Around the turn of last year, I made it a point to read more books. My brain felt fuzzy and lacked the ability to concentrate like it used to. Like a flabby muscle, out of tone from lack of discipline and use. I blame it on my Iphone and the stream of endless, meaningless information at my fingertips. It was slow going at first, but like riding a bike, the joy of reading came back to me over time. Honestly, this is one of my favorite resolutions I have ever made. My soul is the richer for it.
I read here and there. I have stacks of books in my kitchen and a few more beside my bed. I read while I’m waiting for the pot of water to boil, and while I wait for a restless toddler to settle down to sleep. I rekindled my love for the library (their app is amazing), and of course Amazon Prime. There is just nothing that compares with sitting down to a real book with real pages between your fingers. You can find a few of my favorites from the past year here, here and here.
If I had to narrow it down to my top three, though, it would have to be these (in no particular order):
01 // Parenting : 14 Gospel Principles that can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp.
To be honest, I almost didn’t read this book. What more could be said, that I hadn’t already read in a hundred other “gospel” parenting books? But for whatever reason, in a probably exasperated state, I added it to my amazon cart and clicked order. The book starts with an introduction from Tripp talking about all the conversations he’s had with parents over the years about how they have implemented the material in his past books, and how uncomfortable those conversations often made him feel. How he wanted to clarify and re-direct the misapplication of what started as good principles, but became distorted into something completely different. This book is a response to that. And with that introduction, I was hooked.
I’ve read parenting books that left me feeling guilty. Books where I walked away with a lengthy to-do list of things to change and strategies to try. This book is not that. This book filled my heart with compassion towards my kids. The reality is : My kids need a Savior. I can’t change them. They can’t change themselves. For either of us to try do so, apart from God is exasperating (don’t I know that from experience?!). This is our mission : to help them see their need and the solution God provided and that He loves them so. So many nuggets to feed on : That we are ambassadors of the lavish love and grace and mercy of our God, not dictators. That God gives grace. Always. That we need God just as much as our children. That parenting is a process not an event — and as such releases us from the pressure of marathon lectures and drilling our point home until they really get it. That we should look for every opportunity to show grace and mercy, as we have been shown. There is no minimizing the struggles and exhaustion we face as parents, but coupled with such beautiful hope because of the grace of our Lord. I have a feeling this book is one I’m going to be referring back to for years to come.
Struck by Russ Ramsey
A few years ago, Russ Ramsey experienced a bacterial infection that led to congestive heart failure. At every point in the process (diagnosis, surgery prep, recovery, aftermath, recovery, depression) he wrote a chapter in this book. It reads like a stream of consciousness. Like a conversation with an old friend. I loved it. There’s not much better I’ve read that is both from the standpoint of a sufferer as well as a commentary on the challenges of those trying to care for the suffering one. I especially appreciated the section on the important of lament. So often, I think we, as a culture, don’t leave room for the right and necessary process of grieving what has been lost while holding on to what is still true. “A lament is a complaint bound to faith, confusion bound to trust, and petition bound to allegiance… I need to lament…I need to ‘complicate’ my grief by engaging in the work of exploring all the loss and change that has come my way…”
Whether you are currently in crisis, or simply want to learn how to better care for the hurting around you, I can’t recommend this book more highly.
The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch
Full disclosure, I have not yet finished this book. It has been slow going. A bite here, a taste there. It’s definitely provided a lot of food for thought. I think we can all agree technology has influenced our lives and the lives of our families in often negative ways. While I don’t necessarily think we’ll be following all of the proposed guidelines here (no screens until your kids are 10?! ummmm not happening), I definitely appreciate his thoughtfulness and his suggestions for promoting creativity and interaction in the home. Most recently I’ve been chewing on this : “We simply have to turn off the easy fixes and make media something we use on purpose and rarely rather than aimlessly and frequently.” So often, I pull my phone from my pocket out of habit, rather than for a specific purpose. Making that conscious effort to seek to use it with more intention rather than aimlessly has been so helpful.
So there you have it. What books did you read and love last year?