5 Favorite Books of 2017

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Last week, my kids were playing an imagination game that for some reason involved tossing books in the air. Of course, my four-year-old son took it to the next level and chucked a board book at my daughter's face, giving her a black eye for Christmas. I was horrified. They were throwing books in the air?! I am not a fan parenting during the winter. When it's chilly and rainy, there's obviously nothing to do but stay inside and throw books at each other's faces.

But staying inside and reading is delightful, and I'm working to get my kids on board. Here are (in no particular order) five of my favorite reads this year. It was so hard to narrow down, I almost skipped writing this post altogether. 

#1 - What is the Bible?: How An Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell

This book. It is spectacular. I didn't want it to end. Chapters are almost like stand alone devotionals, unlocking a story or passage of Scripture and blowing it wide open. As a lifelong church goer, I've heard a lot about the Bible, but almost everything I learned in Bell's latest book was fresh and challenging. This book made me love God and the Bible more. I think that's a good thing.

#2 - Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

Catmull is one of the co-founders of Pixar. I think I discovered this book from Elizabeth Gilbert referencing it in Big Magic (which I loved last year). There's some great insight here on leading teams and nurturing space for creativity and innovation. But I loved the inside look at epic storytelling and was really inspired to recognize the power of collaboration and the art of a craft. Plus, it was fun to hear the backstory and evolution of so many Pixar classics! 

#3 - The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I want everyone to read this book. It's a powerful story of a young teenager who sees her friend fatally shot by a police officer. She tries to understand what happened and the ways it impacts the two communities in which she lives - her poor, urban neighborhood and her fancy, suburban prep school. The book is timely and accessible. 

#4 - Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by BrenĂ© Brown

I will be rereading this masterpiece from Brené Brown very soon. Over the last year, I know I personally have felt exiled from groups and labels that helped me create an identity over the past decades. This book helped me articulate what I was feeling and why, and it offered practical support for being a bridge-builder because standing between two groups can be lonely.

#5 - The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt

Is it odd that my two fiction choices are both YA? I just really enjoy them. This story explores difficult topics in immigration, including unaccompanied minors and asylum seekers from Central America. But the YA medium makes the topic accessible and includes romance and teen drama that is fun to read. (Note: Marquardt's 3rd book releases in February, and I can't wait!)

Okay, so I still have so many books I want to share. So here are some of my other favorites I read in 2016: Barking to the Choir, Zeitoun, Lucky BoyFalling Free, Shalom Sistas, Break Open the Sky, and Year of Yes. You can always see what I'm currently reading or have read on my Goodreads profile!

What books did you read this year that you loved? What do I need on my 2018 list?