What You Should Be Reading (and other birthday goals)

So last year, a friend asked me what my twenty-six goals were for my twenty-sixth year of life. Let me tell you, I should have made “coming up with twenty-six goals” one of my goals, because then I would have accomplished something. This list included, but was not limited to:

  • Go on 26 dates. (Ohhhh, I meant 2+6 dates! Goal accomplished. Dating is the worst.)
  • Blog for 26 Fridays straight. Did it!!
  • Make a Facebook page for my blog. See here.
  • Quit caffeine. (Did not happen.)
  • Make my bed every day. (Sorry Mom, it wasn’t quite every day.)
  • Stop being judgy about social media. (Wellllll, it just depends how many gender reveal parties happened on any particular day.)
  • “Successfully” lead my life group. (Not a really measurable word, but I’m going to count this a success because my life group is the BOMB. And that has nothing to do with me.)

One of my other goals for my twenty-sixth year of life was to read twenty-six books. I’d say this is one of my only goals that I took seriously. I think that might be because it is actually a clear and easy to measure goal.

So, I thought I would share the list in case you need some book suggestions. These are listed in the order I read them, so you also kind of get a journey through my year via my book choices.

  1. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (Shauna. Oh Shauna. This book is so honest and hard and beautiful. She’s a delight.)
  2. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (You will laugh your FACE off with this book. I want to read it everyday for the rest of my life. If you read my previous post you heard about this book already.)
  3. Rising Strong by Brené Brown (Queen B. What else is there to say? This book is potentially her best. My small group was going through the ringer as I read this book, and it was insanely helpful in my processing.)
  4. Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller (A short but great read. I want to read more of Tim Keller.)
  5. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan (Here is the link to her article, “The Opposite of Loneliness.” Read it. The rest of the book is made up of her short writings. Maybe one of the most talented authors ever.)
  6. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (All about creating. It’s so good. She is so blunt and this book is full of her opinions, and you may agree or disagree but regardless, you should read it.)
  7. Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer (Awesome book about vocation and calling. He is a gentle soul and I love him.)
  8. Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs (Potentially the only book on this list that I wouldn’t recommend. Yikes. I don’t like saying that. It would be a great read for a high school girls small group, probably.)
  9. Lime Green by Jackie Roese (This book is about her struggle of being a female pastor in a Texas church. #HERO.)
  10. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans (This is about her spiritual journey and struggles with the church/Christian faith. She is bitterly sarcastic and insanely intelligent. I think she is still processing and healing, but this book was an honest look at the struggles of an intelligent, questioning, female leader in the church.)
  11. An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor (Um, this is a beautiful book. Another lady hero.)
  12. Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey (NUMBER ONE RECOMMENDATION. This book is what I hand out to people. Or what I would hand out to people, if I had a budget for that. She so beautifully discusses the hard road of discovering what you still believe and maybe what you don’t believe anymore when it comes to faith. If you are in a “wilderness” stage of your faith, this is the book you need. She is so gentle with the struggle, and so patient in the waiting. I just love her.)
  13. Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling (Hello, spring break vacation! I laughed for a day straight while I read this book on the beach. She is my favorite.)
  14. Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Um, woah. I loved the Pacific Northwest descriptions in this book, and she is a straight up badass, but it really made me feel like my body was falling apart on the PCT. I could never.)
  15. Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines (Tears. She is an insanely amazing writer, and I think we would also be best friends.)
  16. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (I don’t need to say anything about this book, right?)
  17. Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry (I read this entire book on an airplane. Your classic fiction-romance-coming-together novel where people are brought together via Facebook, sooo, that’s our world now.)
  18. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (FAVORITE of all the Narnia books.)
  19. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  20. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  21. Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  22. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  23. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (A beautiful story of a girl growing up in the foster care system, told through the language of flowers. I loved it.)
  24. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (Second favorite. I literally, and I am using that word in the actual way it is meant, could not put that book down.)
  25. I Feel Bad About My Neck (and other thoughts on being a woman) by Nora Ephron (A hilarious commentary on getting older. She’s brilliant.)
  26. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Some interesting observations:

Seventeen books written by women. Nine written by men, and seven of those were The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, so really I only read three male authors this year. I think it was my subconscious way of bringing gender equality to the Christian world. I also am in the middle of Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster, so I’ll count that too.

I want to split this into a different way of looking at them:

Struggling in your faith?


  • Out of Sorts
  • Wild in the Hollow
  • Bittersweet

Need a laugh?


  • For the Love
  • Why Not Me?

Fiction reader?


  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • The Language of Flowers
  • Wild

Appreciate great writing?


  • The Opposite of Loneliness
  • Rising Strong
  • An Altar in the World

Currently on my nightstand: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Present Over Perfect, Freedom of Simplicity

So all that to say, twenty-six goals is HARD. And I failed in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t really matter. Goals are what you make them – and for me, some were really fun ways of pushing myself, and some are ways that I will hopefully engage in the future.

Here’s to twenty-seven, whatever goals, successes, and failures it may bring. Cheers!

Posted by

I write to process, and sometimes send those thoughts out into the void. Passionate about Jesus and people and bringing those two together. Living in and loving Denver. Working with college students, who are the coolest. Seeking Jesus and JOY in everything.

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