Before January comes to a swift close, I wanted to post about the books I read in 2015. It was a great year of reading for me with lots of variety in topics. Even with having a baby around, I found reading to be a hobby that melded well with motherhood. Nursing = time to read. Exhausted at the end of the day = time to read.

Interestingly, I didn’t read a single fiction book by the  “Nicolas Sparks” or “John Grisham” types this year. I guess they just aren’t my thing right now. Maybe I should shoot for one or two in 2016? I also didn’t read any historical nonfiction books this year. I tried to read “Cleopatra” but I just couldn’t make myself finish it. I quit mid-way through and was happy to move on. These are both extremely popular genres for the readers in my family, so I guess I deviated from the family tree a bit. I mention this because sometimes what we don’t read is just as important as what we do read.

Just as with my 2014 list of books, I’m leaning hard into female authors, without trying. It just happens. Right now, I’m interested in particularly female experiences so those are the books I gravitate toward.

Memoirs & Non-Fiction

Wild

Cheryl Strayed did an excellent job with this book. She writes about her transformation from “lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail”. It reminded me of the female version of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the WoodsBooks like these prove to me that we are all addicted to the storyline of human transformation. We are hard-wired for it! What else would propel us to read an entire book about a man or woman walking in the woods for mile after mile? It should be so boring, but this book was excellent.

Home Is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong

A hilarious, easy read for the bath tub or beach. If this book was a drink it would be lemonade with a pink straw. A great book for women who feel they are ‘wondering’ and need some funny, fun reassurance that God is at work in their ho-hum daily life.

Show Me a Story!: Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators

This was a geeky read for me. It was so cool to read about Eric Carle’s original inspiration for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I’m in the season of reading dozens of picture books a week right now, so some adult insight into their creative processes and history was great. My major complaint with this book was that it didn’t include pictures. It would have been much better to read about “make way for ducklings” with a picture of the ducklings! Sometimes I wasn’t familiar with the illustrator and I had to do my own research to see what their pictures looked like, but other times I was just too lazy to look it up.

Faith 

Restoring the Christian Family: A Biblical Guide to Love, Marriage, and Parenting In A Changing World

A wonderful, faith-filled, challenging read. Don’t rush this one. I took my time reading this and will probably reference it again in the future. I really enjoyed that this book was seamlessly written by a husband-wife team. The transitions between two authors were not awkward and it felt like a conversation between three people: me and the author-couple.

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World

I’m not finished with this book yet. But, it helped me have courage to continue living out the daily smallness of my life. We can all use this I imagine. For me, having a very small child is wonderful and joyful, but endlessly redundant at times. This book gives joy to those “simple Tuesdays”.

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

The most physically beautiful hardback book I read this year. It  was simple, pretty and slim. A great gift book. Anne Lamott is edgy, sarcastic and very different than me in terms of her life experience. She has lived in larger cities with artistic circles of friends, not farmers and ranchers. “Help” was my favorite chapter/prayer from this book.

Productivity

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You

A perfect read for my word of the year “margin”, where I hoped to find and use margin time for myself amongst motherhood and daily life on a farm. A good read for anyone who needs more time. Wait? Isn’t that all of us?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Such a good book. What’s that saying? Hook, line and sinker? Whatever it is, I totally loved what this lady was putting down about decluttering and organizing. Plus, I thought her Japanese worldview was an added bonus. It was interesting to learn how another culture views possessions.

#GIRLBOSS

This was a pop culture read for me. Sophia is obviously successful and sassy. I wouldn’t have dang clue what to say to her if we were in a room together. I feel that we have zero in common, but I still enjoyed her book. She’s an outsider in every way and she leveraged that ‘feeling’ to make her clothes cool.

Money

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year

This is the female, mom version of the Dave Ramsey program. Good book. I didn’t benefit much from the coupon-ing chapters, but I did enjoy her views on paying for things with cash only.

The Richest Man in Babylon

Recommenced by my Uncle Jon. My favorite part of this weird little book was the 10% rule. Always save and reinvest 10% of your profits, first thing.

Cooking & Baking

The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

I can make bread now! Thanks to this book!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations

Very fun, classic PW. Another great cook book!

Parenting Books

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep

On Becoming Babywise: Book II Parenting Your Pre-Toddler 5 to 15 Months

On Becoming Pretoddlerwise: From Babyhood to Toddlerhood (Parenting Your 12 to 18 Month Old)

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

I learned something about parenting books this year: read them, pick what works for your family and forget the rest. No book, no theory, no person can write a one-size-fits-all manual on parenting. And, parenting books have a tendency to undercut your own personal sense of basic common sense. That being said, the above four books were still very helpful for me.

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

I think this is my new go-to book for any new mom. It’s anything but self-help. It’s sarcastic and hilarious in the way that only a sleep-deprived, milk-drenched, poop-covered new Mama can understand.