“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss,
2018 is the 3rd year that I’ve set an intentional reading goal to challenge myself. I don’t do it just for the sake of saying I read more books. The goal is to be more intentional about the type of books I read and what I get out of them. I want to read books that are actionable and help me grow.
My book choices focus on personal development, spirituality, how-to, and biography/autobiography. I also throw in a few just for fun books here and there – these are good for my imagination. My goal this year is 24 books.
As part of my learning process I will blog about some of the books and share the key points that I find helpful. My hope is that some of these tips may be helpful for you too.
Disclaimer: The links for the book titles take you to Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate and I make a few cents if you purchase using my link. This helps me fund this blog.
My January reading was a nice mix of personal development, how-to, biography, and fiction.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth – Read more about some of my lessons learned from this book here. The big takeaway I got from this book is that effort counts twice. Others may be more talented than I am but how I put my gifts to use with intentional practice matters even more.
The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy – This one was a re-read. I will probably read this book every year. I find this book helpful for anyone, no matter what kind of goal you are working on. You can read more about it on my post here. I highly recommend that you download the worksheets that go with the book and DO the steps.
The Beauty of a Darker Soul – by Joshua Mantz – I saw Josh speak last year at a conference I attended. He is a veteran who was killed by a sniper in Iraq and saved by a skilled combat trauma team. He now works with veterans to help them heal not only from physical trauma but from the trauma of shame, guilt and powerlessness. Here’s a quick video of Josh.
Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet– by Jimmy Moore – This book has been a valuable resource in my keto journey. I will refer back to it over and over. Jimmy Moore has lost 180 pounds with a ketogenic lifestyle. This book is easy to read and includes information from research and physicians as well as his own experiences.
Small Great Things – by Jodi Picoult – This is my first book by this author and I enjoyed her writing style. This book tackles subjects such as power, race, and privilege. The moral dilemma of a nurse in an OB department gripped me from the beginning. As a Risk Manager for a hospital this one hit home.
Kill the Spider – Carlos Whitaker – Carlos is a well-known worship leader, author and blogger. This is an engaging peek into a very tough part of the author’s struggle with deep-rooted issues that were cropping up in his life in various ways. I really identified with the concept that we should stop cleaning up the cobwebs in our lives and get to the root of the problem. Kill the Spider is a great read and has actionable steps for you to start looking at the spiders in your life.
Even So, Joy: Our Journey through Heartbreak, Hope and Triumph – Lesa Brackbill – This book is powerful. Lesa is a friend that I met through Facebook when we were doing an online challenge together. We’ve been able to connect in person a couple of times even though we live across the country from each other. This book tells the story of of their daughter Tori who was diagnosed with a fatal genetic disorder known as Krabbe Leukodystrophy. Lesa and Brennan’s story is a beautiful example of how we can live with joy even in the midst of unfathomable grief and pain.
Memoirs of Pontius Pilate – James R. Mills – This novel is written from the perspective of Pontius Pilate looking at the events surrounding Jesus life and crucifixion. I found it to be a fascinating read and it gave me a better perspective of the political situation of that historical time. It’s interesting to see the historical events from the perspective of the Romans.
High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way – Brendon Burchard – I love anything by Brendon Burchard. His latest book covers 6 deliberate habits that high performers embody. The habits are clarity, energy, necessity, productivity, influence and courage. This is a meaty book filled with actionable information to help you be your best. He is a great storyteller and his examples make the reading interesting.
The 49th Mystic: Beyond the Circle – Ted Dekker – This book will be released in May. I got an advanced copy and enjoyed reading it ahead of time. If you have enjoyed the Circle series by Mr. Dekker you will enjoy this one. It’s the first book in a two book series and takes place years after Thomas Hunter fell asleep in one world and woke in another. If you have not read the Circle series you can still enjoy the book. The fun part of the series is that the stories are interwoven so there’s no right book to start with or end with. Here’s a link to the original Circle series.
A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) – Barbara Oakley – This book wins the subtitle prize. The subtitle is what convinced me to buy this book. I was always a good student in school until I hit algebra and then I really struggled. This continued throughout high school and college. I’ve not been much help to my kids as they’ve hit challenges in school with math. I got this book so that I could stop telling myself that I’m bad at math. Math is a skill that can be learned and telling myself that story doesn’t serve me. I found this book very interesting and I will go back and read it again at another time. It digs into how to learn math and science by way of teaching how your brain works when it is learning. This book is helpful for learning math and science but also helpful for learning anything.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell – This book was sitting on my shelf waiting to be read when my son (a high school Freshman) came home with a copy assigned by his English teacher. I enjoy Gladwell’s story telling. He is a master of using story to make you think and look at things in a new way. This book delves into the way we make judgments and decisions in the blink of an eye. I found it very interesting and brought up some great discussions between me and my son.
Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men – Harold Schechter – This book was a pure impulsive purchase. It was free on my Kindle and I was fascinated at the thought of a female serial killer in the early 1900s. It’s a true-crime account of a woman who lured men to her Indiana farm and brutally murdered them. If you enjoy true-crime stories this was an interesting read.
The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey – I read this book straight through but I am going to go back and read it again with a pen and a notebook. It is a look at the Jesus of the Gospels that made me look at Him with a renewed viewpoint and blasted through some of my preconceptions. The author asks himself tough questions and then digs through the Scriptures for the answers. Yancey made me think deeper about the Bible stories I’ve grown up with and made me want to study and learn more.
The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith – This is Book 4 of the series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Books. I find this series endearing. The setting is Botswana and the series follows private detective Precious Ramotswe and her business adventures. I have loved all 4 books and will continue to finish the series. The stories are heartwarming and I enjoy learning a bit of the culture of Botswana. The stories are easy to read and leave you feeling good.
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold – This book is written by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the shooters in the Columbine High School tragedy. I first heard her speak in an interview on John O’Leary’s Live Inspired podcast. I was struck by her story and how heartbreaking the event was through the eyes of the mother of a killer. Dylan was very different from the boy I imagined would become a murderer. This is her journey of reconciling the boy she loved, and raised and thought she knew with the killer that killed 12 children and a teacher and wounded many others. It will shake you but it is also a story of how to work through tragedy and grief and learn how to reach out and help others. Highly recommended.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman – After reading A Man Called Ove by the same author I wanted to read more by him. This book did not disappoint but it was different than I expected. On the surface it’s about a hockey team in a hockey town. Backman develops characters that you quickly bond with. But underneath there is a story of a hidden crime and deception. There are several heavy topics tackled in this story and they are masterfully told. I’ve heard that this is going to be a movie as well.
There’s Not Enough Time…and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves by Jill Farmer – This book was sent to me by my coach, Amy Latta after we had a discussion about the concept of overwhelm. Farmer takes on the thought that there’s not enough time and turns it on it’s head. If you struggle with the same thought as I did, I encourage you to grab the book and learn a new way of thinking. It’s a quick, fun read and very insightful.
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank – I listened to this one on Audible. This novel is set in a town in Florida and is about a town that is mostly spared from nuclear holocaust while much of the country around them is ravaged. It is a story of survival and ingenuity. The main characters were well developed and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
New Spring: The Novel by Robert Jordan – This is a prequel to the Wheel of Time series. The Wheel of Time series are one of my favorite reads of all time. When the series ended I was sad to say goodbye to the characters that I had grown to love over a period of years. New Spring was a nice way to revisit some of the characters, namely Moiraine and Lan. It tells the story of their backgrounds and how they met and how the search for the Dragon Reborn began. If you are a fan of The Wheel of Time, I recommend that you pick this one up too.
Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I first heard Trevor on a podcast (I can’t remember which one). He is also on the Daily Show but I didn’t realize that until later. This book is a memoir of his childhood in South Africa. He was a child during the time that apartheid ended. He was born of a Swiss/German father and a black African mother. At the time it was illegal for whites and blacks to have sexual relations. Trevor didn’t fit in with the whites and didn’t fit in with the blacks either. Where he came from, a mixed-race child is called colored, but he didn’t fit in with the colored either because he was raised black. He is a comedian so the stories are funny and entertaining, but many times heartbreaking as well. I enjoyed Trevor’s life story and I appreciated the opportunity to learn about the many different South African cultures and the difficulties he faced navigating them.
Brit-Marie Was Here: A Novel by Fredrik Backman – Another book by the author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Beartown. This story carries on the story of one of the characters of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Britt-Marie is a person that would not be very likable if I met her in real life. At least not at first. But as the story goes along, I fell in love with her. Fredrik Backman is an expert in developing characters you can fall in love with. He reveals their stories bit by bit and weaves an engaging tale every single time. Even though this story occurs after My Grandmother, you could totally read them out of order.
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis – This book is a fictional view of heaven and hell. The protagonist takes a bus ride in a dream and visits hell and then heaven. I always find Lewis’ writing to be profound and this book is no exception. For example, his description of those who chose hell over heaven, “There is always something they insist on keeping even at the price of misery. There is always something they prefer to joy – that is, to reality. Ye see it easily enough in a spoiled child that would sooner miss its play and its supper than say it was sorry and be friends.” And the description of the joy of heaven in comparison to the miseries of hell, “And yet all loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies and itchings that it (hell) contains, if rolled into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt by the least in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all.”
The Testament by John Grisham – I hadn’t intended to read this book until my Mom handed it to me and said that it was good. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a John Grisham book that I didn’t enjoy. It’s another of Grisham’s legal stories but I really liked how the hero in the story goes from lost and broken to redeemed by the end of the story. It was refreshing.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Where the Crawdads Sing
Thank you for visiting my reading challenge page. Comment below if you are you working on a reading goal this year? I’d love to cheer you on and to hear what you’re reading. One technique that helps me maintain progress is to use a habit tracker to read at least 30 minutes per day. You can download my free weekly habit tracker/planner page below.
Disclaimer: The links to the books are Amazon links where I receive a small affiliate commission. Buying from my links helps to support this website.
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How to Grow Your Grit
Putting the Compound Effect to Good Use in Your Life
Boost Your Willpower to Achieve Your Goal
Planning Your Week to Achieve Your Goals
Setting Goals: How to Set a Goal for the New Year that Changes You