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2020 Reading List

My eyes are always bigger than the time I end up having to read. Inevitably I also bulk up with so many books at the start of the year in my pile, and I forget that books are released over the course of the year. About 15 of the books on this year’s list are ones that were one my shelf already from past years – and they just needed to move up to the top of the pile.

One thing I do try to do each year is create a list that has a bit of broadness in different “life” areas: personal growth, spiritual growth, family, marriage, etc. I love looking at the book choices of others (and hear WHY they loved them – especially on GoodReads). If anything, my “want to read” list there is ever-growing, even if I don’t always pick them up.

GoodReads has been a huge help to me the past two years in tracking the various books I’m reading and giving a peek at how I am progressing toward my yearly goal. The app also gives me a quick way to rate my impression of the book and provide any thoughts on the book, because let’s face it – I sometimes forget a few months later. :) Join me on GoodReads and let’s read along together!

Reading Goals for 2020

My overall book number goal for the 2020 year is 75. I fell a little shy of that in 2019, even though I put a pretty good dent in my piles.

My daily goal is to SIT and read at least 20 minutes – a good ol’ parental rest time, if you will. I’m not usually a fan of audiobooks, but I am venturing into that territory this year as well for those few moments I have quiet time while driving and can put something on.

Since I fall asleep most nights holding my Kindle (I LOVE my new Kindle Paperwhite with backlighting and automatic shut off!), fitting in fiction books is usually never a problem. It’s the non-fiction books that often get me backed up.  

All that said, here’s a peek at what books are in each of my piles for the upcoming year. 

My Main Reading Pile

Fiction Books & Series to Read

“If There’s Time” Pile

Favorite Books from Past Years

If you’re interested, here are my 10 favorite books I read in 2019 (a mix of fiction and non-fiction). I’d love to hear what books you have on your shelf for the upcoming year and and recommendations for me to add to my list! 

Don’t forget to join me on Good Reads so we can keep up on each other’s reviews! 

My Top 10 Favorite Books from 2019

My 2019 reading overall reading goal was 75 books, with 13 specific books I wanted to try to fit in. The rest of the year, I would fill in with other random choices – you know, the ones that catch my eye in a friend’s feed or are a great Kindle deal! Out of the 13, I completed 12 of them – which overall isn’t too bad looking at how our year went and makes me pretty happy to average one non-fiction book a month.

This past month I’ve been reading a bit more (yay), but truthfully this year has been hard overall to focus on reading. It feels as though life blew up at the end of March/start of April and only recently began settling down, which definitely impacted my reading.

My final book count total for 2019 was 64: non-fiction – 16 and fiction – 48. You can see the full list of books I read here on Good Reads, a few short of my 75 goal. I do know there were a few fiction books I read at night that didn’t get added into my overall total, but I was honestly a bit lazy in adding them all in.

One thing I am excited about – a few months ago I broke down and purchased a new Kindle paperwhite when they were on sale, and it automatically adds any books I’m reading on my Kindle to my GoodReads list, saving me the trouble of remembering! It’s also a lot easier to find since I purchased a canary yellow cover for it (and it makes me smile – it’s so cheery!).

Starting right away, I need to start setting an alarm and specifically put aside some time each day (other than bedtime) to rest and read (and refocus). In years past I have been much more consistent with this, but somehow managed to let it slide this past year. I’m also trying to keep my Kindle with me a bit more when I’m at appointments – or just a good old fashioned paperback book!

Top 10 Favorite Books from 2019

This year that weren’t as many books that really stood out to me outside of these ten. Either I’ve gotten a bit choosier in my ratings and reading, or I didn’t pick some of the best books. :) That said, these are the ten books that I especially enjoyed reading this past year (in no particular order) and would highly recommend. The list is a mix of both non-fiction and fun reading – and some branching out for me as well.

1. It’s All Under Control

It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee – This book was one I took plenty of time to savor and was key in a few decisions I had to make about my time and how it’s spent. Quite honestly it’s as though the book plopped into my lap at just the right time.

Things I’d been wrestling with – well, each time I sat down and had a chance to read, the chapter on hand was specifically tied into an issue I had been mulling over. I love that.

Fabulous read – no matter the pace you are able to get through it!

2. Walking With Henry

Walking With Henry by Rachel Anne Ridge – Reading this book is like sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee and having a heart-to-heart talk together. Rachel’s writing style is not only relatable, it is one you will quickly fall in love with – along with her sweet donkey. Through the antics of her second donkey, Henderson (or Henry, for short), Ridge shares her grapplings with a new season of life and the searching it opens in her spiritual walk. As she coaxes this little donkey to understand his worth and value, spiritual truths are gently spoken to her heart. Their walks become a time of developing a new prayer life and her intimacy with God is deepened.

This book spoke to my heart on so many different levels. I appreciate Rachel’s candor and honesty in the things she questions and begins searching for deeper understanding and meaning. She is gentle and open – and incredibly relatable. On a side note, it is so sweet to read this story, having met Rachel and both Flash and Henry (and Tom!) in person as well as walking with them through the fields where she pondered so much. For me that added an extra special touch since I can envision their faces and personalities. ❤️

3. The Art of Parenting

The Art of Parenting by Dennis & Barbara Rainey – The Raineys have such a relatable style and insight. Their years of parenting advice, combined with excerpts from their grown children and others, are presented in this easy read – and one that will leave you with great resources. No judgement – just honesty and sound advice. Love that this book includes wisdom for blended families as well.

4. The Number of Love

The Number of Love by Roseanna White – Every time Roseanna White releases a new book, I cannot wait to read it. She is one of those authors that delivers every.single.time. There are some books that are just a good read, and then there are those that leave you mulling certain aspects, delving into new subjects, and so completely satisfied. 

The Number of Love follows a young codebreaker, Margot De Wilde, as she works to decipher the enemy’s messages. Margot sees the world through an interesting lens – numbers. Through her secretive work she meets “18” – a young man who quickly falls for her quirks and sees the heart of the girl behind the numbers. Together the delve into breaking a crucial code that will save many lives, but not before their own, and the lives of many they love, are threatened. White offers a peek into another aspect of WW1 and the role many men and women played in helping foil the enemy’s plans by using their own codes against them. 

While this book goes hand-in-hand with a previous series by White, it can be read independently without the reader missing a beat. There aren’t many series I feel that can be said about, but after reading you will likely want to read her other books. Another great read and one that I highly recommend.

5. Grace is Greater

Grace is Greater by Kyle Idleman – one of my favorite things about Idleman is the natural humor he interjects into his writing via little footnotes throughout the book and just telling it like it is. He has such a practical way of explaining principles that help the reader better understand. This book definitely offered some great food for thought, review, and application.

6. The Road Back to You

The Road Back to You by Ian Moran Cron – it seems like everyone is reading and learning all about the enneagram types. After a weekend with friends where we discussed so many various things together, along with this specific book, I bought it and read it in a few days. It’s really rather fascinating. While I haven’t pinpointed my specific “type” quite yet, this specific book offers some valuable insight into how individuals function in their types when they are “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” – where they tend to divert their focus in either direction. Definitely worth the read.

7. The Orchid House

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley – Historical books that span generations and slip back and forth seamlessly between the two eras with their overlapping stories are truly some of my favorites. An old diary is discovered during a family estate sale and sends a family in search of answers to the many questions raised in the storytelling.  There’s honestly no quick way for me to condense the topics and span of what is covered – it’s just good. :)

8. Parenting Beyond the Rules

Parenting Beyond the Rules by Connie Albers. This is the book that I wish would have been around six or so years ago, BEFORE our kids were teenagers. Reading through this now, with four kids ranging in age from 13 to 18, I was nodding my head in agreement, especially as we learned some things the “hard way” on our parenting journey.

Albers addresses so many various topics from building a strong foundation in your relationship with your kids to not giving into the fear that can strangle you as a parent (been there!). Her heart is encouraging parents, and that is so strongly achieved in this book. Through examples of family meetings gone completely off course and other extremely relatable examples, this book is a wealth of information for parents who are either embarking or wading through the pre-teen/teen years with their kids.

Parenting teens is hard, but it can also be one of the most rewarding times in our lives and reap benefits for years to come. It’s the timeframe when our kids are waking up to all the possibilities that are in front of them – and we get to have a front row seat (and part) in the adventure! The best news is that it is never too late to learn from our mistakes, take a step back, and approach things in a different manner to connect with our kids.

Here are a few passages that I really loved:

You’re not called to manipulate a situation to get what you want out of it; you’re called to love, you’re called to show grace, and you’re called to teach and train. Be faithful about doing that. (p. 40)

We all have hopes and expectations about what our children will become. But we often confuse our role by believing we should plan their lives instead of simply dreaming with them about what they will do. The real goal should be to equip them to be the person God created them to be and prepare them for adult life. (p. 159)

9. The Middle Matters

The Middle Matters by Lisa-Jo Baker – Since this is literally the point of life I’m in right now, and Lisa-Jo has such a relatable style (like you’re sitting down and chatting with a friend), The Middle Matters was a quick and easy read for me.

It’s about being comfortable with where you are at – and quite honestly, one can feel a bit lost when your kids are growing older, you are dealing with an entirely different body than the one you entered your marriage with twenty (or so) years ago…and life in general is just different (for lack of a better word).

Through her anecdotal stories, Lisa-Jo encourages us to embrace the messy, ever-changing, not-what-we-expected glory in every moment of every day (the bad along with the good) and see all that God is doing in and with us. She is open, honest, and encouraging – all wonderful things.

10. Becoming

Becoming by Michelle Obama – this isn’t a book I planned on reading this year, but it was added to my Kindle wait list as a possible read on a recommendation from a friend. It was really intriguing to read about Michelle’s life growing up, read a different perspective on some things, but also hear about her walk alongside her husband as his political career began and then eventually placed them in the White House.

Regardless of political affiliation, I cannot even imagine the scrutiny one’s life would be under when running for political office of any kind, never mind living in the White House. Her stories of her mother (some are hilarious) and their family life are some that help you realize they are just like any other family in so many regards – and their desire to protect their children was so important to them. I will say I was surprised to enjoy the book, and there were (quite a few) parts I didn’t see eye-to-eye with her on, but that definitely didn’t mean the book wasn’t one to enjoy.

That’s it for 2019! What have you read this year that you would recommend for others to read? I’d love to hear from you and add a few more books to my 2020 pile! 

Need a Few More Suggestions? 

In case you’re interested, check out My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2018 and My Favorite Books of 2017 in the posts below: 

What I’m Reading – July 2019

What are you reading? 

My reading hasn’t picked up too much, although I did get WONDERFULLY caught up in two different fiction reads this past month. I’m also loving one non-fiction, and it’s one I really want to focus on, but I still haven’t finished it!

I’ve been trying to carry my Kindle or a book with me when I’m out, just in case I have a chance to read, but often my phone can become a distraction…sigh. And my Kindle is in a bit of a sad state so I’m debating purchasing a new one, but haven’t taken the plunge quite yet. 

The progress on my 2019 Reading List is technically making progress, just a bit slower than I’d like. At the moment seven of the 14 books on my primary list have been marked off, and a few from my secondary lists – so there has been progress! 

This month ONE of the books in my pile are from my core list, one from my fiction list, and one is from my “if there’s time” pile. They look so very good!!

*all links are referral links

What the Kids are Reading

Kaleb is the only one working on reading with me this summer (All About Reading Level 4), and otherwise the kids are quite busy with swimming and work. 

What I Read Last Recently (and Quick Thoughts)

Here are two books I read last month along with a more detailed look at both. It seems so sad to say only two, but I loved both of them! 

The Number of Love by Roseanna White – Every time Roseanna White releases a new book, I cannot wait to read it. She is one of those authors that delivers every.single.time. There are some books that are just a good read, and then there are those that leave you mulling certain aspects, delving into new subjects, and so completely satisfied. 

The Number of Love follows a young codebreaker, Margot De Wilde, as she works to decipher the enemy’s messages. Margot sees the world through an interesting lens – numbers. Through her secretive work she meets “18” – a young man who quickly falls for her quirks and sees the heart of the girl behind the numbers. Together the delve into breaking a crucial code that will save many lives, but not before their own, and the lives of many they love, are threatened. White offers a peek into another aspect of WW1 and the role many men and women played in helping foil the enemy’s plans by using their own codes against them. 

While this book goes hand-in-hand with a previous series by White, it can be read independently without the reader missing a beat. There aren’t many series I feel that can be said about, but after reading you will likely want to read her other books. Another great read and one I highly recommend.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher to read prior to its release and was not required to write a positive review. A opinions expressed in this review are my own. (5/5 rating)

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley – Historical books that span generations and slip back and forth seamlessly between the two eras with their overlapping stories are truly some of my favorites. An old diary is discovered during a family estate sale and sends a family in search of answers to the many questions raised in the storytelling.  There’s honestly no quick way for me to condense the topics and span of what is covered – it’s just good. :) (5/5 rating)

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 

 

What We’re Reading – June 2019

Why hello there lovely people. It’s been so very long. For both talking to you and reading in general. 

What are you reading? 

Truthfully, I haven’t had the time to read at all. Period. We’ve had a lot of traveling, but since I was doing the driving it made it a little hard to read. Yes, audiobooks, but I don’t always do so hot with those. 

Never mind my brain has been a bit preoccupied the last few months as we readied Laurianna for her graduation. And a trip to Africa. Sigh.

Add to that getting our local pool and swim team ready for the season and it’s been truly non-stop, not sitting down, never mind picking up a book. By the time I get to bed at night, I don’t last long in my attempts at reading. 

I actually sent Laurianna a picture on Saturday of the first time I’ve been able to sit down and read. For real.  Ironically, the book is  It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee. So far LOVING IT!!

My 2019 Reading List.is technically making progress, but rather slowly. lAt the moment seven of the 14 books on the list have been marked off – so there has been progress! This month ONE of the books in my pile are from my core list, one from my fiction list, and one is from my “if there’s time” pile. They look so very good!!

*all links are referral links

What the Kids are Reading

Nada. Nothing. 

Call me a crazy mom, but we are focusing on wrapping up the few things that have taken a backseat while we tried to get things ready for Laurianna to head out. 

Well, technically Laurianna is done with school, so anything she reads is all on her own time now. I am no longer responsible for her literature intake (or lack thereof). But she’s a reader, and books were definitely in her bags she took to Africa. 

Kaleb is still working on All About Reading Level 4  with me and will continue reading through the summer. We are also having him tested by a friend of ours who is a reading specialist to make sure we aren’t missing anything and can add in suggestions to help him out in his reading. 

What I Read Last Recently (and Quick Thoughts)

Here are the books I’ve read in the last few months along with a more detailed look at 

Parenting Beyond the Rules by Connie Albers – This is the book that I wish would have been around six or so years ago, BEFORE our kids were teenagers. Reading through this now, with four kids ranging in age from 12 to almost 18, I was nodding my head in agreement, especially as we learned some things the “hard way” on our parenting journey. 

Albers addresses so many various topics from building a strong foundation in your relationship with your kids to not giving into the fear that can strangle you as a parent (been there!). Her heart is encouraging parents, and that is so strongly achieved in this book. Through examples of family meetings gone completely off course and other extremely relatable examples, this book is a wealth of information for parents who are either embarking or wading through the pre-teen/teen years with their kids. 

Parenting teens is hard, but it can also be one of the most rewarding times in our lives and reap benefits for years to come. It’s the timeframe when our kids are waking up to all the possibilities that are in front of them – and we get to have a front row seat (and part) in the adventure! The best news is that it is never too late to learn from our mistakes, take a step back, and approach things in a different manner to connect with our kids. (5/5 rating)

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – This is one of those books that will have your brain going in so many different directions as you get sucked into the story, but also all of the societal implications behind the story. As a nurse hesitates to perform CPR on a newborn (because she was ordered not to touch him), it spirals into criminal charges that will have you truly looking into your thought processes on race, religion, privilege, and justice. Definitely a great read. (5/5 rating)

The Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah Ladd – normally I’m a huge fan of Sarah Ladd, but this is one of those books that just fell a bit flat and short for me. If you don’t mind reading a few spoilers, you can read my full Good Reads review, but in short I’m personally just a little bit done with heroines having to be a part of the “action” in a sense when it borders on unrealistic. (Call me crazy) (3.5/5 rating)

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 

 

What We’re Reading – March 2019

February seems to have flown by (don’t the months always seem to lately?), but this upcoming weekend there should be some PRIME reading time as we will be headed to the boys’ state swim meet. I will be parked in the stands all day long, so I plan to have some good material with me. 

A few of the books in my pile have been sitting there for a bit, which is making me a little antsy. I really do love having a physical book to read, but paperback fiction is a little harder for me to read while trying to fall asleep at night since I need to wear my glasses. Using my Kindle makes it a little easier because I can increase the font size (cough) and also I don’t have to hold the book “just so” – or worry about dropping it. 

After February’s reading, I put a sizable dent into my 2019 Reading List.  The list started off a little smaller with twelve books (and has grown a bit as I’ve added some new releases), but that was to be expected. I often get distracted by the new stuff. :) At the moment though, seven of the now 14 books on the list have been marked off – so YAY for progress! This month NONE of the books in my pile are from my core list – they are from my “if there’s time” pile, but they look so very good. 

*all links are referral links

What the Kids are Reading


We’re switching things up a bit for Kaleb for the remainder of the year and really hitting reading fluency hard. In addition to using All About Reading 4, we are working through some Before Five in a Row titles with a friend (so his pain can be shared and commiserated – grins), but also so we can work on some FUN tie-ins with the books we read together. For example, in reading Homer Price, we are building an AM and FM radio because that is something Homer does in the story. 

What I Read Last Month (and Quick Thoughts)

Here are the books I read in February along with a more detailed look at four of them – three that I absolutely loved for very different reasons and one that I don’t think you should waste your time on. 

 

Walking With Henry by Rachel Anne Ridge – Reading this book is like sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee and having a heart-to-heart talk together. Rachel’s writing style is not only relatable, it is one you will quickly fall in love with – along with her sweet donkey. Through the antics of her second donkey, Henderson (or Henry, for short), Ridge shares her grapplings with a new season of life and the searching it opens in her spiritual walk. As she coaxes this little donkey to understand his worth and value, spiritual truths are gently spoken to her heart. Their walks become a time of developing a new prayer life and her intimacy with God is deepened.

This book spoke to my heart on so many different levels. I appreciate Rachel’s candor and honesty in the things she questions and begins searching for deeper understanding and meaning. She is gentle and open – and incredibly relatable.On a side note, it is so sweet to read this story, having met Rachel and both Flash and Henry (and Tom!) in person as well as walking with them through the fields where she pondered so much. For me that added an extra special touch since I can envision their faces and personalities. ❤️  Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. (5/5 rating)

The Road Back to You by Ian Moran Cron – it seems like everyone is reading and learning all about the enneagram types. After a weekend with friends where we discussed so many various things together, along with this specific book, I bought it and read it in a few days. It’s really rather fascinating. While I haven’t pinpointed my specific “type” quite yet, this specific book offers some valuable insight into how individuals function in their types when they are “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” – where they tend to divert their focus in either direction. Definitely worth the read. (5/5 rating)

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst – this is one of those books that you want to keep on your shelf to refer to when you are going through a season of difficult. Reading through the various circumstances happening with Lysa and her family – just crazy. But God. Well worth the read if you are in the midst of trying situations and need encouragement or if you want to store some information for the future. 5/5 rating

The Light We Lost by Jill Sanopolo – I had such high hopes for this book. It started out great (minus one scene at the start of an earlier chapter 🙄), but as the book progressed it began to unravel. The premise of a love lost/the road not taken is understandable, but at some point along the way this derailed into nothing more than a girl who never grew up emotionally and cannot make up her mind and see what is right in front of her face because she is too busy pining away for what could have been. 2/5 rating

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 

 

What We’re Reading February 2019

January felt like such a fresh slate in so many areas for me, especially reading. No matter if I felt behind on my reading pile in December, the new year offered a chance to catch up and jump right back in. Last month I attacked my reading pile with a vengeance. Maybe it’s the fresh stack of books – who knows!

And February – well, I’m feeling like I’m on a roll and need to keep the momentum going. I’ve already started on several books and am hoping to take another big chunk out of my 2019 Reading List. Already I am hearing of more and more new books releasing that I had no idea about, so I’m just going to have to squeeze them in somewhere!

If you have any suggestions to add to my list for this year, I’d love to hear! (or maybe I shouldn’t listen…)

Feed readers can click here to see my books for February

*all links are referral links


What the Kids are Reading


Kaleb has been continuing his reading of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He took a brief pause to read Who Is Bill Gates and will be working on another Who Was book this month as well. Zachary has been reading through the Harry Potter series (and says they are the best books ever), sometimes staying up late into the night to read (and I won’t complain about that!). 

What I Read Last Month (and Quick Thoughts)

One thing that seems to be happening lately – there’s a lot of WW2 fiction floating around and somehow it’s all getting thrown into my reading pile. It isn’t necessarily a problem, unless I really love one book and then another has trouble measuring up. Late at night too it does get a little hard to remember which book I’m reading (because I like to read multiple books at once!). 

Here are the books I read in January along with a more detailed look at two of them – one that I loved and one that I wanted to love, but really struggled.

Grace is Greaterby Kyle Idleman – one of my favorite things about Idleman is the natural humor he interjects into his writing via little footnotes throughout the book and just telling it like it is. He has such a practical way of explaining principles that help the reader better understand. This book definitely offered some great food for thought, review, and application. (5/5 rating)

Lilac Girls by Martha Kelly – I truly wanted to give this book a higher rating and will try to explain a bit more as to why I couldn’t. Overall, I loved the story since it gave me some great insight into various aspects of WW2 I hadn’t fully been aware of and made me dig deeper (the experiments on some prisoners at Ravensbruk, etc).  Here’s where I struggled. Two of the characters in the story are REAL people and yet both characters didn’t line up with the person in real life (Caroline had a married boyfriend?) and then the characters essentially fell flat. So much more could have been developed in each of them. At times you catch the start of some growth…and then nothing. This could have been a PHENOMENAL book, and yet it just barely skimmed the surface and in the process, failed greatly. (3/5 rating)

 

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month?