Here's a list of my favorite reads from 2016. These are the books that stood out over all the rest and are ones I would happily read again.
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin is a short, very readable book on the importance of studying the Bible personally and how to practically go about doing that. Challenging, encouraging, and useful.
Idol Lies by Dee Brestin explores the idea of "idols" -- things we allow (knowingly or unknowingly) to become more important than God in our lives. This book is aimed at women and the specific idols that plague women. Excellent for a women's group or personal study.
Martha's Vineyard - Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch was a book I couldn't wait for the day it arrived in my mailbox! I love this illustrated memoir of Susan's new life on Martha's Vineyard and how she developed her art and published her first book.
The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World by Melissa Kruger is "the" book on envy/jealousy that I would recommend. This book is powerful, convicting, and practical. Even if you think you don't struggle in this area you will be amazed at how many common daily situations actually involve envy.
Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl was such a fun, fast-paced, foodie read! And it's set in New York City which is another bonus.
Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis by Abigail Santamaria was such an enjoyable and informative biography. Santamaria did her homework and worked hard to provide a book that showed a well-balanced representation of Joy Davidman Lewis' life.
Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife by Barbara Rainey is now my highest recommended book on marriage for women. Rainey lovingly shares truth and how it applies to living in unity with your husband in the midst of real life. She uses analogies from various art forms (photography, cooking, painting) to help explain the principles she is communicating.
Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer tells the recently discovered story of Irena Sendler and her work in the Polish Resistance during World War II, rescuing hundreds of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. The story felt like finding a buried treasure of history and gave me much food for thought about the effects of war, the great sacrifice of the resistance workers, and the long-term consequences of war across generations. It seems books about Irena are popping up all over -- her life is worth learning about.
The Mom Factor: Dealing With the Mother You Have, Didn't Have, or Still Contend With by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is a very helpful book for understanding the importance of mothers, how mothering affects children, how your mother affected you (whether you realize it or not), and how you may be affecting your own children. Plenty of food for thought!
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lisa TerKeurst surely must be one of the most popular Christian books published last year -- and with good reason! TerKeurst delves into the topic of loneliness, rejection, and hurt and the healing that Christ can bring to our hearts. TerKeursts' writing is clear and invites deep connection.
Boys without Names by Kashmira Sheth was one of our homeschool read alouds. Set in modern India this book tells the story of a group of boys stolen from their families to become slave labor, making decorated frames to be sold by their master. The story is riveting and we all became very attached the characters as they worked to survive an extremely abusive situation. This book touched me very deeply. It is a good book to help both adults and children become more aware of the realities of child and slave labor throughout the world.
The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp is an excellent book that talks about brokenness and suffering and how God can take what feels so messed up and use it for His glory. If you think you don't like Ann's writing style you might consider trying her again as this book shows how her writing style has matured.
Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom by Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart was such an encouraging book! This book is all about moms who long to be creative but feel the practical demands of parenthood on their shoulders. Speake and Stuart have lots of practical advice on how to still grow creatively and use your talents in the midst of motherhood -- sometimes in ways you wouldn't imagine.
And while we are on the subject of stories and books, I thought I'd mention my brother-in-law's podcast Based on a True Story. Dan takes movies that are based on real-life stories and tells us what is true, what is stretching the truth, and what is purely added by the film-makers. It's just the kind of information I am curious to know after watching a movie.