2016 Reading Challenge Review

So I had a bit of an overly optimistic view of how much I would be able to read in 2016. But in the end, I chose to stick with my Goodreads challenge of reading 30 books.

My final tally was 29 completed books. Not included in that count were at least three books that I reread. So depending on how you’re counting, I read 32 books this year. Below is a visual list of all (except the rereads) that I finished.

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There’s definitely a lot more fiction in this list than I realized. Probably because I have a pile of non-fiction setting beside my chair waiting for me to pick them up and give them a chance. 10 of the “inspirational-fiction” books I read were also loaned/recommended to me to read.

And you know what? I flew through them. I drank them up like I was in a literary drought. I wasn’t. I had loads of books to read, and several I was in the middle of but felt a little uninspired to continue. I always loved to read, and I’ve always been a fast reader. But this summer and fall when I was feeling like I was in the depths of despair, I really needed some of those books. I call them “Fluff”. ‘Cause they’re just kind of like marshmallows: sweet, contain no nutritional value, tasty, and occasionally I wonder if I’m wasting my time. But they gave me a bit of a respite from the workings of my mind. Books are love. Anyways. If you want my thoughts on a specific book, let me know. Otherwise, here are a few I would recommend:

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
This also came out as a film this year, but left a lot to be desired in the adaptation. And if you watched it and were disappointed or angry, please read the book. They left out so many details and character characteristics [see: flaws]  If you need an easy read (probably bring some tissues), give this a shot. “Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith – Rob Bell 
I’ve heard it said more than once that Rob Bell kind of went off the deep end, theologically speaking. I’m not really sure what that means, but this book was written before any of that supposedly went down. I learned a lot in this book and it gave me a lot to think about. “The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.”

My Imaginary Jesus:
The Spiritual Adventures of One Man Searching for the Real God . – Matt Mikalatos
Goodreads suggests it’s a bit of “Monty Python meets CS Lewis.” The author has a lot of Imaginary Jesus’ in his life. Created from his own imagination to fit who he thinks Jesus is.  You follow the author in his adventure to rid his life of his fictional creations and find the Real God. “That’s the danger of following an imaginary Jesus,” Daisy said. “The more committed you get to him and his plan, the further afield from the real Jesus you get. Your earnest attempts to be committed to your imaginary Jesus actually move you away from Christ.”

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking- Susan Cain 
As an introvert in a time in my life that required a lot of extroversion (job search) only to work in an industry that actually houses quite a lot of introverts. The world is weird. Anyways, this book helped me to feel less crazy. “Everyone shines, given the right lighting.” “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” “Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”

Enchanted Inc. [series] – Shana Swendson
I actually read the first three of these books when I was about 13 or 14. I reminded myself what happened and then continued on through the rest of the series. The books are set in modern day New York City (most of them) where Katie, a Texan girl turned New Yorker, discovers that she is so un-magical that everything the magical community uses to veil their presence. Which means she’s very valuable to them. And the male lead, reads as completely adorable. “Any man who would deny you dessert isn’t worth having.”

Behold the Lamb of God – Russ Ramsey
25 chapters for the days leading up to Christmas. The book is a wonderful narrative of the Christmas story. I recommend you also listen to Andrew Peterson’s Christmas CD: Behold the Lamb of God. I plan on rereading this every Christmas season. “When the angel Gabriel stood before Mary, the hypothetical gave way to the real. The ordinary stories all at once glistened under the extraordinary light of this celestial storyteller.”

I’ve decided to give myself another Goodreads challenge, only this time I want to try and read 35 books.

Currently I’m reading (because I’m crazy and read more than one book at a time):

  1. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life – Tish Harrison Warren
  2. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – Michael Pollan
  3. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God – Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller
  4. The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky – Ellen Meloy
  5. Mere Christianity – CS Lewis

And on my to-read pile:

  1. Design for Real Life – Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher

  2. The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead – Diane Noble

  3. The Sacred Search – Gary Thomas

  4. The Barbarian Way – Erwin Raphael McManus

  5. The Irresistible Revolution – Shane Clairborne

  6. Sex God – Rob Bell

  7. Silence and Beauty – Makoto Fujimura

  8. Intentional Living – John C. Maxwell


What books did you enjoy reading in 2016? What books are you looking forward to reaading in 2017?



Me Before You – Book Review


Book crossed off my reading challenge: A book that’s becoming a movie this year.

They’re making it into a movie, and the trailer looks soooooo good! I bet the book is great!

That’s not always a good rule of thumb. Reading The Time Traveler’s Wife has scarred me for life. 

That is not the case with Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I laughed. I cried.

“The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life–or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else’s life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window–is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.”

Louisa Clark is a lovable character, stuck in her hometown with no aspirations. Will Traynor is wheelchair-bound in his hometown and would rather die. Literally. You join Louisa on a rough journey trying to change Will’s mind. When they’re thrown together everyday, they catch a glimpse of how the other half lives. And ultimately end up changing each other’s lives in some way.

I didn’t necessarily agree with the ending. And, oh boy, the tears were flowing. But I’m very interested in reading the sequel, to see how the story progresses.

I found the book strangely encouraging. I understood Louisa and her trepidation to leave the place she had grown up. She had a home to belong to. A relationship in a rut. She was comfortable. Her other reasons, are more removed from my life than the feeling of comfort and a place of belonging. But Will pushes her to leave, to dream big, to live.

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

With graduation and my future looming ahead of me, I need that push. Not to run home and live in my hometown forever, unless I actually manage to find a job there, but to go out and and dream big.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shopping for a red dress and a pair of bumblebee tights.

Anne of Green Gables – Book Review


“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Guys. I love Anne of Green Gables. Like, almost obsessively so. There are so many aspects about this delightful girl that reminds me of myself. When I found out there was a reading challenge for this series this year, I was definitely going to participate!

Because I don’t have a lot of time to read, I was listening to it on LibriVox. LibriVox is a wonderful website. Volunteers record themselves reading books in the public domain and anyone can listen to them for free. I love Karen Savage’s recordings, she has a wonderful voice that is very easy to listen to and understand.

But back to Anne. She’s wonderful. Sometimes I can really connect with her melodrama on a deep level.

“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

She has such a keen imagination, that sometimes gets her into a spot of trouble. And I can definitely connect with that.

This first book is first about Anne finding a home, friends, and love. They say home is where the heart is set in stone. Having a home is such an important thing to me. It’s not a place, it’s a feeling. And I think that is what Anne found when Marilla and Matthew accepted her into their home. She wasn’t there because they wanted a boy, she was there because Marilla thought they could help her and accepted her into their lives and their home. And even though Matthew never got that boy to help him on the farm, he wouldn’t have traded her for all of the boys in the world. He gave her puffed sleeves and love. She gained friends, specifically, a kindred spirit, Diana. She was Anne’s first true friend. And it’s a friendship that (spoiler alert) lasts for the entire series. Those true friends can be hard to find, but oh-so-wonderful to hold onto. And I’m so thankful for those in mine.

You can’t wrap up a post about Anne of Green Gables without Gil-that boy! You can keep your Mr. Darcys… I just need a Gilbert Blythe. He’s dreamy and wonderful and gave up the Avonlea School so she could stay home with Marilla.


Anne has an incredible imagination, a full heart, and knows how to find the beauty in everything. Except maybe green hair.

“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

2016 Reading Challenge(s)


love to read. As a child, I would bring home huge stacks of books from the library. My brother and sister finally insisted I move up from the children’s section, because they were tired of driving me to the library! But now, since the invention of the internet (Netflix), grabbing a book in my free time isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind. When I do have free time, that is. So I’ve given myself a reading challenge. Four reading challenges actually.

I found one for Anne of Green Gables. So of course I said yes! As if I need an excuse to reread my beloved Anne stories! It’s one Anne-girl book a month, which doesn’t add up to 12, so we’ll add in some more L.M. Montgomery tales.

The same blogger also as a Grown Up Reading Challenge. 1

Then PopSugar’s challenge:

reading challenge 2016

And it ended with Goodreads. I said I’d read 30 books.

So obviously, these lists will be combined with each other, but just finishing the Anne challenge gets me a 1/3 of the way through my Goodreads challenge. Sometimes I may use audiobooks, and I am a big fan of rereading books, so these may not all be new to me. But I’ll make sure it’s a true rereading and not just skimming my favorite parts 🙂 Am I crazy? Probably. But it’s not about just finishing the challenges… it’s about reading.

Are you participating in any reading challenges this year?