Last year, I had a goal of reading 52 books. It’s the same goal I have set for probably the last decade. Ever since I started keeping track of how many books I read in a year. And it’s been a long time since I actually met that goal.
But this time I got close – I read 45. And, for the most part, they were 45 really good ones.
So as I sat down with my book log (just a simple spiral notebook, in case you’re curious), I had a REALLY hard time narrowing down my favorites.
But after hours of deliberation (okay, I’m exaggerating, but it really was SO HARD), I finally settled on the following 10 books. These were the books that touched me, affected me, taught me, or simply entertained me the most in 2017.
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MY TOP 10 FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2017
The House That Cleans Itself – Mindy Starns Clark
You might already be an awesome housekeeper with systems that work for you, and that’s great! For the rest of us, keeping a neat and tidy home can be a really frustrating experience, even when we’re highly motivated and committed to improving.
Mindy wrote this book for others like herself who, in her words, are “house-keeping impaired,” and I could so relate! So much of what she shares in this book was a comfort to me, and it completely made me rethink what I’ve long thought was just a discipline problem. She “got” me in a way no other home organization guru has, and that’s why her strategies have actually worked for me in a way that others never could. If housekeeping is a struggle for you, this is a book you definitely need to read.
Grace Not Perfection – Emily Ley
This book tells the story of a mom and business owner (she’s the genius behind the Simplified Planner) who realized that she couldn’t “do it all” anymore. Through the book, she teaches women how to simplify and organize their lives to make space for what matters most.
You guys, it was SO good. It inspired me, encouraged me, and flat out made me cry a few times because she so perfectly captured my feelings. This is definitely one I would recommend to all you mommas out there. Especially if you have ever felt guilty about pursuing your passions in the midst of motherhood. She has some really valuable insights to share about that!
Beauty Begins – Chris Shook & Megan Shook Alpha
I’ll admit, I was highly skeptical that this book would do anything for me. We’ve all heard the aphorisms like, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” or “beauty is only skin deep.” I’ve heard them a thousand times, too, and I have always thought, “Yeah, well … I want to be pretty on the outside, too!”
So I wasn’t all that confident when I started reading it that this book would be any different.
But it was.
Yes, there was a lot of the kind of encouragement you would expect from a book like this: beauty is more than physical attractiveness, everyone is beautiful in her own way, we’re all made in the image of God, etc.
But it was also so much more than I could have expected, and it changed the way I thought about what it means to be beautiful.
Read my full review of the book here.
Beyond Bath Time – Erin Davis
I absolutely LOVED this book! It blew me away how good it was. For one thing, her description of how feminism and our society’s obsession with self-fulfillment have programmed women to believe that motherhood is a hindrance and a burden perfectly describes how I felt five years ago. I’m so thankful God used a couple books to change my heart, but I could have used this one!
This is not a long book, so it was a quick read, but it gripped me the whole way through. There was no fluff or filler. Every word hit its mark right in the center of my heart. It definitely succeeded in its mission to help me embrace motherhood as a sacred role.
Sacred Mundane – Kari Patterson
This book was written by blogger, speaker, and Bible teacher Kari Patterson, and it is all about inviting Jesus to use every little mundane moment to transform our lives. As she says in the book, “In all our efforts to break free from the mundane, we’ve missed the very means God provides for our transformation.”
Read more about this amazing book in my post 3 Books That Changed Me This Month.
The Lost Heiress – Roseanna M. White
This year I was introduced to a new Christian fiction author, Roseanna M. White, and now I’m on a quest to read every single book she’s ever written. I read three of them in September & October, and I’m expecting two more in the mail any day now.
I love them because not only do they have engaging plot lines and sweet romances, but they are actually really well-written (because let’s face it, a lot of Christian fiction is c-h-e-e-s-y). I had a hard time deciding between A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England #1) and The Lost Heiress (Ladies of the Manor #1) for this list, but I ultimately went with The Lost Heiress because I enjoyed the romance a little more. And I’m a sucker for a good romance. 🙂
Cool, Calm, and Connected – Arlene Pellicane
I think most of us would agree that overusing technology is bad for our personal – and interpersonal – health. It affects our relationships, our moods, and our productivity. It can even lead us away from God.
But many of us may not realize how far we have actually slid down that slippery slope. And we may not know how to change it once we have.
Enter Cool, Calm, and Connected by Arlene Pellicane. This is a phenomenal book to help you restore technology to its proper place and make sure it stays there. And it’s a book that I can confidently say about 99.99% of us in today’s digital world need to read.
Read my full review here.
Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis
This book is the heart’s work of Rachel Hollis, online personality and founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com. (I’ll talk more on her in a bit.) The subtitle is Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant To Be, and with raw honesty and hilarious energy, she led me to do just that. It spoke to lies like, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m a bad mom,” and “I am defined by my weight.” It spoke to voices I knew I’d been believing but felt powerless to silence, and it spoke to lies that I didn’t even know I’d been believing about myself.
You can read more about the book here, and I’ll be writing a full review next week, but this is a book you don’t want to miss out on. I received an advance reader’s copy prior to its release on February 6, but you can pre-order the book at any time.
Cherish – Gary Thomas
Cherish is the newest book from Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage (another favorite book of mine on marriage). He writes that, although books abound on how to love our spouses, there isn’t much written about how to cherish each other. I was greatly inspired and challenged by this book, and it will definitely be one that I read multiple times through the years.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart – Tedd Tripp
I’ve read quite a few books on training, disciplining, and discipling children, and this is one of my favorites. While I don’t completely agree with everything Tripp says (I don’t think you’ll ever find a parenting book that you agree with 100%), the premise of the book — shepherding my children’s hearts — made a profound impact on my parenting. His distinction between disciplining for control and outward behavior modification versus encouraging a heart change that draws them to Jesus made a deep and lasting impact on me and even inspired this post. If you’re looking for a good Biblically-based parenting book, this is one of the first ones I’d recommend.
A FEW OBSERVATIONS AND READING GOALS FOR 2018
As I reviewed my list from 2017, I noticed I read a LOT of books on parenting and motherhood. Which is good, since I write a blog for moms, hah! But I’ve come to realize recently that I have fallen into a reading rut. I’m reading a lot of the same things over and over again, and as both a serious reader and professional book advisor (is that a thing? I’m making it a thing), I want to branch out this year.
This brings me to a few of my reading goals this year:
- Read at least one hour every day. I’m not going to set a book goal because that’s really arbitrary. Instead, I’m focusing on the amount of time I read each day. I think one hour is a good goal for me because it’s realistic (I incorporate reading time into both my morning and evening routine) but yet will stretch me at the same time.
- Read books on the competencies and skill sets I want to improve this year. Thanks to High Performance Habits, I have new clarity about the skills I need to improve to reach some of my goals. So I want to read more books on writing, blogging, and business/marketing.
- Read more “just for fun” books. Looking back over my list from 2017, I see a serious lack of “fun” reading. Don’t get me wrong – it’s all fun for me. I love reading, and I love learning. But I think I had lost my passion for reading simply for the sake of reading. I had adopted the mentality that it was wasted time if I wasn’t reading for something. But following Modern Mrs. Darcy and listening to the What Should I Read Next podcast has reignited that desire in me to read simply for the fun of it. So I want to do more of that this year.
- Log my books in Goodreads. I started a Goodreads account years ago when I was in library school. (Yep, I have an MA in library science.) But I hadn’t done anything with it for years. I only just recently rediscovered it when I wanted to post a review for an ARC of a book that hadn’t yet been released (Amazon won’t let you do that anymore). I thought it might be a fun way to let my readers see what I’m reading and my thoughts about those books. If you’d like to follow me, you can find me at www.goodreads.com/lisamullen. I’ll try to keep it updated for you all!
Reading is a big part of my life. I get asked all the time, “How do you read so many books?” It’s funny to me, though, because I actually feel like I don’t read enough, especially when I hear about people who read upwards of 100 books or more in a year. Goals!
So I’m always trying to incorporate more reading into my days. And I try to make the ones that I do make time for count. And that’s why I’ve set the reading goals above for this year.
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favorite reads from the year. Tell me, which one(s) are you most interested in adding to your own to-read pile? Share in the comments below!
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