Best and Worst Reads of 2017

Reading was a big part of my goals this year. I reported on quite a few of my books in my habits lists and my entire reading list is here. My goal was 100 books and I am ending December with 75. Not too bad for an average homeschooling, homeworking, homekeeping mom of 4.

Why Read?
Reading is a habit of many people who have done great things for God or in business. Great writers read to hone their craft. Great businessmen read to learn new things. Great preachers are remembered because someone wrote their sermons and study in book form (i.e. Paul the Apostle). While I’m not on my way to being a great writer or a millionaire, reading helps me to grow, learn new things about God, the world around me and myself.

How To Find Time To Read
If I share my goal with most people, they act as if reading is an indulgence and say they don’t have time to read. It’s a hobby and my main way to learn new things (besides sermons and podcasts). So, I make it a priority. While they are more efficient, I do not like audio books or reading on an e-reader unless that’s the only way to read a book I like. My method of getting through so many books is reading a chapter of a devotional book after reading my Bible, reading a personal growth book in between piano lessons if a student misses or is late, reading on long car trips and reading after the kids go to bed at night. I learned early in my marriage and parenting that picking up a book in daytime hours without clear boundaries turns me into the literary equivalent of the stereotypical mom bingeing on soap operas and bonbons.

Worst Books I Read This Year
It may seem silly to report on the worst books of the year. I included every book I read or scanned (as far as I know) in my reading list. After reading or scanning them, I realized I would not recommend some of them AT ALL and some I would only recommend with great disclaimers for the few sprinkled quote gems within them. The following are the books in that category. That is not to say I agree or recommend all the others 100%, but these stand out as having disappointed me on some level. All of them were extremely well-written by talented authors, so I am only speaking about being disappointed in the content.  

Our Great Big American God: A Short History of Our Ever-Growing Deity by Matthew Paul Turner
My comments are here.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
My comments are here.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg
My comments are here.

Tools for Titans by Tim Ferriss
This is a book I copied many quotes from but need to offer some serious reservations about recommending. Tim Ferriss is known in the entrepreneurial world as something of a celebrity. I have read a few of his previous books and knew that his spiritual beliefs and moral practices are much different than mine. I expected this book to be more about the habits and rituals of successful people. It contained much of that, hence the copying of quotes. However, I was a bit appalled at his promotion of psychedelic drug use and other practices I find offensive.

Top Ten Books I Read This Year
Choosing just 10 best books will be difficult, but this post is already becoming a book itself. I read many good, helpful things this year that I was able to apply to my life. Here are the best in each category. If I’ve already made comments on the book, I linked to my original post.

Business
Thou Shall Prosper (Daniel Lapin) and Giving it All Away (David Green)
Homeschooling
Teaching From Rest (Sarah MacKenzie)
Fiction
One Last Thing (Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue)
Devotional
Questions Jesus Asks (Israel Wayne)
Biography
Katharina & Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk (Michelle DeRusha)
Parenting
Mom, I Hate My Life (Sharon Hersh) – This was such a practical book on how to help teenage daughters with their emotions. The author speaks from a mostly Christian perspective. It encouraged some great discussions between my daughter and I as well as helped me to be more understanding about some baffling interactions we had.

Why I Didn’t Rebel (Rebecca Lindenbach) – This book listed commonalities between families whose children didn’t rebel and some commonalities between those families whose children did rebel from the faith. It gave a lot of helpful advice on how to adjust our parenting practice for the greatest goal of leading our children to Heaven.

Marriage
For Better or For Work (Meg Hirshberg) – While it would be of minimal help for the average couple, this book addressed some of the humorous details and struggles of being married to an entrepreneur. Working at home together has strengthened our marriage in many ways. However, I appreciated someone addressing the little nagging things that can tear down marriages while building a business. It was a good reminder to keep communication clear and expectations low in the early stages of overlapping into each other’s space, scheduling and money concerns and loss of privacy that can come from mixing home life and customers. Reading the story of the humble beginnings of Stonyfield Yogurt as told by the founder’s wife was inspirational for our business and our marriage.

Food and Health
Thin Side Out (Josie Spinardi) – I’ve tried to learn and practice more intuitive, non-dieting eating practices this year. While I didn’t make great strides with weight loss, my emotional and mental health in the areas of food and exercise has improved. I am going to hone in more on the nutritional and physical aspects this year. This book was a good bridge between the two and offers many helpful practices for becoming truly healthy in every aspect.

Your Turn: What did you read in 2017? Do you have any good books to recommend for 2018? I’ve already started my list here. Happy Reading in the coming year!

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