One of my favorite hobbies is reading and one of the most popular features of the newsletter is my reading list.  I think it’s about time that I listed the best 10 books I’ve read this year.  One of my 2017 resolutions is to publish a blog post every Wednesday about a book.  Right now, I have 5 book blogs written so I’ll be challenging myself to keep up!  In no particular order, here are my best 10 book experiences of the year (in alphabetical order):

  1. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Bruce was the music of my twenties and his memoir was beautiful, entertaining, and engaging.  Couldn’t put it down and led me back to his music.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. It had been many years since I had read this seven-book series and was a great experience to rediscover these books along with my 7 year old daughter.  Over the course of the fall, we read these books together—me reading the left side out loud, Lucy reading the right side.  What a great experience!
  3. Daring Greatly by Brené Recommended by the youth minister Doug Tooke, this book challenged my mindset about approaching leadership, raising kids (especially sons!), and supporting healthy school cultures.
  4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Not your typical airport/business read, the book challenged my priorities and helped me clarify how I’m spending my time and energy.  I often try to do everything and end up doing nothing very well.  This book gave me a framework for approaching work and life in order to find contentment.
  5. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey. The book’s premise is simple (we’re not allowing our children to fail) but Lahey illustrated the damaging effects on parenting, education, and our culture.
  6. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. I missed the Harry Potter phenomenon and hadn’t read a single page nor seen one of the movies.  This served as one of my New Year’s resolutions.  My 8 year old son, Henry, and I read these books together this spring (I read the left pages aloud, he read the right page).  After reading each book, we watched the movie and immediately started the next book.  I can’t think of a better way to experience the books!  They are great stories and served as great discussion points for us.
  7. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. I knew Seligman was the originator of the learned helplessness theory but had no idea that his influence was so far-reaching—grit, mindset, and cognitive psychology all begin here.  This book challenged my paradigms.
  8. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam clarified the crisis in America right now—disenchantment with our political and economic situation, despair over education, etc. In one short volume, Putnam clarifies the problem of economic disparity alongside the economic, familial, and community factors.
  9. Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions by David Quammen was the most unusual choice on my list. A scientific treatise, this 20 year-old novel was an intellectual stretch for me but caused me to reexamine the problems of Catholic schools in a new light.  I enjoyed his writing style enough to contact him and arrange for an enjoyable coffee conversation in Bozeman when we talked about writing, interviewing, and life.
  10. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Greg Heath was a great study of how to affect change in organizations and offered great advice on how to nudge people to change behaviors.

Those were the highlights of my book journey this year.  To be fair, I enjoyed every book I read.  I’m careful and deliberate about what I choose and believe there is something valuable to be learned from every author.

Here are a list of other “Best Of” book lists from which I have drawn my upcoming selections: