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Want to know what my Top Favorite Books were that I read in 2019? In this post, I share my Top 10 Favorite Books from 2019.

I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books would be books I already own. I ended up only finishing 65 books and reading 20 books I already owned. But I read and listened to some great books, so I’m going to call that a win — even if I fell short of my goal!

This was my first year to use GoodReads to track my reading. You all were right! It is really motivational to see my progress and to have a one-stop place to see all the books I read + my star rating of them.

Of the 65 books I read in 2019, I picked 10 favorites. These were the 10 that impacted me the most, that I enjoyed the most, that resonated with me deeply, and/or are the ones that I will carry lessons from for years to come.

#1: Deep Work

This book is actually one I had planned to read in 2018, but I’m really glad I saved it for the beginning of 2019 because it was the perfect book to kick off the year.

Deep Work is a little more scholarly than most books I read, but I’m so happy I stuck with it because it really challenged me to think of how I’m approaching life and work and whether I’m investing time every day in what the author refers to as “deep work” — that kind of work that is meaningful and really makes a difference.

In this book, Cal Newport encourages you to have periods every day where you are completely offline and not distracted by all of the hustle and bustle of life to allow for this “deep work”.

If you struggle to focus or get things done, if you wish you could be more structured in your day, or you’d like to look back on your week and guarantee that you devoted time to work that matters, I’d definitely recommend reading Deep Work.

Note: I was privileged to have Cal Newport on my podcast. You can hear our interview here.

#2: Eat Cake, Be Brave

I listened to this book on the Libby app for free and I loved hearing this in the author’s voice. I felt like it made the book come alive and seem so much more authentic.

The author, Melissa Radke, has gone through so much in her life from weight struggles, to infertility, to infidelity, to losing a child, to rejection. And almost all women will be able to relate in some way to her story and her bravery will inspired you.

I found myself want to jump up and down and yell “preach it” as I was listening… and I’m not even a very charismatic sort of person. I loved the book so much that I ended up buying a copy from Amazon after I finished listening to it since I wanted to have it in my library so I could re-read parts of it and loan it out to others.

Note: I was honored to have Melissa Radke on my podcast. You can listen to our interview here.

A photo of Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, a book I finished in February

#3: Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a blog reader. And then I put it on my list of 40 books I plan to read — and so many of you commented and said I MUST read it right away so I bumped it to the top of the list.

The subtitle for the book is How Less Than Perfect Parents Can Raise (Kind of) Great KidsI love that… because it feels like it’s actually doable and not like a book that is going to make me feel like I’m just not measuring up as a mom.

Jami’s humor and candidness in this book was a breathe of fresh air to me. Her writing is so down-to-earth, so raw, and so real. She makes you feel less alone, but she also does such a good job of pointing you to Jesus and encouraging you to lean in and love your kids — even when it’s really hard.

If you are looking for a parenting book that isn’t about formulas or perfection and doesn’t make you feel like you need to overhaul your schedule and life and chore charts in order to be a better mom, definitely check out Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors.

This book reads more like a memoir, but it’s packed with powerful truths, too.

Note: I loved getting to have Jami Amerine on my podcast. You can listen to our interview here

#4: Killing Lincoln

If you’ve listened to The Crystal Paine Show this past year, you know that Jesse and I both really enjoyed this book this past year. (Jesse read it first and his review of it on the podcast intrigued me! So I ended up downloading it on Libby.)

While I thought I was pretty familiar with the Lincoln assassination, this book brings history to life. I learned so many intriguing details that I never knew before. Plus, having more historical context made the story so much more compelling.

From what I could tell, it was very well-researched and historically accurate. I appreciated that it didn’t seem politically motivated/biased but just very facts-based. If you enjoy history, this is a must-read/must-listen.

A big thank you to Jesse for inspiring me to listen to this one!

#5: Killing Kennedy

After listening to Killing Lincoln and really finding it fascinating, I added this one to my list to listen to it (I got it free from the Libby app.)

It was really good, as well, and I learned so many details of history that I didn’t know. I will say that it did have some details that were definitely not appropriate for young ears. (Jesse and I were listening to it while on a road trip and had to turn it off since the kids were in the car!)

As I said with Killing Lincoln, “I learned so many intriguing details that I never knew before. Plus, having more historical context made the story so much more compelling.

From what I could tell, it was very well-researched and historically accurate. I appreciated that it didn’t seem politically motivated/biased but just very facts-based. If you enjoy history, this is a must-read/must-listen.”

Before We Were Yours

#6: Before We Were Yours

This was one of those books that I couldn’t stop talking about. Many of you told me you thought I should read it as soon as possible and you were so right.

It’s the tragic and true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals and how they played out in the lives of the children who actually went through this horrific experience.

Truth be told, I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home scandals before listening to this book — and I live in Tennessee! I have asked multiple people who live here and they haven’t heard of it either.

It’s heart-wrenching and horrible and I think a powerful reminder of how money can cause people to make terrible decisions that can hurt people in devastating ways.

The book is well-written and engaging and appears to be very well-researched historical fiction. It is also the beautiful story of sibling love and how trauma and devastation doesn’t have to define your future.

Note: There are a lot of situations in the book when it comes to abuse that could be very triggering to people, depending upon your life experience and trauma. The book doesn’t give nitty-gritty details, but it’s enough that it could be very triggering.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

#7: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

I read this book a number of years ago and loved it. Then, I watched the Netflix movie they did based upon the book.

Well, after watching the movie and enjoying it, I realized I couldn’t remember enough about the book to compare the movie and the book. So, in an uncharacteristic move, I decided to read the book again.

Only this time, I listened to it (thanks to getting the audiobook for free from the Libby app). I loved that the audiobook is narrated by multiple voices. It’s so well done.

And I ultimately decided that the book is great, the movie is good, and the audiobook is very well done. So I highly recommend all three.

By the way, this novel is written entirely in the form of letters and telegrams. Considering that this book and Dear Mr. Knightley are two of my top favorite books and both are written in letter form, apparently I’m a big fan of that style of writing!

A photo of Everybody, Always by Bob Goff

#8: Everybody, Always

I got an email a recently from a woman who told me she has followed me online for a long time, but she’s been too scared to write in because she knows I’m a Christian and she’s afraid of what I might think of her since she’s so different than me. She felt I wouldn’t want to associate with her because of her choices, beliefs, and lifestyle.

My heart broke when I read her words. And it made me really stop and examine my heart. Am I oozing with Jesus’ love — for ALL people?

Or am I just loving those people who are most like me, who have the same beliefs or viewpoints, or who I most relate to?

If I’m truly following Jesus, I’m not just going to be hanging out with people who are like me. I’m going to be spending a lot of time with those who are on the fringes, those who are often overlooked, and those who are very different than me.

If I say I’m following Jesus, but I’m unwilling to love those who are different than me, those who have hurt me, and those who are hard to love, I’m not truly following Jesus.

Thanks to Bob Goff for how he inspired me through his book Love Everybody, Always. While I don’t agree with all of his theology, I do 100% agree with his heart for challenging us to love others much more wholeheartedly!

My favorite quote: “If following Jesus doesn’t lead you to the poor, the lonely, and the isolated, you’re not following Jesus.”

#9: The Day the World Came to Town

I first found this when I was going through books that were available to read for free as part of the Kindle Unlimited deal. I mentioned it on one of my posts and a number of you highly recommended that I read this.

You all were right! This book is the moving story of how Newfoundland opened their hearts and homes to thousands of passengers whose planes were diverted on 9/11.

It’s a beautiful story and I think it’s worth reading. The author weaves a lot of different stories and perspectives throughout the book, but I felt like he did a great job of helping you keep everything straight.

Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra, a book I finished in February

#10: Etched in Sand

My sister recommended that I read this book… and she basically never fails me with her book recommendations! This book is the true story of five siblings who survived a pretty horrific childhood of abuse.

This book is sad and honest and has a lot of crass language in it. However, it was a really insightful look into the foster care system from the perspective of a child. It displays so clearly that there are no easy solutions or quick fixes and that we who haven’t experienced what these kids have experienced truly have no idea what it would be like to walk in their shoes.

My heart hurt so much for the heavy weight of guilt that the author carried around because of feeling like she didn’t protect her younger sister — even though she tried so hard to do so and took many blows and beatings from her abusive mother in order to protect her siblings.

This is a sad and haunting story and it might be too difficult for some to read. I’m grateful to have read it because it gave me fresh eyes of compassion for others who are hurting and for friends who have experienced abuse and abandonment in their childhood and how much it likely has wounded them emotionally.

What were YOUR favorite books from 2019? Any books you really think I should read in 2020? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

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