I've seen a couple other people do this and since I read a whole lot more this year than I normally do, I thought it would be a fun thing to do!
Here's what I read last year... (* means I can't remember if I read this in 2011 or 2012)
Cross Cultural Servanthood (Duane Elmer) A required read; a little dry for me (although I'm sure many would disagree!) but I did learn a lot about the importance of defining servanthood according to my "host culture" instead of my own culture (the two can be very different!)
Cry of the Soul (Dan B Allender & Tremper Longman) Required; again a little dry (and again I'm sure many would disagree!) but it helped me to see how God has designed our emotions to draw us closer to Him
Growing Through Stress (Kath Donovan?) (I can't find this one on Amazon for some reason) Required; I somewhat enjoyed reading this book (the technical explanations were kind of boring for me) and I learned a lot about myself through this one. It caused me to think about what makes me feel stressed and how I deal with it, and helped me to think about what helps me to relax and avoid the "bad stress" from building up. (yes, there is apparently such a thing as "good stress" that I didn't know existed!)
Real Sex (Lauren Winner) Required; Although I probably never would have picked up this book by choice because I thought chastity only applied to singles, I really enjoyed it. It really opened my eyes to the fact that chastity (purity) is not just something for singles to practice, but it also applies to married people too.
Sabbath Keeping (Lynne Babb) Required; I really loved this book! I had never really thought much about what it means to "keep the Sabbath" but this book really convinced me of the importance of having a Sabbath. I had always thought that Sunday was the only option for a "true Sabbath", but the author made me realize that any day can be a Sabbath... all you are doing is setting aside a day (or half a day) for the Lord, resting in Him and dedicating that time to Him. And, that might look different for everyone! What is resting for some might feel more like work for others, so it's all about finding out what rest means for you. I wish I was more dedicated to having a regular Sabbath (especially since Sundays here are so busy!) but I'm hoping to do some half day Sabbaths once we start taking Mondays off. I highly recommend this book!!
Sacred Marriage (Gary Thomas) Required; This book was really good! I read it with Bobby which I really enjoyed doing. I recommend this book for both single and married people as it really changes your definition of marriage. I think it would have been great to have this perspective before we got married, but of course it's not too late. The main idea of the book is 'what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?' It is a little long, but definitely worth reading! Someday I'd like to read Sacred Influence too.
Search for Significance (Robert McGee) Required; I also did the workbook with this one (as the Christar counselor recommended) and really liked it. As you can tell from some of the titles further on, I have some issues with people pleasing and finding my identity in Christ! I really like the resources this book had (charts and "activities" and I think it's a book that all Christians can benefit from reading.
Survival Kit for Overseas Living (L Robert Kohls) Required; To be honest, I didn't really enjoy this one too much... it was a required reading and I did learn things from it, but it is pretty geared toward business people if I remember correctly. Also, since I have previous cross-cultural living experiences and a lot of training in this area already, some of it felt repetitive. It is good for first-timers though!
Victory Over the Darkness (Neil Anderson) Required; Another book that I'd recommend for all Christians. It also has a lot of great resources and powerful Scripture references to remind you of who you are in Christ!
When People are Big and God is Small (Edward Welch) Required; This one taught me a lot about the dangers of fearing man more than fearing God... and I'd probably recommend this one to all Christians too. One thing I discovered in reading all these books about self-esteem and identity is that I'm not alone in my struggle to fight thinking more about what others think about me more than what God thinks of me!
Surrender to Love (David Benner) This one was recommended to me by a counselor and I really loved it. It is the kind of book you have to read slowly to let everything sink in. It's really easy to read, but it makes much more of an "impact" when you read it slowly in little chunks at a time. It basically just reminded me of the importance of just being with the Lord and resting in His mercy and grace rather than focusing on what I'm doing for the Lord and earning His approval. This is another one I recommend to all Christians.
The Power of a Praying Wife* (Stormie Omartian) This is a book I got on sale shortly after we got married but never got around to reading it until last year (I think... it may have been 2011 when I finished it, but I don't remember) I really loved this book! It's broken into 30 chapters with specific prayers at the end of each chapter and Scriptures to go with the theme of the chapter. Since it is 30 chapters, I have put sticky tabs on each prayer and usually pray one each day for Bobby. I have found it really beneficial to have guided and specific prayers for him, praying in ways that I might not have thought of praying for otherwise.
A Confident Heart (Renee Swope) This was one I got free for Kindle and I'm really glad I read it. It also has some great resources in it and I'll likely end up reading it again sometime. I really like Renee Swope's writing and I actually subscribe to a daily devotional she's part of (Proverbs 31 Ministries).
Becoming Fearless: My Ongoing Journey of Learning to Trust God (Michelle Aguilar) This was another free one :) Michelle was the winner of a season of The Biggest Loser and the subtitle really attracted me to it. I must confess that although I enjoyed the book, there wasn't as much spiritual substance to it as I was expecting there to be. It was neat to hear about all the behind the scenes stuff from the show though.
Choosing to SEE (Mary Beth Chapman) (I borrowed this e-book from the library!) This was by far one of the best books I've ever read! The Chapman's have a really powerful testimony and they've done a fantastic job of bringing much glory to God through their lives, especially in the midst of a horrible tragedy! I have a much greater appreciation for Steven's music now. I also have a greater understanding of the depth of grief that goes along with losing a child. I now understand that it never really goes away and those who have lost a child will never "get over it" as society seems to expect them to. Although it was really sad in some parts and difficult to read because of the reality of the situation, I HIGHLY recommend this book!
Christmas at Harringtons (Melody Carlson) This was just a "for fun" fiction book I read last month because it was Christmas :) (and this one was free too!)
The Christmas Dog (Melody Carlson) Reading the last book was so much fun I decided to read one more... this one was free too!
How to Declutter Your Home for Simple Living* (Judith Turnbridge) I read this one with Bobby when we were in the process of moving/shipping things to Japan and it was pretty good. Although I don't honestly remember a lot about it, I think it was a helpful reminder to hold things loosely and keep life simple! :)
In the Presence of My Enemies (Gracia Burnham) This was another powerful book that I really enjoyed. It was a little long, but still good. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be in a situation like Gracia and her husband were in! It really opened my eyes to just how good we have it here in Japan and how blessed we are... the gift of having a Bible to read every day really stood out to me from this book.
Kiss Me Like You Mean It: Solomon's Crazy in Love How-To Manual* (David Clarke) It seems like since I can't remember much about this one or the de-cluttering one, it must mean I read them in 2011! I read this one with Bobby too and it was a good reminder of the importance of keeping the romance and passion alive in your marriage. It was a pretty good "light read" for us.
The Japanese Mind: The Goliath Explained (Robert Christopher) Required; this one was my last required read to finish and it was one of the hardest!! We basically read it in the car all summer while we were traveling. It's a good book, but it's a little out-dated now and it has a lot of topics I consider to be quite boring! I did learn some things though and I'm grateful I had Bobby to keep me motivated to read it :)
Skinny: A Novel (Laura L Smith) This was another free one... I think it was one of the first "for fun" books I got to read after finishing all my required reading this summer. I liked it... but maybe that's because I like "teeny-bopper" books and movies! Seriously though, I did learn a lot about eating disorders and it made me more aware of what a struggle that is for some girls.
The Atonement Child (Francine Rivers) I've read this one before (maybe in High School), but I remembered it being really good so I wanted to read it again. I borrowed this e-book from the library too! I don't think I enjoyed it as much as the first time because I remembered the basic story line, but it was still good. Another book that gives you a new perspective on things!
Reclaiming Lily (Patti Lacy) Another free one :) It's a fiction book about a couple that adopts a girl from China, and ends up "running into" her older sister. It was "so-so" in my opinion.
Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption (Katie Davis) I've been wanting to read this book for a while because it's about Uganda but the libraries didn't have it... then I came to Japan and a co-worker had it so I borrowed it from her! I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. I guess because so many people had "talked it up", I had high expectations for it. But, I did like it, and I think Katie does a wonderful job of painting the picture of what life in Uganda is like.
I think that's all... but I could be forgetting some! I had no idea I had read this much until I started making my list (and didn't realize how long this would take until I was too far in!) 2012 was a year for reading for me for 3 main reasons... I had a lot of Christar required reading to do; we did a ton of traveling; and I got a Kindle (and we have this great site that we get free Christian books from all the time... check out http://www.gospelebooks.net/)
I really do love to read... especially when it's "for fun" (books I get to choose) and I hope I can read lots this year too... although it is hard while in full time language study! Maybe I should start going to bed earlier and reading before bed!
Right now I'm reading A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot (Amy Carmichael's biography) and it's really good... it's pretty long and I wish I had more time to read so I could finish it! As a team, we're going to work through A Vision of the Possible in the next few months. There's a lot of other books I'd like to read... but we'll see how this year goes! :)
Happy Reading to all!! Feel free to let me know any good books you're reading or have read that I should read too! :)