My 12 favorite books in the last 12 months
Well here we are again. Thank you for spending a few minutes with me! Anyone who knows me well knows I LOVE to read. I always have a book in my hand, by my bed or on the table beside my chair. I take a book with me every time I leave the house because you just never know when you’ll have a few minutes to read. I try to keep a running log of the books I’ve read (because sometimes I read 50 pages and realize I’ve already read the book!) and I’m going to share with you my 12 favorite books in the last 12 months. This was difficult to whittle it down to 12 but this is my list:
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt https://images.app.goo.gl/dfVpFyGJ7kaCsE6d9
This autobiography of Frank McCourt’s early life is a gripping story of the lives of immigrants in the United States in the early to mid 1900’s as well as the return to his parents’ homeland in Ireland. It is a beautiful, funny, sad, loving and trying journey and I recommend you read it.
Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Niewhof https://images.app.goo.gl/Q3GDpAUcsfdYhTiz9
I tell people Carey, to me, is the Canadian Bob Goff. He’s a lawyer, speaker, “thought leader” and lover of God’s people (that’s you and me folks!). This book helped me as a business leader and just as a person. I hope it’s helping me deal more effectively with the trouble spots I never thought would effect me and didn’t see coming.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry https://images.app.goo.gl/t1iDKHY6t93SJgSD9
I don’t even know how to begin. This book. I literally don’t have words to say how much this story means to me or how much I love it. I have read these words time and time again over decades. I’ve watched the movie over and over. The story of friendship, keeping your word, being true to those around you, courage, adventure, selflessness, joy in life, being accountable. . . . It just doesn’t get any better than Gus and Call. And for those really interested, the other 3 books in this tetralogy complete the epic story of these amazing men and their compadres. Each book is good in isolation but taken together will change you for life.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen https://g.co/kgs/H4MukA
I have my friend Jessica to thank for turning me onto this gem. We are in the same book club and this book is actually how I came to know and love Jessica. She recommended this to me and I love her for it! I love a story that spans decades and gives such respect and care to men and women who live long lives and the stories they have to share. It’s important to me to showcase their lives and this book did it well. To have the hero of the story be in his 90s. . . I love it! I love giving people the spotlight and room to tell their story. He deserved it and I’m so glad he didn’t back down.
To Hell with the Hustle by Jefferson Bethke https://images.app.goo.gl/LeVHgkvkrjFnHQDW7
Well it may not seem we need this book right now because really, who’s hustling around during covid? But we are hustling as a society. We’re saying “yes” to things that don’t matter so much which makes us say “no” to the people and places we shouldn’t. It’s a great reminder to keep our eyes on eternal matters and put away the temporal. I love it and his visit to Annie F. Downs’ podcast?? I’ve listened so many times I may have it memorized.
Fallen Founder by Nancy Isenberg https://images.app.goo.gl/XpzCNRZgC2bQKAKX8
Okay, here’s where I suspect I may lose some readers. I LOOOOVVVVEEE history and especially the colonial and the Revolutionary war era. I love learning about these men and women who risked it all – literally everything – to do what they believed to be right. And this biography of Aaron Burr was interesting to me because I didn’t know much about the man (other than, you know, the duel and his affair with the married woman of a British officer!). But what I learned was amazing! I was enthralled to learn about his grandfather, the lengths to which he went to further himself and his education. And yeah, he was a little nutty, too, prolly. But also when I was able to watch Hamilton (thank you Disney+!) I felt Lin-Manuel Miranda took quite a bit from this biography. So many details of Burr’s life were in the musical. (So here’s where I probably need to plug the biography Hamilton by Ron Chernow and My Dear Hamilton by Laura Kaye and Stephanie Dray, both of which were AMAZING but didn’t make it on the list because I read them earlier).
Code Name: Lise by Larry Loftis https://g.co/kgs/NdLykS
Woah. If you want to learn about a woman who could kick butt and take names this is your book. This biography tells the story of WWII’s most decorated spy and she’s a woman. Woohoo! It’s amazing. Truly. I promise this biography will teach you about a lady you probably have never even heard of. Her heroism, courage, selflessness and patriotism will encourage you to live your best life.
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard https://g.co/kgs/Ys2KiH
I am banned from discussing this book in my home now because I talked about it too much. Barry is SICK of it. That’s how powerful this biography was to me. It’s the story of James A. Garfield – his life and death – but also of America in a period often overlooked and not discussed. What I learned was of a man, a great man, who we don’t even know today. Garfield’s life – his desire for education so great that it made him take the janitorial job so he could afford school – his service to his country, love for his fellow man, love for his family. . . And it was all cut short due to a literal madman. I would so strongly recommend this book to everyone I know. I sobbed and sobbed reading this biography. How often does that happen??? So please, read this worthy book!
A Day in December by Josie Silver https://g.co/kgs/o2wQzM
It’s not often you’ll find me recommending a romantic book but this one has so many twists and turns. It follows 2 people after a chance encounter on a bus (well she’s on the bus and he’s waiting for a bus so they don’t actually meet) for over a decade. Their paths cross and uncross many times over the years and it follows their romances, friendships, marriages and more. It’s a lovely story. I saw it might get made into a movie? Not sure about that but since I so rarely watch movies I’ll just recommend the book.
Dearie by Bob Spitz https://g.co/kgs/1kr5mW
Julia Child! Oh my word! I had no idea! I didn’t know she was so involved in the OSS during WWII! I didn’t know about her childhood or her eternal optimism. There were so many things I didn’t know about Julia Child and I’m so glad I learned. This was a sweet, endearing biography of the lady we all saw on PBS when we were kids.
Accidental Presidents by Jared Cohen https://g.co/kgs/uPV49Q
I’m so glad our library opened up for a week so I could stumble across this book! I learned so much from this great collection of biographies! Who knew about Zachary Taylor, other than he ate too many cherries that day? Who knew John Tyler still has grandsons alive?? (Really, did you know that? It’s true. Look it up. It wasn’t in the book but it’s a fun fact for sure). Or that old John had a teenaged girlfriend WHEN HE WAS PRESIDENT!!! Can you imagine? No WAY that would happen now.
Educated by Tara Westover https://g.co/kgs/Y5JLHG
Tara Westover’s memoir made me cry and cheer and stand amazed at the power of the human spirit. I love stories of overcoming and living to your maximum potential. I can’t imagine what she lived through and I applaud every single accomplishment she has made -from the very smallest to her PhD. She is a hero and I’m so glad I got to read her amazing story.
So that’s it! Twelve books, one for each month of the year. I hope you read some of these I listed and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them and/or see what you’re reading so please tag me on instagram or facebook. Call or text me. Or leave a message here below. Thank you for reading this very long blog. (Sorry, I get wordy when I’m talking about subjects of which I’m passionate.)