There is just something incredibly cup-filling, and life-giving about reading a good book. A novel can give you the opportunity to disappear for a moment and get lost in a story. I think there are for sure seasons when making time to read is hard. Life gets in the way. Reading, for me,  keeps my mind sharp, turns the wheels in my head, and inspires me. 

This year I read a lot of leadership + personal development books and sprinkled in a few easy reads too. These were my favorites: 

1. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. “Leaving behind frantic for a simpler, more soulful way of living.” I read this in January and practically underlined the entire thing. I was coming off an incredibly busy season with my etsy shop and to say that I was feeling frantic was an understatement. I couldn’t figure out how to prioritize my time and was feeling very scatter brained. Shauna’s book for sure helped me navigate the “chairs” that I wanted in my life, and helped me determine what things I wanted to make “room” for. 

2. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown. This book was my anthem this year. Many tears were shed as I read this book, I really connected with Brene’s story-telling in this book. She discuses shame, courage, empathy and vulnerability and how to live a wholehearted life. This book resonated with me as it’s an area of my life I’ve been working on changing: being more vulnerable, real and sharing my life with authenticity. 

“Vulnerability is not weakness,” writes Brown. In fact, “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences.” Without vulnerability, there can be no love, there can be no achievement, there can be no greatness. Unfortunately, instead of developing skills of vulnerability, we too frequently develop armoring techniques. We spend all our energy avoiding getting hurt, avoiding shame. But there’s no surer way to not feel loved, not feel connected, not be fulfilled, than to practice the avoidance of vulnerability.

3. John Maxwell’s 15 Laws of Invaluable Growth. Excellent personal development book, great leadership topics too. It took me awhile to get through this book as there’s a lot to absorb. Each chapter covers a “principle” in regards to growth with reflective questions + exercises at the end of each chapter. John shares many quotes and truth bombs in this book. So many good steps in this book if you’re on a path for personal growth. 

4. Grace not perfection by Emily Ley. She encourages women to simplify and prioritize in this book. I love that it’s written from the perspective of, do the best you can and have grace for yourself on those days when you feel like you can’t keep it together. She has excellent tips and strategies for simplifying your life, covers the areas of simplifying your space, your time and your mind. She even gives tips on managing laundry, home organization, meal planning and self care! 

5. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. This was a quick, easy read. He writes about the 10 secrets for approaching life and work with a positive, and forward thinking mindset. As he says, “You are the driver of your bus, fuel your ride with positive energy, invite people on who share your vision, don’t waste energy on those who won’t get on your bus, and love your passengers.” So many good nuggets! 

6. Strengths Finder 2.0. This is a MUST read if you’re in a spot of needing to figure out what your gifting are, understanding how your wired and determine how to best use your strengths and gifts. There’s an access code in the back of the book where you can login the website and take the strengths finder test. You’ll be given your “top 5” strengths and can then page through the book and read about each of your strengths, how to use them, how to best collaborate with others, etc. It’s very insightful. 

7. Braving The Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, by Brene Brown. This is an excellent sequel to Daring Greatly. She talks about the four practices of true belonging, that require us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable and learn how to be with people without sacrificing who we are and what we value. She writes about the spiritual crisis that is taking place in today’s society and the intense disconnection that it’s lead to. We’ve assimilated into this “your either with us, or against us” mentality, that doesn’t give space for people to feel seen and heard, instead we are hateful and judgmental. Her chapter on “speak truth to bullshit. be civil” was quite possibly the best assessment of today’s political issues I’ve read in a long time.  

Some of the books on my list for 2018 include: 

1. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. 

2. Shape by Erik Rees. 

3. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. 

4. All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth. 

5. Dance. Stand. Run. by Jess Connelly. 

6. You Are Free. Be Who You Already Are. By Rebekah Lyons and Ann Voskamp. 

What books are on your list for 2018? What were your favorite books of 2017?