My Best Books of 2015/ a Challenge/ and Book Giveaway


I set a book reading goal for 2015 of 24 books. 
Right now, as of December 11th, I’ve read 18 (and a half). 
So I am going to fall shy of my goal.

The real challenge began when Phil decided to number two index cards,
(one with his finished books and one with mine)
slid them into a binder,
and basically just kept “tabs” of our reading lists all.year.long. 

When you number something, it’s over.
You have officially invited me into a challenge.
And I do not like to lose in physical or intellectual pursuits…
So, I’ve been in a race with my husband all of 2015 for top “reader” spot in our home.

He is on book 22.
I’m just bitter.
And reading like crazy.
But mostly just bitter. 

In an effort to turn my bitterness into something more redemptive, I’m listing my top reads of 2015 below.  I am currently reading If Nuns Ruled the World, Accidenal Saints, and Player Piano (I have decision-making issues).  I just need to distract Phil from reading for the next 20 days so we can end in a tie…Or maybe I can win.  


Best Book of 2015:

I have a ‘thing’ for the Old Testament.  Since I was a kid, I’ve loved the first half of my Bible dearly.  I don’t often get to work that little nugget of info into conversations, but it is true.  Enns’ book is challenging, brutally honest in its question asking and answer seeking, and oddly/brilliantly funny.  I have pondered ways to become his best friend, but for now I will settle on awarding myself ‘biggest fan.’  This book steadied my already shifting faith.  I read it in one sitting, 5 days into 2015. 

So it was also the biggest let down because nothing else really measured up for the following 360 days. 


Best Book for Nerding-Out on the Bible

It’s a commitment-read.  As in, it might take you a solid three months to get through…but it is a treasure and an invitation to a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.  


Best Re-read in 2015
Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle

I have promised myself to re-read this in January every year till I die.  It is one of my all time favorite books.  Ever. 


Best Book to Recommend to a Friend:

I love her.  I do. 
I heard her speak this fall, and she is just rad.
I even took Niamh and Philly, and they loved the Lutheran, tattooed, lady pastor (who occasionally cursed).  It is rare that a chapter in her book ends in a neatly tied bow...and I was super glad for a raw book like that.  I thought about going back to school for a masters in theology just to land an internship with her… but she lives in Colorado, and I’m not sure about all that snow…and it would just be a whole thing. 
But anyhow. 
She made an impact on all of us (it’s one of Phil’s 2015 books as well), and I think that is cool- when an author can speak to a whole family, kids and all. 


Best Book for the Spiritual Heart

If a book could be the baby of the bible and an Anthropology store, this would be it.  It is such a work of art and eclectic beauty…and its all anchored in Christ.  I loved everything about it, from the title to the very last word.  I could literally feel myself getting more and more comfortable in my own skin as the pages flipped. 

Phil is also reading this one, right now actually. 
So whatever.
Good job, Erika, for making books that everyone loves (and that cause me to lose year-long marriage challenges). 


Best Book to Gift

This is the other book I will re-read every January because it is a story changer.  Plus, Donald Miller…I mean, come on.


Second Best Book, because 2nd is the first loser…

“Original Sin” was giving me a lot of trouble this year.  I came to a point where I knew I could no longer believe in it in the orthodox sense of the definition but did not know what that meant or if I was just weird…or a heretic.  And then my friend Tim suggested this book, and it was the perfect compass to steady my bearings a bit.  I found company and questions and even some answers….and that is a welcomed relief after a long period of feeling very alone and awkwardly trying to fit into an “evangelical” mold.

Note: Also, if you need a white elephant gift [i.e., ‘extravagant but burdensome gift that cannot be easily disposed of’] for a conservative, young-earth, fundamentalist Christian, pair this with Peter Enns book and a six pack of Stella.  And, basically, you win.

*On a more serious note, I think these two books embody some of the most important conversations Christians need to be a part of for the next 100 years.  Just my two sense.


Best Brain-Pain Book

He is a smidge too smart for me…and by smidge I mean crapload.  But while reading his words, I started feeling understood.  I felt appreciative of the people who do the leg work in making room for different views (specifically, on the bible’s ‘perfectness’) rather than locking arms and shoving the searching/questioning hearts out. 


Best Book Club Book
Bread and Wine, Shauna Neiquist

I’ve cooked or eaten just about every recipe from this book.  The Chicken Chili is my favorite (and perhaps the easiest and tastiest, too).  I’ve been a part of two book clubs this year reading this gem.  And I still find myself grabbing for it weekly, whether to glean some goodness off the pages or to remember some ingredient from a recipe.  There is something sacred about food, table, and friends.  Some of my very favorite moments this year were created in the mixture of those things… where heaven breaks into our living, if just for a meal.  It really is communion in the truest sense.


Best Coffee Table Book
Humans of New York Stories, Brandon Stanton

Because stories will change us~ this should be on every living room table and a morning companion to our Bibles and cups of Joe.

For 2016,
I am hoping to make it to the 24 books mark. 
My first book is going to be Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey. 
I’ve been saving it to start my 2016 reading.

What are some of your best-books-read this year?
Do you re-read certain books from time to time? 
Give me some recommendations!
Because you know I will go look them up.
And probably read them, too.

I'll pick one comment and send you the Humans of New York Stories book for your coffee table:)...


  1. This year's reading had been purely self indulgent as I've reread the Discworld series from start to finish in homage to the lage Sir Terry Pratchett. Ive also dabbled in some biographies but i guess the book that had the grwatest impact is a book we used for our Lent course called The Long Road to Heaven by Tom Heaton. It links into a film called The Way which i found equally profound.

    Hope you manage the last 3 books before 2016

    1. I love when a movie and book meet...I will have to check them both out!

  2. For the love by Jen Hatmaker. But that may be old news to you since I think you've read some of hers before. :)

    1. I started that book and got sidetracked... I very much enjoy JH books, though. Always good and hilarious!

  3. I read 7: an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker a couple months ago, and it wrecked my life in the best way. I think I actually read about it here for the first time? Then my sister-in-law suggested it, and I'll never be the same.

    I'm getting ready to start her book Interrupted, which I hear is equally amazing.

    I also read The Bible Tells Me So after reading about it here, and it was so challenging to my faith, but in the end I think it made me stronger.

    As for rereads- I admittedly stick with fiction and will never ever, ever tire of Harry Potter.

    1. I'm so glad you feel that way about TBTMS!! It is a faith shaker, but I, too, felt stronger afterwards! I did read Interrupted...which is another great JH book; you will love it!

  4. I haven't read ANY of those and from the looks of it, I need to add some to my 2016 reading list! After reading your commentary, I'm curious. The Bible Tells Me So will def be on the to-read list. Fave secular read this year... The Marriage of Opposites, by Alice Hoffman. Great story - "a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro—the Father of Impressionism." Ranked right up there with some of my favorites! Currently reading The Holy Land Key, written by my pastor, Ray Bentley. I think you would like it...as much as I love the promises of God, and am comforted by them, I'm equally heartbroken over those (we're going Old Test here) who simply need to remember to Whom they belong, but are so lost, and what the impact of that story long ago has had on our current world situation. Anywho, would be cool to be your neighbor - you seem like an interesting person. Then I could pick your brain about, well, so many things!

    1. This is an awesome comment! I am going to check The Holy Land Key out! Thank you for the summary of it~ it sounds incredibly interesting!!

      You can pick my brain anytime lol/// just email me and we can pretend we are neighbors ;)

  5. I usually read Danielle Steel love books, she is so amazing, her words are bold and she keeps nothing back...I also would love to read the vampire books "shadow of the vampire"..im new to reading (sorta)and would love some more recommendations from you...I want to read everything!!

    1. I usually do a large book haul from amazon a couple times a year-- I totally know that "I want to read everything" feeling!!!

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  7. Love these. I've read some, but not all. Really enjoyed Bandersnatch as well. I would reccommend "A House in the Sky." I was almost half way through the book before I realized it was a true story. A story of darkness and hope and the strength of the human spirit to not only survive but understand and persist. Any book that haunts me and has me weeping at the end is worth passing along.

    1. That sounds like somehthing I'd love...I'm going to add it to my booklist. Love a book that is a true story even more!

  8. Goodness! You posted this just in time for me to shop for Christmas!! Growing up, I never went to church or cracked a Bible. It's just been the last year or so that my husband and I have picked a church, attend Sunday service and I'm trying to read thru the Bible. He's much further along than I am and he loves to read. A couple of these books will be under the tree for him! THANK YOU!! And Merry Christmas :)

    1. That is awesome, Barb!! I'm excited for you!!!
      Have a blessed Christmas, friend!

  9. A book that I really enjoyed this year was "It's not what you think" by Jefferson Bethke. It is such an inspirational book, that drew me even closer to Jesus :-)

    1. I'll check that one out! Thank you for the recommendation <3

  10. My favorite new read this year is I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. It was so beautiful, and I'm pretty sure I cried a few times. Also, I read the Shatter Me series early this year, and I loved it so much that after my first read, I reread it 2 more times! I seem to love it even more. And a recommendation: you should also definitely check out Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo! I'm really glad you decided to share this opportunity because I'm absolutely in love with HONY and its stories!

    1. Thank you for some recommendations! I get giddy over books that people love...so will definitely check these out! And yeah, HONY is the best!

  11. Thanks for the chance to win that wonderful look. And good luck for the tie (or win ;)

  12. Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Stafford. If you like JH you'll like her writing style too. Soo encouraging AND convicting. Lots of tears and lots of hope. This books is what inspired me to take a break from Instagram and reprioritize my time :)

  13. Hi Kristi, I just found your blog through the article in Artful Blogging magazine -congrats for the beautiful article and photos! Anyways, just wanted to say that I love your photos and that the very first page I landed on was this book review and I have now just put most of the books you listed on my wish list over at Amazon...for after I get through the stack I have going right now. My eyes are bigger than my stomach and I tend to read in fits and starts.... anyways, I am enjoying your writing.
    -much grace and peace to you,

  14. I miss your blog posts Krista. They are always so thought provoking and so beautifully written. I hope this next phase of life flows for you and takes you to where you feel your purpose is filled. I know your heart yearns for more, but please know how much it has meant to me (and so many others I'm sure) to have you share your heart, your art and your soul with us. Bless you sweet friend, Wends xoxoxo



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