It is highly unlikely that I’ll read any more amazing books this year, (i’m not sure if that’s pessimistic or realistic?) so I figured now is the time to share my favorite books of 2017! My goal was to finish reading fifty books this calendar year. I’m happy to report that I far surpassed my goal (even without including the many books I read to Josephine)!
I split my favorites up into categories so I could share more loves! (in most categories I read at least five or six books)
• Favorite Parenting Book: Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards & Punishment to Love & Reason by Alfie Kohn
This book rocked my world. I knew I wasn’t the punishing type of parent, but the detriments of rewards really shifted my perspectives. I wrote more about this here. The other really fascinating element of this book is it’s Christian implications. I’m not sure if Kohn is even a Christian, but the idea of using love and reason as parents rather than rewards and punishments mimics my understanding of God’s parenting of us. The Orthodox faith teaches of a God of love and mercy; of someone on our side helping us grow more Christ-like. While not spelled out in religious terms, Kohn’s cry for ditching punishments and rewards is helping parenting step up to be more God-like. A definite must-read for any parents!
• Favorite Educational Book: For the Children’s Sake: Foundation of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
A classic that my own mother used in creating our homeschool, this book is chock-full of practical ideas. Her educational ideas are founding on Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and are easy to read. Whether you plan to educate your kids at home or not, this book is a great look at how children learn, and how parents can support our children’s best learning.
• Favorite Orthodox Book: Parenting Toward the Kingdom: Orthodox Christian Principles of Child-Rearing by Philip Mamalakis
This is sort of cheating, as it should probably be in the parenting category. But I just had too many favorite parenting books! This one is truly phenomenal. Husband and I read it together this year, and I think that’s helped inform our parenting decisions so much! Through his research he’s gathered up so much parenting wisdom (that really ties into my beliefs around respectful and peaceful parenting) and shared them through a Christian (and particularly Orthodox) lens. This book is NOT just for Orthodox parents, but would be a wonderful addition for any intentional parents.
Runner’s Up: I only read one (for grown-ups) Orthodox book this year! Any suggestions for next year?
• Favorite Children’s Book: Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup
Beautiful and colorful illustrations sharing the story of bees and pollination. This is an often requested bedtime stories. Daughter loves finding the ladybug on every page. The details are amazing, even showing the cycle of butterfly metamorphosis over several pages. So fun!
• Favorite Memoir Book: The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
This book is horrifically sad and there are many parts you’ll wish weren’t true. However, the writing is incredible and her insights into her upbringing are unbelievable. The mostly happy epilogue will be something to look forward to during the really dark times (and there are a lot). I think it’s important for her to share her story–for herself–but also for us to remember that we must help those around us, particularly children.
• Favorite Historical Fiction Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer
I adored this book (along with the rest of the readers out there). The writing is phenomenal and witty. The story set during the end of WWII (one of my favorite time periods) of love, life, and loss. The story unfolds through letters between all of the (hilarious and wonderful) characters. It doesn’t get any better than this, my friends. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend!
• Favorite Personal Growth Book: You Learn By Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt
I’m not sure why, but I was afraid this book would be dull. I was happily surprised to be easily drawn in to her writing style. Her wisdom and experiences were so helpful and encouraging. I must say, the beginning on topics such as daily living and overcoming challenges were more relevant than the later parts about being a public servant/figure, but still very helpful!
• Favorite Mystery Book: The Trespasser by Tana French
This category got the lowest ratings overall (and yes I am a nerd and rate my books on a five-point scale. this one got a three if you’re interested). I love Tana French’s novels, but this one was a bit disappointing. Still a fun read and good story, but dragged a bit more than her other mysteries.
• Favorite Fiction Book (not otherwise classified): Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Sometimes her books can feel a little formulaic. This one was not exactly breaking the mold (still a legal conundrum surrounding a current social issue), but it was a great story. This book about race and social justice is probably my favorite of the many novels I’ve read by her.
Non-Fiction Book (not otherwise classified): Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
This one was so incredible that I wrote a whole post about it when I finished it early this spring. This is a book for everyone. Minimalism has received a lot of criticism about being about stuff, the lack thereof, and white space in your home. This book, on the contrary, gets to the real heart of minimalism: how to live a minimal life. A life with just the essentials in place. Obviously it’s necessary to identify and remove the things that aren’t essential. I absolutely love this book and will strive to reread it every year for the rest of my life. (i can’t think of a better recommendation than that)
Whew, thanks for sticking with me if you’re still here! I love reading and I’m already working on building my To Read List for next year. Please send me your favorites from this past year!