I have always loved reading and immersing myself into different stories. I spent a lot of my childhood summers at the library and then consuming book after book like my life depended on it. I still love books and I listen to A LOT of audiobooks. Here are 10 books I've read in the past year and would recommend. There is a mix of non-fiction and fiction books so I think there is something for everyone!
"I Will Carry You" by Angie Smith (non-fiction)
My sister gave me this book after we lost Bennett and it was really helpful. I related to so much of what Angie said about losing a child. She speaks about the story of Lazarus (who was raised from the dead by Jesus) which took my breath away because when we were told Bennett’s heart was no longer beating, I kept thinking about Lazarus and prayed that God would give Bennett back to us. It is helpful to know we are not alone and Angie’s faith was encouraging.
“Workin' Our Way Home: The Incredible True Story of a Homeless Ex-Con and a Grieving Millionaire Thrown Together to Save Each Other” by Ron Hall (non-fiction)
One of my all time favorite books is Same Kind of Different as Me by Denver Moore + Ron Hall. This is a follow up book about friends Ron + Denver. I love getting insights into other peoples’ lives and perspectives. I highly recommend this book but read Same Kind of Different as Me first! (And they also have the book “What Difference Do it Make?” which I also recommend).
“The Hundred Story Home: A Memoir of Finding Faith in Ourselves and Something Bigger” by Kathy Izard (non-fiction)
So, this book also goes along with the above books. (I know I’m obsessed but they are all really good. I promise!) Kathy Izard met Denver Moore and was inspired to quit her job and build housing for people experiencing homelessness. This is her story.
“Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” by Ben Carson (non-fiction)
This is the incredible story of Dr. Ben Carson. It recounts his childhood, hard work, faith, and perseverance through terrible hardships like racism, poverty, family trouble, and a dangerous temper. I am in awe of everything he has accomplished in his life and I really enjoyed reading about his life journey.
"The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide" by Jenna Fischer (non-fiction)
You might have noticed that I love reading people’s memoirs. It is fascinating to me to read about how other people were raised, how they think about things and where their life choices and circumstances have taken them.
I picked up this book because 1) The Office, duh and 2) On Instagram Jenna Fischer seems like a sweet and genuine person. After reading her book, I can say I still think that is true! I loved learning about her journey to becoming Pam (on the best tv show ever The Office). She also includes practical advice if you really want to pursue acting. I liked reading about it since I know a tiny bit about the industry from working at a talent agency in the KC area. I used to think I wanted to be an actress. Reading about someone’s passion for acting further confirms that no, I should not be an actor. 😂
"Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person" by Shonda Rhimes (non-fiction)
I picked up this book because it was referenced in a podcast I was listening to. I have to admit I didn’t even realize at first that the author was the Shonda Rhimes who created Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal. In her book, she talks about how she realized she said no to so many opportunities in her life because of fear. So she challenged herself to say YES for a whole year. I enjoyed reading about her adventures and having the courage to say yes.
"Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman (fiction)
Eleanor is a quirky loner and not the usual protagonist. After a few chapters I was rooting for Eleanor and all of her authentic awkwardness as she becomes friends with Raymond and Sammy, and goes on a journey to help her mental health. There are dark themes of depression and painful childhoods but her adventures and somewhat childlike attitude lightens the tone.
"Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard (YA fiction)
This is the first book of a series following Mare Barrow in a world that is divided by blood—those with common Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is scraping by as a thief in a poor village, until she discovers she has an ability of her own. This series has Hunger Games vibes and even though it’s not as good as Hunger Games, I still liked it.
"November 9" by Colleen Hoover (fiction)
This is a love story between Fallon and Ben who only see each other on the same day every year. There are a lot of emotional ups and downs which kept me on the hook. I got through it really fast because I really wanted to know the ending and I think you will too.
"It's Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered" by Lysa Terkeurst (non-fiction)
This book came to me at the right time in my life. After losing Bennett, I needed some extra encouragement on when life hurts and doesn’t go as planned. Lysa is a great storyteller and I appreciated her openness with telling her own life stories and bringing in the biblical truths of God’s promises for us. If you’ve ever felt disappointed (and who hasn’t?), I recommend this book for you.