At the beginning of last year, I heard about something called “The Empty Shelf Project.” The idea was to empty a shelf somewhere in your home, and take a picture of it, and post it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever. Then, you place each book read over the course of the year on that shelf, along with pictorial progress. The idea being, at the end of the year, you have a (hopefully) full shelf, giving a great visual account of the books that have been read.
Aside from the organizational chaos that this would inflict on my precious library, I kind of liked this idea. And, I even toyed with the idea of participating. For about thirty seconds. And then reality set in. Good thing, because, here we are at the beginning of a new year, and my (virtual) shelf is still pathetically empty. (Well, unless books like The Cat in the Hat, or Winnie the Pooh count. Then I’m good!)
I have actually picked up several promising reads over the past 12 months. But, sadly, all but a few have been set aside only a few chapters, or in some cases, mere pages, in. Not because they haven’t been engaging, or encouraging, or convicting. Most of them were exactly that. And, I always had great intentions of finishing. But, there they sit, unfinished, days…weeks…months later.
I used to love the opportunity to stay up late, reading “just one more page.” That often turned into “just” one more chapter…which usually led to just finishing the book! But, these days, what little sleep I do get is far more precious than a few extra pages. And, because I am not a fiction reader (though sometimes, I wish I were!), right now, the mental energy and focus required to concentrate are just not there at the end of the day. And, during the day? Well, you just don’t take your eyes off of an active almost-4 year old, a very “determined” 2 year old, and a newly-mobile 9 month old! You just don’t.
2016 is only days old, and I have already seen several new reading challenges that I would love to participate in. Tim Challies posted one for everyone from the “light reader” to the “obsessed reader.” (And, that DA Carson plan?! Wow.) In years past, I would have jumped at the challenge to try and read over 100 books in a year. But, even though I could probably name 100 books that I would love to read this year (though maybe not across all genres), considering how few I’ve actually finished in the last 365 days, I probably need to be just a bit more realistic about my goals! Then, maybe I might finish more than just a few chapters here and there!
In no particular order, here are my reading goals for 2016. There may be more (I hope there will!), but my goal is to at least get through these…
- The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love, by Gloria Furman – I got this book for Christmas, so I actually started it before the new year began. But, I so appreciated Gloria Furman’s book, “Glimpses of Grace,” that I couldn’t wait to get into this one. As a pastor’s wife, I want to be equipped to effectively serve and minister to my husband, my family, and our church – graciously, joyfully, and realistically.
- Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary, by Aimee Byrd – Honestly, I picked it up because of the title. I started reading it last summer, and did not get very far. But, I like what she has to say so far, and I really like where she is going!
- A Place of Quiet Rest: Finding Intimacy with God through a Daily Devotional Life, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (now Wolgemuth) – Because, prioritizing time with the Lord is essential…especially as a busy mom. But, it can be hard.
- Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book, About A (Really) Big Problem, by Kevin DeYoung – You will notice a theme to my reading material. Crazy-busy is a term I have used to describe my own life on many occasions – even before this book came out. This book has been on my “to be read” book for far too long.
- The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight: Managing Your Days Through the Homeschool Years, by Heidi St. John – This is one of those books that I started last year, but… I heard Heidi St. John speak on the topic of homeschooling multiple ages, at last year’s homeschooling convention. I am currently homeschooling a 5th grader, 2 pre-schoolers (almost-4 years old, and 2 years old), and have an infant along for the ride. So it was very encouraging to hear someone speak to and from the experience of homeschooling a wide range of ages and abilities…and make it sound like it was possible to get other things done as well! I think I left her session, and immediately picked up her book…of course, I’ve been trying to read it since then.
- Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, by Russell Moore – I love analyzing and debating cultural trends and issues…even if only with myself. (Yes. I talk to myself.) But, I’m not very good at engaging. And, the idea of raising my children to both effectively navigate the world we live in, in a winsome, God-honoring way…honestly? It terrifies me. This was another Christmas present from my husband. I hadn’t actually heard of this book until I opened it on Christmas morning, but my husband knows me well.
- Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith, by Larry Osborne – From the back cover: “Following Jesus is not a race to see who can be the most radical, sacrificial, knowledgeable, or burnt out for Jesus. It’s simply doing whatever He calls us to do, whether it’s radical and crazy or simple and mundane.” I picked this up a year or so ago because I have seen an attitude of “spiritual competition,” one-upsmanship, or a feeling of what “ought” to be done, and the resulting burn out devastate so many Christians. I don’t know much about this author, and I will admit the recommendation by Rick Warren gave me pause, but this book was recommended by a trusted friend. And, because I don’t know that I’ve ever really seen this topic addressed, I figured I would give it a chance.
- Motherhood: Hope for Discouraged Moms, by Brenda Payne – It makes me sad to see words like discouragement, desperation, and despair being used so frequently, and so consistently to describe motherhood these days. While I have been discouraged at times, it doesn’t define my life as a mom, and I don’t want it to. So, I am reading this for myself, yes. But, I am also reading it because as I hear this from other young moms so often, I want to be able to encourage them, and give them biblical hope in those discouraging moments.
- Run to Win the Prize: Perseverance in the New Testament, by Thomas R. Schreiner – My husband read this book last year. He said I have to read it too. So I am. Actually, the excerpts he read to me from another, much longer book by the same author on this topic are the real reason I picked this one up. But, with the limited reading time I have, my husband suggested that I start with this one.
- Beautiful Girlhood, revised by Karen Andreola – Those years between childhood and womanhood are rapidly approaching. And, I want to be well-prepared to walk that road with my girls, and guide them as they grow up.
- God’s Priorities for Today’s Woman: Discovering His Plan for You, by Lisa Hughes – Again, note the theme? Expectations are a burdensome thing. And, living under constantly changing expectations of what a “godly woman” is supposed to be can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the only expectations we are called to live up to are clearly outlined in Scripture.
- True Beauty, by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre – While fashion and make up have never really been my “thing,” modesty, femininity, and the biblical definition of beauty is something I am very interested in. Based on the recommendations alone (Nancy Guthrie, Al and Mary Mohler, Kevin and Trisha DeYoung, Jani Ortlund), I am excited to read this!
What books are you reading this year? Let me know in the comments…I’m always looking to add to my list!