I love to read. Last year, I set myself a goal of reading 50 books in a year. When the year was over, I had read 47 books. ARG! Missed it by three! And I hardly read at all in December, so there’s where I missed the mark. This year, I’m going to exceed 50 books, just you watch.
I was surprised by which books struck me this year. Out of the nearly 50 I read, the ones I expected the least from were the ones I couldn’t put down — and they stayed with me for months later. I couldn’t get these stores out of my heart, I couldn’t stop thinking about the morals each author communicated.
These were the books that changed me in unexpected ways.
So, while I’m sure you have your own “must read” list of titles for this year and the interwebs are flooded with “these were the best of 2015” articles, I decided to share my own list of shocking-but-share-worthy titles. Maybe some of them would surprise you, too.
Regardless, the same old adage still applies: You can’t judge a book by its cover.
So, in no particular order, here were my favorites from 2015. Click on the image or title to grab your own copy.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
This tale of “what it’s really like to grow up Chinese in America” caused quite a stir when it published several years ago. But I was late to the party. And the surprise here is that if you grew up in a very strict home or an ethic home, or if you were a music student as a child, you will laugh and cry and say ME, TOO! all the way through this tale. How does one grow up to love and adore a mother who rules music practice with an iron fist, who constantly reminds you of your gross inadequacies while pushing your future closer and closer? This book describes that twisted yet wonderful reality in humorous and realistic detail.
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall
Yet another book that I was really late reading, as many of my friends name this book as life-changing. And now I know why. The story, I was surprised, takes place not too far from me on the west side of Fort Worth. But the main character, Denver Moore, lives a life very far removed from all of us on the outskirts of homelessness and crime. I think this book should be required reading for every American suburban Christian, if for no other reason than to cause us to confront our attitudes toward the poor, which we “have with us always.”
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
The year’s most anticipated publication drew so much controversy that I have yet to see it appear on anyone’s “must read” list for the end of this year. But I am firmly in favor of the title for the same reason (in my opinion) most people miss the point: We all must confront the reality that our role-models seem, at times, to fail us. What we do then, whether we still love and respect, and how we form our own life principles are all important life lessons we must grapple with as young adults. Harper Lee forces us to make a choice in this novel, and we must continue to do so in life. Another required reading for young adults.
The Nesting Place by Myquillan Smith
Surprised to see a home decorating book on my list? I was, too! I curled up in bed with this one during a period of illness and found it strangely comforting with it’s simple philosophy: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. This book, however, is beautiful, and it’s a joy to flip through the pages. Within the words, however, Myquillan openly shares how her own inadequacies and mistakes and failings helped shape the beautiful, comfortable home her family now adores. It’s a good life-lesson, even though my house will never look like hers.
The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias
This was a Christmas gift last year, and I just devoured it. And then I recommended it to all my friends. If you’ve ever wondered why your children don’t learn like your friend’s do, or why one of your children seems a little…unique, this book will help you decode the mystery. This one book helped me relax and enjoy how my children learn, to step back and let them do it the way they do best, to facilitate instead of dictate. This is a must for every homeschool home library.
Jim Henson: the Biography by Brian Jay Jones
Here’s another Christmas gift from last year. My sister sent me this beautiful volume, which I immediately sat down and devoured. Devoured. If you are a Muppet fan, here’s the answer to all your burning questions. Even if you aren’t as crazy about Animal as I am, this book is a great example of the creative process. Jim always believed his life would go in a certain direction, and he set out purposefully to become an innovative filmmaker. But instead, he gave us all something far more unique and enduring — our best childhood friends, the Muppets. This is an entertaining and informative biography with a surprising and emotional ending.
An emotional read of a different sort, this is the book I cannot get out of my mind. Investigative journalist Jenny Nordberg set out to find the truth of what it is like to be born a girl in Afghanistan, and how women mother those girls. By the middle of the book, American readers are stunned to question everything we thought we knew about femininity. I cried. I prayed. I wrestled with my preconceptions. I put the book down much different than I picked it up. I dare you to read this book to the end.
Writing a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal by Mary DeMuth
I read a lot of books about writing, publishing, and book marketing this past year. But this book and the author’s The 11 Secrets of Getting Published were the two that made the biggest difference. Writing a Winning Nonfiction Proposal helped me create a thorough document that was, in the publisher’s words, “one of the best proposals we’ve ever seen.” And the Secrets of Getting Published gave me a thorough background to the business of book publishing so I could confidently answer publishing executives’ questions and even ask thoughtful ones of my own during my interview. So I am not lying when I say that I owe author Mary DeMuth a huge debt of gratitude. If you want to write a book, get these two helps today.
How about you?
Those were the eight books that most changed me this year. What did you read that shook you up?
I’d love to keep in touch!
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