5 Book Recommendations from My Mid-Year Favorites {2017}

5 Book Recommendations from My Mid-Year Favorites

Here we are, mid-July and mid-summer. Six months of reading time over and six more months to find more good books! I love must-read book recommendations from trusted friends and writers. I consider it a gift when you read something and think to recommend it to me. This book list post is my gift to you. So far, forty-two books graced my nightstand or ear buds in 2017. These are my top five mid-year book recommendations.

Mid-Year Book Recommnedations

Top Five (Mid-Year) Book Recommendations

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown

Over the past few years, I read several books about productivity, being too busy, finding rest. This gem right here is the hub of those ideas. Greg McKeown breaks down our idea of a balanced life (we’ve got it all wrong) and rebuilds it into something peaceful yet productive. It’s not a how-to book; it’s a mind bender. McKeown teaches us how to think so we can change the way we behave. It should be required reading for humanity.

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential. (Greg McKeown, Essentialism)


Words from the Hill: An Invitation to the Unexpected, Stu Garrard

As a life-long Bible reader, I’m no stranger to the Sermon on the Mount. However, while reading Matthew 5 to my girls, I stuttered around the meaning of Jesus’s most famous sermon. Later that week, I was given the chance to review Stu Garrard’s book on the Beatitudes. It felt like an answer to prayer. After I finished reading Words from the Hill, I didn’t have a list of things to do in order to be “blessed.” Instead, I have a better sense of what it means to feel God’s presence. I feel empowered to share the gospel and fight for justice. My eyes are better able see the marginalized and forgotten. (Read my full review here.)

What I have come to understand about the Beatitudes is that they are predominantly blessings of God’s presence for people in bad situations, and not a list of spiritual virtues to attain–like we’ve talked about before, they’re about being, not doing. (Stu Garrard, Words from the Hill)


Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay

I’m a sucker for World War II fiction. Sarah’s Key drops you right into the horror of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup (Paris, 1942). Young Sarah and her family are arrested—except her brother whom she locks in a secret closet in an effort to protect him. Jump ahead sixty years, when journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to report on this black day in France’s history. Mystery and dark family secrets begin to unravel. The characters are so vulnerable and the storyline is wholly captivating.

Sometimes, Miss Jarmond, it’s not easy to bring back the past. There are unpleasant surprises. The truth is harder than ignorance. (Tatiana de Rosnay, Sarah’s Key)


TALK: A Practical Approach to Cyberparenting and Open Communication, Mandy Majors

This is the year I got my first teenager. This is the year said teenager got her first smartphone. Our journey to these milestones is paved with stones of instruction held together with the mortar of small moments and ordinary conversation. Mandy Majors walks parents through the maze of parenting tweens and teens in this chaotic technological jungle. TALK is full of parenting principles that focus on communication and relationships. (Read a full review here and my interview with Mandy Majors here.)

God finally showed me that facing the issues head-on and discussing them with my kids is the best way to protect their innocence. (Mandy Majors, TALK)


Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance

I grew up in the foothills of Appalachia. The culture is unique—precious and maddening all at once. Hillbilly Elegy explores the mentality of working class whites, their sometimes sad and hopeless cycle. Vance meanders his way through his childhood and young adult life, unpacking they why’s and who’s of his making. He highlights the beauty of the hillbilly way and helps us understand ways to lift up those around us. Like the other books on my must-read list, Vance wants to affect our thinking more than our behavior. (This one contains some salty language.)

Psychologists call it “learned helplessness” when a person believes, as I did during my youth, that the choices I made had no effect on the outcomes in my life. From Middletown’s world of small expectations to the constant chaos of our home, life had taught me that I had no control. (J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy)


What is the best book you read this year? Share in the comments. I’ve got about six months of reading time to fill!

How do I read this many books? Audio books, my friend! Most of my fiction selection is consumed via the earbuds. Try your local library or grab TWO FREE books with an Audible Membership.

Books currently in progress: The Lifegiving Home (Sally and Sarah Clarkson), Go Set a Watchman (Harper Lee).



Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown
TALK:A Practical Approach to Cyberparenting and Open Communication, Mandy Majors (read my review here and the TALK-inspired post here)
The Giving Challenge, Stephanie Jones (read my review and interview with the author here)
Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships, Lisa-Jo Baker (read my review here and the Never Unfriended-inspired post here)
Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of this Wild and Glorious Life, Jen Hatmaker (Releasing August 2017; grab some pre-order goodies HERE.)
Clutter-Free with Kids, Joshua Becker
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, Lysa Terkeurst
Words from the Hill: An Invitation to the Unexpected, Stu Garrard (Read my review here.)
Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest, Glynnis Whitwer (Read my review here and the DBB-inspired post here.)
Love the Home You Have, Melissa Michaels


Memoirs and Biographies

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
C.S. Lewis–A Life, Allister McGrath
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
Shaken, Tim Tebow
Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham (a must-read for Gilmore Girls fans!)
Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons, Christie Purifoy



The Pirate Queen, Patricia Hickman
I Still Dream About You, Fannie Flag
The Honest Truth, Dan Gemeinhart
Ford County, John Grisham
Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave (another WWII-inspired gem)
Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay
Waves of Mercy, Lynn Austin (from my favorite historical fiction author)
The Arrangement, Sarah Dunn
Falling Together, Marisa de los Santos (My first from this author–certainly not my last! Honorable mention book, for sure.)
Gray Mountain, John Grisham
The Hypnotist’s Daughter, Brittany Raschdorf (releasing Fall 2017)
Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly (I couldn’t decide between this novel and Sarah’s Key. I told you I’m a sucker for WWII fiction!)
Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
The Well and the Mine, Gin Phillips (Set in a town near my own home; another honorable mention.)
In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (The book is suspenseful with much less yuck than the movie.)
The Brotherhood, Jerry B. Jenkins
The Betrayal, Jerry B. Jenkins
The Breakthrough, Jerry B. Jenkins
The Help, Kathryn Stockett (A repeat for me, but this time, I’m listening to it with my daughter.)
The Racketeer, John Grisham



The End of the Affair, Graham Greene (This one made me think deep thoughts.)
The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham


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  1. Thanks for your list! I’ve read a few of those & Hillbilly Elegy has been on my “to read” list since December.My top recommendations thus far for 2017:

    The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
    Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz
    Sleep It Does a Family Good by Dr. Archibald D. Hart
    *The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henry Nouwen
    The Conversation by Leigh Bortons

    *probably an all time favorite, not just 2017

    • I loved Circle Maker and use the things I learned from Dr. Hart’s book often. I’ll have to take a look at the others. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yay! I love book ideas!!! I think my faves so far this year are Love Walked In (Marisa de los Santos) for fiction and You Can Do This (Tricia Lott Williford) for non-fiction.

  3. Well I’ve read two of these! I should check out Talk, given that I do a presentation on “unplugging” with our kids. Every resource helps!

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