My Favorite Books from 2022
Listen to today’s post here:
- Listen to today’s post here:
- My Favorite Non-Fiction Reads from 2022
- The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan
- The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things by Leighton Ford
- The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
- Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth by Randy Woodley
- My Life in the Maine Woods: A Game Warden’s Wife in the Allagash Country by Annette Jackson
- The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger
- Carved in Ebony: Lessons from the Black Women Who Shape Us by Jasmine L. Holmes
- My Favorite Fiction Reads from 2022
- A Reader’s Prayer
Before I was a writer, I was a reader.
Well, actually, I was a listener.
My love for books started when I was young and my mom would gather my little brother and me in her lap as she read some of our childhood favorites – maybe you know them, too; The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood, anything by Dr. Seuss and, of course, the Berenstein Bears.
From there, my love for story and words grew as I devoured the Harry Potter and Charlie Bone series, and anything by Meg Cabot. And yes, even the Twilight series became a favorite of mine in my teen years, which I’m not ashamed about one bit.
As an adult, if I can call myself that because honestly some days I don’t feel very adult-ish, my reading interests have changed as well as my reasons for reading. I no longer read just to get lost in a good story, although my love of story will always be a huge part of me. Now, I also read to learn, to grow, and to look for nuggets of truth that may point to something deeper within me.
I read for sheer enjoyment and adventure and to grow in my own being as a human person seeking after God who sometimes calls herself a functioning adult, but who always considers herself a life-long seeker of good words.
2022 was a big year of reading for me, as I enrolled in a spiritual formation program called Abide. So far, one of my favorite parts of the class has been the required reading list.
But because I’ve been reading so many spiritual formation books lately, I’ve learned to balance them with a bit of good fiction.
So, today friend, I’m sharing with you my favorite books from 2022 that you can add to your reading list for 2023. They’re a mix of fiction and non-fiction with a memoir or two scattered throughout. I’m going to begin with my favorite non-fiction reads from this past year and then end with my favorite fiction reads. They’ll all be linked for you to add to your Amazon cart if you so desire.
Let’s dive right in!
My Favorite Non-Fiction Reads from 2022
The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan
This book came to me at a time when I was desperate for rest, but didn’t really know it until I started reading. Mark Buchanan extends this beautiful invitation to come and rest in God by being with Him. He explains the joy, freedom, and deep intimacy with Christ that begins to form as you choose to surrender to God’s invitation to enter into the sacred and ancient practice of Sabbath. Mark offers practical wisdom, humor, and great storytelling as he works with you to untangle your identity from what you do rather than Whose you are. If you are in a season of rest, or are feeling called to be more intentional with your Sabbath practice, I highly recommend picking this book up.
A quote from the book: “In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply.”
The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things by Leighton Ford
If you are hungry for more beholding moments in 2023 – moments where you’re intentionally leaning in and listening and looking for the Spirit’s voice and movements in your everyday life – then you need to read this book. Using the rich monastic tradition of praying the hours, Leighton Ford walks with you, helping you pay close attention to God’s work in you and around you throughout each day and in different seasons of your life. The busyness and noise of our everyday lives often distract us from missing God with us, but He’s always with us, and He constantly invites us to pay attention, because in discerning the movements of the Spirit in our lives, we come to know ourselves more fully. The Attentive Life is a call to do just that.
A quote from the book: “Hurry is the great enemy of the life of the Spirit.”
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Brother Lawrence was a seventeenth-century monk who worked in a monastery in Paris, France, where he worked in the kitchen cooking meals for the other monks and then cleaning up after them. To the earthly eye, Brother Lawrence wasn’t much to look at. No major awards were given, and he isn’t known for his many accomplishments. He was a simple man who lived his life in deep, loving, and intimate communion with God. The Practice of the Presence of God is a collection of translated letters where he writes to a companion explaining how to cultivate such intimacy with the Lord. It’s a very simple, short read, but it was probably my favorite of them all in 2022. Brother Lawrence teaches readers how to find God hidden in the mundane moments of an ordinary day and how to live loved.
A quote from the book: “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”
Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth by Randy Woodley
Through meditations and ideas for reflection and action, Randy Woodley, an activist, author, scholar, and Cherokee descendant guides us on a one-hundred-day journey to reconnect with the Earth. Becoming Rooted invites us as readers to reconnect with our own ancestral heritage, as we grow in our understanding of the Indigenous way of being and living in the world. I found this to be incredibly thought-provoking, moving, and convicting. Becoming Rooted hits you with bite-sized truths and invitations that you will most likely find yourself chewing on for days after. It reads more like a devotional, each day giving you something to ponder along with an action step.
A quote from the book: “Having first recognized everything else around me, I better understand my near unimportance. I am just a simple man standing in a great world. To be standing on this Earth is a gift. Everything around me is real. Everything is spirit-filled. I am fully and physically present, but even more, I am spirit.”
My Life in the Maine Woods: A Game Warden’s Wife in the Allagash Country by Annette Jackson
My Life in the Maine Woods is a memoir that I picked up in a cute bookshop in Portland, Maine this past summer. I fell in love with the east coast as soon as I stepped off the airplane and made my way to the Eastern Promenade Hill where the sky was so big that I swear I could see right into heaven itself. So naturally, I had to take back home with me to Indiana a book about Maine. This book is a memoir, Annette Jackson’s own account of her experiences as a game warden’s wife in the rugged Maine Allagash terrain in the 1930s. When I bought the book, I was a bit worried that I would have to love all things outdoors to enjoy it. But I quickly found that this wasn’t the case. Annette’s reflections on adventure, uncertainty, fear, love, family, and hardship resonated with me deeply and I think they will with you, too.
A quote from the book: “One of the richest pleasures I know of is being housebound because of the wild winter weather outside. With your family about you, a good book on your lap, a roaring fire in the stove, and a good hot dinner in prospect – you are richer than a millionaire.”
The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger
This book had a profound impact on how I view myself in relation to my past; my regrets, the things I can’t take back, and the shame that slowly forms around it all. The Choice is a memoir written by psychologist and holocaust warrior and survivor, Dr. Edith Eva Eger. In her book, she recounts her experience as a 16-year-old ballerina and gymnast turned Auschwitz prisoner. She takes us through her struggles and suffering during her imprisonment and how her trauma deeply impacted her years after the war was over. It’s a story of tragedy, loss, and unimaginable grief, but it’s also a story of hope, freedom, and profound healing. Dr. Eger gently and powerfully presents readers with a choice to allow the past to imprison us or to allow the past to propel us forward into a wholehearted way of living in the present.
A quote from the book: “Here you are! In the sacred present. I can’t heal you—or anyone—but I can celebrate your choice to dismantle the prison in your mind, brick by brick. You can’t change what happened, you can’t change what you did or what was done to you. But you can choose how you live now. My precious, you can choose to be free.”
Carved in Ebony: Lessons from the Black Women Who Shape Us by Jasmine L. Holmes
Jasmine L. Holmes takes us on an inspiring, educational, and historical journey through the lives of ten Black women who have helped significantly shape today’s America. Their names are Elizabeth Freeman, Sara Griffith Stanley, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Amanda Berry Smith, Maria Fearing, Maria Stewart, Lucy Craft Laney, Charlotte Forten Grimké, and Sarah Mapps Douglass. Through her own extensive research, Holmes shares how each of these women throughout America’s history displayed the glory and image of God by fiercely advocating for the oppressed, courageously standing their ground against the inherent injustice in America, humbly educating those who lacked resources and faithfully serving even when they had nothing left to give. I am embarrassed and saddened to admit that I had never heard of any of these brave, brilliant, and humble Black women until I read this book, and I am incredibly grateful to Jasmine L. Holmes for doing the hard and good work of keeping these women’s stories alive for centuries to come.
A quote from the book: “When I tell you the story of dignified Black womanhood, I do so to combat the opposite narrative, yes, but I also do it to point to the inherent dignity and worth of women, whom God created in his image and for his glory. God’s image carved in ebony… Black women are woven throughout the history of America, and we matter.”
My Favorite Fiction Reads from 2022
Sensible Shoes: A Story About the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown
This book was gifted to me by a friend towards the end of the year and I can safely say that it is my favorite fiction read of 2022! If you’re going to pick up one book out of this entire list, pick this one! Sensible Shoes, written by a spiritual director, is about four women who are led to the same spiritual retreat center where they embark on a journey of learning about spiritual practices, naming and unpacking their wounds, finding who they are in the love and grace of God, and cultivating a friendship that will last a lifetime. This book is a work of fiction, but it’s packed full of so much truth and wisdom that I’m confident you’ll close the book feeling deeply impacted and stirred by the Holy Spirit. And, as an added bonus, this is just book #1 in a four-book series! So the story doesn’t end with this one.
A quote from the book: “Learn to linger with what provokes you. You may just find the Spirit of God moving there.”
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
Eva Ward used to spend every summer as a child in an old house owned by her closest family friends on the coast of Cornwall, England. Her happiest memories are of that place and those people, so when her beloved sister dies, Eva feels compelled to travel back to where she remembers feeling truly at home. Shortly after arriving though, she starts hearing unfamiliar voices and finding herself on mysterious hidden pathways that eventually take her back in time to the year 1715. While there, she encounters a corrupt constable keen on revenge, a brave and brash Irishman, and Daniel Butler – an Englishman and handsome rebel not of her time but who will quickly make her question everything. Kearsley’s storytelling kept me captivated until the very end! The Rose Garden is a magical tale of grief, nostalgia, and a love that has the power to span through time and space.
A quote from the book: “I would argue ‘tis never the place, but the people one shares it with who are the cause of our happiest memories. That is why we find that having lived them once, we can never recapture them.”
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Midnight Library follows a young girl named Nora Seed who lives in a small town in England. The book starts off a bit dark, just a trigger warning, as we find Nora very depressed, deciding to tragically take her own life. Surprisingly, Nora ends up in a library that only exists between life and death. But this isn’t just any ordinary library. The Midnight Library is filled with thousands upon thousands of books that each contain a different life Nora could’ve lived. She’s offered a second chance, and given the opportunity to live as many of her alternate lives as she wants until she finds one that sticks. Matt Haig is a master storyteller and this book had me laughing one minute and crying the next. The Midnight Library invites readers to do some deep reflection on the kind of life they’re living and the kind of life they want to live.
A quote from the book: “But it’s not lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy. We can’t tell if any of those other versions would’ve been better or worse. Those lives are happening, it is true, but you are happening as well, and that is the happening we have to focus on.”
The Bookshop on the Shore (Scottish Bookshop Series Book 2) by Jenny Colgan
I fell in love with Jenny Colgan’s storytelling a year ago, when I read the first book in the Scottish Bookshop series, The Bookshop on the Corner. Reading one of her books is like wrapping a warm blanket around yourself and sipping on a hot cup of tea on a rainy, chilly day, and The Bookshop on the Shore was no exception.
The Bookshop on the Shore follows a young, single mom named Zoe living in London who is in desperate need of a new job and a change of scenery. She responds to an ad for a nannying position in the Scottish Highlands and upon arriving with her young son, Hari, it seems that Zoe has hit the jackpot. The home that she is to stay in while caring for the three children of a widowed man has the feel of a faraway castle nestled right next to a charming Loch.
But Zoe’s fairytale crashes and burns after being introduced to the three children who have been described by the townspeople as “feral wolverines” and the castle-like house quickly feels musty, old, and in need of a lot of love. Zoe’s journey is one of courage, new beginnings, and mystery as she attempts to juggle nannying, helping her new friend Nina with her bookshop on wheels, and raising a 4-year-old.
A quote from the book: “When you look at things the same way you’ve always done, nothing changes. When you change perspective, everything changes.”
The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand
After seeing some friends post about Elin Hilderbrand’s books on social media, I finally decided to give her work a try this past summer and I am so glad I did! Elin often writes stories with plots that are based out of New England towns, which I personally love, because I’m a recent New England lover. The Hotel Nantucket centers around Lizbet Keaton, a Nantucket local woman who has been hired to manage the newly renovated Hotel Nantucket. The original hotel was destroyed in a tragic fire in 1922 that killed a local chambermaid named Grace Hadley, who is rumored to still haunt the place. The Hotel Nantucket follows the stories of all the inexperienced employees who work at The Hotel Nantucket and their seemingly impossible quest of trying to earn the famous five-key rating from high-end hotel blogger, Shelly Carpenter, who has the power to seal the hotel’s fate.
The Hotel Nantucket is the perfect beach read that will have you laughing, crying, and questioning everything.
A quote from the book: “I happen to believe, Chadwick, that even the biggest disasters can be cleaned up, and I’ll teach you to believe it too.”
A Reader’s Prayer
One of the many practices that I adopted in 2022 was the practice of borrowing words from other writers and faith wanderers in the form of blessings, prayers, and liturgies. And it seems most appropriate to do so here, right now, as a way to bless you on your reading journey.
So, here’s a blessing for the readers and story lovers, from John Baillie’s, A Diary of Daily Prayer, titled ‘A Reader’s Prayer’.
Leave me not, O gracious God, in such hours as I may today devote to the reading of books, magazines, internet websites, newsletters, academic papers, blogs, or newspapers. Guide my mind to choose the right books and written works and having chosen them, to read them in the right way. Help me and strengthen me to overcome with wisdom and faith the discouragement of so many books to read with insufficient time remaining to read them, and give me the confidence and peace that I will choose what to read according to your will and for your purposes, and to use my time wisely, both for-profit and for recreation. When I read for profit, grant that all I read may lead me nearer to you. When I read for recreation, grant that what I read may not lead me away from you. Let all my reading so refresh my mind that I may the more eagerly seek after whatsoever things are pure and fair and true.
Peace be with you, friend, and happy reading.