3 “year” books I want you to read.

I’m over “year” books, if you know what I mean: that contrived formula of “I, said author, will do _____ in 12 months” and write all about it.

In fact, I probably look something like this, all supermodel teenage angst included:

While I felt solidly set on not moving forward in the above book arena, the gods of reading disagreed. Three unlikely books crossed my path (and all within the last couple of months, mind you), which made me maybe, possibly, kind of, sort of begin to change my mind.

Just a wee little bit.

So, whether or not you’re in the same boat, I dare you to take a look at these three “year” books – for all of them gave me a new perspective and changed me from the inside out.

And isn’t that what reading should do, anyway?

The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us (Sarah Arthur and Erin Wasinger). Albeit (and admittedly) contrived, covenant friends Arthur and Wasinger set out to tackle the twelve marks of New Monasticism in – you guessed it – twelve months’ time. Maybe because I find myself drawn to the simple beauty of the movement itself, but the book is moving. It’ll make you want to get your finances and your friendships and your stuff in order – and the fluidity with which the two authors move with each other and with their families in each chapter makes it hard to put down. Note: book comes out January 31st – reserve your copy today! 

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person (Shonda Rhimes) – Y’all: Olivia Pope is my spirit animal. Granted, I’m not drinking wine right now, because, well, sugar, but I’d live on popcorn and wine if I could. (And apparently live in DC, run Pope & Associates, have an off-again, on-again love affair with the President – wait, scratch that thought. Let’s just get to the book at hand). Rhimes is no joke. She’s changed the way America views “the other,” by making women, people of color and the LGBTQ community, to name a few, the protagonists of numerous hit television shows. This matters. This counts. And this is so, so important regardless of whether or not your world is surrounded by people in the aforementioned categories – because she’s normalizing a very normal part of our country. So, this book follows a year of her saying yes to the things that scared her, for “…the very act of saying yes is not just life-changing, it is lifesaving” (206). I couldn’t agree more. This also happens to be our December book club pick for the Shalom Book Clubclick here to listen to the episode if you haven’t already! 

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life (Tish Harrison Warren). Okay, Warren’s book is not technically a contrived “year-long” effort of a book – in fact, were she here to defend herself, she’d vehemently disagree. But if you’re in the mood for a book that will change the ordinary, everyday aspects of your life if applied over the course of a year, pick up a copy of her book. Because for all of us, there are small practices and habits that form a theology of the everyday. “…my theology was too big to touch a typical day in my life. I’d developed the habit of ignoring God in the midst of the daily grind” (55). If this thought resonates with you, consider giving Warren’s lyrical prose a try. You won’t be disappointed. Also, look for my interview with Tish in an upcoming issue of Englewood Review of Books

Happy reading!

xo, c.

So, what “year” book changed you from the inside out? Have you given any of the above books a try, or do you have a book you think I should read? Shout, shout, let it all out! 

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