Favorite reads of 2017

Resurrecting the blog to post my contribution to my favorite among all the year end lists: favorite reads of the past year. I can’t help myself; I will click on every link to every such list. I love knowing what titles were most liked among what was read, as well as adding new books to my ever growing “want to read” list!

According to my Goodreads list, I read something like 50 books in 2017. Here’s my list of those I enjoyed the most, in no particular order, fiction and non fiction both. I’ve included the publisher’s description and a brief word about my impressions of the book:

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren.

Hands down my favorite non-fiction / spiritual life title. Tish is a fantastic writer and her examination of ordinary life in light of extraordinary grace was beautiful and thoughtful. I loved it.

In the overlooked moments and routines of our day, we can become aware of God’s presence in surprising ways. How do we embrace the sacred in the ordinary and the ordinary in the sacred?

Framed around one ordinary day, this book explores daily life through the lens of liturgy, small practices, and habits that form us. Each chapter looks at something―making the bed, brushing her teeth, losing her keys―that the author does every day. Drawing from the diversity of her life as a campus minister, Anglican priest, friend, wife, and mother, Tish Harrison Warren opens up a practical theology of the everyday. Each activity is related to a spiritual practice as well as an aspect of our Sunday worship.

Come and discover the holiness of your every day.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

How much did I love this book? More than I can express to you. So, so good. If you’ve read it and you didn’t like it, by all means don’t tell me. My favorite fiction read of 2017.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared Wilson

Grace for the imperfect? Hello, Jared’s telling my story and singing my song. Very encouraging read!

Too many discipleship books are written for clean, perfect people who know all the right Sunday school answers. The Imperfect Disciple is for the rest of us–people who screw up, people who are weary, people who are wondering if it’s safe to say what they’re really thinking.

For the believer who is tired of quasi-spiritual lifehacks being passed off as true, down-and-dirty discipleship, here is a discipleship book that isn’t afraid to be honest about the mess we call real life. With incisive wit, warm humor, and moving stories, Jared Wilson shows readers how the gospel works in them and in their lives when

– they can’t get their act together
– they think God is giving them the silent treatment
– they think church would be better without all the people
– they’re not happy with the person in the mirror
– and much more

Wilson frees readers from the self-doubt and even the misplaced self-confidence they may feel as they walk with Jesus down the often difficult road of life. The result is a faith that weathers storms, lifts burdens, and goes forth to make more imperfect disciples.

Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry

Berry is always, always a favorite. Hannah Coulter is one of my all time favorites and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about her husband Nathan. Beautifully written with a simplicity and honesty that is a joy to read. I loved it.

When young Nathan loses his grandfather, Berry guides readers through the process of Nathan’s grief, endearing the reader to the simple humanity through which Nathan views the world. Echoing Berry’s own strongly held beliefs, Nathan tells us that his grandfather’s life “couldn’t be divided from the days he’d spent at work in his fields.” Berry has long been compared to Faulkner for his ability to erect entire communities in his fiction, and his heart and soul have always lived in Port William, Kentucky. In this eloquent novel about duty, community, and a sweeping love of the land, Berry gives readers a classic book that takes them to that storied place.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Horrifying and compelling, this memoir is definitely a book I won’t forget. Plus, Walls can write.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

Nicholas and Alexandra: The Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty by Robert K. Massie

My friend Melissa Kruger recommended this to me after I gushed on twitter about my great affection for A Gentleman in Moscow. Her recommendation was spot-on; I loved reading about this era in history that I knew nothing about. Fascinating and sad, this book spurred me to begin reading other Russian literature (meaning I started but have to yet to finish War and Peace, just keepin’ it real).

The story of the love that ended an empire

In this commanding book, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert K. Massie sweeps readers back to the extraordinary world of Imperial Russia to tell the story of the Romanovs’ lives: Nicholas’s political naïveté, Alexandra’s obsession with the corrupt mystic Rasputin, and little Alexis’s brave struggle with hemophilia. Against a lavish backdrop of luxury and intrigue, Massie unfolds a powerful drama of passion and history—the story of a doomed empire and the death-marked royals who watched it crumble.

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

We read this book for our summer book club and I don’t think I’m overstating when I say this book should be read by anyone with a smart phone or a social media account or access to the internet. Read it and be sobered.

Do You Control Your Phone—Or Does Your Phone Control You?

Within a few years of its unveiling, the smartphone had become part of us, fully integrated into the daily patterns of our lives. Never offline, always within reach, we now wield in our hands a magic wand of technological power we have only begun to grasp. But it raises new enigmas, too. Never more connected, we seem to be growing more distant. Never more efficient, we have never been more distracted.

Drawing from the insights of numerous thinkers, published studies, and his own research, writer Tony Reinke identifies twelve potent ways our smartphones have changed us—for good and bad. Reinke calls us to cultivate wise thinking and healthy habits in the digital age, encouraging us to maximize the many blessings, to avoid the various pitfalls, and to wisely wield the most powerful gadget of human connection ever unleashed.

It was a good year of reading! Other books I read last year that I also liked very much:

  • Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep by Christine Hoover
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry (a re-read or it definitely would have made the above list of favorites! As I said, Berry is always, always a favorite!)
  • Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God by Joe Thorn
  • Is the Bible Good for Women? Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture by Wendy Alsup
  • We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
  • Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

What about your favorites of 2017? What did you read that you loved and you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

3 thoughts on “Favorite reads of 2017”

  1. There are a couple on your list I have read and some I’m adding to my list to read. The Glass Castle was one I read. Such a good book. Amazing story.
    I read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Have you read it? It was a great book.

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