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What I Read in January & and an Update on My Reading Challenge

on February 16, 2017 by Jami Balmet 9 comments

2017 has been a fun reading year for me so far. I issued a 2017 Christian Reading Challenge for Women (which has been a BLAST) and Jason and I have taken on the insane challenge of reading 104 books this year. Yeah. That’s 2 books a week. 

I am super happy to report, that so far, we are on track with that challenge. So if you are curious what 8 books I read in January or are following along with my 2017 reading challenge, here you go: 

The Christian Reading Challenge

For all of you who are following along with our reading challenge, you should have read either 1 or 2 books in January depending on the track you are following. Those books are: 

Those are two of my very favorite books and I hope you loved them if you read them as part of your own reading challenge. It’s never too late to jump in and join our reading challenge. Here’s the one for women and the one my husband created for men

What to read in February: 

If you are following the 13 books in a year plan, then Habits of Grace is on your schedule to read for February. And if you are following the 26 books in a year plan, then you will read When a Women Inspires Her Husband and The Total Money Makeover in February.

What I Read in January

Jason and I are loosely following Tim Challies’ insane plan of reading 104 books this year which breaks down to 8 books a month. I am happy (and a little surprised) to share that I met that goal in January. Here’s what I read and what I thought. Feel free to follow me over on Goodreads for my reviews as I finish each book. 

A Fistful of Heroes by John Pollock (Biography)

I’ve been wanting to read more biographies this year but didn’t know where to start. This book was an excellent beginning to learning more about Christians throughout history who have carried the Good News to all parts of the world. I have felt so built up and encouraged from reading their stories and have several biographies I now want to read in depth! I highly recommend this book to all Christians.

Do More Better by Tim Challies (Time Management/Productivity)

A short, sweet, and to the point book on productivity! Challies gives a great look into how he organizes his time, keeps tracks of projects and to do lists, and most importantly: doing this all for God’s glory! A terrific mix of practical application and thought provoking theology. I listened to it as an audio book and can’t wait to get my physical copy for reference.

Growing Your Faith by Jerry Bridges (Christian Living)

The tagline to this book is How to Mature in Christ and I think that’s a very accurate description of the book! This book is a collection of the very best advice that Jerry Bridges (one of my very favorite authors) has on the subject of growing and maturing in your faith. It’s a very quick and easy read and I highly recommend it as one of my newest favorite books on Spiritual Disciplines and Christian living in general. 

The Blessings of Humility by Jerry Bridges (Christian Living)

Once again, Jerry Bridges shares personal stories and application to reinforce Scripture in a beautiful way. This is a quick and short read through the Beatitudes is a terrific reminder of humility and how this ties back to the essence of our faith: The Gospel. I highly recommend this book to all believers!

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon

I realize this is an odd book for my normal book reviews but we just had our baby girl (baby #5) in January so I was doing some re-reading to prepare. We were praying for a VBAC this time around but ended up with another c section (all in God’s perfect plan)! If you are wanting to prepare for a natural birth however, I highly recommend this book. But a fair warning: there are a lot of nude photos in this book to show the proper birthing positions, etc. The photos are small and in black in white. I’m not sure why ALL the photos have to be nude…but just a fair warning. 

Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels

I really wanted to love this book. I really thought I would love this book. But I felt like I didn’t connect with the author. I got a few quick ideas and some inspiration for making my home a haven, but overall, the book wasn’t very practical. If you’ve never thought about your home being a haven or decorating with things that are personal to your family, then you might like it better then I did. Overall the contents of this book could have been boiled down into one or two really good blog posts. I would suggest skipping this one as there are so many other worthwhile books out there. But I’ve read other reviews that people loved the book. 

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron

I read this book on my Kindle as I’ve been up late nursing. And I’m very interested in personality types and how I fit in as a “Hsp” however I found this book to be full of physco-babble. It was a complete waste of time. I’ll be looking for some other resources on this topic. I do not recommend it. 

Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford

Hands Free Life is currently only $1.99 on Kindle (as well as it’s sister book: Hands Free Mama). The book started off fantastic. I loved and needed the reminders to live distraction-free. But the rest of the book felt very repetitive and got very boring with so many personal stories. Overall I felt like there was very little practical advice and could have been boiled down to a couple of good blog posts. If you are deciding between the two, I recommend you read Hands Free Mama and skip this one although it’s been a long time since I’ve read the mama one. 

The Faith of Christopher Hitchens by Larry Alex Taunton

I’ve been wanting to expand my reading this year and I had this book recommended from several people. I know virtually nothing about Christopher Hitchens. So while it was a very engaging and well written book, I kept wondering why I was reading it (my husband really wants to read it so that’s probably why I finally picked it up). It was interesting but not sure it was worth my time. 

Great Book Deals Going On:

There are some fantastic books deals going on right now and I know that if you are wanting to read more in 2017, one of the concerns might be the cost. (BTW here are some good ideas for reading on a budget)

I’m thinking about buying one or two of those last three I named. I don’t know anything about those authors, but the books look interesting! *The offer on the $4.99 audiobooks ends 2/17/17*

What did you read in January? Leave a comment and let me know! 

Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. I love reading your reviews and ‘reading posts’! You have done so well to read so much in January!
    I started the year with the goal of 2 fiction books and 1 non fiction book per month, but am currently smashing that with 11 books read so far, 5 fiction and 6 non fiction (as of today). I think my favourite non fiction book so far has been The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, although that may shortly be surpassed when I finish reading Unoffendable (I’m half way through and loving it!). I am also currently re reading the Anne of Green Gables series, which has so much good life advice that it almost feels like nonfiction! It is remarkably convicting!
    My To Read list is growing much faster than my reading rate, but I am looking forward to reading some biographies over the next couple of months!

  2. I was very excited for your 2017 Reading Challenge! The books you chose have been really filling and encouraging. I read How to Manage your Home without losing your mind via audibles. It was AWESOME! I’d encourage everyone to listen to it. Dana had me laughing out loud and itching to declutter. I also listened to Living Well, Spending Less. I’m actually listening to it again because it was so good and full of amazing take aways. One book not on the list that I read was Present by Keri Mae Lamar. It is all about unplugging and learning to be present in your daily life. It has some similar themes to Mandy J. Hoffman’s #Reforming Social Media. Both books have been very convicting and have helped encourage me to reduce the amount of time I am on my phone. I also read several YA novels. I think in all, I read 7 books in January! I am currently reading Women of the Word very very slowly. Next up: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. Overall, this has been such a great start to 2017! Thanks for the idea and encouragement!

  3. I am loving your book challenge Jami and the recommendations. I’ve been working through The Blessing of Humility with some young women at church and just thankful for such rich truths in each chapter. Highly recommend that one for every Christian.

    Until you really tear into scripture it’s so easy to miss these rich truths. I’m reminded that study and meditation on God’s Word is where true change begins. In going through the beatitudes in the past I had a partial understanding of what it meant to be poor in spirit but this book has made me fully understand that to be truly poor in spirit means I recognize that I am lost, hopeless and helpless – and apart from Jesus everyone of us is spiritually destitute. Like the tax collector in the temple, it is realizing there are no saving resources in myself but I can only beg for mercy and grace. My pride is gone and I am standing empty handed before God. True humility, truly being poor in spirit is recognizing my total dependence on the Lord. There are no saving resources in myself. Apart from Jesus we are all spiritually destitute.

    Thanks for pointing us always to Christ dear sister xo

    • Thanks Marci! The Blessings of Humility has become one of my very favorite books! So practical and encouraging (and convicting)! I’ve been doing a lot of study the last 6 months on pride and humility and I feel like God is tearing me down bit by bit, helping to kill my pride. And building me back up with humility…it’s a very humbling process when I see how much pride has influenced my life. Oh how I wish we lived closer to each other and could go through that study together <3

  4. I can’t believe that you were able to fit that much reading in with 4 and a half little ones! I applaud you! I chose to read 13 books this year. I really wanted to commit to reading 26, but I am terrible at finding time to read and I didn’t want to fail and get discouraged. So far, I am on track, and if I read more than 13, I will be happy with that as well. In January, I read “Believing God” by Beth Moore (not on your list but already on my kindle and I’ve been meaning to read it). Then I began reading “C.S. Lewis: A Life Inspired” by Christopher Gordon (Also, not on your list, but already on my kindle, using it for the Biography category). I tend to slack on historical/biographical reading, so I also started reading “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode” after you posted that it was on sale on Amazon. I am so glad I picked that one up, it is chock full of great tips and ideas on getting your entire life in order with plans to implement the changes simply. Hopefully I will finish both these books this month or in March and figure out which book I will read next πŸ™‚

    • Well I’ve been on the couch a lot this month nursing πŸ˜‰ So that helps! I got through a lot of Kindle books this month. So smart!! It’s so hard ot get discouraged, so great goal. Oh I’m so glad you’ve been loving SGTSM, it’s one of my very favorite books!! So glad you are following along πŸ™‚