I have loved reading ever since I learned to read when I was four years old. I don’t think I went anywhere without a book when I was little, and I thought it was so cool to read multiple books at one time. I loved getting lost in the stories and I have always been drawn to words. Reading turned into a love of writing and the two have been a huge part of my life ever since. Life can get very busy and it can be so difficult to find time to read as much as I’d like, but I have made it a serious goal of mine to read more this year – I learned I can’t pour out my own words if I’m not being filled with others. If you’re like me, you love to hear about what other people are reading and what they recommend. I’m sharing some books with you that have powerful words inside that improved my quality of life – I don’t think it’s fair to not encourage other people to pick these books up. Most importantly, pick The Bible up today – that will ALWAYS fill you up and give you plenty to pour out.
This book changed my life in so many ways. People say that a lot, but I’m so very serious when I say it changed my perspective. I get so caught up in perfection and making sure everything is just right, whether it’s a clean house or my marriage or friendships or my work – and that’s just not possible. In this book, Shauna Niequist unpacks what it means to just be present and stop focusing so much on being perfect. I’m definitely still working on it and slip back into a perfection mindset far too often, but I think of this book on a regular basis and it reminds me to look to the Truth to find my peace and my approval. If you pick up one book this year, pick up Present Over Perfect.
FREE INDEED! Jesus knew the exact book I needed to read on my honeymoon – seriously it was like He plucked it off the shelf and put it in my carry-on bag. Rebekah Lyons is so honest and vulnerable as she writes about her struggle with anxiety and how it chained her down and dictated her life. I read this book in just a few days and it just made my soul sing. It helped that my setting for this read was on a beach in Costa Rica with bottomless cheese fries and my husband, but nevertheless, it was such a timely, powerful word. I know Jesus wanted me to read it during that exact time because on the flight home, I had a ton of anxiety when a few guys next to us were acting very strange – the enemy jumped right in to use them to scare me and send me into a full-on panic attack. (Sidenote: I NEVER have anxiety on planes.) As my husband calmed me down, I opened the book and the exact section I read was about her anxiety on airplanes and how she uses God’s Word to combat it. WOAH. I hear you, Jesus. “You Are Free” and Rebekah Lyons are both big breaths of fresh air. Her first memoir, “Freefall to Fly,” is on my to-read list (sometimes I work backwards, ok?)
I read “The Broken Way” several months ago in a women’s small group, but I still pull bits and pieces from it all the time. Ann Voskamp has a voice like no other I’ve ever read. Her poetic, unique style of writing makes you feel like you’re reading a fictional story while you’re really reading and gleaning from a non-fiction work of art. She shows you how to use your brokenness and your pain to become whole through Jesus. She talks about brokenness in a way I personally have never even heard of. You’ll want to read, reread and let the words soak in. “The Broken Way” isn’t a quick read, but it’s so worth it. Everyone has areas of hurt and everyone has so many broken pieces – it’s how we handle those broken pieces that makes a difference and helps us grow. I love how Ann points every single thing back to the cross when it comes to being broken and being whole.
“Looking for Lovely” is my most recent read and I picked it up because I have listened to every “That Sounds Fun” podcast by the author, Annie F. Downs. She really is so much fun and that comes across in her writing. My friend and mentor had her group of middle school girls read this last year to teach them how to “look for lovely” in their every day lives. That just proves that this book really does resonate with women of every age. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated and anxious with life, and Annie comes alongside you to let you know she’s been there and there really is hope in the every day. This book is inspiring and uplifting and so light and conversational. I definitely recommend giving her podcast a listen before you read her books so you will really feel like you’re talking with her. Annie’s book “Let’s All Be Brave” is another on my to-read list. (The list is getting really long.)
I feel like a little girl on Christmas morning getting ready to open this one up. I’m taking it with me on an upcoming road trip and I can just tell it’s going to be the perfect book to read on my little mountain getaway. Brené Brown is a woman I have been following for a while, ever since her TED Talk on the Power of Vulnerability. She talks a lot about shame and fitting in and courage – I leave feeling empowered every time I listen to her speak. “Braving the Wilderness” isn’t her first book, but I know it’s something I need to read right now. I read a quote from the book that says, “True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” I thought “fitting in” went away after high school and college, but the truth is, it never really “goes away” until we just stop caring about fitting a mold and start really being who God made us to be AND being happy with that person. I have struggled so much with that lately – your 20s and marriage and a new job (and many other things) will do that to you… if you let it. I’m looking so forward to being reminded of the freedom that comes with accepting yourself and finding people who accept you, flaws and all, and cheer you on.
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More Jesus, less Kaitlin.