Favorite Non-Fiction Reads (First Half of 2021 Edition)
If you have been around this space any time at all, you know that I love to read. I read to learn, but also read for entertainment. A good vacation means that I have read at least two books. My purse/backpack even has the perfect spot for my kindle paperwhite as I travel, go to appointments, or plan to be some place where I might have to wait. Reading is my go to when I have free time or am bored.
This year I started off with the goal of reading more non-fiction and so far this has been true. That said, of the 53 books I have read this year, the majority are fiction reads. My husband, daughter and I read a lot of the same fiction books which makes for some interesting discussions and also sort of a competition to keep up. My day usually ends with a chapter or two out of one of the books I am reading before my eyes close for the night.
Even though I read mostly fiction, I focused today on my favorite non-fiction. These are the ones I read slowly, underlined, journaled about, and took in deeper. These are the ones that are shaping the way I see the world around me. Affiliate links are used which means that if you click and buy through the link that I get a few pennies towards my next book with no extra cost to you.
A dear friend loaned me her paperback copy of this book. It was a blessing to see her markings in the book as I read. It reminded me of how we used to trade books before I moved overseas.
Even Better than Eden was a great follow up to my study of Genesis this last year. Even though the book is about the themes throughout the whole Bible, many of those themes begin in Genesis. Knowing these themes as we read God’s word allows me to better see the big picture of God’s purpose throughout history and His love and plan for His people.
One of my favorite quotes of the book comes from the theme of wilderness. This quote has been true many times in my life.
God sees emptiness in your life as his greatest opportunity, because God does his best work with empty as he fills it with himself p. 17
I originally saw this book in an airport bookstore and immediately put it on my to-read list. A few months later, it came up on kindle unlimited and I decided to give it a try. I won’t lie. This book took me a long time to read and at times I felt liked I was overwhelmed by the details. So why is it on my favorites list? It helped me understand the world better. What might be certain leaders motivations and how does geography affect that? What does life look from their point of view or more specifically their point on the globe? After reading this book, I will read and watch the news differently.
Pastor Tim Keller’s book is a manual on prayer. He draws his insights from personal experience, the classics on prayer, and most importantly God’s word. With his focus on connecting with God, Tim Keller gives practical advice for those who want to deepen their prayer life. It is perfect for beginners or those who are ready to take their prayer life to the next level. This book challenged me to be more intentional in my prayer life and to not worry about starting small. Already I see the benefits of these small changes and hope to continue to grow in this area.
Here are two favorite quotes.
God does not merely require our petitions but our selves, and no one who begins the hard, life-long trek of prayer knows yet who they are. Nothing but prayer will ever reveal you to yourself, because only before God can you see and become your true self p. 30
To shift metaphors, meditation is taking the truth down into our hearts until it catches fire there and begins to melt and shape our reactions to God, ourselves, and the world. p. 151
Many self help books focus on how the author’s method is the best and should work for anyone and everyone. Kendra instead gives practical advice on how to think through our lives and seasons and come up with a plan that fits our lives not hers. It is not about being perfect but being present and connected. Because of this book I have been asking myself “what can I do now to make life easier later?” p 48 It is great question or as she would say the “magic question” that anyone could ask, but the answer will be different for you and for me.
And imagine this. We become a generation of women who are at peace with how we are, who encourage one another to move closer to our deepest identities and shed what’s in the way. I’m all for that world.
5. Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens
The topic of resilience has been on my mind this year especially as I watch those around me navigate the pandemic, a crazy election year, and all the transitions that have gone with it. At a conference in November, a speaker talked about 10 traits that resilient people have. He then went on to say that many of these traits could be developed. Wanting to know more about the subject, I picked up this book from the library. Resilience is written as a series of letters from Eric to his SEAL teammate as Eric mentors his teammate through some hard places. The author gives the reader a glimpse into what it is like to transition into civilian life but also gives wisdom that applies to all people military or not.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
Resilient people do not bounce back from hard experiences ; they find healthy ways to integrate them into their lives. p. 23
Smiling and breathing. These are simple things. Exercising and serving. These are simple things. Being grateful and gracious. These are simple tings. Acting with humility. Acting with courage. These are simple things. Some people try to make this business of living too complicated. It’s hard, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Decide who you want to be. Act that way. In time, you’ll become the person you resolve to be. p. 88
When all I thought about was my own pain and how the world had dealt me an unfair hand, I became weaker. When I thought of the needs of my team, my friends, I became stronger. We often think that our friends help us when we are weak. And they do. But it’s also true that we become strong when we have friends to be strong for. p. 218
What are some of your favorite non-fiction reads this year or maybe even from last year? Do you have any to add to my already too long list? Have you read any of the books above? What are your thoughts on them?