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We are more than halfway through the year, and summer never felt so good!
In the last year, gratitude has become more to me than a vague feeling of thankfulness. It has become a non-negotiable practice. My journals are brimming with bulletted lists that kept my feet on the ground and my eyes on the heavens.
And what showed up again and again in my gratitude lists? Books. (Shocking, I know.) I stumbled across some wonderful little gems in my (very metaphorical) travels. It would be greediness of dragon proportions to hoard such discoveries. So here they are–my top ten reads of 2021!
(Hey parents! While this list does contain some children’s’ books, it is not designed as a kid’s summer reading list. It is intended for young adults, ministry leaders, and parents who are seeking refreshment. Many of these wonderful works contain mature themes and may not be appropriate for my beloved middle school readers.)
10. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
If you haven’t settled in with some cookies, milk, and a children’s book lately, make space in your weekend. The Little Prince hits dangerously close to home on the childlike mindset of God’s kingdom. Trust me, you are never too old for this book.
9. The Giver Series by Lois Lowry (Yes, again.)
At some point in your life, a teacher may have shoved this into your hand and told you to think thoughts about it. While often given to middle schoolers, any adult could benefit from the striking series that explores conformity, societal brokenness, and love.
8. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
If my “Best Reads” posts don’t include at least one C.S. Lewis title, call my mother: I am not okay. This story of Heaven and Hell is one part daydream, one part theological genius, and two parts Lewis fan-girling over George MacDonald. What more do you need?
7. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
This ancient, Arthurian legend may have recently popped up in your newsfeed as the movie is imminent. Will the film do justice to this powerful work about honor, shame, and cultural arrogance? Spend a little time with this medieval parable, and you can decide for yourself.
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
It is no secret that Jane Eyre is my favorite novel. Charlotte Brontë’s work has it all: romance, feminism, human nature, and just enough creepy to make you shiver. (And no, this is not that one girl who wrote Wuthering Heights. This is her sister, and in my opinion, the superior author. Wuthering Heights defenders can meet me out back in the comments, but come prepared. This is a hill I will die on. *deep breath*)
5. Run With the Horses by Eugene Peterson
Let me just say, Eugene doesn’t mess around. One would think that a book subtitled “The Quest for Life At Its Best” might be based on a Biblical character who was at least happy (and quite possibly wealthy?). It’s not. This book is about the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, and it is–in the most academic terms–a doozy.
4. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero
If you, like me, see that title and think, “I’m very emotionally aware. I don’t need this…” Then you, like me, will likely also rethink your whole approach to emotion on page 1. Packed with practical wisdom and experience, this book is reshaping our generation’s view of discipleship, ministry, and the simple call to follow Jesus.
3. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
This book came with me on vacation to the rainy mountains and challenged me to see the world around me. In her Pulitzer Prize-winning way, Dillard writes on nature, violence, beauty, pennies, caterpillars, and constellations with an excellence that is breathtaking. If you want a fresh perspective on the world, you want Annie Dillard.
2. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
By most cultural definitions (excluding the traditions of hobbits), I am what most would consider an adult. As such, I can admit that it might take me the rest of my life to read this book. Stopping to repent every few paragraphs really slows you down. The voice of this 20th century martyr is one that the 21st century desperately needs to hear.
1. Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach
In 1930, a lonesome missionary to Philippines retreated into the presence of God, and wrote a collection of letters, mapping out his discoveries. 91 years later, in the midst of pandemic isolation, I picked up his book, and followed his trail of breadcrumbs into brand new conversations with the Most High. My prayer life will never be the same.
What books kept you going in the last year? Leave your top reads of 2021 in the comments!
What’s up next? Well Amazon just informed me that my copy of Dune will be arriving this evening. *waits by the door for my next great adventure* But I am always on the lookout for good suggestions and can’t wait to hear yours!
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