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In the last few years, I have discovered the value in setting goals for myself. For 2019, one goal was to read 12 books – one a month. In my younger years (pre husband and baby), I could devour 12 in a month if I wanted, but, alas, time changes things. 

I’m proud to say that I accomplished my goal and completed 12 (and halfway through another) in 2019. I have to admit, though, that I cheated the system. What I mean is that from January-June, I read three. I read about four in July, haha, and finished off the year putting down one so I could speed read two in order to get to my goal. But, hey, 12 is 12, right?

This year, my goal is the same, but I have tighter parameters. I want to read one book per month. Hopefully, I won’t have several months in which I’m not reading. To accomplish this, I’m going to continue my habit of getting ready for bed early at 8 p.m. (when your baby boy wakes between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. daily, early to bed is a must!) Plus, this way, the day is done, and I’m in my room every night long before I need to actually sleep. Potentially, with 30 minutes to an hour to spare! Let’s see how this goes.

Before I get ahead of myself, though, I wanted to share my list from 2019. Some of the reads were quite good, and I wish I could mail those to all my girlfriends. Instead, I’ll just review them here.  There are two types I divide my books into. What I affectionally call “Jesus books” (meaning spiritual in some nature) and everything else that’s not spiritual.

Blessings, friends! Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Teurkurst (Spiritual)

Funny story about this one. I pre-ordered it from Indonesia to be mailed to my parent’s house in October. I was in the midst of culture shock and homesickness, as well as grief from the passing of my mother-in-law.  Fast forward to March when I actually began reading it, and I was in totally different place emotionally and spiritually. Having said that, it’s an excellent read. Especially coming from an emotional place that felt pretty whole and not at a loss or devasted state, I can see how it would be more than helpful to anyone (primarily women) going through a difficitult time (think death, divorce, relationship issues, health issues, etc.). I actually just mailed a copy to my dear friend who unexpectedly and tragically lost her eight-day-old baby girl. 

Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday by Val Woerner (Spiritual, yet practical)

First, let me start by saying I did not feel like a grumpy mom. Nor, do I think you need to feel like a grumpy mom. I enjoyed this book. It was encouraging and convicting at times, but I also felt as if there were times it fell short. Maybe a little shallow, perhaps? There’s no other way for me to explain it without coming across totally prideful, haha. But, I would recommend to new moms – any moms – who are in the “who am I besides a diaper changer?” state of motherhood.

When You’ve Been Wronged by (Spiritual)

There is a long list of reasons why I read this book. Mostly because after many conversations with my husband about a myriad of things, he suggested it. And, wow. It’s good. It’s a perfect book to use the phrase “it’s nothing I haven’t heard before,” but it goes deeper than that. It walks you through moving past your hurt into seeing how, you, too, have hurt others. When I finished the last chapter, I felt at peace about many situations big and small in my life. 

The Impossible by Joyce Smith (Spiritual-ish, but just because of the story. It’s not preachy at all.)

I’m from the STL area, so this was a mustread. Bsic premise is a boy falls into a lake and drowns, is declared dead by doctors, mom prays for her son, and the boy comes back to life. Knowing some of the people in the story and remembering hearing about it in the news, it was great to “hear” the whole story from the Joyce’s perspective. Also, this is a side note, it’s way better than the movie that was made of the story. 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Fun)

God Bless Jobeth Penberthy who sent me this book. IT IS INCREDIBLE. It is full of sadness and mystery and potential race relations. Plus, the descriptive writing brings the marsh to life. I felt the ocean breeze. I swear I could hear the crawdads. The friend who recommended it said weeks later she lept finding herself going back to the story and thinking of the characters. I 100% agree. I so hope they make into a movie or miniseries (Hello Sunshine?). WARNING: It’s a bit “risqué” in some parts. Nothing raunchy, but still worth noting. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Fun)

This was a Reese’s Book Club pick, and oh my goodness it’s good. Set in the 90s following teenagers, but also two mothers from very different societies. Love, racial tension, socio-economic tension, and mystery. So, so good.

The Jesus-Hearted Woman by Jodi Detrick (Spiritual)

I must confess, this was the third or fourth re-read of this book, but it’s just that good. Any Christian woman in any area of ministry (including that of motherhood) should read this book. It’s so, so good. Jodi has years of experience to back it up and she’s not shy to share her shortcomings. She’s a real woman leading the way for real women to have authentic leadership in the Church. I love it!

One Plane Ticket From Normal by Pam Morten (Spiritual/Fun)

A fellow global-worker sharing her stories of life in the middle east. It was fun and totally relatable to my current context. If you’ve ever wondered about the “glamorous” life of ex-pats overseas, this book is for you!

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley (Fun)

Bought this at a book fair for $5 on a whim because of the connection with Singapore (I travel there frequently for medical and visa trips). Basic premise is two sisters who use to be close, but drifted apart (one literally moved to Singapore), decide to become pen pals. It becomes a freeing and powerful hobby for the girls. But, through a series of random events, their letters get posted online! Ahh! The shock and horror! My face flushed with embarrassment for them. The rest of the book is how they put the pieces of their now very public lives back together. Super quick read and super fun. 

Clear the Stage by Scott Wilson and John Bates (Spiritual)

Wow. Got it on a Kindle deal after a recommendation from a fellow minister. IT’s about getting rid of the “junk” in your life to make room for God to actually use you. For anyone in ministry, especially in a public setting (preaching, teaching, worship leading), I highly recommend adding this to your list. 

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok (Fun)

This is where I cheated the system. It was early December, and the book I had started was a thick, old book on prayer. I knew it was going to take a while to get through, so I bought $3 Kindle book from the #readwithJenna book club, and I am so very glad I did. What a beautiful picture of Asian culture and familial woes. The story is a mystery until the very end. And, not to spoil it, although it is tragic, it tells a story of depression and loss from a viewpoint we don’t always see. WARNING: I don’t want to spoil it, but the book does deal with death by suicide, so if that’s a trigger for you, beware. It is an incredible book, though.

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham (Fun)

You were expecting #12 to be the prayer book, weren’t you? Ha. I was on a plane when I finished #11, so I jumped to this one… that I purchased on Kindle THREE YEARS AGO and had never read. I had two flights that day. By the time I returned home, I was finished. That’s how fun this book was! Clever, hilarious, honest, so so so good. If you need a fun, quick read. This is your book.