Radical Simplicity and a Beautiful, Messy Life

17 (Mostly Christian) Books I Plan to Read in 2017

Books shape us.  They inspire us to think and feel and pray and love in whole new ways.  They remind us of what we know, draw us into new knowledge, and inspire us to act on what we've learned. I love books.

So, I've made a list of 17 Books I plan to read in 2017.  Books that I feel will lead and inspire and challenge me in the right direction.  Here are 17 books I plan to read in this new year:

1) The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski
Burnt out and discouraged, a motivational Christian speaker sets out on a journey to spend a year engaging in sacred practices, both ancient and modern, including simplicity, creativity, solitude, protesting, and many more.  I can't wait to read about the sacred in the ordinary and meeting God in a myriad of sacred practices.

2) Choose and Choose Again: The Brave Act of Returning to Gods Love by J. Kevin Butcher
A collection of stories, mostly from Hope Community Church of Detroit, of people finding God's healing love in their places of deepest despair.  It sounds like an encouraging read that can help me move my understanding of Gods love from my head into my heart. 

3) The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith
What we believe about God shapes how we live and feel.  This book invites us to examine the narrative we have surrounding God and compare it to scripture to keep what is true and discard what is not.

4) Attributes of God, Volume 2: Deeper into the Father's Heart by A.W. Tozer
I read the first volume this year and it was honestly life changing.  Each book identifies 10 characteristics of God and explores them in detail.  Like I did with the fist volume, I plan to take this book slowly, reading a chapter and then letting it sink in for a few days before moving on.  I believe that the greatest work of our lives is to come to understand God more clearly as He is, and then to respond accordingly.  This book will help us to do that. 

5) The Lord and His Prayer by N.T, Wright
I am part of a support group that uses the Lord's Prayer to end nearly every meeting, and the words have become tired and worn by familiarity and habit.  I hope this tiny book will help to reawaken this prayer of Christ and restore the depth and meaning lost to familiarity and repetition. 

6) The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy Keller
The psalms were my lifeline to God in 2016.  When the rest of scripture felt dry and empty, the psalms spoke to me deeply and intimately about a God who meets us in our pain.  I'll be using this devotional through the psalms for my daily devotions in 2017.  And Tim Keller wrote it, so I know it will be good. 

7) Divine Rebels: American Christian Activists for Social Justice by Deena Guzder
Divine Rebels chronicles the extraordinary efforts of American Christian activists who agitate for a world free of racism, patriarchy, bigotry, retribution, ecocide, torture, poverty, and militarism. And the forward is by Shane Claiborne, so I fully expect this book to challenge, convict, and inspire me.

8) Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz Weber
A book about what happens when ordinary people share bread and wine, struggle with scripture together, and tell each other the truth about their real lives. Plus it's written by a tattooed, foul mouthed preacher, which is a win in my mind!

9) Living Faith: How Faith Inspires Social Justice by Curtiss Paul De Young
Christian ethicist Curtiss DeYoung profiles three of the most dynamic and influential religious activists of the 20th century: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Malcolm X, and Aung San Suu Kyi - each from a different generation, a different faith community, and a different continent.

10) Exclusion And Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation 
by Miroslav Volf
Addressing the sin of exclusion, this book calls us out of our comfortable circles, to embrace the "other" in the same way that God has embraced us. This book has shaped the hearts and ministries of some people I really respect, so I feel like it would be a great book to add to my must-read list.  

11) Finding God in the Ruins: How God Redeems Pain by Matt Bays
I need this reminder, that our God is big enough to not just comfort us in our pain, but to redeem it. Just the title of this book gives me hope.  I can't wait to dig in and read it. 

12) Twenty - Piece Shuffle: Why the Poor and Rich Need Eachother by Greg Paul
When I first read Greg Paul's previous book, God in the Alley, I read it in about 2 days and highlighted half of it because it was so beautiful and insightful and honest.  Greg Paul is the founder and director of a community and church in downtown Toronto where those in poverty and those with economic resources meet together and become family. 

13) Rid Of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault
by Justin S. Holcomb and 
Lindsey A. Holcomb
I bought this book sometime ago, but haven't been able to read past the first few pages.  It doesn't mince words or avoid the pain, which causes me to slam it shut and scroll through facebook instead. But it's time to read it.  Because I'm confronting pain these days instead of avoiding it.  Because, as Robert Frost famously wrote, "The best way out is always through".

14) Living into Community: Cultivating Practices that Sustain Us by Christine Pohl
I read Christine's Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition a few years ago and it literally changed our lives by inspiring us to create a room in our house to welcome in whoever God sends our way (and God proceeded to send the right people our way, at the right time, and blessed us immensely through the process) so I believe that God will use Living into Community in my life in a powerful way as well.  It focuses on 4 key practices that cultivate community: gratitude, promise-keeping, truthfulness, and hospitality and the theological dimensions of these practices.

15) The Cost of Discipleship by Deitrich Bonhoeffer
A classic book on the difference between cheap grace and costly grace.  It's been many years since I've read this book and it's time to read it again.

16) Rising Strong by Brene Brown
I may be the last person on earth who hasn't read any Brene Brown yet, but everytime I come across a quote or video of hers, I find myself nodding yes and being encouraged.  Rising Strong is about leaning into discomfort and regaining our footing in the midst of struggle.

17) Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture by Mark Scandrette and Lisa Scandrette
I knew when I saw the title of this book that I was going to need to read it.  I desire to raise my kids in a home where they know they are embraced, where they feel that they belong, and where they are free to develop fully and authentically into the person God has made them to be.  

I am excited for the ways that these books will shape and mold and grow me this year.  What books do you plan to read in 2017?  Have you read any of the ones I've listed?  Which ones would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Great list! Look forward to reading about your thoughts on the books as you complete then.

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  3. I would highly recommend "Coming Clean" by Seth Haines and "Roots & Sky" by Christie Purifoy.
    Incidentally, I'm really enjoying your site. I found you by accident, looking up recipe organization tips. Who knew that I'd find a sister in Christ :) Thanks for your vulnerability and honesty.