The time has come again to share some thoughts on all of the books I read this year. I made a goal to read 23 books and unfortunately fell short at only 19, but I still read some great books this year and am looking forward to sharing them with you. I missed my halfway check in back in June because I was in the middle of my Young Indiana Jones rewatch, so I will recap briefly all 19 books here. In addition, I will star the books that I recommend the most from the year! Here it goes in the order that I read them:
Take Back Your Family: From the Tyrants of Burnout, Busyness, Individualism, and the Nuclear Ideal by Jefferson Bethke
There were a lot of great ideas to digest in this book and it helped me see family in a little different light. A year later I'm still processing how to put into practice some of the concepts from this book.
Convergence by Zoraida Cordova
The flashback era of The High Republic novels started just ok and kind of set a mediocre tone for the whole time period.
Dune the Graphic Novel, Book 2: Muad'Dib by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Another excellent adaption of the middle third of the original Dune novel, following in the footsteps of Book 1.
The Thing Beneath the Thing: What's Hidden Inside by Steve Carter
I am a huge fan of Steve Carter and this book contained a lot of great thoughts about how we inwardly and outwardly deal with our own problems.
***Nehemiah for You by Eric Mason***
I read this book as part of a group study and would definitely recommend it. I love to hear thoughts on the Bible from someone other than a white male, and Mason made Nehemiah interesting and accessible.
The Battle of Jedha by George Mann (Audio Drama)
I love the Star Wars audio dramas in whatever era they are set in, and this one had some great action.
Cataclysm by Lydia Kang
Another just ok entry in the phase 2 stories of the High Republic.
***Morning Star by Pierce Brown***
The Red Rising series has been one of my all time favorites, and while the first half of this novel dragged a little, the second half was fantastic.
***The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic Poem by Jack Mitchell***
This book was a combination of two of my most favorite things in the world: Star Wars and ancient epic poetry. There is really nothing else I need to say about it. Maybe my book of the year.
***Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert***
Most people end their Dune journey with the first novel, but they are missing out in a huge way by not reading Dune Messiah. This book managed to make little amounts of action compelling through deep and interesting dialogue. Also one of my top books of the year.
Path of Vengeance by Cavan Scott
Fortunately, this book ended Phase 2 of the High Republic books quite well. Lots of great Star Wars action and interesting conflicts.
The Lost Hero: The Graphic Novel by Robert Venditti, Rick Riordan, Nate Powell
I enjoyed rereading this book through the graphic novel treatment.
***Fortune: How Race Broke my Family and the World--and How to Repair It All by Lisa Sharon Harper***
Lisa Sharon Harper is a treasure of an author, and I will continue to read anything she publishes. She managed to narrate the trauma and horror of her family history in a powerful and beautiful way.
The Son of Neptune: The Graphic Novel by Robert Venditti and Rick Riordan
Same thoughts as above for The Lost Hero.
From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi by Various Authors
I have enjoyed all of the Star Wars anniversary anthologies. As a huge fan of the Jabba's palace scene, I particularly enjoyed several stories diving deep into background characters.
The Mark of Athena: The Graphic Novel by Robert Venditti and Rick Riordan
Another fun graphic novel adaptation. I particularly have enjoyed reading these while my son reads the full series for the first time.
The Silmarillion: Illustrated Edition by J.R.R. Tolkien
I read The Silmarillion over the course of the year with a slow and methodical reading plan. I think that might be the best way to read this dense and crunchy work of Biblical proportions.
American Idolatry by Andrew L. Whitehead
A great addition to the growing pantheon of books using a critical eye at some of the traditions of American Christianity. I found some of the content of the book redundant from other books I have read recently, but this is a great intro to the deconstructing American Evangelicalism genre.
The Eye of Darkness by George Mann
The first book in the final phase of High Republic novels and by far the best in my opinion. I breezed through this book because it was so fun to read and felt like watching a Star Wars movie.
2022 has come and gone, and so it is time to finish recapping my reading list for this year! My goal for the year was 24 books, which I missed by two, unfortunately. The second half of the year saw a massive slowdown in my reading rate thanks to the school schedule and a full load of three children around my house. So, starting with July and working through the end of the year, here is what I read and a few thoughts for each.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
I am always down for an interesting retelling of Greek myth, and this one did not disappoint. Set in modern New York City, this is Percy Jackson for a more mature audience. Definitely enjoyed this one.
The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold
I kind of forgot I read this book until I made this list, if that says anything, but this was a unique take on the dystopian genre through the lens of childlike hope and wonder at the world.
The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right by Lisa Sharon Harper
Lisa Sharon Harper has a beautiful and much needed voice for the Christian community. This book was a fresh reminder of the importance of the gosepl for ALL and how the gospel can influence and make change in every aspect of our private and public lives.
Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher
The first Star Wars novel on the list, and also one of my biggest disappointments for the year. When I heard there would be a novel about Luke and Lando having an adventure together, which would tie in some elements from the sequel trilogy, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, the book was less than intriguing.
Love Matters More: How Fighting to be Right Keeps us from Loving Like Jesus by Jared Byas
I have long been listening to Jared on the Bible for Normal People Podcast, but this was the first book of his I have read. This book was a great reminder about the HOW of our theology far outweighing the WHAT of our theology.
Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland
As the first book in the new phase of the Star Wars High Republic publishing initiative, it did a great job of piquing my interest for the direction of the story. Interesting characters and a new way to think about the Force.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
I loved The Martian, but this book was very different in a great way. While The Martian dives deep into science and math for survival, this story reminds us of the importance of relationship and cooperation, making it far more human (with lots of math and science stuff too, which I kind of glossed over).
The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 2 by Phil Szostak
The Star Wars art books are always amazing, and I love to see the evolution of the design process in visual creative efforts.
Inalienable: How Marginalized Kingdom Voices Can Help Save the American Church by Eric Costanzo, Daniel Yang, and Matthew Soerens
A great book to finish the year on, this fairly short but densely packed book summed up what I have been learning about and thinking about for the last couple of years. The American church will not survive without the voice of global Christians and marginalized communities in prominent leadership and discipleship roles.
What have you been reading that has been fun, challenging, or educational?
It is one of my favorite days of the year because I take a few minutes to sit down and share thoughts about all the books I have read so far. My reading goal for this year is 24 books, and I am on decent track right now to finish, sitting at about halfway to my goal. Starting back in January and up until today, here are the books I have read and a few thoughts about each.
1. Babylon's Ashes by James S.A. Corey
The Expanse is my favorite sci-fi book series right now, but this was probably my least favorite in the series so far. The ending was tense and fantastic, but the rest felt a little like it was stalling to fill the book.
2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I did not watch the miniseries adaptation of this book, but I thought the book was excellent. If you are up for a novel about a pandemic that wipes out most of human population, this is an excellent read. I found it incredibly hopeful in a sea of hopeless sci-fi/dystopia.
3. The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray
The last novel in the current phase of Star Wars High Republic books, I found this novel thrilling, suspenseful, and sad. I continue to say that some of the most exciting storytelling in Star Wars right now is happening in the publishing world.
4. How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
This was a required read for work this year, but one I willingly chose out of several options. I learned a lot and found a lot to ponder about how race intersects with so many different parts of society. Definitely not a book to breeze through without processing.
5. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Within the Young Adult sci-fi genre there are a lot of tropes that are somewhat tiring at this point, but I am happy to say that this book weaves an interesting and compelling story without relying heavily on the standard tropes.
6. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Thanks to our school library's Lit Loot box initiative, I got my first taste of Faerie fantasy this year. I will say that I generally am not a fan, although I appreciated reading stories from the perspective of female characters, as it gave me a different flavor of fantasy than I am used to.
7. Wholehearted Faith by Rachel Held Evans, Jeff Chu
I have been a fan of Rachel Held Evans' books for a while, and her tragic death was a blow to Christianity. This book was published posthumously, and while there was not a lot of new material or ideas here, it was nice to have a refresh of some of Evans' thoughts.
8. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
I will echo my thoughts from #6 above. I did like this one slightly more than The Cruel Prince, however.
9. Midnight Horizon by Daniel Jose Older
This Young Adult Star Wars novel had a few great moments, but I overall found the book just average, without adding much to the ongoing storyline of the High Republic.
10. Queen's Hope by E.K. Johnston
I really enjoyed the first two Padme Amidala novels by Johnston and had high expectations for this novel set in the middle of the Clone Wars, but the main storyline was mostly uninteresting. The side plot about Anakin and Padme's marriage was far more interesting and could have made for a more unique entry into Star Wars canon.
11. How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice by Jemar Tisby
Really the main thing I need to say about this book is that Jemar Tisby is a treasure and should be required reading for everyone who considers themselves part of the Christian faith. For that matter, it doesn't matter what faith you are, this book is so practical and helpful that it is a must read.
12. Brotherhood by Mike Chen
I read a lot of Star Wars novels, and most of them are good with flashes of greatness, but I loved this brand new novel set during the Clone Wars and exploring Obi-Wan and Anakin's friendship after Anakin's promotion to Jedi Knight. The novel explores the ethics of war and the nature of human relationships all while telling a really great story.
13. Parenting Forward: How to Raise Children with Justice, Mercy, and Kindness by Cindy Wang Brandt
This book is a great intro to some ways to approach parenting in our current complex world. I thought the book was a great, basic overview of a lot of ideas, but I would have loved a deeper dive into some of them.
What have you been reading so far this year? I would love to hear your recommendations!
It's time again to recap everything I read for the last six months! I honestly look forward to these posts because I love to share reading recommendations and spread the word about good (or less than good) books. This year I made a goal on Goodreads (my reading list app of choice) to read 24 books. This was one more than I read in 2019, and I try to up my goal by one book every year. 2020 was an anomaly because of the pandemic, so I read an unusually high amount of books. I came about 100 pages short of finishing my 24th book, but I am not too disappointed because I spent last night playing Zelda on our new Nintendo Switch instead of reading...
So, here are the books from I read in order from July-December 2021 with a few thoughts about each.
Golden Son by Pierce Brown
The second book in the Red Rising series, Golden Son was excellent. I enjoyed the first book quite a bit but found a lot of similarities with other popular dystopian literature. This second book in the series was even better and took the series to new, exciting places. I can't wait to find out what happens next.
The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott
The next two books are the obligatory Star Wars reads, which will be present on every reading list I make. I did not enjoy this book as much as some of the previous High Republic novels, but it did set up some really interesting storylines for the future.
Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland
When I was looking back through my reading list, I actually forgot I read this, so I am not sure what that says about its quality. I believe I listened to this as an audiobook, and I enjoyed it, but nothing super memorable about it.
Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
I could probably write an entire blog post about this book, and maybe I will, but I would argue that this book is essential reading for anyone who considers themselves part of the evangelical church. What I will say is, at the end of this book I cried, because of the ways it touched on a definition of masculinity that I have found damaging over the course of my life.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Thanks to a very cool program started by the library at the school where I work, the next two books on the list were given to me by our librarians. This title was a graphic novel about a self-proclaimed nerd (computer science teacher) who gets wrapped up in something he never expected, the school's basketball program. As a fellow self-proclaimed nerd teacher and casual sports fan, I very much related to the author's story.
Educated by Tara Westover
Another book I would never have picked out if not for the school librarians' recommendation, this book tells the unbelievable story of a woman raised in a crazy family in the middle of nowhere Idaho. The stories of her family are insane, but the throughline of her desire to better herself humanizes her experience.
Tempest Runner by Cavan Scott
By far the most unusual entry on this list, this book is not a book in the traditional sense. Tempest Runner will be published as a book, but for now it is a Star Wars audio drama. Highly produced with excellent voice acting, I enjoyed learning more about one of the more intriguing villains of the High Republic era.
The Star Wars Book by Cole Horton, Pablo Hidalgo, and Dan Zehr
Not a lot to say about this book other than that is a fun compilation of Star Wars trivia and info that will make a great reference book.
What did you read this year? Leave a comment with some of your favorites.
Back in June I posted about all the books I read for the first half of the year, and since we are now into a new year, it is time to follow up with the back half of the year. Last January I made a goal to read 23 books this year. I had slowly been making my way back to pre-children reading levels when I read 30-40 books a year, so I thought 23 was a reasonable goal. Then, the pandemic hit, and I blew that goal out of the water with a total of 35 books read in 2020. I actually delayed this post until today, hoping that I could finish one of the two books I was reading, but neither came to fruition. Nevertheless, I am ecstatic that I was able to finish so many books this year and work and parent full time.
I will follow the same format as my June post, with one or two sentences about what impacted me from each read. Feel free to use the comments to further the discussion about any of the books that stood out to you or you also enjoyed. Without further rambling, here is my reading list from July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
Thanks for sticking around to the end, and I hope that there might be something on this list worth checking out in 2021! I decided to be reasonable and keep my goal at one higher than last year (24 books), since we have a new baby coming this year, so check back at the end of June for the midyear update!
I love to read. When businesses started opening up again (for the context of this comment, look up the year 2020 in your history book someday), I was most concerned about when I could get to the library. I have the Goodreads app on my phone and regularly keep track of all the books I read throughout the year, set reading goals, and put together lists of books that I need to read. Occasionally I will even write a review for a book on Goodreads, but more often than not, I give it a star rating and move on to the next.
Recently inspired by a couple of my cousins who shared their reading lists on social media, I thought this blog might be a good platform to start a tradition of checking in twice a year with the books I read and how each book impacted me. I do not intend for this to be a review of the book or whether it was good or bad. Rather, I intend to use this space to share how the book impacted me on a personal level. If you want to see my rankings of books, let's be friends on Goodreads! Maybe this can even be a space where everyone can share some other great recommendations of how books make their life better.
In chronological order and no more than two sentences (mostly), here are the books I read for the first half of 2020.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo
If you made it this far, have you read any of these books? What did you think? What have you read this year? Anything that impacted you in some way? Let's share in the comments!
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