My Favorite Nonfiction of 2017

It’s no secret that I love to read.  If I were to evacuate (which could happen when you live in a country that is not your own), my kindle would be one of the first things that I would put in my to-go bag.  Over the past year, I read over 100 books too many of them chick lit.  But this year I did read more nonfiction especially nonfiction that was relevant to my development in this season.  I am still pondering some the content I read in those nonfiction books.  The following books challenged my thinking, helped me understand, or expanded my view of life.  Many of them are books I need to read again to fully grasp and assimilate the content.

Here is my list…

1. The Poverty of Nations by Barry Asmus and Wayne Grudem

Why do some countries stay in poverty no matter how much aid they receive?  What factors contribute to a nation’s economic growth? This book looked at these questions and many others as the authors examined and explained the macroeconomics of what a nation needs in order to be sustainable. I actually listened to this book instead of reading.  It was great in helping me understand a little more about the world around me.

2. Confessions of a Transformed Heart by Nancy Sheppard

 Nancy, the author, wrote of her family’s time in Liberia and Sierra Leone, but most of all she shared how God transformed her heart as they served in West Africa.  Each season had a different lesson.  Looking back on our time overseas, I can relate to how God has a lesson for each season.  I was challenged by Nancy’s lessons especially how she recognized that she had a lust for affirmation. (A less flattering way to say people pleaser.) I am still working on how I can do better at not asking questions that seek affirmation and instead looking to God for my affirmation.  Her words were encouraging yet challenging,  and her story was one that gave God the glory.

3. Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

As Noel and I read this book together, we enjoyed trying out the techniques and recipes that were scattered throughout the book.  In her book, Kathleen wrote about a cooking class she did for ordinary people who wanted to learn how to cook so that they could be healthier and also save money.  The students were all from different demographics.  Each chapter focused on a different subject such as poultry or bread with stories of the class and the author’s life scattered throughout.  Each chapter ended with recipes to try.  Our biggest takeaways were how to hold a knife correctly for cutting produce, how to make an alfredo sauce, and recipes for rubs for roast chicken. 

4. Never Unfriend by Lisa Jo Baker

I wish this book would have been around in my 20’s.  Here are my musings on the book.  Never Unfriend is definitely on my to read again list.

5. At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh and her family traveled for a year, and this book told their journey that took them to Thailand, Australia, China, Africa, and many other places.  My husband and I enjoyed living vicariously through them as they traveled to both places we have been and to places that we want to go.  The essays were thoughts about discovering new places, learning things about yourself and other cultures, and most of all what is home.  

I like my passport full of stamps but I need a drawer to keep it in.” (from the above book)

6. The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction by Adam McHugh

Adam McHugh in his book wrote about how we need to listen better to God, scripture, other people, and even ourselves.  He not only gave the why’s but also the how’s of being a better listener.  As I reread my notes on the book, I see that I need to keep working on my listening skills.
A convicting quote from the book:

“Servant listening is an act of surrender, in which we lay down our verbal weapons, our preconceived notions, our quick advice, and our desire to steer the conversation toward ourselves.  We release our grasp on the terms and direction of the conversation.”

The Listening Life would be a great book to read through and discuss with a friend.  Anyone interested in joining me for the second time around?

7. The Blue Parakeet:Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight

Whether you are a new student or an old student of the word of God, there is always something to learn about studying God’s word.  Scot points out the different ways people approach reading the bible and the problems with some of those approaches.  He then proceeds to walk the reader through how to read the bible as a whole story about God and to read things in context.   The last chapter is a case study on using his suggestions which I found helpful.

8. The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel

My husband and I read this book separately, but it still became a book we discussed on our walks.  Through interviews and life experience, the authors examined what the way of the Lamb and the way of the dragon are.  The book had me reexamining my motives for my everyday actions.  What am I seeking.

The part of the book that impacted me the most was the part about nonviolence.  Here is what I wrote about it  in an earlier post…
In their book, The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb, Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel wrote a chapter called “The Power of Love”.  In this chapter, they talked about Martin Luther’s philosophy and interviewed a man named John Perkins who was also part of a similar movement.  Both men knew the real enemy was evil in the person not the person.  They also believed that love not hate would win.  As they protested, they needed to love their enemy not let hate control them.  John Perkins talked about not hating in his heart as he resisted.  It was an inward thing as well as an outward thing. This was not easy.  For John Perkins, he was beaten for no reason than that he was black.  He wanted to give into hate but God sent him someone who loved on him helping him forgive and be able to live loved. What would happen if we loved like that?

9. When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story

This book is the story of Laura and her husband as they go through the first years of marriage.  Those years include a diagnosis of a tumor, surgery, complications of the surgery, a new job as a worship leader, and trying to start a family.  In this post, I reviewed the book in more detail.

10. Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Brant Hanson

My husband and I both read this book which helped as we processed it on our walks.  After reading the book, we had a lot of what if’s.  We are finding our way of thinking about life is slowly changing.  What if we chose to not be offended?  How would we be different?  How would we relate to others differently?  Many of the truths in the book were hard and convicting.  Other truths were an affirmation of where God has been leading us this year.  Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book.

I’m not entitled to anger, because I am me.  I can’t handle anger.  I don’t have the strength of character to do it.  Only God does.  We can trust him with it.  Jesus gets angry, but his character is beyond question, so He is entitled to it.” p.20

It’s not a side issue, not a secondary concern, not a strategy.  Again: Choosing to be unoffendable out of love for others in ministry.  And real ministry forces us to abandon our relentless search for approval from others.  That frees us to love… beautifully and recklessly.” p150

Looking back on my life, I see multiple areas where my anger or being offended kept me from being the light I wanted to be.  I can not go back and change the past, but hopefully in the future, I can be less offendable or unoffendable.

What books did you read last year that you are either still thinking about or impacted you in some way?

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5 thoughts on “My Favorite Nonfiction of 2017

    • Author gravatar

      What a great list! I am especially interested in The Poverty of Nations, which I've never heard of before. Thanks for the recommendation!

      Some of the books I read last year that I can't stop thinking about: Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray, Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin, Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Lathum, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, and Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward.

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    • Author gravatar

      Thank you Marilu for your suggestions. I hope you enjoy the Poverty of Nations.

    • Author gravatar

      Hey TJ! So good to connect with you this week … I'm a big Adam McHugh fan and will probably be doing a bit of a Book Club on The Listening Life before long.

      I'm always in awe of the number of books out there, just waiting to be read. Thanks for filling us in on some unknowns to me.

      Bless you …

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      I LOVED The Kitchen Counter Cooking School! I have made the roasted chicken so many times using her easy-to-follow directions! I also loved At Home in the World (I used some of it to prepare for my October trip to France and Italy!), and learned SO much from The Listening Life.

      Here are my December reads:

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