If there is one thing I love almost as much as I love traveling, it is reading. I’ve found that books are the best way to travel without really traveling – they can transport you to new worlds and kickstart new adventures almost as easily as an airplane, and they are far less expensive. Since 2011, I’ve had an annual goal of reading 50 books each year. And while I’ve regularly fallen a bit short of this goal (thanks, over the years, to grad school, starting a new job, and, you know, life), that goal has motivated me to read – and read a lot. Even when I don’t hit 50, I’m still cruising through books all year.

If you need ideas for books, I’m here to help!

Check out what I’m reading this year (below), or go back to the archives to see my reading lists from 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Have something I should definitely read? Let me know in the comments! I love suggestions!

1. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

First things first, I’m a sucker for any “Best Of” lists. Best Albums of the Year. Best Movies of the Year. Best Books of the Year. Which is how I found myself poring over 2016 compilations as I rounded the corner into the new year. This book kept popping up, so I picked it up from the library and dove in. The writing is beautiful, creative and compelling. Anyone who has such an unusual mastery in of the English language gets points in my book. The story was a little much for me – a whole lot of gratuitous sex and partying, but with a mid-way shift in perspective that makes the marriage on which the whole story is centered much more nuanced.

2. The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

Everyone should read this book. Granted, I realize I say that about a lot of things, but this one really struck a chord with me, especially as I read it while simultaneously attempting to re-acclimate to life in the USA. It’s about our brokenness and the world’s brokenness and Jesus’s brokenness – and how those three things together point us in our direction forward. It’s largely about koinonia – community – and how we could be regularly, always, laying down our lives for each other. That is how we move forward. That is how we handle our own brokenness – by pouring out into others. I promise I didn’t think this was a socially-justice-y, hands-and-feet-y book when I started, but apparently I just can’t avoid those themes!

3. Tribe by Sebastian Junger

After starting this book, I couldn’t stop talking about it. It’s short, so you can finish it quickly, but the concepts it presents are fascinating. It’s about how we relate to each other, how we support one another, and how the shift toward an individualistic culture may be hurting us just as much as it is helping us. While he focuses a lot on the mindset of military folks coming home after war, I’ve seen similar experiences play out in my own travels to more communal cultures (particularly in the developing world) and then my return home to “regular” life. I think he articulates so well some of the frustrations of coming to the US (or anywhere in the west) and feeling remarkably isolated in your experience. Highly recommend this one.

4. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult 

If choosing a favorite author means choosing the person you read most often, then Jodi wins for me, hands-down. I read everything she writes, and she writes a lot. So it’s saying something when I feel like this is one of her best – and hardest – books yet. Centered around race in modern-day America (hello, relevant), it tells a complicated story from several points of view, including a white supremacist, a well-educated Black woman, and a do-gooder White woman who is outwardly “not racist”, but also has to come to terms with her own privilege. To me, that was the scariest and most convicting character of all – because I am that. Certainly not trying to be racist, but also living an experience that is so unlike the daily reality of many of my neighbors and peers. It’s fascinating and hard. And so important for a time like now.

5. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

6. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

7. It’s What I Do by Lynsy Addario

8. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

9. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

10. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

11. Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

12. A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker

13. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

14. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

15. Love Lives Here by Maria Goff

16. The Singles by Meredith Goldstein

17. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

18. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

19. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

20. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

21. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 

22. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

23. Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

24. Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott

25. Prayer by Scott Erickson and Justin McRoberts

26. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

27. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

28. Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch

29. Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

30. Less by Andrew Sean Greer

31. The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile 

32. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

33. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

34. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

35. South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby

36. Montana 1948 by Larry Watson

37. The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz

38. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

39. Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors

40. Touch by Courtney Maum

41. Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee

42. Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

43. Heather, The Totality by Matthew Weiner

44. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

45. Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand

46. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris 

47. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

48. Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

49. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

50. King Lear by William Shakespeare 






4 thoughts on “Books

  1. Jill says:

    I agree…..loved Light Between Oceans….was so torn who to root for!
    Have you read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett? One of my favorites….so well written.


  2. Jessica says:

    Hey Allison,

    You should check out:

    Jenny Simmon’s book The Road to Becoming
    The book thief by Mark Zusak
    The single woman: Life, love and a dash of sass by Mandy Hale

    Let me know if you read any and what you think!



  3. John Courtright says:

    The Prince of India or Why Constantinople Fell (Volume 1)
    by Lew Wallace
    1893. This novel from Wallace, the writer of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (another book I would highly recommend; much, much better than the movie), recounts events leading to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. The legendary wandering jew, in the guise of a Prince of India aids in bringing about the downfall of the city and its empire by aiding and advising the Turkish Sultan Mehmed II. What an adventure! Wonderful writing! I was certainly transported to another place and time!


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