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My Top 10 Favorite Books From 2017

Want to know what my Top 10 Favorite Books were that I read in 2017? Well, of the , here were my Top 10 Picks (these were chosen based upon how much the books resonated with me, how much they impacted me or stuck with me since reading them, and how much I enjoyed reading them):

If you’ve always struggled with setting and following through with goals and new year’s resolutions, I highly recommend this book.

It’s a fast read, but it will likely challenge and conflict with most other goal-setting advice you’ve heard. And I think it will inspire you that you don’t have to be this amazingly disciplined person to actually finish goals you’ve set. You just have to change your process for goal-setting, and maybe completely overhaul your perspective on what goal-setting should be.

One of my favorite parts in the book is when the author, Jon Acuff, talks about “Strategic Incompetence” which is the act of deciding what you will bomb ahead of time so that you have energy and capacity to actually finish and win in those few areas that matter most.

It’s so freeing to claim a long list of things I’m not good at or don’t want to win at in order to focus on the short list of things I am good at and the few areas that are really important to me longterm (like my marriage and my kids!)

Kaitlynn and I read  as part of her Sonlight curriculum in homeschool and really enjoyed it! It was one of our very favorites this year — especially if you love Ancient Egyptian history.

It was a Newberry Honor Award winner and I’m not surprised. The storyline is compelling and interesting and it brings Ancient Egyptian history to life.

Plus, it’s a story of endurance and resilience in the face of many odds. It was one of those read alouds that we just didn’t want to stop reading and both of us looked forward to each day to see what was going to happen. And we were kind of sad when the book was finished!

I really loved this book and slowly savored it over a month — reading just a few pages each day. I will say that it took me a few chapters to really get into and I almost didn’t think I would actually finish it in the beginning since I found it had a pretty slow start.

But I’m so grateful that I didn’t stop after the first chapter or two because so many sections of this book challenged me in new ways to think about what rest truly is and why it’s so important in the life of a Christian.

Here’s a quote from it that I especially loved:

“One measure for whether or not you’re rested enough… is to ask yourself: How much do I care about the things I care about? When we lose concern for people… when we cease to laugh when our children laugh (and instead yell at them to be quiet) or weep when our spouse weeps (and instead wish they didn’t get so emotional)… When we hear news of trouble among our neighbors and our first thought is that we hope it isn’t going to involve us…When we stop caring about what we care about…That’s a signal that we’re too busy. We have let ourselves be consumed by the things that feed the ego but starve the soul.”

We really enjoyed reading this book together as a family. It’s the true story of a young Jewish girl who was hidden in a room for two years to protect her from being captured or killed by the Germans. While the writing in the book could have been tightened up a bit, we all found the story fascinating and such a good reminder of the gift we have of freedom to be able to go outside and live our normal lives without fear.

Note: It totally caught me off guard that this book had language in it that I never would have expected for a kid’s book and I’ve had to edit out a few words here and there. Just keep this in mind if you’re planning to read this to your kids or let them read it.

This book really, really impacted me in a number of different ways. One of those was in the area of friendships. I wrote this as a result of how the book challenged me:

“We weren’t created to be loners; we were created for community.”

I’ve said this from stages and written it in posts. And yet, for years, I’ve worked incredibly hard to not inconvenience anyone around me, if I can dare help it.

I’ve gone way out of my way to avoid causing someone else to have to go out of their way.

I’ve struggled through many things privately and not shared them with those closest to me lest I add one more thing to their already-full plates.

I’ve put on a brave face and kept it together when I felt like my world was falling apart because the last thing I would want to do would be to be a burden to someone else.

But I’m slowly learning this is the road of loneliness and isolation.

If we want to develop authentic deep relationships, we have to spill out the vulnerable, broken parts of our soul and let other people in to the messy, hurting, raw spaces. And be a safe place for them to do the same.

It requires the willingness to inconvenience and be inconvenienced. It means we let others bear our burdens and we’re willing to bear theirs. It will result in disappointing others and in being disappointed ourselves.

But when we let others get close enough that our brokenness and messiness is on full display, they also get to see the most beautiful, intimate parts of our heart and soul, too.

And let me tell you, getting to experience that depth in relationship is so very worth being inconvenienced and inconveniencing others for.

Please don’t judge this book by its cover. The contents are GOLD.

I firmly believe that every Christian’s life could be deeply impacted by a slow reading of this book. It will challenge you to truly understand, grasp, and live in light of the gospel like never before.

As soon as I finished it, I wanted to start reading it again.

“Preaching the gospel to myself each day nourishes within me a holy brazenness to believe what God says, enjoy what He offers, and do what He commands.”

I listened to this book as an audiobook and I loved it. I think the fact that it is so well narrated has made it such a good listen and I’d highly recommend it on audiobook. It’s a really compelling, tragic, and gripping story of the horrors of concentration camps.

(Note: I almost stopped listening to it because there was some edge-y stuff in the first part and I was afraid it was going to get worse as progressed. But it ended up getting quite a bit better as it progressed. Do note that it it is very much PG-13 and I would only recommend listening to it with headphones in if you have kids at your house!)

This book is such a worthwhile read! I read it in two days and can’t recommend it highly enough — especially if you have kids around ages 9-12 like mine are. I think it’s a book that can really impact your thinking on what compassion and empathy look like and the importance of being a true friend.

My girls read it and we had some great discussions about the book. We also went to the movie and I wrote a really honest review of my thoughts on the movie and why I felt like it missed the mark.

I picked up this book because the title intrigued me. It wasn’t at all what I expected — but it was exactly what I needed to read. It was all about the importance of being honest before God and others. I wrote this as a result of reading this book:

I’ve been studying what “lament” is recently. It’s not a word we hear a lot, but it’s a word that is completely changing how I pray. I’m realizing how often I sanitize my prayers because I’m afraid to just bring the real, raw, ugly, messy, yucky to God. Like He can’t handle me saying that I’m angry and hurt and upset and or that a situation doesn’t make sense. But isn’t that what David — a “man after God’s own heart” — did all throughout the book of Psalms?

It’s been really, really freeing for me to get brave enough to bring the ugly to God. He doesn’t need me to hold back how I feel. He wants me to be honest and when I’m being honest, He can meet me there in the darkness and yucky.

Think about it: if you’re a parent, don’t you want your kids to tell you ALL of how they are feeling? Even if it’s really ugly or dark? Of course! You want to exactly what us going on in their heart… because you care so deeply about them.

It’s the same with our Heavenly Father — only He loves us infinitely more than we could ever love our kids.

Bring Him your ugly, your broken, and your messy. Don’t hold back. It’s when we fully acknowledge our broken, that He can show up as our Healer. It’s when we completely verbalize our our messy, that He can show up as our Redeemer. It’s when we admit the hurt, the heartache, and the heartbreak, that He can show up as our Savior!

I read The Giver for the first time this week. And you guys, I don’t quite know what to say about this book. At first, I was so frustrated by the ending.

That’s it?!?! No! There has to be more!

I couldn’t get the story out of my brain. What am I missing? Why is it haunting me?The more I pondered, the more it started to make sense to me and I actually started to love the book and the powerful way it reminds us that without pain and suffering, we can’t experience emotional connection or truly feel at a deep level.

If we took all of the pain away from the world, it would also take away so much depth and the ability to experience life in full color.
I wished I would have read this book with a book club because I would have loved to hear what other people thought of things as I went through it. And I totally understand why some people love it and some people don’t like it at all.

I have been working on a surprise project the past 2 months and finally get to tell you about it! I’m launching a live group coaching in January called where I’ll be walking you through some life-changing principles to help you live a much more productive and fulfilled life.

It’s designed for you if you…

  • Wish you could change your life, but don’t where to start
  • Hope to find a way to become more productive and get more done, but feel overwhelmed by the thought of taking yet another productivity course or reading yet another book on time management.
  • Want to make 2018 the year that you actually stop wishing and hoping and planning and start DOING.

Doors will open for a few days only beginning January 1, 2018. If you are interested, you’ll want to because you’ll be the first to know when it’s available and you’ll also get access to my brand-new printable called 6 Ways to Start your New Year Well. — I can’t wait to have you join me for the live coaching!

What were YOUR favorite books from 2017? I’d love to hear! Tell us about them in the comments!

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52 Comments

  • Mandi says:

    12 week year was awesome. Just awesome.

  • Mary says:

    Have you read The Awakened Family by Dr. Shefali Tsabary? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts if you’ve read it or if you read it in the future. Such good information and food for thought.

  • Lorrie says:

    I read The Giver 19 years ago in school. I read it again this year because I found out that Lois Lowry wrote a series for this book. The series is called The Giver Quartet. I haven’t read the next book yet (Gathering Blue) because I loved The Giver so much I’m afraid the sequel won’t live up to it. I do plan to read the other books in 2018. Even 19 years later, I remembered most of this book and I love it as much now as I did back then.

    • Jo says:

      I’m planning to read the next 3 in 2018!

      • Margery says:

        Gathering Blue, the second book in the Giver series will not seem like the sequel to The Giver. It will seem like a completely unrelated story, but have faith, the stories all weave together as you progress through the quartet. It is a very fascinating series.

        It has been a few years since I read these. I would like to warn your readers that the third book maybe (I think, but I don’t remember which one) did have a character who had been sexually abused by his father. The book is not explicit about it, but it is in there, so you may want to read this before you let children read it.

    • Denise says:

      Gathering Blue is a great book too! I read it about 10 years ago in high school. The Giver and Gathering Blue are on my top all time list!

  • says:

    I’d say my favourite book read in 2017 was Jumping Ship: What to do so your children don’t jump ship to the world when they get older – by Michael Pearl. Mr. Pearl has a very blunt way of writing and communicating his thoughts, but his words greatly changed my husband and I in how to steer our family.

    A book that I’m currently reading is also definitely going to make it into my favourite books of the year list – Janet Pope’s: His Word in My Heart: Memorizing Scripture for a Closer Walk with God. Wow! I’ve been a believer for 25 years, and I’m asking myself where have I been! Memorizing scripture by the chapter-fulls is where it’s happening – it’s how to transform our lives from the inside out! Highly recommended!

  • Kim says:

    Good news! The Giver is the first in a series of four books- and all are thought-provoking, excellent reads. Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son are the other three. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as much as The Giver!

  • Jeremy Ginn says:

    Two books that stood out for me in 2017 was View From the Top by Aaron Walker and 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. I really enjoyed reading your top 10 list.

  • Kim Church says:

    Hi Crystal! Have you read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers? That is probably the best book I have ever read!

  • says:

    I really liked “What Women Fear” by Angie Smith. She has had anxiety from a young age, and writes with a lot of empathy and understanding for the various ways women struggle with fear.

    I also really enjoyed “Money Making Mom.” Have you read that one? 😉

  • Zaneta says:

    My two favorite books that i read this year are ‘I’ll always write Back’ by Caitlin Alfirenka and Martin Ganda and ‘Daring to Hope’ by Katie Davis Majors. The first was a friendship that started as a penpal. The latter is about a missionary woman that adopted 13 girls. Very deep.

  • Theresa says:

    I’m so excited to see the book reviews are back! I love to read and always enjoyed your book reviews and recommendations.

  • Mae says:

    Thank you! I can’t wait to read a few of the books! I love your book post and I have read several of your recommendations.

  • Linda Sidowski says:

    Hi, Crystal! Thanks for sharing all of your favorites this year! I read one of the ones you read – Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way. Wow . . . what a powerful read.

    I just want to know . . . how do you read 90 books in one year?!! I LOVE to read, but never seem to have the time. Do you have a certain time dedicated to reading each day?! Would love to know your secret!

    Thanks so much!

    Linda

  • Amy M. says:

    Thanks so much for the book recs! You inspired me over the past few years to start reading more again and that has been such a blessing!

    Some of my favorites from the past year:
    * Boundaries with Kids by Cloud and Townsend
    * Help Me Help Others by Larry Wagner (great principles on relationships from a Christian psychologist)
    * Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham; just an engaging light read
    * The Bright Side of Disaster, Everyone Is Beautiful, and Happiness for Beginners all by Katherine Center (talented writer; I find her books very engaging! )
    * Life After by Katie Ganshert
    * Rising Strong by Brene Brown
    * The If I Run series by Terri Blackstock (suspense; 3rd one is coming out in March)

  • says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I’ve added several to my Wish List. And thanks for the warnings on some. We have an advanced reader whose recently decided chapter books aren’t so bad but as a friend cautioned, we struggle now to find books that she can read that have content appropriate for a 7-yo. Our favorite books this year included The BFG, Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse, and one of The Notebook of Doom books by Troy Cummings. I’m currently re-reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst.

  • says:

    I read the Upstairs Room as a kid, but I was pretty mature at that point and understood that a book set during a war might have strong language and I loved the book. I actually read a lot of WWII books as a youth too, and even now as an adult…

    Here is my top ten out of 141. But my 10 were limited to 2017 releases 🙂

  • Arianna says:

    My favorite read aloud with my 9 years old this year was “The wonderful adventures of Nils Holgeon” By Selma Lagerlof. I read it as a child and this year I found the unabridged version on Amazon. A wonderful story of a boy that used to be lazy and mean but develops empathy , compassion and bravery while traveling with a flock a wild geese through Sweden after being turned into a tiny creature as a punishment for his misdeeds. I had such fond memories of reading it and I didn’t even realized that the author was the first woman to win the Nobel prize for literature. There are a lot of abridged version out there…not worth it.

  • says:

    I agree that The Gospel Primer was an amazing challenge and wonderful gospel perspective. I loved it too!

    My favorite book this year was Gretchen Rubin’s “The Four Tendencies” –> now I’m analyzing everyone I meet to find out which tendency they are 😉

  • Amy M. says:

    Oh and how could I forget? (Since I was just looking at my Goodreads list of books completed and not quite done with this one.) I’ve been reading through the One Year Chronological Bible and it’s been such a neat experience! It’s in chronological order by passage, not just book, and it really adds to understanding of the Bible when you can see it all laid out that way.

  • Tux says:

    I first read The Giver about 20 years before discovering that there were sequels. I still prefer the first book over the other three, but the ending made more sense when I had read the rest of them. 🙂

    I think I’ve read the giver a total of 5-6 times in my life so far. The author, Lois Lower, also wrote a really good wwii story called Number the Stars. I haven’t read it in decades, but it was one of my favorites for a few years when I was younger.

  • Jill says:

    Regarding the Giver…if you don’t know, there are three more books that go along with it. Though they were released much later. I first read the Giver back when I was in the 6th grade (I’m 33 now). I’d never heard of the other 3 books until after the movie was released (what, a year ago, or so?). But that’s how I felt after finishing it. I still haven’t read the other 3, but just so you know…

  • Stephanie says:

    Love Does by Bob Goff
    An amazing read!

  • debra Fehr says:

    I have been a follower for several years and i look forward to your posts every decemeber for book recc. THANK YOU! 🙂

  • Mary Ensley says:

    I read several non fictions this year but my favorite two novels were Echo which is incredible as an audiobook and The Nightingale. There was one chapter in Nightingale I skimmed because of the content but the overall story was beautiful and moving. I sobbed my way through the final chapter.

  • Julie says:

    I saw ‘Before we were yours’ in your 2018 stack. Excellent book! Novel, but based on a true story that is very disturbing. Lisa Wingate wove a wonderful then and now story culminating in a beautiful ending. Highly recommend!

  • Christina Holda says:

    Crystal, I just started reading “The Rest of God” on your recommendation. It truly is a great book. I got to the excerpt that you quoted above, and I was a bit disturbed to see you left out: “When we lose concern for people, both the lost and the found, for the bride of Christ, for friendship, for truth and beauty and goodness”. Quite frankly, I am a bit shocked that you left that out and am wondering why. You don’t have to give me an explanation, but it seems like it would be the next right thing to do.

    • Jo says:

      Oh… I remember that I didn’t include that because I had initially posted it somewhere online (on Instagram) where many of my followers aren’t Christian and I knew that it wouldn’t make sense to them. It’s such a good quote and it’s much better with that part in! Thanks for mentioning that and I’m SO glad you’re loving the book!

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