2018 Books

Every year I post a list of the books I read the year before. This past year (2018) I crushed my previous record and read a whopping 32 books! All while keeping a kiddo alive.

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Of note, I read an unusual amount of psychological thrillers this year. Probably because–even though I hate to admit this–I’ve come around to loving reading via Kindle, and since thrillers are notorious for being page turners, Kindle allows me to stay up way past my bedtime reading on my phone. Some of these thrillers I’d read in a night, which was terrible because I’d be all riled up and not be able to fall asleep. I still adore a book that has a freshly cracked spine, but with baby #2 on the way, I have a feeling those middle-of-the-night feeds will keep me loyal to my Kindle app.

Here’s a list of the books I read, with a rating (if I can remember the book LOLZ) and genre info. Books in bold are the ones I’d highly recommend!

  1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed // memoir, 5/5
  2. Watch Me Disappear by Jangle Brown // fiction, ??? can’t remember the book
  3. Rumors of Marty Goode by Jeff Ryan Williams // fiction, 5/5
  4. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine // fiction/thriller, 3.5/5
  5. Anything by Jennie Allen // nonfiction, 2/5
  6. It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) by Nora McInery Purmort // memoir, 5/5
  7. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty // fiction, 5/5 — and watch the show!
  8. French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billion // nonfiction/memoir/parenting, 4/5
  9. Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors // nonfiction, 4/5
  10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle // fiction/classic, 4.5/5
  11. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones // fiction, 4/5
  12. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn // fiction/thriller, 4/5
  13. Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle // nonfiction/parenting, 4/5
  14. Hope Heals by Katherine & Jay Wolf // nonfiction/memoir, 4.5/5
  15. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family // nonfiction/parenting, 1/5
  16. A Life Intercepted by Charles Martin // fiction, 5/5 — great if you like Nicholas Sparks!
  17. The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright // nonfiction/memoir, 3.5/5
  18. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner // nonfiction, 5/5
  19. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown // nonfiction, 4.5/5
  20. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware // fiction/thriller, 5/5
  21. A Fierce Love: One Woman’s Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage by Shauna Shanks // memoir, 1/5?
  22. Force of Nature by Jane Harper // fiction/thriller, ??? can’t remember the book
  23. The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson // nonfiction/parenting, 5/5
  24. Are You Sleeping? by Kathleen Barber // fiction/thriller, ??? can’t remember!
  25. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng // fiction, 5/5
  26. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty // fiction, 5/5
  27. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins // fiction/thriller, 4.5/5
  28. A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite // memoir, 4.5/5
  29. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline // fiction, 5/5
  30. The Other Woman by Sandie Jones // fiction/thriller, 5/5 — ending is SO GOOD
  31. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman // fiction, 5/5 –being made into a movie!
  32. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover // memoir, 5/5 — such good writing that I kept forgetting this is a true story

Goal for 2019? Read all of the hard copy books that are on my bookshelf that I’ve put off reading :D

2017 Books

Somehow I managed to read the most books ever this year, even though I had a baby–hence the baby-themed first few. (Middle of the night feedings & Kindle Unlimited helped my efforts.) So, without further ado, here’s the list of the books I read in 2017!

1. Be Prepared by Gary Greenberg

This is such a great book for first time parents. It’s like a boy scout manual without being demeaning or “bro-ish”. MTR and I both loved reading it and even though I’ve been around babies my whole life, I learned a few new things!

2. Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon

Desperately needs an update. I don’t think it’s been updated since the 80’s. Graphic birth pictures. Maybe just take a natural childbirth class.

3. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

I read this after watching the Amazon Prime series (which MTR and I are obsessed with). It did not live up to the TV series, which was disappointing. Skip the book and head straight to the series.

4. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

So, so good! Highly recommend. More of a memoir than a parenting how-to, but I do hope to implement some of the stuff she talks about. Received some criticism for being “anti-American parenting” but that’s just a load of sensitive sallies getting their knickers in a wad.

5. Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke

This book was SO good. MTR and I took things from it that we use for everyday life, not just childbirth. Definitely a great companion book if you’re going the intervention-free route for childbirth or even if you’re just interested in mindfulness.

6. The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd

A sweet collection of beautiful essays on motherhood. Great book to gift thanks to the high print quality. Will definitely be re-reading this in the next year.

7. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll must’ve been high as a kite writing this. That is all.

8. The Bandit Monologues by Todd Carstenn & G. Kent

Notably a favorite, since Todd Carstenn is a dear friend and mentor of mine. It’s a collection of essays inspired by literary quotes. So deep and lovely and funny and sad and important.

9. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

Oh Jen. I’ll read anything you write. This is a classic JH book, full of wit and sarcasm and faith and funny and depth and not-depth (but not shallow, either).

10. The Lucky Few by Heather Avis

OOF. This was not something I should’ve read in the early postpartum weeks. Beautiful memoir of adopting special needs kids. I want everyone to read it. Just grab your tissues first.

11. Babywise by Gary Ezzo

Babywise gets a lot of crap from people who clearly haven’t read the book. While the methods didn’t work for us, it was a great thing to have a different perspective on helping your child to learn independent sleep and sleep schedules, etc.

12-18. Harry Potter books 1-7 by J.K. Rowling

Yes, I did *just* read these. And yes, they were basically a zillion times more magical than I ever could’ve imagined.

19. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

So I read the book before I watched the series. Again, the series was better. I hate even typing that. But it just was. The ending to the book is NOT the same as the TV show. If you’ve read the book and watched the movie, you know what I mean. What the heck, Margaret Atwood??

20. Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush

Beautiful. Such a touching look inside of what it was like to be first daughters. I love love loved this book.

21. Why Is She Smiling: Unexpected Joy Discovered By A Most Unlikely Submissive Wife by Amy Williams

Honestly I don’t even remember this book, so clearly I don’t recommend it. #sorrynotsorry

22. Excavation: A Memoir by Wendy Ortiz

This was a weird book. Don’t recommend.

23. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

READ. THIS. BOOK. I’m not even kidding. So insanely poignant. Heavy stuff, but beautiful.

24. A Simplified Life by Emily Ley

I’ve been a longtime fan of Emily Ley, and this book didn’t disappoint my organization-loving heart.

25. Dance Stand Run by Jess Connolly

Good. Deep. Convicting. Hard to read. Second half was better than the first.


There you have it! What books are on your list for 2018? What books do I need to add to my list?

xo, A

2016 Books

I’m only…oh…six months behind on posting this, but didn’t want to give it up since 2016 gave me three of my top five favorite books of all time. Here’s the list of all the books I read in 2016, and while the total number is lower than I’d like (I always shoot for 20+ books a year), the quality is spot on. (All links will take you to the Amazon listing of the book—not affiliate links.)

  1. The Nightingale {Kristin Hannah}: 10/10 stars
    Top three books I’ve ever read. This story about two sisters in Nazi Germany still sticks with me today. I absolutely cannot recommend this novel enough. It’s haunting and beautiful and just so well written.
  2. The Thing About Jellyfish {Ali Benjamin}: 4/10 stars
    So I didn’t actually realize this was a young adult novel? I mean, it is a story about a young girl, but I guess I didn’t assume anything. I don’t even know how I found this book? It’s a story about a young girl dealing with grief when her friend accidentally drowns. Wouldn’t really recommend it, unless you’re 12 and dealing with something similar.
  3. Bittersweet {Shauna Niequist}: 10/10 stars
    I can’t imagine giving anything Shauna writes less than a 10/10. This compilation of essays is summed up here: “Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness.” Definitely read this, and save it for a friend who might be going through a tough time.
  4. The Reader {Bernhard Schlink}: 6/10 stars
    I’ll pretty much read any fiction involving WWII/post-WWII Germany. This is one of those, but didn’t really stick with me. It’s an international bestseller, so if this description calls to you, maybe give it a try: “When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.”
  5. Bossypants {Tina Fey}: 5/10 stars
    What can I say? I just didn’t love it. If you love SNL or Tina Fey, though, this is probably right up your alley.
  6. The Screwtape Letters {C.S. Lewis}: 9/10 stars
    This theological classic (religious satire, really) is kind of hard to get through, but sooooo well worth it. I bought this book in 2007 and just now read it, so there’s that. But guys I promise you won’t be disappointed, and the deeper you get the more the story makes sense. I underlined a billion quotes in this book. It’s truly an eye-opener. Not sure what it’s about? It “entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to ‘Our Father Below.’ At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.”
  7. Wild and Free {Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan}: 10/10 stars
    Also in my top five books, ever. It’s highlighted throughout, with lots of “YES!” notes in the margins. Gals, I cannot recommend this book enough. When I finished reading it I immediately bought three other copies to give out to friends. It’s just that good. The subtitle is “A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Not Enough,” so, yeah. Get it.
  8. Outlander {Diana Gabaldon}: 9/10 stars
    I’d honestly give this a 10/10 if it weren’t such a dark book that left me depressed and mopey for weeks. It’s REALLY good, and I absolutely could not put it down, but be prepared for all the feels. It’s because of that that I chose not to continue reading the series. But if you’re up for a binger, this might be the stuff for you. And don’t let the length intimidate you—it’s a quick read because you can’t. put. it. down. Basically it’s about a woman in the 1940’s who gets magically transported to the Scottish Highlands and has to stay alive and try and figure out how to get back home, but circumstances along the way both prevent her from doing that and confuse her on whether or not she really wants to go home.
  9. Present Over Perfect {Shauna Niequist}: 10/10 stars
    See Bittersweet. All of Shauna’s writing gets a 10/10 from me, but this might be my favorite of hers (other than Bread & Wine). Subtitle: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
  10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks {Rebecca Skloot}: 10/10 stars
    Okay, I *personally* think everyone should have to read this. (Oprah also just made it into a movie, because duh, but you still need to read this.) I’ll just grab the Amazon description to enlighten you: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.
  11. It’s Not Fair {Melanie Dale}: 8/10 stars
    This was really, really good at a time when I really, really needed it. When MTR and I were struggling to get pregnant, this gave me some hope. I’d give it a higher rating if I could remember more about it, though. It’s basically a collective “me, too” sigh of angst and frustration at the unfairness that we’re all dealt at some point.
  12. The Magnolia Story {Chip & Joanna Gaines}: 10/10 stars
    I loved reading about Chip and Joanna’s story and how much their faith plays into their business and fame. If you’re a fan like me of ship lap and Waco, TX then add this to your list.
  13. Proof of Heaven {Eben Alexander, MD}: 9/10 stars
    This is a wow book. This is a story about a neurosurgeon’s journey into the afterlife when his brain unexpectedly shut down. As someone who was not really a believer in Near Death Experiences (NDEs), he was shocked by his experience. And I was shocked to read what he experienced. It’s beautiful and encouraging, and maybe a little too scientific in parts, but such a great book if you have questions about heaven.
  14. Heaven is for Real {Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent}: 8/10 stars
    Same as above, except from a four year old’s perspective. I’d give it higher stars if it wasn’t mainly written by his pastor dad, but I was surprised at how much there still was to convince me that Colton’s experience was legit. There’s also a kids’ version of this book, so could be great if you experience a death in the family.

That’s it for 2016! What books did you read? Here’s a list of some I (hopefully) have on tap for 2017/books that are on my wish list:

  • Bringing Up Bebe
  • The Magic of Motherhood
  • Commonwealth
  • Dance, Stand, Run
  • Into the Water
  • Sisters First
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • The Life Giving Home

xo, Amanda

’14 & ’15 Books

Going into 2014, my sister and I had a goal to read 30 books each. We won’t mention how many she read, but I came in short at 21–and that’s while finishing an English degree!

Anyway, many people have a goal to “read more” at the beginning of the year, SO, I’ve compiled a list of 10 incredible books for different types of readers.

Books are my weakness, you guys. So it’s hard to narrow it down to 10, but, nevertheless, here they are!

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