Tis the season for setting goals and making resolutions! I know for many people, reading tends to fall into one of those categories, so I decided to round up ten of the best books I’ve read this year in hopes of providing some inspiration as you round up your list for next. A few of my favorites from the year fall outside of this list, but because I’ve written about those books before, I decided not to duplicate efforts. You can read about them here.
To be honest, I didn’t read as much this year as I have in years past, but going into 2018 I want to change that. Many days it’s necessary to use lunch breaks for errands and to-do’s, but I want to get back into the habit of reading while I eat instead—at least a couple days a week. Being someone who loves achievement, it isn’t always the easiest for me to break away from doing, but I know it’s good for me. Even just 30 minutes of reading to break up my work day slows my rhythm and helps me to be more present—and it serves me more than 30 minutes on my iPhone would, even though the latter often feels like the easier choice.
One other time of day I want to get back into the habit of reading more regularly is before bed. Too often I’m going, going, going until it’s time for lights out, but then my brain and my body haven’t had a chance to slow down and get ready for sleep. I want to become more consistent in the discipline of disconnecting and digging into a good book before bed.
For anyone else who wants to “read more, scroll less” in 2018, check out the list below of the best books I’ve read this year to get some ideas. If any of them catch your eye, simply click the book cover to grab a copy—all images are linked. Oh, and be sure to read all the way to the end! I’m GIVING AWAY a copy of the one book from this list that made the biggest impact on my life this year to one lucky blog reader.
1. Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown: We all want to belong, and we tend to believe that will happen through fitting in. That’s what Brené Brown thought too, until her research showed her otherwise. In this most recent book of hers, Brown shows that belonging doesn’t come through being similar to those around us, but through fully owning what makes us different and unique. I picked this book up after hearing Brené Brown speak at the Catalyst Leader Conference in Atlanta, and read it in one sitting on the way home. Highly recommend—though if you haven’t read her Daring Greatly yet, I’d start with that one first (it’s one of my top three all time favorite books).
2. Love Lives Here by Maria Goff: If you’ve read Bob Goff’s Love Does, you’ll know this author as Sweet Maria, his wife. This book shares snippets of their love story, and primarily focuses on Maria’s heart and calling to create a home life that fostered love and creativity for her family. I heard this from a few other people as well, but the last couple chapters were definitely my favorite. The Goff family is truly one of a kind in the most beautiful way, and while reading their story I found myself wanting to implement many of their traditions in my own family one day.
3. Falling Free by Shannan Martin: I read this book during the spring for an Instagram book club I co-hosted with my friends Abbie and Heather and to be honest, this book was uncomfortable to read, but in a good way. Shannan’s story of allowing God to turn upside down the perfect life she thought she wanted challenged me to look at areas of my life where I cling to comfortable over the radical transformation taking Jesus at His word brings about in our lives. Read this if you’re feeling restless and thinking there must be more.
4. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon: I LOVED this short read because there tends to be such an emphasis on originality in creativity which, YES, we should all bring our own unique voice to world. However, true originality isn’t exactly a thing because all of our voices are influenced by things we experience and by the creativity of others. This isn’t a bad thing, it should be celebrated! This book encourages you to stay inspired by creativity around you in a way that’s going to refine and bring alive your own creativity..
5. Sleeping With Bread by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn: When you see the cover for this book below, you’re going to think, “Why did she read a children’s book?” First of all, I’ll gladly own enjoying kid’s books because sometimes they convey powerful truths in the most simply profound way (don’t even get me started on Max Lucado’s You Are Special—just know if you ask me to bring a book to a baby shower, that’s the one it will be because it’s SO good). However, I don’t know that this particular book is specifically a children’s book. It’s a smaller booked aimed at walking you through the practice of identifying your highest and lowest moments at the end of each day. The idea is, as you begin to see a pattern of what things are giving you life verses taking it from you throughout the day, you can begin to identify changes to make in your life, as well as ways God may be guiding you.
6. Prayer by Timothy Keller: One of my goals this year was to grow more in my prayer life. Part of that meant I wanted to learn more about prayer, and this is the book that kept popping up when I looked into good books to read to that end. This is the one book on the list I haven’t finished yet (even though I started it during my trip to Iceland back in June), only because it’s been a slower read for me, and I’ve read a little bit here, a little bit there. Reason being, it’s packed dense with so much rich insight and information, so I haven’t wanted to rush reading it. Definitely read this if you want to learn more about prayer in a way that encourages you to also do it more.
7. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon: Having your work seen and letting others into it is a necessary element of any long-term creative pursuit. This book is another quick read by Kleon that I’d consider a must for all creatives. It shows you how to allow others into your creative process in helpful, practical ways.
8. The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson: Several years ago, Brené Brown’s Ted Talk The Power of Vulnerability took the internet by storm and it, along with her books, started a cultural conversation on shame and vulnerability. This book adds a powerful voice to that conversation, but from more of an neurobiological and spiritual standpoint. Shame is something that impacts us all on a day to day basis, and this book helps you to peel back the layers to identify exactly how it’s at work in your life.
9. Still Waiting by Ann Swindell: I don’t really know what to say about this book other than that I am so incredibly thankful I came across it this year. In it, the author uses her own story, as well as the story of the Bleeding Woman in the Bible, to talk about finding hope in the waiting, when God hasn’t given you what you want most. This book was incredibly powerful and encouraging. If you are in a season of waiting of any kind, I highly recommend this book.
10. Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson: Like I mentioned, prayer was one of my focuses this year, and this was the second book I bought to that end. This one is actually more of a devotional and how it works is, you pick a couple things to pray over, then circle those things in prayer throughout the whole 40 days of the devotional. It’s premise is to develop endurance in prayer. In other words, rather than approaching prayer with an ASAP mentality, it trains you to approach prayer with an ALAIT mentality—as long as it takes. Additionally, every day it shares an encouraging story about prayer to fuel your faith. It’s easy to pray for something once then forget about, or get discouraged when you haven’t heard an answer to a long-term prayer. For me, this book was instrumental in helping me fight that. I read it twice back-to-back, and it is the single book on this list that made the biggest impact on my life this year—which should give you a hint as to which book I’m giving away.
As promised, it’s now time for a GIVEAWAY! To one blog reader, I’ll be giving away a copy of Draw the Circle—the one book that made the biggest impact on my life this year. Enter by commenting below with your email address and one reason why you’d love to read this book. For five extra entries, make sure you’re subscribed to my email list. Just FYI—I have exciting new content and announcements coming just around the corner, so you’re probably going to want to make sure you’re on it anyway so you’re the first to know. UPDATE: Winner has been chosen and announced in the comments!
What’s something you’re looking forward to in 2018? Any exciting plans for New Year’s Eve? Let me know—I’d love to hear!
Thanks to my friend Courtney McCallion for taking these photos—and shoutout to her cute pup Sadie for making a special appearance.
Hello I’m Kaci!
I love encouraging and discipling others in the Word of God, and I really love the One it all points to: Jesus.
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I would like to read draw the circle because it is my tendency to pray once and leave it there. I want to understand Jesus’ exportation to be persistent in prayer.
That is totally my tendency too! Thanks for entering.
I want to read this book because I have been looking for a book to help me with praying. I tend to struggle in that area and I think this book could help me strengthen my prayer life.
That’s so awesome Kelsey! Thank you for entering.
This morning I was talking to my husband about my goals for the new year and it just so happens that I said I want to make my prayer life a priority. And then I read this blog, what a coincidence! I am on the route to getting my teaching credential, yay for reaching new hieghts in 2018, but with that comes a lot more necessary studying and reading required material. Upon reflection, my prayer life and leisure reading has dimminished. I think a book like Draw the Circle could be helpful in getting me back on track.
What a cool story Amber, that’s definitely no coincidence! What’s even more not a coincidence is, I just did the drawing and YOU are the winner! Looks like God is definitely moving in this area for you. I’ll shoot you an email and we’ll get the book sent your way. Thanks for entering!
Prayer might be the biggest place I want to and need to grow spiritually right now, so I would love to read this book!
I LOVE reading! And this book would be a wonderful way to kick off the new year! And I believe it would better my prayer life.
Lately I’ve been questioning whether of not God is real and I find it extremely hard to go to him in prayer and ask for guidance and clarity because it doesn’t feel genuine and then I doubt he’s even listening because I’m not even sure if he’s real. I’ve been struggling to find a good book I can dive into that’s based on prayer to develop my relationship with him again.
GIRL! Let me know if you would like to talk more about this – I would be so happy to. In the meantime, praying for you that God would reveal Himself to you so clearly and make His presence so known. Praying that as you work through the doubt, you would come out on the other side THAT much more sure of your faith.
I will like to win this book because recently I have been battling with my prayer life and my goal for this year is to pray more and have God in the middle of my life of everything I do. It’s so easy to be said than done but reading testimonies of so many people’s breakthrough has encouraged me. And one of my new year resolution is definitely to use social media less and read more. Thank you for this giveaway and all the work you do for God’s glory
Those are SUCH awesome goals Julissa – praying God works powerfully through them. Thanks for entering!
my goodness! as i was reading your description, it sounded like i could really take a lot from it and grow in my prayer life. to be honest, i’m not very patient in prayer, my attention span is very short sometimes and it sounds like this book would be very fitting and helpful! thanks so much! xo hannah✨
SAME! Thanks so much for entering and hopefully you’ll still get to read this book.
Hi. I think I can really grow further in Christ by reading this book. There is so much power in prayer which gives us a stronger and intimate connection with God.
One of my goals for the New Year is to get more connected with God and to hopefully Spread his love with others. The book “Draw the Circle” will really help me spirtually and to grow as a person.
I LOVE your goal for this New Year Terra!!! Thank you also for entering.
I would love to win this book. I’m always praying for others and myself, but sometimes I feel like I’m not completely connecting with God. I’m having a conversation with Him but it feels like something’s missing. I’ve been praying about that too, but I don’t see/feel a change and I don’t know what else to do. I think this book will help me a lot in my prayer life. Also, like you mentioned, sometimes I say a prayer once and that’s it. I don’t want these things to continue on. Thank you so much!
Thanks so much for sharing your heart Victoria! I totally get that and feel that sometimes too. I think it’s okay to not feel that connection some time, the important thing is to keep showing up anyway. I will pray that God works in your life to cultivate your prayer life this year!
Your blog is always so encouraging and inspring! So thank you for that! 🙂
My name is Kristine and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started @shepraysforhim as a journal of prayers for my future husband and would love to learn even more about prayer. It is making such an amazing difference in my life and in my family and friends lives! I would love to read Draw the Circle and then pass it on to one of my friends or family members and share with them too!
Thank you so much for this opportunity and God bless you!!
Aw wow thank you so much for your incredibly encouraging words! Also that’s so awesome about the She Prays For Him account! Thank you for entering.
I’d like to win so I can be motivated to start a daily prayer life
I’ve been trying to find more books on praying deliberately and Draw the Circle seems to be the perfect one for me!!