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26 books in 6 months

26 books in 6 months

One of the goals I put in place at the beginning of this year was to read 52 books.

A book per week, for a whole year. 

So, today I'm sharing with you the 26 books I successfully read in the first 6 months of the year (okay, and an extra week - so 26 books in 27 weeks) and which ones are my faves!

Before we get into it, some details about my reading method.

Firstly, I generally don't read physical books anymore and I almost never buy physical books. This is a topic I'll get into another day but we can summarize why I've switched to this reading method by saying this: books take up space, use a lot of paper, and are heavy to lug around. Late last year I realized having lots of physical books on display was simply an ego thing for me, and that I didn't need to prove to people that I was smart and well-read by having every book I've read on display. (I'll just prove it by blogging it instead, ha!) 

When going to read a book, my first choice is ALWAYS renting the ebook. My library (and most libraries) have an online ebook and audiobook rental system (mine uses Overdrive) which you can register for at the library. 

My preferred ways to access books (in order of preference) are:

  1. Ebook rental through library
  2. Kobo ebook purchase (to read on Kobo app or Kobo ereader), (and you can get $5 FOR FREE to spend at Kobo using this link!)
  3. Kindle ebook purchase (to read on Kindle app)
  4. Library rental of physical copy
  5. Purchase physical copy. (There's 1 book I've purchased all year because it wasn't available in any of the channels listed above.)
  6. Audiobook. I listen to too many podcasts to care about listening to books too. 

Lastly, for those who are curious, I typically read 2-3 books at at time in varying genres so I can pick what I read based on my mood. Generally, one fiction book, and two non-fiction books about different topics. I usually read fiction ONLY before bed. Or when waiting between appointments and things like that.

Okay, on to the books!

(Skip to the bottom if you just want to see my top 12 faves so far!)

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What do the scores mean?

2/5 - It wasn't for me but you might like it depending on your interests. I didn't score anything less than this.
3/5 - It was fine but, like, there are definitely better books out there.
4/5 - It was great and I recommend it, but there are some books I'd recommend before this!
5/5 - Highly recommend. Don't skip this. It probably made me cry or changed how I think about something important. Or just really entertained me. Read it. (Unless you're just not interested in the topic, I guess.)

The 26 Books I've Read So Far in 2018

January

1. The Road Back to You - Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
Non-Fiction | Enneagram
This is a great introductory book to the Enneagram. It's definitely not my favourite enneagram resource, but it gives a decent summary to every number type, and might be helpful for you in determining your enneagram number.
4/5

2. Inheritance - Christopher Paolini
Fiction | Fantasy
The fourth and last book in one of my favourite fiction series (I've only read the series 4 times...). Based in a land of dragons and dragon riders and magic - it's a great story of a young dragon rider learning to harness his new abilities to hopefully take down a nearly all-powerful and evil dictator. It's right up there with the Harry Potter series for me, friends. Just don't watch the movie. Ugh. 
5/5

February

3. Mask of Masculinity - Lewis Howes
Non-Fiction | Self-Help
I read this book because I listened to Lewis Howes' podcast for a while and he boasted that it would be so helpful for men to understand the masks they wear and excellent for women to understand the men around them. I honestly didn't really like it or find it helpful - but that may have more to do with the fact that the men in my life are great and I'm finding it easier (and more helpful) to understand people in general through the lens of the Enneagram and not through "masculine masks". 
2/5 (Yikes, harsh Jen)

4. Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill
Fiction | Historical
The story of Aminata, a woman from Mali (Africa), getting abducted from her village and sold into the American slave trade at the age of 11. It follows her life through abduction to slavery to freedom and all of the mess in-between. It was excellent and eye-opening.
5/5 (Mature content.)

5. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Fiction | Dystopian
A novel about the speculate future where a totalitarian state has taken over the United States government. Many women are infertile, and fertile women are child-bearing slaves for the rich and are named according to who they belong to. It's an interested and unique read, for sure.
4/5 (Mature content.)

6. Sacred Enneagram - Chris Heuertz
Non-Fiction | Enneagram
Sub-title: Finding your unique path to spiritual growth.
This is absolutely my favourite book (so far) about the enneagram, especially for beginners. He summarizes many key ideas of the enneagram so well, gives gracious and honest overviews of each type, and gives each type great ideas for growth and how to connect the enneagram to your spiritual journey. (I know, I need to write about the enneagram. Coming soon, hopefully.)
5/5

March

7. Green - Ted Dekker
Fiction | Fantasy with Christian themes
The fourth and final book of the Circle Series (also one of my fave fiction series), but also Book Zero of the series. A series is a story split between two worlds: one current and one two thousand years in the future - and Thomas Hunter wakes up in the next world as soon as he falls asleep. Just look this one up, there's a lot going on here but I highly recommend it. And prepare for your mind to be seriously bended in this final book. Ted Dekker's ideas really opened up some new doors in my brain about the nature of time, eternity, and God.
5/5 

8. Showdown - Ted Dekker
Fiction | Thriller, maybe?
The first book in a trilogy, a stranger comes to the small town of Paradise claiming to be some kind of mysterious and powerful Messiah, while a group of gifted orphans are secluded in a school - and start disobeying their leadership and writing in books that bring words to real life. It gets weird, y'all, (like really really weird) and I'm here for it.
4.5/5

9. Personality Types - Don Richard Riso with Russ Hudson
Non-Fiction | Enneagram
Yes, I read 3 enneagram books in three months, it's fine. I highly recommend this one for anyone who wants to dive deep into the enneagram because it's definitely not a quick beginner's manual. I probably spent around 40 hours reading it and took A LOT of notes. 
5/5.

April

10. Saint - Ted Dekker
Fiction | Thriller
The second book in the Paradise series (after Showdown), about a man's training to be the most effective assassin in the world. This one also gets weird, but not quite as weird as the first book in the series. 
4/5 (Not as good as the first book, and the third book wasn't available via ebook rental so I haven't read the third book.)

11. What We Talk About When We Talk About God - Rob Bell
Non-Fiction | Christian Literature
Rob tackles the misconceptions about God and talks about how God is with us, for us, and ahead of us. He talks about how God isn't stuck in the past and that God doesn't need to be made applicable to today's culture, but rather how God is actually going ahead of us and drawing us forward into greater understanding and love and beauty. A great intro to re-shaping your view of God.
4.5/5

May

12. Inside Scientology - Janet Reitman
Non-fiction | Biography
A really thorough breakdown of the history of the "religion" of Scientology. I had no idea Scientology was that weird. You might be wondering "Jen, why are you reading about Scientology?" and I'd respond, "It was a weird selection, agreed. But I value reading about belief systems and ideas that I know nothing about in order to understand the world around me and other people a little better." Cool? Cool.
4/5 

13. What is the Bible? - Rob Bell
Non-Fiction | Christian Literature
Sub-title: How an ancient library of poems, letters, and stories can transform the way you think and feel about everything.
Are you confused about portions about the Bible (like what's with the wars, or polygamy, or the sacrificial system), or even how such an ancient library of books is helpful for life today? Rob talks about the importance of considering the genre, context, and the worldview and understanding of God at the time it was written. He explains and redeems stories that are very confusing or bring up questions about ethics, and outlines an alternative view of the Bible: a library that chronicles humanity's expanding understanding of God using many different genres and point's of view. He addresses concerns you might have about the ethical delimmas, errors, and inconsistencies throughout Scripture. I can't recommend this enough for anyone who might be searching or working through their faith.
5/5

14. Rising Strong - Brene Brown
Non-Fiction | Self-Help
Sub-title: How the ability to reset transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead.
Brene Brown is always a good idea. This book talks about how to get up when you've been knocked down, and to use the experience to learn about yourself and grow through it. In my opinion, not as good as Daring Greatly, but good nonetheless.
4/5

15. The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown
Non-Fiction | Self-Help
Yep, more Brene Brown. In this one, she discusses the 12 traits and attitudes she's seen as being pivotal in cultivating a "wholehearted life" and how to develop them. On the Brene Brown scale, somewhere between the greatness of Daring Greatly and the goodness of Rising Strong.
4.5/5

16. For the Love - Jen Hatmaker
Non-Fiction | Christian Literature
A collection of essays by Jen Hatmaker about life, faith, love, friendship, and family. She's wise, funny, and straight forward - and I appreciated her point of view.
4/5

17. Boy Erased - Garrard Conley
Non-Fiction | Memoir
A true story about the son of a small-town Baptist pastor who gets outed as gay to his parents at the age of 19 by his abuser, and about his time attending a gay conversion therapy program. It's written beautifully and reveals how difficult it is to grow up gay in the church, believing that the way you feel is inherently wrong. It was so helpful for me to hear a real person's journey through this.
5/5

June

18. No One Is Coming to Save Us - Stephanie Watts
Fiction
A story about an African-American family in North Carolina which talks about life in a dying town, infertility, young loves colliding with old loves, and infedelity.
3.5/5 (Mature content.)

19. Wonder - RJ Palacio
Fiction
A really touching story about August, a fifth grade boy with a facial difference, that covers his year of going to public school for the first time. It chronicles his experience with bullies and friendships and navigating an awkward time of life. I cried through the whole thing and devoured it in a day.
5/5

20. Did Jesus Exist? - Bart D. Ehrman
Non-fiction | History
Sub-title: The historical argument for Jesus of Nazareth.
Bart Ehrman takes a non-Christian but historical look at whether or not Jesus existed or if he's a myth. (Spoiler alert: historical evidence says he was a real human.)
3.5/5

21. Love Wins - Rob Bell
Non-Fiction | Christian Literature
Sub-title: A book about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived. 
Some people say Rob "erased hell" with this book, and I don't agree. Was it controversial? For sure. Did I really appreciate his view? Also, yes. To me, he doesn't necessarily erase hell but rather presents this interested question throughout the course of the book: What if God is loving enough and powerful enough and redeeming enough that hell would be empty? What a beautiful thought.
5/5

22. Inspired - Rachel Held Evans
Non-Fiction | Christian Literature
Sub-title: Slaying giants, walking on water, and loving the Bible again.
Rachel tells her story about asking questions, doubting, learning to understand the Bible better, and discovering how it's meant to be read. She examines some Bible stories and re-tells them through memoir, poetry, story, soliloquy and screenplay - and talks about understanding the Scripture anew and loving the Bible again.
5/5

23. Exit West - Mohsin Hamid
Fiction | Political
A story about Saeed and Nadia - lovers from an unnamed country facing series economic and political breakdown. As unrest increases, "doors" open up to other areas of the world. A fictional take on love, refugees, and political breakdown.
4/5

24. The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen - Lisa Gungor
Non-Fiction | Memoir
Sub-title: Opening your eyes to wonder.
Probably my favourite book I've read so far all year. A beautifully written memoir about Lisa's life in the church, meeting her husband Michael, struggling with fertility, and having kids (including one with Down Syndrome). She talks about doubt sparking deeper faith and beauty, about not clinging too closely to what you thinking you know, and learning to see the beauty around us. I can't recommend this one enough.
5.5/5

25. When Things Fall Apart - Pemo Chodron
Non-Fiction | Self-Help/Buddhist
Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist writer, and she discusses Buddhist thought about meditation, suffering, and the happiness available to us within our grasp.
4/5

26. Searching For Sunday - Rachel Held Evans
Non-Fiction | Christian Literature
Sub-title: Loving, leaving, and finding the Church.
Like "Inspired" she tells her story about re-discovering an element of Christianity, and this time it's the Church. She discusses why she left, and why she doesn't want to stay away, centring the book around seven sacraments: baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and marriage.
4.5/5


Top 12 Fave Books for 2018 (so far):

Faith:

  1. The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen by Lisa Gungor
  2. What is the Bible by Rob Bell
  3. Love Wins by Rob Bell
  4. Inspired by Rachel Held Evans

*A disclaimer about these recommendations: These books aren't necessarily Evangelical or Fundamentalist Christianity friendly, so they might not be for you depending on your beliefs. I mean, I once thought Rob Bell was a heretic, but I don't anymore. These are better for the doubters, the questioners, the ones struggling through what they believe. 

Fiction:

  1. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  2. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (but start in book 1, Eragon)
  3. Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  4. Green by Ted Dekker (but start in book 1, Black)

Non-Fiction (Memoir)

  1. The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen by Lisa Gungor (yes, this is the second time I listed it but it's applicable to this category too, kay?).
  2. Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

Non-Fiction (Self-Help)

  1. Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heuertz
  2. Personality Types by Don Richard Riso
  3. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
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