52 Books

For the first time in my life, I made a reading goal for myself. Bea is at a wonderfully independent stage – I can sit in the playroom or backyard and read while she goes on her own little adventures. She likes to have me in eyesight, but doesn’t necessarily want me to interact with her during this playtime.

I decided to try to read 52 books this year – a book per week. Yesterday, I finished my 52nd book. Frank thought I should up my goal to 100 books for the year, but I think I’ll just go back to reading without goals. Or maybe I’ll use the rest of the year to finally tackle my copy of War and Peace. We’ll see…

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Of these 52 books, 13 were 5-star and only one was 1-star. I thought I’d share my top-5 favorite reads of the year so far. You can find all of my 5 star books over at Pinterest and all of my reading at Goodreads.

1) An Alter in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
This series of essays on life and faith was encouraging and thought-provoking. Brown’s ability to connect life-stories with lessons and thoughts on spirituality without it sounding like a short blog post was refreshing. It was a good reminder of what spiritual memoir can look like.

2) Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
I’ve kind of stalled out on the TV show, but Kerman’s memoir is an important book. She brings up questions of prison reform and social inequality through an engaging telling of her own experience in a minimum-security prison. She also gives a list of resources at the end, which I found helpful for the “now what?” questions I had upon finishing.

3) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This novel of a Nigerian woman who moves to the US for college and then back to Nigeria as an adult brings up important questions of race, fitting in, and immigrant culture. It’s a well-done novel – one in which you learn, which I enjoy. D.L. Mayfield wrote a wonderful review over at SheLoves magazine.

4) God Has a Dream by Desmond Tutu
Sometimes I can get mired down with the news – Why can’t we learn from our mistakes? Is it so hard to love our neighbors? Tutu’s thoughts on hope and reconciliation are as important today as they were ten years ago. I especially appreciated his point of view because he actively practices what he expresses.

5) Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland
I appreciated Cleveland’s view that we need to recognize differences in order to better understand each other. She talks about how we are wired to form groups – it’s a survival technique – but that we still need to be aware that we have more in common with The Other group than we’d like to think. This is a book I have connected to many other books and conversations, even after finishing it.

Have you ever made a reading goal? What are some 5-star books you’ve read this year?