Hello and happy Wednesday!
Also, happy Read a New Book Month!
There are many book-related days in September that readers all over are celebrating, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing what everyone has been flipping through lately. I myself am placing a higher priority on reading this month too, as I’m pretty far behind in my reading goal for 2022.
Over on Goodreads, you can keep track of the books you’ve read, review them, read others’ reviews for books you’re interested in, and even set a yearly reading challenge for yourself. I went over my 2021 goal with 54 books, and set myself a goal for 55 books this year. So far, I’m only at 22…
I obviously have some ground to make up, so as I’m getting back into more reading this fall, I wanted to take a look at the books I’ve already read this year and share my very favorites!
Surprisingly, so far I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read this year, so choosing favorites was very difficult. I finally decided to narrow it down to just the ones that I was most impacted by and/or feel like I can whole-heartedly recommend to anyone looking for good books – fiction and non-fiction.
(For a full list of what I’ve read this year and my reviews, you can head over here. There have been a lot of great reads lately!)
So with that in mind, here are eight of my favorite reads from 2022 so far!
Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On by Stormie Omartian
Blurb: Do you ever wonder how you can get where you need to go in life and move into the purpose God has for you? During those times when the road ahead seems uncertain, learn to take God’s hand and let Him lead you to places you can’t get to without Him…
…While sharing openly from her personal experience and her strong understanding of God’s Word, Stormie illuminates the way for readers to turn their concerns, trials, worries, and daily needs over to God’s care.
My Thoughts: This was the perfect, light read for this stage of my life. Highly recommend it to anyone dealing with hardship or uncertainty (which is basically everyone, right? I recommend this book to everyone).
Most importantly, the content was godly, encouraging, inspiring, and a great reminder of how God is always present in our lives – no matter what hardships are shaking us. I enjoyed the author’s style of writing, including her usage of personal anecdotes to illustrate points, and the formatting (Scripture verses at the end of each chapter, and a prayer starter). She was conversational but to the point, comforting but challenging, and her faith in God is very inspiring.
I finished the book with a renewed sense of purpose for this season of waiting and testing in my life, and I’ll definitely be coming back to it in the future!
A Time to Die (Out of Time #1) by Nadine Brandes
Blurb: How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?
Three hundred sixty-four days, seven hours, and sixteen—no, fifteen—seconds left to live. Like everyone else on the east side of the Wall, Parvin Blackwater has a clock counting down the days until her death. At only seventeen, she has only one year left.
When the authorities find out she has been illegally sharing a clock with her twin brother, she is cast through the Wall—her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about God, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. If she can get the word to them before her time runs out.
My Thoughts: Once again, I’m astounded with Nadine Brandes’ work. (I have yet to read a book of hers that I haven’t really enjoyed.)
Was this book perfect? Of course not; there were some inconsistencies and aspects of the storyline that confused me, but overall, I really enjoyed this story.
The characters, the worldbuilding, the dystopian aspect of it (I’m a sucker for good dystopians), the weaving of faith, the romance subplot (and this from someone who isn’t especially fond of most romance stories), the plot twists…I was sucked in from the start and can’t wait to see how the rest of the series plays out.
The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
Blurb: In this famous exposition of Isaiah 42:3, Sibbes unfolds the tender ministry of Jesus Christ, who is ‘a physician good at all diseases, especially at the binding up of the broken heart’.
My thoughts: This small but powerful book was recommended to me by my cousin, and now it’s a favorite. The content was just what I needed at this point in my life and spiritual journey. I highly recommend it to anyone going through difficult times and searching for hope and conviction.
As expected from an older book, the English took me a little while to get into, but once I committed to it, the material gripped me. The author gave some incredibly powerful insights to the Scriptures and helped me understand them in ways I hadn’t before.
The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who You Marry, But Why? by Gary Thomas
Blurb: What if you stopped looking for a “soul mate” and started looking for a “sole mate”—someone who will live out with you the great purpose of God? What if dating isn’t about finding “the one” but making a wise choice so you can better serve the One who loves you most? What if God didn’t design relationships to make you happy but to make you holy?
In The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas will transform the way you look at romantic relationships. Whether you are single, dating, or engaged, Gary’s unique perspective on dating will prepare you for a satisfying, spiritually enriching marriage even before you walk down the aisle. As Gary reminds us, a good marriage is not something you find—it’s something you make.
My thoughts: First, I highly recommend this book for anyone either in a relationship or looking to be in one some day. My boyfriend and I worked through it together over several months, and gained much-needed info about what it means to date God’s way.
There were so many wonderful insights, conversation-starters, pieces of wisdom, and practical applications of Scripture, and I’m very glad to have read through it. Though naturally any book like this should be read with discretion and plenty of prayer, I didn’t come across anything concerning or heretical at all. Instead, I’m very thankful for the lessons learned from this book!
A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge
Blurb: These thirteen sermons on Psalm 42:11, preached at Stepney, London, in the year 1648 are the work of a true physician of souls. In dealing with believers suffering from spiritual depression, Bridge manifests great insight into the causes of the saints’ discouragements such as great sins, weak grace, failure in duties, want of assurance, temptation, desertion and affliction.
A correct diagnosis is more than half the cure but Bridge does not leave his readers there. He gives directions for applying the remedy. For example in dealing with ‘great sins’ he says, ‘If you would be truly humbled and not be discouraged; not be discouraged and yet be humbled; then beat and drive up all your sin to your unbelief, and lay the stress and weight of all your sorrow upon that sin.’ The general causes of spiritual depression are the same in every age. Downcast Christians of the twenty-first century can find help here as surely as did past generations.
My Thoughts: Yet another recommendation from my cousin – this was an in-depth, beautifully-written, and profound book about the Christian faith.
In older, Puritan language, it dives deep into the topic of discouragement and doubting for Christians, and over and over again, was exactly what I needed to read. Every section was full of insights I mentally ‘highlighted’, and probably would have actually highlighted if I hadn’t been borrowing the book. It’s also one I think I’ll need to read a few more times to fully digest all the truths inside. I highly recommend it for any believer. We all go through rough times, and this book is helpful through them.
Thirst (Thirst Duology #1) by Jill Williamson
Blurb: A waterborne disease has sprung up in every corner of the globe, decimating the human race. Seventeen-year-old Eli McShane and his friends flee the chaos and violence in Phoenix and journey north toward the rumored location of a safe water source. They add several to their number, including a mysterious girl named Hannah, who, unknown to Eli, is being hunted by a dangerous man.
Desperation brings out the worst in many of the travelers, infecting even those closest to Eli. When division comes, will he be able to hold his group together or will each fall victim to their own thirst for survival?
My Thoughts: As a sucker for Christian fiction, dystopians, and books with dynamic, relatable characters, I was so sucked into this book! I read it in a day, and was completely engrossed start to finish. I haven’t yet read the connected series (this duology is a prequel), but that didn’t seem to matter in understanding the content.
It was its own story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had favorite characters (Zach or Eli), least favorite characters (JAYLEE), and a lot of guesses about where the plot was going to go. The pacing was good, there was a lot of suspense, tension, and action, and the entire plotline with the water and comet was very intriguing. I was really looking forward to reading the next book!
Hunger (Thirst Duology #2) by Jill Williamson
Blurb: What do you hunger for?
In the wake of a pandemic, Eli and his friends find a thriving community that offers free housing, food, and thankfully, safe drinking water. But something is amiss. The residents spend most their time partying and attending concerts. No one seems concerned that the virus is still out there. When Eli tries to leave, he discovers a fence has been built to keep him, and everyone else, inside.
Hannah is tired of running. When she is conscripted to work in the hospital, she hopes she’s finally found a place to belong, but Admin’s disregard for a doctor’s pledge to “First do no harm” is unsettling.
As Hannah starts to wonder if she will ever be safe again, Eli clings to his hope for freedom. In a world filled with lies, can they learn to trust each other? Or will their hunger for safety trap them in a world that’s not so safe after all?
My Thoughts: This was a gripping, character-driven, and satisfying finale to a great duology! (My sister already has the connected series on order after finishing this book).
I really enjoyed both of these prequel books, and look forward to carrying on in their world. Though there were some elements of the story that I wished could have wrapped up better, I’m curious to see if they are explained in the later series. Overall though, the characters were relatable and interesting, the action was engaging, and I enjoyed the themes and morals explored. If you like dystopians, give these books a try!
(Caveat that this book had significantly more romance, for better or for worse. It wasn’t quite my thing – high amounts of romance in stories usually isn’t – but it was handled far better than many young adult books these days.)
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Blurb: Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side and outruns everyone.
That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits.
My Thoughts: I struggle to review this book objectively because it had such an impact on me when I was younger, and I still have strong emotions reading it.
To be fair, it’s not nearly perfect. There are things I would change (longer ending, more character development, and fewer – granted, mild – swears). But as its a middle-grade book, intended to deal with themes of loss, grief, and guilt for younger readers, I still admire what the author accomplished.
I remember relating to Jess in many ways when I was his age, and as I re-read this, I was reminded of why I was drawn to the story so much back then. It’s so real. Again, for better or for worse. I didn’t appreciate how God was portrayed in this, but at the same time, did appreciate the raw look at how many do think of Him. It’s not an easy read by any means, but one that I’m glad I decided to come back to.
What have you been reading so far this year? Do you have any favorites? Have you read any of the books on my list? I’d love to gush about good books with fellow story-lovers, so feel free to chat with me in the comments and let me know what you’re reading!