It's crazy how many books are out there for us to choose from now-a-days.
Don't get me wrong, having options is better than having none. However, when you don't know exactly where to begin with your research, or whose opinion to take among several suggestions, it can be pretty overwhelming when on the look out for the next best read. One that will keep you locked in and engaged, leaving all plans for the day to be forgotten. Most days, there's nothing better than going to your favorite spot in the house wrapped up in a blanket, a warm beverage within reach and a good book in your hand (and if it's cloudy outside, even better).
In this post, I'll be suggesting a few books I've read recently that I believe contain strong take-aways for us as readers to apply to our own lives. Each book below contains a message for all readers in any season, no matter how dim or bright it may be.
I don't recommend much of anything unless I absolutely love it, so I can honestly say each one of these books will leave you better off than if you didn't pick up a copy or two. If these books aren't your style of writing, that's okay too! These are just my suggestions--that I think are fact, it's fine ;)
A huge chunk of my personal library consists of auto-biographies because I absolutely love reading about the stories of other individuals, and how they came to face the dragons and celebrations in their lives. With that said, a majority of my recommendations (now and later) will be from that selection.
If you don't consider reading to be a hobby of yours, I think these might change your mind.
1) Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown: This was one of many books I had my eye on for awhile after it was released last year, so when the husband got it for me, I kind of flipped (I jumped up from the criss-cross-apple-sauce position I was in on the floor and knocked him off the couch with my hug. It was great). I've recommended this one on my Instagram feed not too long ago and I'm mentioning it again here because it is that good. This book gives insight to Brene's personal encounters and years of research in regards to what it looks like to "brave the wilderness" of life. She brilliantly discusses in perfect detail the battle of loneliness within every single one of us that we all face to an extent as individuals.
One of the things I loved most about this book was Brene's debrief on confrontation. Rather than running from difficult conversations or throwing our beliefs at others in a harsh way, she explains the importance of staying in the conversation and intentionally listening to understand the other persons point of view and what this does for our personal as well as our communal sense of loneliness. It was hard for me to put this one down, and it's definitely my most high-lighted book yet.
It's brilliant, eye-opening, life changing, and in all and incredible read.
2) If You Find this Letter by Hannah Brencher: Let me start by saying Hannah has my vote for most likely to take the world by storm with a single hand-written letter to a complete stranger. This was yet another book that was recommended to me by one of my friends and it only took me two years to finish (it's not that long, I'm just really bad at committing to one book at a time). In IYFTL, Hannah shares her story behind the social movement she began in 2011 (aka More Love Letters). Since then, More Love Letters has spread to over 70 countries, all 50 states, and over 100 college campuses! This girl is obviously making an impact by spreading light, love and encouragement one letter at a time.
As Hannah brings the reader into what her journey was like, every page shows the gutsy, honest, and ambitious moments. This book helped me see the good in humanity during a time when I couldn't see much of it and, honestly, felt we were hardly capable of good things. Hannah represents those who go against the grain and prove that it is possible to make a difference through the simple actions of love if we choose to do so.
Pick. This. Up.
3) Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist: One of my dearest friends wrapped her own copy of this book for me as a Christmas gift and I've decided this is something I want to partake in every year: a Christmas book exchange between good friends. This book was lent to me at a time where I hadn't read for the simple joy of reading. It was a chore for me until I began to turn the pages through Shauna's story.
Shauna's writing style makes it incredibly easy to dive into the life of someone else, and talks about life in such a way that is so relatable. She's able to connect the reader to the author in a way that is hard to find in most books today.
I love how Shauna takes what she learned from previous life experiences, from tragic to blooming, to remind us that this life is made up of both the bitter and the sweet moments (bet you didn't see that coming with the title and all).
As much as we'd love to have it all sweet, we need the bitter to keep us from becoming rotten.
Another take-away I got was how important it is to spend time alone in reflection, but also the necessity of our small and close-knit community. We really can't do life without our friends and family, am I right?
If there was a book I would recommend you read before the others on this list, it would be this one. Beautifully written.
4) In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado: Last, but certainly not least, is one of my favorite's by Max Lucado. Okay, so I haven't finished reading this one yet, but I was too excited about it to leave it out! In this book, Max talks about his personal encounters with the calm before the chaos and connects it to what Scripture has to say about the troubles in this life. He reminds the reader that in the midst of never ending chaos and frustrations, God is there.
I love how Max uses humor, kindness, and his own experiences to grab the readers attention right before he gives the punch-line. By punch-line I mean the message that sums up what we often feel and think in moments of confusion, but can't find the words to explain due to the many mental road-blocks we have.
I've read several of Max's books and devotionals in the past and have been constantly reminded of what I have long forgotten and picked up something new each and every time. I will always recommend one of Max's books to someone who needs to be reminded of what matters most in the midst of this wonderfully unpredictable life we live.
That's all for now until I finish reading another stack of books I hope you'd enjoy as much as I do. Let me know if you have had the chance to read one or more of these books--I'd love to know what you were able to take away from them too!