Every year, I join the Goodreads Book Challenge. This year for the first time, I increased my goal to 100 books. I didn’t quite make it this year, but even so, I have set the same goal for 2023.
As I conclude the year, I take the time to think and reflect on the books I have read that have made an impact. The books that continue to come to mind even after I have read the last page. This year, unlike in years past, I set an intention to read more fiction once I realized that most of what I read was work-related or parenting-related. And some of those fiction books made the top five!
- What Happened to You by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry: This book was incredible and one that I continue to recommend to colleagues who are working in trauma-informed care. Perry reframes the whole discussion of healing in a holistic manner that invites the people we encounter to tell their stories simply by changing the question we ask from, “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” This changed the way I pastor, parent, and work as a spiritual director.
- Verity by Colleen Hoover: This is so far out of my normal genre of reading, but there was something about the way Hoover develops her characters and puts them together in the same house that made it magnificent. It was wonderful to get lost in a world created so artistically by a really good writer.
- The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck: This was a book gifted to me by one of my parishioners and helped reveal how often we don’t tell our truth. We tell people that we are ok when we are suffering our deepest sorrows. We smile when we are holding back tears. We present a version of ourselves to the world that isn’t close at all to who we truly are. And we do this because that is what our culture expects us to do. We don’t expect people to be true to themselves or truthful. How would the. world change if we were true to ourselves and truthful in our interactions with others?
- Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott: This heart-wrenching memoir is a beautiful reminder of what happens when we discover something about a loved one that we didn’t know. How do we integrate this new understanding into who we thought they were? How does our life shift so drastically from one night? How did we not see it coming? There is so much depth to this story and so many reminders that this moment is a miracle, which we sometimes only realize after that dark night.
- You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh: This is the third book I’ve read by Hanh and reminded me why I will keep reading his books. There is a simplicity in his urging to value presence and awareness that is much-needed in the wake of our culture gearing back up. There is something beautiful about realizing all that it took for you to be here right now in this moment. And there is a deep gratitude that comes when you are present of being here right now.