Over the last ten years, my reading habits have gone through many shifts. In my current season, I average about ten books a year, give or take a few, plus articles and countless children’s books. You’ll notice that I rarely read books the year they are published. I’m not the most proactive or purposeful reader. Basically, I read what I feel like I need or want to read at any given moment. I often read more than one book at a time and I am a slow reader, so I don’t get through many books in a year. With that in mind, these are some of my favorite reads of this year.
This book was published in 2020, but it seems like everyone I follow on Twitter discovered it just this year. Though the writing style took some getting used to, by the end of it, I felt as if I’d just spent significant time across a table with the author as he told his story of becoming a refugee. Reading it reminded me of the refugee families I’ve spent time with, whose stories I still don’t know due to language barriers and my lack of knowing what kind of questions to ask. In the future, I believe this book will help me know how to talk to other refugees about their stories.
Paul Tripp’s writing has been quite formative for me over the last few years. I hit a low point in my spiritual and emotional health a couple of years ago, losing sight of the gospel and believing I could not change. Tripp’s gospel-centered writing has been instrumental in shifting my perspective. How People Change helped me see both the present, transformative power of the gospel for everyday life and helping me recognize my own responsibility for change.
I wrote at the beginning of this year about shifting from goal setting to building habits. It’s been encouraging to look back on this year and see how fruitful that shift has been. James Clear’s Atomic Habits was a helpful read as I have worked to build habits that help me manage my time, emotions, and remain spiritually disciplined. I loved Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, and Clear’s book serves as the practical application of much of Duhigg’s research. If you had to choose only one book on habits to read, I recommend Clear’s, due to the practical “how-to” nature of his writing. My husband, who is more of a theory person, would recommend Duhigg’s. You know what, just consider these books a Part 1 and Part 2 of habit building and read both.
In his book, Terms of Service, Chris Martin helps us understand the inner workings of social media and how to use it wisely. I believe it has become vital to think critically about how we use social media. I’m not quite at the point where I think we should disengage altogether but we must consider how we spend our time on it and what we share online—if not for our own sake, then for our children’s. I’ve become increasingly concerned about the invasion of privacy by big tech companies that run social media websites. Because of this, I’ve permanently deleted my Instagram and Facebook accounts, we’ve stopped posting photos of our kids and semi-successfully asked our family members and friends do the same, and we’ve begun making the move away from free web services (like email) to paying for ad-free ones that are more secure. We had begun thinking about these decisions before reading Terms of Service but Martin’s book tipped me over the edge. I honestly think this book should be required reading for anyone who has a social media account.
I’m sure this is a bit of an odd choice for a “best reading” list written in 2022, but this was the first time I have ever read through the book. For over 20 years, the Wynona Ryder version of the Little Women film has been one of my all-time favorite movies. I love it so much. So, I finally decided to take the time to read through the book. I can’t remember a time I got so much enjoyment from reading. Reading through Little Women took me a while—probably 2 months—to read through the entire book but reading slowly only added to my enjoyment of the story. This is a book I wish I could read for the first time again.
This is perhaps another unusual choice, but I read a ton of children’s books. Both of my kids love to be read to—to the point where my daughter ends up memorizing many of her books and reading them to herself. I bought Sounding Joy because we loved Ellie Holcomb’s other books, but I was not prepared for this one. It is beautiful in every sense of the word. I don’t exactly know why, because this does not seem to happen to other adults who’ve read this book, but my husband nor I can read it to our kids without crying.
I read a lot of articles throughout the year, but most of them slip my mind even if the content is good. However, I won’t soon forget this article from Tim Challies. Like Paul Tripp, Challies’s writing has been quite impactful on me over the last couple of years. His article, “Much Will Be Required” is one that can only be written by a person who has experienced the kind of painful trial like what he experienced in the loss of his son. He challenges his audience to consider how we might steward even our trials for the sake of God’s glory. It’s a perspective I have never heard before, but it’s one I’ll be sitting on for a while.
Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash