I ended 2012 having read many good books and sampled numerous others on my Kindle. These five, however, challenged me, caused me discomfort sometimes, and often reframed my thinking. Here they are–the five books that changed me in 2012:
Hungry for Change
by Mark Hyman, James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch
“Hungry for Change” breaks down the dangers of the “standard diet” and offers doable alternatives to calorie counting and fad purges. Eating a lot of fake foods while nurturing hopes of losing weight and becoming healthier? Not gonna happen! The authors’ response: make small changes incrementally towards eating natural, organic, raw, and non-GMO, and you’ll see your health make a 180-degree turn.
I got the enhanced, interactive version of the book, which includes interviews with natural health specialists and great recipes. Although I’ve always been cautious about food and nutrition, “Hungry for Change” set me on a far more efficient path toward good health and armed me with the knowledge needed to make wise decisions about the food I buy and its effect on me.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
by Jen Hatmaker
Jen Hatmaker went on a seven-month journey to cut out excess in one of seven key areas each month: food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress. Jen limited herself to seven items monthly, with varying degrees of success. The result: an often hilarious yet deeply touching account of the challenges inherent in paring down one’s desires and goods–even for a month.
As I read “7,” I was forced to face my own areas of excess and to recognize how often I make excuses for all the ish I’ve gathered over the years. I went beyond reflecting on what I had read to brutally assessing my needs versus my wants, compared with the needs of so many around me. We Christians love to say WWJD (what would Jesus do?). What are we called to do in a culture in which “more” never seems to be enough? And will we be bold enough to do it?
Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope
by Mary Beth Chapman
Back in 2008, I heard of the tragic death of the adopted daughter of Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth. Reading this book brought the painful reality of little Maria’s untimely passing viscerally to life. Much of it was hard to read. What was even harder was to experience the tumult of emotions through which Mary Beth passed and how severely her faith was challenged by Maria’s death. For people of faith in the forefront of Christian music ministry, it was beyond devastating.
Mary Beth’s candor about her childhood, marriage, and the Chapman family dynamics was a revelation. How does one not blame God for a tragedy beyond words? Mary Beth doesn’t sugar-coat her emotions; she keeps it real and helps us recognize that in Choosing to SEE events through God’s eyes, hope and beauty can be found among ashes and despair.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
A fellow blogger put me on to this gem of a book when I was doubting myself professionally and personally. It reinforced what most introverts feel but can’t quite put into words: We’re not defective; we’re just different.
Our culture glorifies the extrovert, Susan Cain asserts, but in so doing, it ignores between one third and one half of the population: introverts. Ms. Cain calls all introverts to play to their strengths (solitary pursuits, a collaborative nature, a marked ability to listen and empathize, and “soft power”) and to not bow to the bias against introversion by becoming fake extroverts.
“Quiet” became a New York times bestseller and won the award for best nonfiction book of 2012 by Goodreads. Bravo to Ms. Cain, and to all fellow introverts!
Wrecked: When A Broken World Slams Into Your Comfortable Life
by Jeff Goins
One of the perks of blogging is that it opens up a world of fellow bloggers of immeasurable talent. Jeff Goins is one of those people, and it’s been my pleasure to follow his blog and learn from him.
When one becomes “Wrecked,” according to Goins, “everything you believe–everything you know about yourself, your world, and your destiny–is now in question. Because you’ve seen something bigger. And you can’t go back.” Goins posits that an “unwrecked” life truly isn’t worth living.
I’ve shared how my one word for this year is “community.” “Wrecked” prepped me for whatever God will place on my path regarding community and challenged me to follow through on the areas in my life that have been dormant.
What were some of your favorite books of 2012?