Reads of 2017

If you’ve met me, you know I love to read. My bookshelves at home are overrun with books as is my desk at work. I don’t have cable, so most often when I’m home I’m on the couch reading. I tend to gravitate most toward non fiction books – leadership, Christian, personal development, or other business related books. The photo below are some of my favorites of 2017 in physical copies. Those on Audible are featured at the bottom of this post.

In 2017, one of my goals was to “read” 52 books this year. Since I read physical books but also listen to them on Audible, I put “read” in quotes since I guess I’m not technically looking at the written work of the Audible books. To read 52 books is about a book a week. Sometimes this is reasonable for me to do, sometimes it’s not. If you have any interest in Audible or want to learn more, check out the link at the bottom of this post.

Below is my list of books in the order I read them this year along with my thoughts on each. I provided a link to as many as I could directly to Amazon through their Amazon Smile link that supports a variety of charities through eligible purchases. If you shop on Amazon and haven’t already signed up to donate through this, please do. You can click on the Amazon Smile link to learn more about it.

JANUARY

1. What Falls From the Sky by Esther Emery

This is a book I still think about. I first started reading it in the isle of Barnes & Noble and couldn’t put it down. Esther goes a year without internet (like doesn’t even use a debit card year without internet). Through the year she discovers God and reconnects to her faith in the space where technology and screens were.

2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
This book helps you discover what is essential as you focus on what really matters. This one reminds me of a book later on in the list called “The One Thing”. Both really focus on doing what matters and forgetting the rest.
3. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
This is the second time I’ve read this book, but this time it was on Audible. Jen has a rough but motivational way of writing and speaking. She is hilarious and through her stories and motivation she outlines some ways to follow your passions and get what you want.
FEBRUARY
4. 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
You’ll see a few books somehow relate to this one. This is my third time reading through the book. If you haven’t read this before, regardless if you’re married, in a relationship, or single, you should. Chapman talks about each individual having 1-2 ways they most feel loved/appreciated. By determining what makes you feel most loved and appreciated, as well as identifying this in your partner and friends, you can better communicate with one another your love and appreciation.
Here’s a quick quiz that will help you determine your language of appreciation. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

5. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

This is one of the funniest books I’ve ever come across. Jenny examines her own life of severe depression and identifies how to find joy regardless of her circumstances. From stories about her family to those that include her taxidermied roadkill raccoon, you will roll laughing through these depressing yet joy filled stories Jenny shares. 

MARCH
According to the list of books I keep, I read nothing in March. #ProgressNotPerfection
APRIL
6. Extreme Ownership by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink
I’ve read this book about 3-4 times at this point. I thought it was so great that I did a bookclub at work on it. Leif and Jocko take what they learned in battle in Iraq and how to apply the leadership principles to business. If you have any interest in leadership, business, or battle you should absolutely add this to your list of books to read. My recommendation is to purchase it on audible because Jocko and Leif’s voices are intense, and make the read so much more enjoyable.
7. How’s Your Soul by Judah Smith
I remember reading this one and thinking that replacing “How are you?” with “How’s your soul?” was such an interesting concept but it made sense. When people ask how you are, you feel obligated by the universe to most often reply with something positive and the most negative response you’d typically get was “I’m fine”. But that doesn’t answer the question of how you really are, or how your soul is. Smith explores how your soul, or the “inside you” really is and how through focusing on the inward, you’re able to better align with God.
8. Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
This one isn’t a book you read straight from cover to cover. Warren writes this more as a daily read or devotional that helps you explore your purpose in life. This is a book I’ll likely pick up again in the next year or two and go through as I’m sure I”ll learn even more about myself and my purpose the second time than I did the first time through it.
9. Finding Your Voice by Natalie Grant
Natalie focuses on how women are given a voice and that voice is meant to be used to speak their truth, but also to share the Kingdom with others. She talks about her own circumstances and how overcoming silence is hard, but necessary.
MAY
10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This was one of my favorites of 2017. Cheryl rallied in me my confidence to travel by myself through states I’ve never visited before. During my trip from Seattle to Reno, I was able to visit some of the places she mentions in the book and experience some of the beauty that she encounters on her hike.
This is one I’d read previously, but was a good reminder and as mentioned before, related to the 5 love languages. If you’re a manager or work closely with others (as I imagine most people do), this is a great read to determine how people feel most appreciated in the workplace.
12. Multipliers by Liz Wiseman
Buy this book. Now. Multipliers may be my number one read from 2017. Liz examines two leadership styles which she identifies as diminishes and that of multipliers. While diminishing tendencies are accidental and unintentional, they leave a lasting (negative) impact. Rather than being an accidental diminisher, Liz focuses on how to be a multiplier and how to do so intentionally to make those on your teams even better.
13. Grit by Angela Duckworth
Grit was good, it just wasn’t my favorite. I listened to this one on Audible, so it could be that I didn’t listen to it enough the whole way through to connect to it. Duckworth talks about how passion and perseverance set you apart and how to develop your grit because it’s more important than talent or luck.
14. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Brene is one of my favorite authors. I’d read Daring Greatly on Audible once before, but I picked up on new things the second time around. She uses the quote below to focus on how vulnerability allows us to step into the arena and dare greatly, regardless of what may happen. I actually have this quote hanging at my desk because I am not one who is great at being vulnerable. The quote is a constant reminder for me to take the chance, regardless of the critics.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”—Theodore Roosevelt

JUNE
15. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
Gordon focuses on how positivity propels you forward both at work and in your social life. I believe in his points, but it was a little too much of a touchy, feely self help book for me. Overall a quick read, especially went you set your audible on 1.25 speed (which I do for all books).
JULY
16. Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley
I’ve followed Emily Ley on social media for quite some time and enjoyed the products from her shop like planners and organizers. She focuses on simplifying and prioritizing which allows you to find joy in the margins. Overall good book, but I like her new one, A Simplified life listed below even more.
17. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
This book = YES. Sheryl is open about life after her husband’s death while on a trip with friends. She now is a single parent trying to balance raising her kids and being the COO of Facebook. This book will bring tears, but it also focuses on the joy that each person needs to find in their own way after facing adversity.
If you want a quick peek at what the book’s about, listen to this interview with Adam and Sheryl.
18. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell uses the biblical story of David and Goliath to challenge the way we think about underdogs and their battle against giants. I think Gladwell’s use of history, psychology, and society’s expectations is always intriguing and makes me think about things differently. It’s another good read of his.
19. Cultivate by Lara Casey
I’ve followed Lara Casey and used her Powersheets for about 4 years now. I enjoy her honesty, integrity, and passion for gardening and making things new. She uses Cultivate to explain the metaphor between life and gardening – digging up weeds, planting deep seeds, harvesting good fruit, and watering where things need to grow.
AUGUST
20. Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
This book has some similarities to the 5 Second Rule mentioned below. Hal explains that each morning should begin early with your focus on the following things:
S ilence
A ffirmation
Visualization
E xercise
R eading
S cribing / Journaling
If each morning begins with an hour or so focused on the above things, you will be unstoppable throughout each day since you’ve already focused on what matters most. I do try to implement these into my schedule each morning now – somedays I’m better than others but overall I feel much better starting my day when these are already accomplished before 8 am.
I believe this one you can read for free on Kindle Unlimited.
21. The Coaching Habit  by Michael Bungay Stanier
Stanier emphasizes that there are 7 specific questions to focus on when coaching teams – each for a different type of situation. By becoming familiar with these questions, you can better coach and develop your teams.
SEPTEMBER
22. Strengths Finder by Tom Rath
Rather than focusing on areas to develop, Strenths Finder focuses on what you’re already good at and developing those areas further. This comes with a free access code, and you take a quiz online to determine what qualities you’re already great at. You don’t end up reading the entire book, but instead focus on your strengths. I’ve read this with a few people and I think it’s a great way to focus on what you’re already good at rather than your weaknesses.
23. Reading People by Anne Bogel
I’ve always been pretty fascinated with personalities and what makes us the same and different as individual as well as how our environments shape us. Anne focuses on StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, highly sensitive people, introverts vs. extroverts, love languages, as well as other personality identifiers throughout the book. It was interesting for me to see where they overlap as well as how they’re different. If you’re at all interested in personalities, check out this book.
24. The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan
The authors focus the book on the question “What is the one thing I can do that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”. They talk about how leading with this question can help you determine what’s most important and how by focusing on that, other things no longer need your time or attention. This book is a good companion to Essentialism referenced further above.
OCTOBER
25. Originals by Adam Grant
I really like Adam Grant but this one had spots that were harder for me to get through. I think it was because I read it in chunks over a few months rather than all at once. So if you pick this one up, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it even more than I did. If you’re interested in Adam, check out his other book Give & Take.
26. Of Mess & Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
I listened to this one on Audible on my solo drive to Tennessee. She had me howling with laughter and also had me in tears. Jen is raw and she is real and through this book emphasizes living in the moment and having the courage to speak up, give grace, and receive it as well.
27. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
This book is intriguing. Gladwell explores the background of many of who we consider the most successful people currently and in history and explains that it’s not always their drive that got them there, but that other factors are involved.
28. 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
I listened to this one on Audible on my road trip with my friend to Vermont. While it seems basic, the tools and tricks she uses to emphasize her point of “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” really do work. Read it, and then see how much more often you get right out of bed in the morning instead of hitting the snooze.
29. 1 Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard
This is a quick read. I picked it up in the cafe of Barnes & Noble and finished it before I left. Blanchard focuses on one minute goal setting, one minute praising, and one minute reprimands. He goes into the details on both. They are good points if you’re not comfortable in any of these areas.
I listened to this one on Audible but I would suggest buying it and going through it as you being your minimizing. She focuses on decluttering and organizing and how to get yourself to get rid of things that no longer serve you or bring you joy. If you’re a pack rat or have too much stuff, read this book.
31. Make Your Bed by William H McRaven
I enjoy military books and this is another one of them. Taken from his University of Texas commencement speech, McRaven talks about the Navy Seal training he led and participated in that provides 10 principles for changing the world. And they start with making your bed.
NOVEMBER
32. I am That Girl by Alexis Jones
Jones uses her story to talk about how to find your passion and purpose. Rather than chasing perfection, Jones illustrates that being the best you possible is what is most important.
This one is also free on Kindle Unlimited.
33. One Mission by Chris Fussell
I listened to this one on Audible over a few longer drives. Fussell focuses on how large teams with a rigidity don’t win. Rather, small teams or teams of teams are what win. Through improved communication, flexibility, and cohesion, teams of teams have more success achieving their mission.
Shaun is extremely vulnerable in his book and opens up to what in his past shaped him to the Shaun T we know today. He describes 7 principles that help you achieve extraordinary results.
DECEMBER
35. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
I loved this book. It’s written in a format so differently than what I’m used to. There were pictures, clever math problems, and hilarious stories throughout the oddly sized book, but it was great. Erin focuses on how we live to chase things – money, perfection, freedom, promotions, and security. Rather than slowing down and savoring what is in the present moment, we’re always chasing the next thing. Even when we try to slow down, we are chasing slow too. If you are caught up in the hustle and really want to enjoy the present moment, I would recommend this book. Erin is clever and her style of writing is amazing.
36. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
Brene Brown yet again. Love her and her books. In this one, she uses Maya Angelou’s line “You are only free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.” Brown talks about true belonging and connectedness and how we’re losing that in our present day society. In order to connect, we have to be open but respect each other. Just because someone doesn’t align with your beliefs doesn’t mean they’re not a human worth being friends with and worth learning from. We can all learn from each other, and on that journey we must brave the wilderness, to belong every place but also no place at all.
37. A Simplified Life by Emily Ley
I purchased this book right when it came out and loved all of it. I appreciate simplicity and on my simplicity journey, I got rid of quite a few things at home. And now, about a month later I see space and margin and rather than filling it with things, I can enjoy the space for what it is. A free space to fill with love and joy.
38. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
Gabby talks about how to transform your fears into faith. She has guided meditations during the chapters and suggestions for journaling. Rather than being afraid of what lies ahead, call on the universe to help guide you to get there. Rather than being frustrated with what happens, call yourself into a place of love because the universe has your back.
39. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
This is a young adult fiction book and I believe the first fiction book on this list so far. This is a book my mom read to me when I was younger and I remember enjoying immensely because of its humor. Milo thinks school is boring. One day a tollbooth shows up on his doorstep so he puts it together. He enters to tollbooth and emerges in another world. He goes to the Island of Conclusions (which you get to by Jumping), he has to save Rhyme & Reason and he even drives a car that “goes without saying”. This is an easy read but a very clever and comical book that makes you rethink what you know about the English language and our reality.
40. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
My first of two classics of 2017. My mom was a teacher and this was one of the books she taught to her students. I’ve always loved the tale, likely because it does have a happy ending. It’s a reminder to “Honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” It goes without saying, A Christmas Carol is a classic and especially enjoyable during the Christmas season.
I read this one on Kindle because it was free. I believe almost all the classics are free on Kindle.
41. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
A friend recommended this book and I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d never heard of it before. It was only a few hours to read and was free on Kindle. Over the past few weeks, I keep going back to this story and the decision Ethan had to make between duty and love.
42. She Reads Truth by Amanda Bible Williams and Raechel Myers
I’m not sure why but I owned this book for about a year before I read it. Over Christmas break, I started reading it and couldn’t stop. Amanda and Raechel describe through their own stories that while the world is ever changing, God and his word are not. The only way to hold tight to an ever changing world it to hold tight to His truth. It was an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

Audible – I referenced Audible above quite a few times. Audible is an Amazon company. Audible allows you to listen to books on your phone or tablet rather than buy the hard copy version. I currently have the Gold version where I pay $14.95 per month that’s good for one book at any price and 30% off any additional audio books. They have other memberships as well that give 2 credits per month, or options that give 12 or 24 credits all at once.

If you have any book recommendations or have anything to add to those listed above, make a comment! I’m always up for new reads (yes, even fiction). If you’d like to see what books I’ll be reading in 2018, stay tuned! 

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