16 Books I Read in 2016


Here are the 16 books I read in 2016 for my New Year’s resolution, and a mini book review for each one! I have been working on this post for a while now, and was almost going to ditch it altogether… but I had a friend tell me the other day she would read it, so even if this is only for Jackie, here we go! For each book, I will tell you what context I read it in, what I thought, and if I would recommend it to a friend. A short note, the first few were books I read for school. I read them quickly, and some over a year ago, so my reviews are short and sweet, but keep reading and I have a little more to say about all the others.


1) Spiritual Theology by Diogenes Allen
Why I read it: Spiritual Theology class

I don’t have much to say for this book. I read it quickly, enjoyed parts of it, wrote a paper on it, but didn’t love it or go out recommending it to my friends afterwards.

2) In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen

Why I read it: Pre-Counseling Senior Seminar class

As a counseling major, Henri Nouwen was definitely my most read author for assigned reading. I really enjoy his reflections on Christian life and leadership, and stories from his ministry.

3) Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson

Why I read it: Spiritual Theology class

Again, this was a quick read for a class. To be honest, not much sticks out!

4) True Spirituality by Francis Schaefer

Why I read it: Spiritual Theology class

This is a pretty good one to start with, if you’re looking to go deeper in the topic of spiritual theology.

5) Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Baptist Metz

Why I read it: Spiritual Theology class

I got to choose this book to replace one on the syllabus that I had already read. I asked my local Spiritual Formation guru to recommend a book for me, and she loaned me this one. It is a very short read, I read it in a few sittings. I really loved it and actually want to reread it at some point. I would definitely recommend it.

6) Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality by Mark McMinn

Why I read it: Pre-Counseling Senior Seminar class

This book is a BIG one! I read it too fast, and will need to go back to get more out of it. However, even reading it and even skimming certain sections, I really learned a lot about the integration of these three important facets of counseling, and of life: psychology, theology, and spirituality. In Christian counseling, integration is a huge topic of discussion and one of the biggest things we need to wrestle with as helpers, educators, counselors, social workers, and ministers of the gospel. It is so important to have a robust understanding of this topic, and I totally don’t have it down yet! This book was a great start for me, and I would highly recommend it to those who want to dig deeper on the topic. I would even recommend it to someone not in a helping profession, who may just be curious about the topic, attending counseling themselves, or wanting to understand God’s role in psychology.

7) The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner

Why I read it: Zach and I were assigned this book as part of our premarital counseling

This was a good book, and I definitely recommend it for engaged or married couples. That’s probably all I need to say about this one!

{Okay people- at this point we are moving on from assigned reading, I got a library card, and kicked my reading life into high gear because I had no job over the summer and was going to the beach at least once a week}

8) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Why I read it: I tend to jump right on board (see what I did there?) when everyone is reading a book, and especially before the movie comes out.

This was my “I’m finally done reading for school and wedding planning and can read for fun again” book. I got a library card as soon as we moved into Newmarket, and this was the first book I picked up. I loved this book. It was suspenseful, dealt with some real issues without being too serious, and kept you guessing until the end. It was definitely “un-put-downable” as Anne Bogel would say.

9) The Assistants by Camille Perri

Why I read it: I had seen this book on a few summer reads lists, and was able to grab it from the library.

My next summer read was super light, a catchy premise, and a good beach read, as they say. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it if the plot intrigues you.

10) When I Get Married by Jerusha Clark

Why I read it: my sister-in-law loaned it to me

Side note: Victoria had given me this book literally over a year earlier, and I had actually read a few chapters during that time, but with school I just couldn’t get all the way through it! I finally finally finally finished it at the end of the summer, and returned it… I think I’ll be much better at borrowing books now that I don’t have assigned reading.

This book was very good, and definitely explores some of our expectations, especially as women, coming into marriage. She illustrates these with compelling stories of her own marriage, or stories from friends.She is realistic, honest, encouraging, and convicting. She speaks God’s truth in a creative way, and I really appreciated it. A great book for single, engaged, or married women. 100% may not apply to everyone, but most of it is thought provoking and freeing content. I definitely recommend it.

11) Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Why I read it: I really love Shauna’s writing, and I miraculously spotted this one on my library’s New Releases shelf! I scooped it right up.

I love love loved this book. Shauna gets so real, puts to words many of the things I have thought and felt and preached freedom, vulnerability, and presence. Like her other writings, she uses stories in essay format to weave together her main points and to illustrate what she learned during this season of her life. One point I should make about this book is that it isn’t filled with Scripture, theology, or teaching in the way you’re used to. Yes, it is full of truth, and of course she mentions God as a massive part of her journey, but biblical teaching isn’t the main focus of the book. For this reason, I would recommend this book to Christians and non-Christians alike. Each could benefit greatly from what Shauna writes in this one, my favorite of her books for sure. I cannot say enough good things!

12) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne and JK Rowling

Why I read it: I am a huuuuuge Harry Potter fan, and have been since childhood. I had to wait for this one at the library, but was excited to finally get my hands on it in the fall.

Oh my goodness. I so wanted to like this book. I don’t like to use this word, but I pretty much hated it. Maybe the play translates the story better. The whole thing felt like I was reading fan fiction, I had a hard time with the format, the characters and dialogue felt completely unbelievable, and the story both stressed me out and couldn’t hold my interest. I hated hating it.

13) Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Why I read it: saw it on books lists online, I love a good retelling of an old story, and my mom read this before me and really liked it

This is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, which was a really fun spin on a love story, with the quirky cast of characters, fun mix of old and new, and plenty of sarcasm thrown in. The premise alone carried it most of the way, but the story was also surprising, intriguing, and held my attention the whole time… and it’s a huge book. I definitely recommend it, but won’t promise that it’s at all as good as Jane Austen. It’s very light and fluffy, which I personally enjoy, so if you do too, I recommend it.

14) Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs

Why I read it: I listen to Annie’s podcast, and had a friend recommend this one to me. She has newer books than this one, but it was a good one to start and felt timely as I was in this post-grad season.

I love the way Annie speaks and writes! I read the whole thing in her voice. If you’ve heard it, you know what I’m talking about. Her book was an encouraging, vulnerable, and fun read about a topic that taught me more about myself and God. I loved hearing her stories and passion for life. I would recommend this one for sure.

15) The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Why I read it: like many others, I am OBSESSED with all the things these two put their hands to. I’m just throwing money at all their big projects lately, and obviously Waco is now on my bucket list. I knew for months that this book was coming out around my birthday, so when some of my family asked what I wanted, it was first on my list! My sweet in-laws got it for me.

I was really intrigued by how this Magnolia empire came to be what it is today. I loved hearing Chip and Jo tell their story of marriage and business. The only negative thing I could say about it is that it sounds much more like they were telling the story out loud and someone wrote it down, rather than writing it themselves. So the style and tone of the book bothered me a little bit, but I was definitely able to get past it and enjoy it as a really good story. One of my favorite parts was hearing about their faith, and the way God provided for them in business, and let them towards fulfilling the dreams he clearly gave them in the first place.

16) Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Why I read it: I saw this book recommended all over the place- podcasts, blogs, Pinterest, etc. and knew I had to check it out especially when I hear they were making it into an HBO series (that just came out, by the way).

I really really loved this one. It was set in a community of kindergarten moms in Australia, which I related to having been a nanny and observing moms there. The format of the book, dispersed with police questionings, was very cleverly done and added to the mystery of the story. The characters were really well developed and hilarious to read about. At the same time, the book dealt with several more intense topics in a way that was thought provoking and a good reminder of what suffering can be happening just under the surface of a person. The ending was not predictable at all, which I almost expected it to be. I can’t recommend this enough to fiction lovers!


Those were my 16! I still can’t believe I reached my goal. I am working towards 17 in 2017 as we speak, and hope to have more book reviews up very soon. Here is a little summary of my favorites:

Favorite Fiction: Big Little Lies

Honorable Mention for Fiction: The Girl on the Train

Favorite “Jesus book”: Present Over Perfect

Favorite Nonfiction: The Magnolia Story


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