Here’s the list of books I read starting on January 1st, 2015. I decided not to rate them because if I didn’t think a book was 4 or 5 stars I would have put it down. My favorites were The Girl on the Train, Scary Close, The Fear Cure, And The Good News Is, and Deep Down Dark.
1. Speak by Nish Weiseth
Speak, by popular blogger Nish Weiseth, is a book about the power of telling our own stories and hearing those of others to change hearts, build bridges, advocate for good, make disciples with grace, and proclaim God’s kingdom on Earth today. Nish Weiseth exhorts today’s Christians to follow Jesus’ example by using story as a vehicle for change. After all, Jesus was a master storyteller. He frequently and effectively used the art of storytelling to communicate deep truths about God, humanity, love, and eternity to a culture on the brink. His stories defied social norms, revealed God’s Kingdom, and fiercely advocated for the least of these.
2. Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller
Life has a way of throwing unexpected obstacles in our path, tripping us up, and bringing us to our knees. When these crises hit, who do you call? Who do you lean on? Anne Marie Miller found herself in one of those valleys on the floor of a hotel bathroom while on a business trip. Months of stress accumulated and took its toll. In a moment of desperation, she picked up the phone and called a friend for guidance. That simple phone call was the first step in a transforming journey of evaluating what community truly meant and looked like in her life.
3. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (audio version)
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
4. Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson
Do you ever long for days full of joy and energy―days that bring out the best version of you rather than leave you exhausted? Do you sometimes catch yourself wishing life was more impactful and fulfilling? In a world that’s moving so fast, it’s easy to lose your sense of purpose. So now is the time to make each moment of your ordinary, everyday, beautiful existence count. It’s time to own your life. Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life is a breath of fresh air into the life and soul of a busy woman. Like a faithful friend, Sally journeys with you to explore what it means to live meaningfully, follow God truly, and bring much-needed order to your chaos. Each page offers deeply personal, authentic, and practical guidance to help you build an intentional life. Discover what it means to own your life, and dare to trust God’s hands as He richly shapes your character, family, work, and soul.
5. Scary Close by Donald Miller
After decades of failed relationships and painful drama, Donald Miller decided he’d had enough. Impressing people wasn’t helping him connect with anyone. He’d built a life of public isolation, yet he dreamed of meaningful relationships. So at forty years old he made a scary decision: to be himself no matter what it cost. From the author of Blue Like Jazz comes a book about the risk involved in choosing to impress fewer people and connect with more, about the freedom that comes when we stop acting and start loving. It is a story about knocking down old walls to create a healthy mind, a strong family, and a satisfying career. And it all feels like a conversation with the best kind of friend: smart, funny, true, important.
6. The Power of TED by David Emerald
The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) is a simple, engaging story with life-changing insights. TED* offers you inspiration and practical tools to improve relationships at work and home. The Power of TED* offers a powerful alternative to the Karpman Drama Triangle with its roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) provides the antidote roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach to the toxic relationship dynamics of the drama triangle and describes how to make the shift happen between them. Central to the shift is a transformation in mindset from a Victim Orientation to a Creator Orientation. The book is illustrated to present essential models to the reader in a simple and accessible way.
7. Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximillian Potter
A true story: In January 2010, Aubert de Villaine, the famed proprietor of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the tiny, storied vineyard that produces the most expensive, exquisite wines in the world, received an anonymous note threatening the destruction of his priceless vines by poison-a crime that in the world of high-end wine is akin to murder-unless he paid a one million euro ransom. Villaine believed it to be a sick joke, but that proved a fatal miscalculation and the crime shocked this fabled region of France. The sinister story that Vanity Fair journalist Maximillian Potter uncovered would lead to a sting operation by some of France’s top detectives, the primary suspect’s suicide, and a dramatic investigation. This botanical crime threatened to destroy the fiercely traditional culture surrounding the world’s greatest wine.
8. Never Go Back by Henry Cloud
Dr. Henry Cloud, bestselling author of the Boundaries series, offers a life-changing book that provides ten strategies for overcoming self-defeating life patterns that will help you redirect your mistakes and make way for success—physically, personally, and spiritually. Everyone makes mistakes, big and small. Sometimes our mistakes take us down the wrong path and send us spiraling into destructive life patterns, and sometimes we learn our lesson and never make the same mistake again. But how? How do we recognize destructive patterns, make new choices, and then follow through? In Never Go Back, bestselling author Dr. Henry Cloud shares ten doorways to success—and once we walk through these new pathways, we never go back again. His proven method—based on grace, not guilt—outlines ten common life patterns that sabotage success and lays out clear, concrete steps you can take to overcome them. You’ll see your relationships flourish, your personal life enhanced, and your faith strengthened. Dr. Cloud’s powerful message reveals doorways to understanding—once you enter them, you will get from where you were to where you want to be.
9. Undone by Michelle Cushatt
Undone is author Michele Cushatt’s quest to make peace with a complicated life. It is an honest confession of a diagnosis of cancer and the joys and disappointments of motherhood and marriage, ripe with regret over what is and, yet, still hopeful for what could be. With enough humor to ease the rawness of the story, Undone takes the reader on a roller coaster two-year journey through the unexpectedness of life. A look back makes Michele long for a do-over, the chance to make fewer mistakes and leave less of a mess to clean up. A look forward makes Michele wonder if all her attempts to control life have robbed her of the vibrancy of it. And, in the middle of this internal chaos, she finds her once-pristine house filled with the sights and sounds of three small, uncontainable children who just want to be loved.
10. Bringing Up BeBe by Pamela Druckerman
When American journalist Pamela Druckerman had a baby in Paris, she didn’t aspire to become a “French parent.” But she noticed that French children slept through the night by two or three months old. They ate braised leeks. They played by themselves while their parents sipped coffee. And yet French kids were still boisterous, curious, and creative. Why? How? With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman set out to investigate—and wound up sparking a national debate on parenting. Researched over three years and written in her warm, funny voice, Bringing Up Bébé is deeply wise, charmingly told, and destined to become a classic resource for American parents.
11. You Have The Answers by Phyllis Lundy
Do you ever find yourself wondering about the answers to these essential life questions? • Who am I? • What do I want from my life? • How do I break through the barriers and start taking steps in the direction of my dreams? Phyllis Lundy believes you already have those answers waiting inside you. Written from her unique perspective as a career coach, professional development specialist, and workshop facilitator, this book helps you turn the key and unlock the potential that lies within. As you read the motivational stories and journal your answers to the thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter, you will uncover your true self, rediscover your heart-felt passions and renew your commitment to invite the life you want into the life you have. Your inner wisdom is within your reach—this book provides you with the inspiration and the questions.
12. Bouncing Back by Linda Graham
Resilience is the ability to face and handle life’s challenges, whether everyday disappointments or extraordinary disasters. While resilience is innate in the brain, over time we learn unhelpful patterns, which then become fixed in our neural circuitry. But science is now revealing that what previously seemed hardwired can be rewired, and Bouncing Back shows us how. With powerful, time-tested exercises, Linda Graham guides us in rebuilding our core well-being and disaster-proofing our brains.
13. The Fear Cure by Lissa Rankin
Not many people in the medical world are talking about how being afraid can make us sick—but the truth is that fear, left untreated, becomes a serious risk factor for conditions from heart disease to diabetes to cancer. Now Lissa Rankin, M.D., explains why we need to heal ourselves from the fear that puts our health at risk and robs our lives of joy—and shows us how fear can ultimately cure us by opening our eyes to all that needs healing in our lives.
Drawing on peer-reviewed studies and powerful true stories, The Fear Cure presents a breakthrough understanding of fear’s effects and charts a path back to wellness and wholeness on every level. We learn:
- How a fearful thought translates into physiological changes that predispose us to illness
- How to tell true fear (the kind that arises from a genuine threat) from false fear (which triggers stress responses that undermine health)
- How to tune in to the voice of courage inside—our “Inner Pilot Light”
- How to reshape our relationship to uncertainty so that it’s no longer something to dread, but a doorway to new possibilities
- What our fears can teach us about who we really are
At the intersection of science and spirituality, The Fear Cure identifies the Four Fearful Assumptions that lie at the root of all fears—from the sense that we’re alone in the universe to the belief that we can’t handle losing what we love—and shifts them into Four Courage-Cultivating Truths that pave our way to not only physical well-being, but profound awakening. Using exercises from a wide range of mind-body practices and spiritual traditions, Dr. Rankin teaches us how to map our own courage-cultivating journey, write a personalized Prescription for Courage, and step into a more authentic life.
14. Runaway Radical by Amy Hollingsworth
A young idealist heeds the call to radical obedience, gives away all of his belongings and shaking off the fetters of a complacent life, travels halfway around the world. There he discovers, among the poor and the fatherless of West Africa, that he has only surrendered to a new kind of captivity. There is no doubt that young people today are fully invested in social and human rights issues. They start their own nonprofits, they run their own charities, they raise money for worthy causes. Books on saving the world abound, topping the bestsellers’ lists, fueling the drive to prove not only commitment to the world but devotion to God. Now there is a new crop of books starting to emerge, detailing the consequences of trying to save a world that is not ours to save. But none of these books tell the story thatRunaway Radical tells; this is the first book to highlight the painful personal consequences of the new radicalism, documenting in heartbreaking detail what happens when a young person becomes entrapped instead of liberated by its call. His radical resolve now shaken, he returns home to rebuild his life and his faith.
15. Resilience by Eric Greitens
You cannot bounce back from hardship. You can only move through it. There is a path through pain to wisdom, through suffering to strength, and through fear to courage if we have the virtue of resilience. In 2012, Eric Greitens unexpectedly heard from a former SEAL comrade, a brother-in-arms he hadn’t seen in a decade. Zach Walker had been one of the toughest of the tough. But ever since he returned home from war to his young family in a small logging town, he’d been struggling. Without a sense of purpose, plagued by PTSD, and masking his pain with heavy drinking, he needed help. Zach and Eric started writing and talking nearly every day, as Eric set down his thoughts on what it takes to build resilience in our lives. Eric’s letters drawing on both his own experience and wisdom from ancient and modern thinkers are now gathered and edited into this timeless guidebook. Resilience explains how we can build purpose, confront pain, practice compassion, develop a vocation, find a mentor, create happiness, and much more. Eric’s lessons are deep yet practical, and his advice leads to clear solutions.
16. We Are Called To Rise by Laura McBride
Avis thought her marriage had hit a temporary rut. But with a single confession in the middle of the night, her carefully constructed life comes undone. After escaping a tumultuous childhood and raising a son, she now faces a future without the security of the home and family she has spent decades building. Luis only wants to make the grandmother who raised him proud. As a soldier, he was on his way to being the man she taught him to be until he woke up in Walter Reed Hospital with vague and troubling memories of how he got there. Now he must find a new way to live a life of honor. Every day, young Bashkim looks forward to the quiet order of school and the kind instruction of his third grade teacher. His family relocated to Las Vegas after fleeing political persecution in their homeland. Now their ice cream truck provides just enough extra income to keep them afloat. With his family under constant stress, Bashkim opens his heart to his pen pal, a US soldier.When these lives come together in a single, shocking moment, each character is called upon to rise.
17. It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell
All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake. It Was Me All Along takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.
18. And The Good News Is by Dana Perino
From facing professional challenges and confronting personal fears to stepping up to a podium for a President, Dana has come to expect the unexpected and has an uncanny ability to find the good news in any tough situation. AND THE GOOD NEWS IS . . . takes us from her Western childhood in Wyoming and Colorado to a chance meeting on an airplane that changes her life entirely. Then, with refreshing honesty and humor, she recounts her frustration with a string of unsatisfying jobs and living circumstances until a key career tip leads her back to Washington, D.C. to work for the Bush Administration. Dana also shares here her best work and life lessons-tips that will help you to get your point across convincingly while allowing your own grace and personality to shine through. As someone who still believes in working together to solve the problems our nation faces, Dana offers clear, practical advice on how to restore civility to our personal and public conversations. The result is a fascinating read that can help anyone become more successful, productive, and joyously content.
19. Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg
Through months of treatment, questions, and hopes, Margaret discovered that joy is a far more dynamic force than most of us realize. It has the power to reignite our passion for laughter and celebration. It can free us to rise above endless demands as we become more content and thankful. It can change unchangeable circumstances and bring a peace rooted in the remarkable love of God. Here Margaret shares her journey of using joy to fight back fear, regret, and pain. Whatever you face today, discover with Margaret how to embrace a way of living that’s deeper and fuller than you’ve ever known—a life radiant with joy.
20. The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner
Ever get to the end of the day and realize you did nothing for you? In this practical and liberating book, Jessica N. Turner empowers you to take back the fringe hours–those little pockets of time you already have in your day–in order to make time for your passions and practice self-care. Based on original research, The Fringe Hours helps you overcome common hurdles that prevent women from taking time for themselves regularly. You’ll also discover tips for maximizing the time you have and discover how living this lifestyle makes you a better wife, mother, and friend.
21. Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar
When the San José mine collapsed outside of Copiapó, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. The entire world watched what transpired above-ground during the grueling and protracted rescue, but the saga of the miners’ experiences below the Earth’s surface–and the lives that led them there–has never been heard until now. For Deep Down Dark, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Héctor Tobar received exclusive access to the miners and their tales. These thirty-three men came to think of the mine, a cavern inflicting constant and thundering aural torment, as a kind of coffin, and as a church where they sought redemption through prayer. Even while still buried, they all agreed that if by some miracle any of them escaped alive, they would share their story only collectively. Héctor Tobar was the person they chose to hear, and now to tell, that story.
22. Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf
In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.
23. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Her perfect life is a perfect lie. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret. There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.
24. Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
Is someone else’s problem your problem? If, like so many others, you’ve lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else’s, you may be codependent–and you may find yourself in this book–Codependent No More. The healing touchstone of millions, this modern classic by one of America’s best-loved and most inspirational authors holds the key to understanding codependency and to unlocking its stultifying hold on your life. With instructive life stories, personal reflections, exercises, and self-tests, Codependent No More is a simple, straightforward, readable map of the perplexing world of codependency–charting the path to freedom and a lifetime of healing, hope, and happiness.
25. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (audio version)
Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on how much alcohol has been consumed. From an early age, Eileen wished that she lived somewhere else. She sets her sights on upper class Bronxville, New York, and an American Dream is born. Driven by this longing, Eileen places her stock and love in Ed Leary, a handsome young scientist, and with him begins a family. Over the years Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house. It slowly becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper, more incomprehensive psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.
26. Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga
Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across three continents in buses, cars, and planes, across mountains and over deep blue seas. What she hadn’t realized was that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it. Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a deeply personal story of the yearning we all share to be truly known, entirely forgiven, and utterly loved.
27. Pilgrim Wheels by Neil Hanson
In 2011, at 57 years old, Neil Hanson began a 3400-mile cross-country bicycle journey, exploring an America that can only be discovered on winding backroads from the saddle of a bicycle. More than just a travelogue of a bike ride across the country, Hanson’s delightful and beautifully written story takes the reader on a journey that is engaging and insightful, often hilarious, sometimes poignant, and always inspiring. It’s a must-read adventure that will stir your soul.
28. Get Your Joy Back by Laurie Wallin
Parents of specials needs children are exhausted. They’ve done all the research, consulted all the experts, joined support groups, gotten counseling, fought for the best life for their children. Often just caring for their children’s needs and attempting to maintain a home maxes out parents’ mental, emotional, and spiritual reserves. Laurie Wallin knows firsthand the difficulties of this journey. With Get Your Joy Back, she steps forward to make a bold, audacious claim: in the midst of this long-term, intense task, it is still possible to have an abundant life, full of joy. The key to radically changing daily life and restoring joy to the weary is forgiveness. Wallin gives parents a lifeline to find that restoration, pulling them back to shore when they feel like they’re drowning. This book is full of practical, biblical insights and strategies to shed the resentments that leave Christian special-needs parents themselves spiritually, emotionally, and socially drained. Wallin meets readers right where they are, sugar coating nothing, but addressing issues with honesty, humor, and–above all–hope.
29. Restless by Jennie Allen
In Restless, Bible teacher and fellow struggler Jennie Allen explores practical ways to identify the threads of your life and how to intentionally weave them together. She explains how your gifts, passions, places, and relationships aren’t random; they’re deliberate and meaningful. And your suffering―it’s possible it has produced the very thing you want to give back to the world. Using the story of Joseph, the dreamer, Jennie explains how his suffering, gifts, relationships―all of the threads of his life―fit into the greater story of God and how our stories can do the same. What would happen if God got bigger than your fear and insecurity, and you spent the rest of your life running without reservation after his purposes for you? You were created for more.
Currently I’m finishing up Erik Larsen’s Dead Wake. What are your reading right now? What was your favorite book in the past six months?
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty professor at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice.”
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."