Short List {May 2014}


I’ve been doing pretty well on my reading goal this year, but there are still so many more books I’d love to read (so far, my bookstore ban on myself has been unsucessful, and I’m already looking forward to the library book sale next month). Here are a few of my favorites so far from 2014, a few I’m currently reading, and a few I want to read. I’d love to hear about the reads you’ve been loving lately–leave a note in the comments with your recommendations!


    A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live      Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life    Buy This Land

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman–This is probably my favorite read of the year so far, and such an amazing and timely book for me. We are made in the image of a creative God, and as such, we are made to be creative as well. But “creative” does not have to fit in the box of a painter, musician, or photographer. We create new things in all of life, whether speaking words of comfort to a friend, inventing something new, being a parent, and a million other ways. This book was incredibly freeing and refreshing for me, and I highly recommend it.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver–It feels a little bit like cheating to say I’m reading this–because I’m actually listening to it–but it has been fantastic so far. It’s so good that I think I might want a hard copy as well (I’m bookmarking way too many spots!). Barbara and her family spend a year eating only food grown or raised on their farm or in their local area (think “locavores”). I’m sure this would be a lovely read, but I also love listening to the audio book–Barbara has a fantastic reading voice and rhythm that make it very interesting to listen to.

Buy This Land by Chi-Dooh Li–I loved this book about a Chinese man who was born in India, lived in Guatemala and Colombia in his youth, became a lawyer in Seattle as an adult, and embarked on a crazy endeavor in the 80’s to help the rural poor of Guatemala purchase their own land, amidst a raging civil war. A genuinely interesting story, it kept me interested and engaged. If you love Central America or are interested in poverty alleviation, I definitely recommend it.


    7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess    Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed   The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life

Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt–This has been on my list for quite awhile, and I recently heard an interview with Allison on a podcast that made me think I would really enjoy her writing. The premise of the book is that the author was becoming increasingly weighed down with baggage in her life, and she decided to sell her stuff and take a road trip through the US for a year. I think I’ll dig it.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker–What can I say? Jen Hatmaker is hilarious, and several of my friends have really enjoyed this book. This is a stop-reading-other-things-because-you-know-you-want-to-read-this-one.

Bread & Wine: Finding Community and Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist–This is a recent add to my list, but it keeps popping up everywhere, with nothing but great things to say. It’s a cookbook, but more of a celebration of life around the table, celebrating community with loved ones. As it is, I love reading cookbooks, but this is meant to be read, with essays throughout.

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton–This one came highly recommended by a friend. It’s about embracing our messy, beautiful lives and letting go of perfectionism. This idea so resonates with me, and this is a book I’d definitely like to get to in the next few months.

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay–I’m not exactly “trying to become a minimilast” because it’s now a thing. I’ve always valued simplicity, and I think there’s something for all of us to learn about excess and clutter and how those things distract us from what’s really important. This looks like an interesting read in that regard, even for those of us not interested in living in a Tiny House.


What’s on your summer reading list? 

If you love reading, you might like The Modern Mrs. Darcy. She’s always got some great recommendations! I’m sharing this post today with her monthly Twitterature linkup, where you can find some of her recommendations, plus lots of other bloggers.

*Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, part of your purchase will help support the cost of maintaining this site. More details are here.

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  • I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction, but I’m working rounding out my literary diet. A number of these books are on my reading wishlist as well, particularly Bread & Wine (heard lots of good things) and A Million Little Ways (I SO love Emily’s blog, so I’m sure I will enjoy her book). I read 7 earlier this year and loved it – very thought-provoking! Did you happen to hear Allison Vesterfelt on the Boundless podcast? I recently heard an interview with her as well, and I think it was on Boundless. She sounded awesome and definitely piqued my interest in her book, though I haven’t read it yet.

  • Hey Kendra! Ha, I think I’m just the opposite! I do enjoy a bit of fiction, but I go mostly for non-fiction. I highly, highly recommend A Million Little Ways…really, I want to re-read it. I actually heard Allison Vesterfelt on Beyond the To-Do List. It was a really good interview, and lately I’ve realized how much hearing authors speak connects me with them and their work. I watched a talk by Shauna Niequist on Qideas– –recently and it was fantastic.
    Any fiction reads you’d recommend?

  • I will have to check out that talk, thanks! I agree, I always feel more invested in a book more when I have heard personally from the author. I am realizing that most of the book recommendations I give are for nonfiction books – I guess because taste in fiction is so subjective. A lot of the fiction I read isn’t all that noteworthy (murder mysteries, legal thrillers, etc.) or it’s what everyone else is already reading (Gone Girl, The Help, Sarah’s Key). As for some more original recommendations: I enjoy all of Julie Klassen’s books (Christian historical fiction). I recently read The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is especially good if you’re a dog lover. I think the best book I’ve read in the last year was Wonder – it’s a children’s book, but it’s phenomenal.

  • Yes, that’s so true–lots of different tastes with fiction. I do like a little mystery, but generally I just like a good story (not so much classic literature). Last year I randomly picked up Little Bee from the library book sale–I liked the cover and it sounded intriguing (but I had never heard of it)…it was *so* good. I’ve also seen a lot of people talking about Wonder–that might be a good summer read for me. 🙂

  • Hiya Naomi! I’m so glad that I came across your lovely blog through Twitterature! 🙂 I also loved A Million Little Ways! In fact, I was thinking of re-reading it soon. I’ve never read Barbara Kingsolver, but I keep seeing her books pop up on my radar – so I might have to remedy that very soon! Thanks so much for sharing your reviews!

  • Hey Ginger! Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, I agree about A Million Little Ways–definitely one I’d like to re-read. I’ve heard about a lot of other Barbara Kingsolver books as well–I think I’ll be reading more of her work in the future.

  • Jillian Kay

    I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Thanks for the other reviews! I haven’t read any of them.

  • You’re welcome, Jillian! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • ok, both “bread & wine” and “a million little ways” are on my list of “why the heck haven’t i read these yet?!?” books. and i’ve realized that the lifestyle i’ve adopted in cambodia is definitely minimalist-leaning, so i need to read 7 and “the joy of less” now. great recommendations!

  • Cassie Rauk

    I got some great books to add to my TBR list from your post. Thanks so much!

  • Oh, I know what you mean, Whitney! “Bread & Wine” as well as “7” are both like that for me. So glad I could pass along some great titles! Someone seriously needs to figure out how we can read in our sleep…. 🙂

  • So glad, Cassie! I always love to pass along great resources (as well as finding ones that others have shared!). Thanks for stopping by.

  • Anne Bogel

    I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and have been thinking it’s time for a re-read. I love the sound of listening to the author read it!

    You’ve got some great books on your to-read list! Enjoy. 🙂

  • Yes–so chock full of good info, but told in such an interesting way! It’s a keeper. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and for hosting!