At the beginning of this year, I created a list of books to complete a 2016 reading challenge. Well, that challenge never happened and instead, 2016 became the year of book launch teams. It all started when I joined the team to help launch Kaitlyn's book, Even If Not. Then, I joined another and another. And I've found myself on a total of four book launch teams this year! I'm pretty sure it's my new favorite thing to do, because I love books, love the authors, and love that they are brave enough to write their words in a book. Also, the community that builds itself around an author before they launch a book, is so special and fun! Every book that I've read this year has been so timely and much needed. I recommend them all and I'm pretty sure I have to various friends.
Even If Not by Kaitlyn Bouchillon | Kaitlyn's blog was one of the first that I started following when I first began blogging. She writes honestly and openly, but leaves you encouraged at the end of every page. Even If Not is just the same! This book is one that meets you right where you are. Whatever season or whatever part of your story you find yourself in, you will see yourself in this book. Even If Not is a book that reminds us that our personal story is important and that we are loved by a God who is mighty. Kaitlyn reminds us that wherever we are in our story, wherever we are on the dash, we can trust the Author, because He writes a more beautiful story than we could ever imagine. Even If Not is a book that spills over in encouragement and has you screaming, "me too!" on almost every page. Open it up and find your place, you have one!
The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson | This book by Batterson challenged me in the way that I pray and ask God for things. Whether it be big or small, or something I fear, Batterson shows us how to draw circles around our prayers -- to keep praying until something happens. And something will happen, because God is looking to answer our prayers, fulfill our dreams, and erase our fears. After reading this book, I listed out three big prayers, God-sized prayers, that only He can answer. I've seen ways, slowly and sometimes not as often as I would like, that He is working to answer those prayers fully and faithfully. Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge can accompany this and I'm hoping to add that to my bookshelf as well.
Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs | This was another book launch team that I was on. In fact, the day I found out I was on her team, I was watching her welcome video and heard my roommate also listening to it in our living room. We were BOTH on her launch team and didn't know it! I've followed Annie around social media for awhile and have read her blog, but this was actually the first of her books that I read. And wow. When every chapter ended, I just sat quietly and let all my memories and lovely moments flow back to the front of my mind. Annie is open and real with sharing her lovely moments, encouraging us to not look over our lovely moments. She continuously points to God, Who is the giver of those moments. The sunsets, the trips with friends, the places that speak to our hearts. Little lovely moments that remind us how great and wonderful our God is. Plus, she sent our books in packages of confetti. You can't help but smile.
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay | Different than the rest of books on this list, in that this is a semi light-hearted fiction read. I had seen this book float around social media a bit, but then forgot about it until I was in the bookstore one day. It caught my attention because of the cover and slight Jane Austen feel. I read the back cover and then the first chapter while in the store. (that's how I know whether I'm buying a book usually. if the first chapter draws me in, while I'm standing in the store, I'll buy it.) The story tells of Samantha Moore, a lover of words and all things Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. She tends to answer as them, instead of herself, to her friends. An anonymous donor offers to put Sam through journalism school, she simply must keep writing to the stranger known as Mr. Knightley. Her letters become more and more open to the stranger as she navigates through life, learning to love. I honestly was not expecting the ending, nor to connect as deeply with Sam as I did. Looking forward to reading Reay's other beautifully decorated books.
Wreck My Life by Mo Isom | I've only met two LSU fans in my life that I've liked. Mo is now the third. Football rivalries aside, Mo's story is incredible and I was also able to be on her book launch team! Tragedies, setbacks, and heartbreaks are overcome by triumphs, victories, and love. Mo's personal testimony is a true picture of how to figure out your faith for yourself and live it as God has called you to. And how God will use you in unexpected ways, as long as you are faithful and willing to be obedient. A quick, but sometimes heartbreaking, read, Wreck My Life absolutely wrecked me in the best way possible, but encouraged me to be bold in my faith and how I listen to God.
Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Have you read any of the books on this list? What are you currently reading?