My Top 10 Books of 2017

One of my goals going into 2017 was to do more reading. I have always really loved to read, but struggled to find time to do it beyond reading whatever book I’m teaching. But I think it’s such a valuable practice, and it’s like using a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more habitual it becomes.

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I did not read these in 2017, but I did look at them in 2017.

So, here is the top ten books I read this year! Not all of them were published in 2017, but but they were new to me this year.

  1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Read this if: you are looking for a thought provoking, but exciting read that deals with complex issues in a fascinating and enjoyable form.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
  2. Free of Me by Sharon Hodde Miller. My favorite theology/Christian living book of this year, but also not a difficult read at all. Read this if: you want to be challenged, grow, and think about God more.
  3. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I just finished this one recently. I was really curious about his new book, and it was an interesting if not sad perspective on mental health and teenagers. I love that he gives teenagers a voice that is valuable. Read this if: you want to learn more about an honest perspective on teenage anxiety/OCD.
  4. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. I was super curious about Lorelai Gilmore’s writing, and it did not disappoint. Read this if: you’re looking for the perfect, easy-mindless beach read.
  5. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. This was a top-rated historical fiction novel on Goodreads last year. It’s about WWI. (It was really nice to read about not WWII. Does anyone else feel like every book out there is about WWII these days?)  Read this if: you are looking for a historical fiction piece that is both interesting, easy to read, and deep.
  6. A Prayer Journal  by Flannery O’Connor. Honest and beautiful, this is a very simple prayer journal. Read this if: you want to learn how to pray with honesty.
  7. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. Read this if: you need an easy, funny read with nuanced humor.
  8. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. I heard rave reviews; this did not disappoint. Read this if: you want to learn about resilience, or are experiencing tragedy or grief in some capacity.
  9. English Lessons by Andrea Lucado. I love me a good memoir, and Andrea’s experience of growing up as a pastor’s kid really resonated with me. Read this if: you want an honest and easy read about Christian living and doubt.

And, drumroll, my favorite book this year…

Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal by Amy Krause Rosenthal. Amy Krause Rosenthal, or AKR, as she calls herself, is a phenomenal and inspiring author. AKR caught my attention for her absolutely incredible Modern Love Column earlier this year about her terminal diagnosis and her husband. This book was my favorite of this year. Read this if: you want to think about life in a new way, be inspired, or enjoy unconventional writing.

On my list for 2018 include, so far, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller (I have been meaning to read this for soooo long), Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, and Sisters First by the Bush Twins. What are your books to read for this new year or your reading goals? Please share! (And I’m not saying that in a “please comment on my post” kind of way. I genuinely want to know!).

(P.S. If you’re on Goodreads, be my friend! I love following friends and getting suggestions from Goodreads).

Alaska Literature + Authors Breakfast

This weekend I had the privilege of attending a breakfast devoted to celebrating Alaska Literature and Alaskan authors. I learned that literacy among students in Alaska is incredibly low, and in part that is due to the lack of literature about Alaska. I can imagine that Alaskan students might struggle to relate to a lot of YA texts simply because their lives are so vastly different than those of the main characters in YA novels. Alaska literature makes literature much more accessible to students in this state.

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I got to hear from several incredible Alaskan authors and also purchase some Alaskan literature. It was fascinating. One thing about Alaska that has stood out to me is how much Alaskans take pride in and love their state. The literature I heard about celebrated things like recess at -20 degrees, the salmon run in the summer, and the stories of Alaskan plant and animal life. The arts community in Alaska is very vibrant. Some of the authors were also illustrators and photographers as well, and many were former educators. I absolutely loved hearing their stories and learning more about this unique place.

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This author was from Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, which is the northernmost town in the United States. (North of the Arctic Circle). Her husband is Iñupiat, and this novel is about the Indian Boarding School system that Alaska Natives were forced to attend in the 1960s.
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This author is from Seward, and this book is an autobiographical novel about moving from a homestead to Anchorage in the 1960s. 
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This picture book is for my husband, who loves musk oxen.
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This book is authored by the same woman who wrote the musk ox picture book!

Alaska is such an amazing and mysterious place. It seems that every new experience I learn something more, and I simultaneously learn how much I do not know about Alaska. It is a really awesome paradox. It made me think about how lucky I am to get to be a teacher in this state. I get to interact with such unique and wonderful people who have really beautiful stories to share. I am excited to learn more through these books and support Alaskan arts.


Reads for Spring

Spring in Alaska is an awkward season. Let’s call it the adolescence of weather. Muddy snow abounds, and as it starts to melt the trash that was hiding beneath it suddenly appears and everything is in a general state of brown. It is actually called Break-Up season up here, and no, that is not in reference to the dissolution of romantic relationships following winter’s end. Rather, it quite practically refers to the breaking up of ice upon the rivers in Fairbanks. (There’s actually a lottery in the nearby town of Nenana called the Nenana Ice Classic where people place bets on when the Tanana River will break. Read about it here – it’s fascinating).

In unrelated news, I think spring is always a good time to pick up a book. (Actually, I usually think anytime is a good time to pick up a book, but there’s something special about spring). There is nothing like pouring yourself a nice iced tea and sitting on the deck reading. These are all books I have enjoyed recently, and I hope in turn you will share with me some books you have loved as well.

Today is also National Independent Bookstore Day! This is my favorite bookstore of all time, Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida.
  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I absolutely adore this book and I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. For some reason I find this book fitting to read in spring. Maybe because it touches on themes of renewal and redemption. If you were forced to read it in high school, I encourage you to give it another go without the pressure of having to write a paper on it. I find reading it with fresh eyes teaches a lot.
  2. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I am totally riding the Brené Brown train right now and loving it. This book talks about embracing failure and difficulty and seeing it as a catalyst for change and growth. I loooooved it.
  3. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. My book club picked this book for last month. That’s one of the beautiful things about book club – I have been introduced to books I would not read otherwise. It was so good! I could not put it down. It’s a pretty fast read, but also touches on some serious ideas and is the perfect balance of entertaining and thought-provoking.
  4. The King’s Cross by Timothy Keller. This book is an essay-ized version of a sermon series Tim Keller preached through the book of Mark. It is fantastic. I highly recommend reading it along with reading the book of Mark. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the gospel and I learned a lot.
  5. Hope Heals by Jay and Katherine Wolf. This is the true story of a couple who faced a difficult health challenge in their marriage. The wife, Katherine, suffered a serious stroke at age 26 and this book is the story of her recovery and their family’s growth and faith as a result. It was easy to read and really beautiful and convicting. It definitely brought tears to my eyes at certain points. Apparently this is in the works to become a movie soon as well.
  6. A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor. Short and simple, a look into the prayers of a phenomenal writer and a woman of deep faith. This was a quick read and very powerful.

Again, please share your favorite books with me! Have a lovely weekend.