Out of the 45 on my book list last year, here are the books I recommend in memoir, humor, historical fiction and Bible studies.

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Every January 1st is like the first day of school for me. I’m ready to go, ready to see what the next year will bring. I stock up on planners and highlighters, post-it notes and sharpies, elastic-band notebooks and paperclips. I map out my goals for the next year and tackle them with good intentions…but I quickly lose motivation to get to the gym or resist a slice of chocolate cake. However, without fail, I always reach one goal every year: reading lots of books.

I eventually learned it wasn’t worth wasting hours of my life on something that was mind-numbing or disturbing.

This year marks the 10th time I’ve set a reading goal for myself. I use a website called Goodreads to find new books, track what I’m reading, write reviews and follow my favorite authors. The first few years I met my goal of 30 books, then had kids and lowered it to 20. But last year, I decided to challenge myself and go back to my before-kids goal of 30…and made it to 45!

Out of the 45 books I read, here are the ones on my book list I recommend you check out.


1. “The Year of Less” by Cait Flanders

More than just a book about dealing with clutter and shopping less, the author takes you through her memoir of how her victory over alcoholism only emerged in new destructive habits. Throughout she learns how to deal with stress in ways that are healthier for her mind and body.

2. “The Finnish Way” by Katja Pantzar

This book is about “sisu”, a unique Finnish form of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. A lot of the ideas in this book reminded me of simplistic living, or going back to basics. Also see The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, about how the people of Denmark have created a culture of comfort, wellness and contentment. This book will make you want to sit by the fire, drink tea and knit a sweater while reading it. This year I’m picking up his followup, The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People.

3. Sophie Kinsella books

All of her books get me out of any funk I’m in because they’re hilarious. This year I reread a few of my favorites, Remember Me and Can You Keep a Secret . I also checked out her book for teens which was wonderful, Finding Audrey. Her new book for 2018, Surprise Me, was entertaining as well.

4. “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng

I joined a book club for the first time this year which I think is what also motivated me to read so much and this was one of our selections. Voted best of 2018 on Goodreads. Read if you like authors such as Jane Green and Emily Giffin.

5. “A Life in Parts” by Bryan Cranston

If you watched Breaking Bad, you may be a fan of this one, otherwise you probably won’t care because it takes up the last third of the book. Cranston writes his memoir in a short story style that’ll make you laugh, cringe and hold tight for whatever scheme he’s up to next.

6. “Gmorning Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me and You” by Lin Manuel-Miranda

A book of short poems by the guy who wrote Hamilton. My favorite part was the illustrations by Jonny Sun that reminded me of Shel Silverstein. This book does drop a few f-bombs…so don’t gift these to your 10 year old.

7. “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom

THIS IS A MUST READ! My favorite of all the books on my list last year. This is a memoir of a woman who worked at her family’s watch shop during WWII in Holland. They joined the resistance hiding Jews in their home. I loved learning about the secret ways they communicated to get around the Nazis, but I especially loved the stories of their optimism and dependence on God’s goodness even after they were arrested. For a book that is about something so sad, I felt pumped up and empowered after I finished it.

8. “Joshua: Winning the Worry Battle” by Barb Roose

I needed a study on anxiety and found this on Amazon. It was one that takes you through the book of Joshua while giving you tools to combat worry. Also has videos that can accompany the study if you want but I haven’t viewed them.

9. “Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One” by Raphaelle Giordano

So I read a book on summer vacation and needed a new one for the plane ride home. I found this adorable book in the airport bookstore and picked it up after seeing that it was the number one bestseller in France. It reads like a fiction book, but outlines things like a self-help book. Written by a psychologist, I loved it.

10. “An Audience of One” by Srinivas Rao

This book was partly my inspiration for diving back into the art scene. I had been living so long creating art as a way to try and make money or only as gifts for others that I lost the excitement I once had to create things for myself. This book reminds you to do things you love because you love them and let that be enough. If more comes from it along the way, then decide what direction you want to take, but until then, the origin should be for the joy of creating. Art had a huge impact on me last year which I’m sure I’ll write about later…

11. “The Lions of Little Rock” by Kristin Levine

My favorite from book club, this is a historical fiction book written for teens. It’s about two friends living in the 1950s in Arkansas. One day Liz doesn’t show up for school and rumor is that she was caught passing for white. This is a beautiful story of friendship and the innocence of childhood.

12. “The Sunshine Sisters” by Jane Green

One of my favorite authors, this story is about a mother who learns she is dying and calls her daughters back home to live with her and hopefully make things right before she passes.

13. “Capital Gaines” by Chip Gaines

After reading The Magnolia Story and loving it, I had to get my hands on this one. I was gifted two of these last Christmas after I’d bought one for myself. I had two friends borrow it after I read it. Surprisingly deep and insightful!


Check out these other posts on book lists I love:

Happy Reading!