I can’t say I have scoffed at Jesus’ friend Mary in the past, but ok I have. I like to get stuff done. Like Martha. If you are made for lots of action too, than read this book and celebrate the secure spot you have in the heart of God, not because of all you can accomplish, but because of who you already are.
- Inspired -Rachel Held Evans Favorite. 🙌🏼Because I’ve had my own ups and downs with Scripture, this book was fabulous for me. Rachel tells her story of loving the Bible again, for what it is, rather than what it is not. And her fresh take on the story of Hagar was beautiful.
- Pastrix -Nadia Bolz-Weber Gosh, that was a fun book. Nadia’s story is almost as colorful as her arms and she couldn’t be more authentic. I love seeing what Jesus is doing in denominations different from my own, in addicts and pastors that still curse. (Don’t say you haven’t been warned. About the swearing.)
- Do Hard Things -Alex and Brett Harris Apparently once upon a time, there were no such things as teenagers and people simply went from being children to be adults. And there are teens all over the world rebelling against the low expectations tossed on them. These brothers are encouraging their peers to step up and live their full lives, doing the hard stuff they were created to do. I was impressed and now this will be required reading for all of my own. If Chuck Norris wrote the forward, come on.
- Scripture and the Authority of God -NT Wright I feel like I just discovered a secret garden and now I have a dozen more books on my list. NT is much too smart for me and yet accessible. He walks us through the history of how the Church has interpreted Scripture and God’s unfolding redemption through it. I am more excited than ever to crack open my Bible and read.
- The Ministry of Ordinary Places -Shannan Martin Gonna be honest, I would always rather go than stay. But ordinary/extraordinary Shannan says to stay right where you are and grab the people who are right around you and notice them. She’s killing me and my love of the big and dramatic. Such a good, necessary book.
- Green -Ted Dekker Was this my only fiction? I guess it was. A re-read for me, this first and last book in the Circle Trilogy is full of allegory and action. I do like me some Dekker every now and again.
- Messy Grace -Caleb Kaltenbach If someone loves their gay parents, believes the gay lifestyle is not God’s plan, and then represents Jesus well to said parents, I’m listening to that story right there. The Church needs this book.
- Everybody Always -Bob Goff He makes me like people. He makes me SEE people. Thanks Bob. Your stories are my favorite and show us how to love even the ones who creep us out.
- Irresistible-Andy Stanley I wish I could place this one in the hands of every church leader in America. It is so important. We can no longer appeal to our culture on the basis of “The Bible says.” With more and more people identifying as used-to-be-Christian, our strategy and our wording needs a shift. If you ever preach, lead Bible studies or write about God, I highly recommend this one.
It’s been a great book year. I can pick and choose which thoughts to take and which to leave. I carry a bit of each author with me into the new year, their ideas woven through my mind with colorful thread until I cannot remember which designs were my own and which were given to me by others. Then again even those my own were influenced by countless smart people.
What about you? What book from 2018 would you most highly recommend? I would love to hear.