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Reading informs our thinking, changes our conversations, and enlightens perspective. This is a list of what I read in 2018 and what I’m planning on in 2019!

stack of books with text overlay books build us: what I read last year and how they changed me

The Impact of Being Well-Read on Hospitality

Sitting across the table from me was a sweet sister whose heart had been broken. She had experienced things I haven’t. She had a very different perspective than I have on most of life but she was my sister in Christ and working to put myself in her shoes was something I was trying to do.

Throughout the conversation, it was apparent to both of us that I had no experiential knowledge of the subject we were discussing but the redeeming grace that allowed me to see a glimpse of this friend’s perspective came from a few books I had read about this very thing.

No, I hadn’t lived these things but I had taken a little time to learn about them. It was a small thing really, just reading a book I enjoyed, but that one act knit my heart to this friend and she was relieved that I cared enough to learn a little before trying to speak into her circumstance.

Believe it or not, that EXACT thing has happened probably 6 or 7 times in just the last year with different people.

Beyond that, I have been able to have intelligent conversations about the plight of orphans worldwide, worship, theology, classic literature, business, hospitality, Christian living, adoption, motherhood, the church, history, politics, and suffering (to name a few) because of the books I have been immersed in.

The books I am reading or have read have proven to be formative for my thinking and fuel for my relationships.

In this post I told you about my desire to be more intentional in the coming year and gave suggestions we can all use for doing this. One thing I talked about was reading and actually completing books. It has been my joy to do this throughout my life and each year I desire to grow more through the discipline and joy of reading books.

I started doing Tim Challies’ reading challenge a few years ago and it has been just the spark I needed to actually complete the books I start (you can check out this year’s challenge here).

I love to read and I encourage everyone else to gain an appetite for reading so I thought I would share with you quickly what I read in 2018 and what is on my list in 2019.

I genuinely seek to have a wide variation in my reading list and I DO NOT recommend everything in my list so please don’t simply skim over this list and think that because it is listed here I approve it.

Let’s get started:

No Longer a Slumdog – written by the founder of Gospel for Asia, this quick read is a very informative and heartbreaking look at what life is like for lower caste people in India. It lays out the plan that Gospel for Asia is using to currently reach 60,000 children in India as well as their long term goals. They are doing a beautiful work and the discussion of it is deeply convicting. This book does read like a missionary presentation seeking aide, because that is what it is. But it is also very informative and left me praying for children in India and genuinely looking for opportunities to reach out.

The Gospel Comes with a House Key – This fantastic book came as an incredibly welcome reminder of EXACTLY why I do the work of Hospitable Homemaker. Rosaria sums up the purpose, goals, and beauty of hospitality as a daily practice perfectly as she wraps it all in personal stories from her own hospitality efforts. You can read the full review I wrote of this book here .


A Study in Scarlet – I love a classic novel on occasion and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never disappoints when I am looking for pleasure reading. This book tells the story of how Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson met and began their unique relationship. It was a fun read and one I happily recommend.


Angela’s Ashes – I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book. I can’t say I found it humorous as many people said. I found it mostly tragic as the author tells his entire story without any hope of the Gospel. I did not expect this to be a Christian story, of course, it was just very sad to read. Frank McCourt has a unique voice that is compelling although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you pick up this book among all of your other options. It is a memoir of a young boy who grew up in extreme poverty in Ireland and he either remembers things with extreme clarity or made up many of the details. Either way it makes an interesting story. However, there are definitely paragraphs I had to skip over because of their content so I suggest you think carefully about including this in your reading list.


Uncomfortable – I really enjoyed this book! I am passionate about the irreplaceable ministry of the local church as it is, but this book challenged my thinking and offered a different perspective in a lot of areas. The beginning of the book was painful to sit through as the author talks EXTENSIVELY about his ideal church. It was honestly annoying and just when the frustration was mounting for me, Brett McCracken acknowledges how annoying he sounds and tells you he did it on purpose. He talks about how we can all do this and the ideal church would be different for all of us. BUT his overarching theme is that we should embrace the the discomfort and love well the people around us in our local churches because the beauty it portrays is of far more importance than our temporal mindsets. I will be honest, there were quite a few things I definitely didn’t agree with in this book which makes me a little hesitant to recommend it. However, Brett’s perspective and insight gave me much to think through and talk through with others which, in my opinion, is one sign of a book worth reading.


Parenting – Paul Tripp outdid himself with this book. It stands as the BEST book on parenting I have ever read. I think every parent should read this book and then reread this book. I told my husband that I think Parenting will be among the books I just continually read over and over. Tripp’s main point is that we are more like our children than unlike them. Instead of offering practical how-tos to make a child behave or do well in school or eat their veggies, Paul Tripp takes the time to examine the heart of the parent in relation to God and does so with stunning clarity that makes this a MUST read for any parent, in my opinion. 


True Worshiper – In this book, Bob Kauflin takes time to walk us through why worship matters and what it actually is. I found this book to be extremely helpful! Though I don’t come from the same theological perspective exactly, this book was full of helpful information and a beautiful picture of the One we worship as the primary focus.


Daring to Hope – I have a personal love for Katie Davis Major’s story and I can say very honestly that I loved reading this book. I read Kisses from Katie a few years ago and found it inspirational but this book came with the seasoned perspective of a woman who was walked a long road with the Lord through deep difficulty and found Him to be the faithful God he says He is. While I found this book extremely enjoyable to read and there were many moments that encouraged me to seek the Lord in prayer and in His Word, I do want to give a word of caution. While extremely inspirational, Katie has a tendency to put herself in the narrative of Scripture which I believe can be dangerous. As an example, as you read Katie’s words suddenly she becomes Abraham climbing Mount Moriah and her hopes and dreams become the Isaac she is called to lay down. She also invites the reader into these narratives as well. While I understand the point she is trying to make (and she does this with excellent communication skill) I do believe that making ourselves the subject of Scripture is a dangerous path to go down. I think most anyone would find this book encouraging but please keep this in mind – the Bible is first a book about God!


Glory in the Ordinary – This book offers a tremendously beautiful picture of our ordinary lives and sets them up as critically important in our pursuit of Christ. I found every page of this book thought provoking and encouraging. As a stay-at-home mom many days seem to pass by with relatively little variation and there have been deep times of discouragement because of this in my own life. Now when I see other moms walking that same road of discouragement, Courtney Reissig’s little book Glory in the Ordinary is the one I grab to hand them! You can check out my full review here.


The Pleasures of God – I listened to this book on Audible and I’m not sure that was the best idea because some of the concepts I felt like I needed to go over again several times. I left this book with a bigger view of God and much better answers to questions I have faced many times (things like how can people go to hell if God doesn’t will that any should perish?). Some things went over my head, if I’m honest, but that is ok because I believe that we should be exposing ourselves to things that are intellectually stimulating in our reading. Overall, I found it encouraging and a worthwhile investment of time.


Tribes – This book by Seth Godin has been transformative for my thinking about business. Many of the things that you will see happening over the next year here at Hospitable Homemaker will be because of my time investment in this book. Seth talks about the importance of building tribes and movements for our businesses to succeed but I see far more implications here. I think this would be an excellent resource for anyone in business or leadership!


The Nightingale – I have not read much historical fiction before this but this was a great way to break into it! I fully recommend reading this book and the Audible version was FANTASTIC! The reader follows the story of two sisters as they take VERY different roles in France during the second World War. They are both heros in their own right but family challenges make it difficult for them to relate to one another. This poignant, fictional tale, gives humanity to the stories we read and I found it to be engaging and enjoyable!


Humble Roots – I love Hannah Anderson’s writing! She writes with careful examination of Scripture and a thoroughly thought-provoking style. Her first book Made for More has been more influential in my life than I can tell you (check out my review of that book here. Humble Roots was the next logical step in this progression. Some of things Hannah discusses in this book did not strike me as pride issues until she explained them. Each chapter begins with an illustration from gardening that ties her ideas together beautifully! I would absolutely encourage you to take the time to read anything Hannah Anderson writes and Humble Roots is no exception! Check out my full review here.


Refresh – I needed this book when I read it and I still do. Shona and David Murray write from the perspective of those who has been in my shoes; trying to do the work of the ministry and family and professional development and feeling the weight of it all. This book is deeply practical with many suggestions that I have spent the last several months attempting to implement in my own life. If you have ever struggled with burnout, I highly recommend you consider reading this book. You can read my full review here

This Is Marketing – Another book written by Seth Godin! This book was my introduction to Seth and I found it VERY helpful! I admittedly don’t know much about marketing and Seth Godin is a veritable fountain of information. I just want to pick his brain! This book walks the reader through what marketing is and why it is actually a good thing. Seth talks about how marketing forms cultures and how it can be used for both good and evil. To be honest, what little I know about marketing feels awkward and unnatural to implement. This book helped me tremendously and I will probably listen to it again on Audible!


A Severe Mercy – This book was a beautifully true love story told from the husband’s perspective. Through his eyes we travel this couple’s life. We experience along with them their love before conversion, the agony of gaining a love for Christ that it greater than their love for one another which eventually only pushed them closer together, and the deep pain of loss. Woven throughout the book are letters written from C.S. Lewis (a close personal friend of the author) that bear the weight of their mutual love and quest for closeness with Christ. This book was a joy to read and one I would definitely recommend. Check out my full review here


The Lifegiving Table – In 2017 I read The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson and, while I enjoyed that book, The Lifegiving Table was by far my favorite of the two! It is literally bursting with practical insights that anyone can glean from as we seek to make table fellowship (both with family and with guests) a priority in our lives. I think the evidence that Sally’s intentionality in this area is valuable comes from the close bonds she still shares with her children, their personal love for Christ, and their desire to come home regularly. This is what I want for my future with my children and I know the future starts today. I need to be intentional now if I want fruit in future relationships. You can check out my full review here.


Divided by Faith -This book was incredibly eye opening for me!

“The most segregated hour in Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.”

In this book the authors deal in depth with why the above statement from Martin Luther King Jr. is accurate. They don’t pretend to give easy solutions to the deep problems they present in this book. Really there aren’t a lot of solutions given at all, which is a little disheartening, but only proves their point further. This was a hard book to read because of its subject matter. It is well-researched and well-written and not hard at all to understand. But it caused a deep pain in my heart as it opened my eyes to more of what I do not know. Living as a white American, it is part of my privilege to only see things from my own experience and perspective. That is a disheartening uphill battle for my black brothers and sisters. I am thankful I read this book. It has changed me.

But that’s not all

Along with those books I read more children’s books than I can count! They included the My Father’s Dragon Series ,Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Charlotte’s Web, Little House in the Big Woods , God Made All of Me, God’s Very Good Idea and the list goes on and on. Reading with my children is a joy in my daily life and I have learned much from those books as well!

Books I Plan to Read in 2019

For 2019 the books that are already on my list (or are already started) include


What have you been reading? What is on your list this year? What should I add to my list? Let me know in the comments below!