17 Books I Read in 2017

I said it last year that I’m far too bold to make this an annual post, but here goes another year.

Things you should know:

  • Books are listed in alphabetical order by the title, not by any ranking because I’m bad at favorites.
  • I do not receive any endorsements, just occasionally free books that I review honestly.
  • If you would like to purchase the book described, click its picture and Amazon will open in a new tab.
  • Yes, I do have a life outside of reading books.


1.) Braving the Wilderness


To read my review of Braving the Wilderness, click here.

2.) The Broken Way

broken way

I enjoy Ann Voskamp and especially love to hear her in person.  This book includes some great nuggets and quotes about brokenness and identifying with the brokenness of Jesus.  If I’m honest, though, I find myself lost in her writing style and have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees.

3.) Christians in an Age of Wealth

christians in an age of wealth.jpg

I would have never chosen to read this book on my own volition, but read it to meet a requirement for my Christian ethics class.  Blomberg presented some interesting information on how many Christians do not give, not because they are unable, but because they have chosen a lifestyle that does not allow them to give generously.  He offered some practical steps to saving money both for individuals and churches, presenting modern giving statistics and how global poverty statistics could be offered if they Church is faithful to give.  This is quite a dry read, but good information if you are looking to learn more about this topic.

4.) How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk


This eye catching title provides precisely what it says, practical insights as to how to avoid falling in love with a jerk.  Dr. Van Epp works with the US Armed Forces providing seminars presenting his research in how relationships should healthily progress and signs of personality traits to avoid.  This is a very practical read that is based primarily on psychological research.

5.) Hurt


This book provides good information and insight for all who work with or interact with teenagers.  Clark illuminates many of the hidden battles teenagers face.  While this book is beneficial, it is also 7 years old and the majority of the information presented is dated.

6.) The Inner Voice of Love

inner voice of love

This might be one of my favorite books I’ve ever read.  Nouwen, renowned theologian, faces the greatest challenge of his faith.  He journeys to a monastery where he openly and rawly journals his innermost thoughts in the pit of darkness, slowly inching back toward believing and accepting the love, grace, and friendship of God.  He never intended for this work to be published.  It is extremely honest and I wept through most of it.

7.) Love Lives Here

love lives here

To read my review of Love Lives Here, click here.

8.) Men, Women, and Worthiness


I have yet to find this in print, only in audio.  Read my review here.

9.) Of Mess and Moxie


I love Jen Hatmaker both for her honesty and out of jealousy of her friendship with Brené Brown.  I admire her bravery to speak up for the marginalized and oppressed and was excited for this read.  I have so enjoyed certain parts of it.  I listened on Audible and was deeply touched to hear Jen weeping as she read certain chapters.  If I’m honest, though, I stopped listening sometimes because of exaggerated mom humor.  While I serve as a “bonus mom” for so many as this book describes, I found myself not thinking many Mom jokes were funny and maybe its my own “junk”, but joking about Mom’s needing to neglect their children just strikes a deep and painful chord.  This book has some great nuggets.  Great ones.  But I struggled through it.

10.) Out of Sorts

out of sorts

To read my review of Out of Sorts, click here.

11.) Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

emotionally intelligent child

While I do raise many children, I am not biologically a parent; yet, took away some great insights from Dr. Gottman’s work.  He describes how parents can interact with their children when they are afraid or pitching a fit by “emotionally coaching” or helping them to name the emotion they are experiencing and walk them through an appropriate response.  I LOVE THIS!  I hear so many parents or grandparents in stores or restaurants just telling their child to “shut up” or “suck it up”, then none of those parents understand why we need counseling.  What I especially love about this book is while offering this incredible approach to raising littles, Dr. Gottman is practical about when behavior simply needs to be disciplined and how to respond when you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to properly “coach”.  If you have little people in your life, read this.  Naming and appropriately responding to emotions is the absolute best way you can prepare your child for adulthood.

12.) The Road Back to You

road back to you

It seems 2017 was “the year of the enneagram” in contemporary Christian culture (by that I mean modern, not like Michael W. Smith).  As an enneagram junkie, I have loved every last minute of it.  This book by Ian Cron is my favorite resource on the Enneagram.  Cron does an incredible job of concisely describing each enneagram profile, but most importantly unpacks how the believer should use the enneagram as a tool.  This is what sets the enneagram apart from most other personality profiles.  Rather than describing you, the enneagram is a tool both for understanding others and for overcoming the “mask” you have worn to survive.  The Road Back to You hands its readers large paving stones to create the road to wake up and toward becoming your most real, unfiltered self.

13.) Sacred Marriage

sacred marriage

Sacred Marriage is a common resource provided to believers who are about to enter the covenant of marriage.  While this context makes total sense, I felt as a single person, Sacred Marriage also had a great deal of insight to offer.  Gary Thomas’ thesis of this work is “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  This book debunks many false understandings of marriage and the purpose of marriage, many of which are created and perpetuated by Church culture.  He was honest about the difficulty of marriage, while also illuminating its sacredness.  I think this is a beneficial read in any stage of life.

14.) Soul Virginssoul virgins

I read Soul Virgins as a resource for a seminary class and went into it with great expectations.  Single sexuality for the believer is almost never touched, while the average number of years between the onset of puberty and marriage increase.  I was highly interested in this read, primarily as I work with college students.  This may be a good resource, but I think my expectations were too high.  I was thankful the authors addressed this topic, but stayed too broad to have any true impact or voice on the topic.  Also, this book is a little dated.  The alphabet worked highly in my favor because the book I would recommend over this one in this subject area is next.

15.) Swipe Right

swipe right

To read my review of Swipe Right, click here.

16.) Unseen


My small group of post graduate girls studied this book together this Fall semester and I absolutely loved it.  Unseen reads very personally and intimately, like most Christian living and would be a great solo read, along with a read for a group.  I felt met and seen by Sara Hagerty in the most beautiful ways on these pages, have recommended it to many college students I mentor, and will be closely on the lookout for any reads from her in the future.  I would recommend this book for anyone who feels forgotten and overlooked, for anyone in a difficult season, or for anyone interested in meeting God more intimately.

17.) You are Free

you are free

I know I fan girl over my Christian authors I love and I am not ashamed.  I am such a fan of Rebekah Lyons.  This girl is honest, fun, and when I saw her speak had incredible taste in shoes.  I loved You are Free and needed it in all of the best ways.  I greatly appreciated Rebekah’s honesty in talking about learning their precious first born would have Downs Syndrome.  Her word choice throughout the book challenged me to expand my vocabulary.  But most central, the message of this book empowered me to walk in the confidence of my Father in a season where every foundation beneath me felt shattered.  Read it, okay.

Thanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.


Review of Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness


Belonging so much to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness.

Brené Brown puts out incredible work, TED Talks, and literature precisely at the intersection of my nerdy love for psychology, heart for authenticity, and passion for Christianity.  A very wilderness she has braved on her own of merging those worlds of psychology and Christianity together, often facing adversity on both ends.

Professionally, Brené is a researcher.  She is a renowned clinical psychologist with incredible books and talks on bravery and vulnerability.  This book, specifically, looks into the idea of “braving the wilderness” or standing alone in a world or context all your own.  Brené describes knowing your place and beliefs so firmly and having such a strong sense of self that you, as an individual, can healthily enter community with others.

She describes this wilderness, this path from what everyone wants of me and how everyone else has demanded I show up, to becoming who you most authentically are as a wilderness.  A scary path that requires great courage.  It was in this honesty I fell in love again with her authenticity and such precisely fitting interjections of profanity.

Do not think you can be brave with your life and your work and never disappoint anybody.  It doesn’t work that way.

Brené dives deeply into research regarding loneliness.  While my generation of millennials are the most connected generation of all time, maintaining regular contact with exponentially more people on an hourly basis than ever in human history, we are reportedly the generation most starved for true authentic connection.  Her research describes how such loneliness, such absence of deep and meaningful connection effects our entire beings, including our physical health.  Yet, it’s an ache we’re unwilling to admit.  An ache which carries great shame, often the shame of rejection or the terrifying belief that maybe that little voice in our head that keeps on whispering “You are not enough.”  is right.

Denying that you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying that you feel hungry.

Beyond loneliness, Brené unpacks the difficulty of relationships and the courage they often require.

Pretending everything is okay is not loyalty or love.  That’s fear.

Here’s the heart of this review:

I deeply love Brené and will forever and always support all things she publishes.  I loved this book, have recommended it to others, and would love to read it again.

Here’s my disclaimer:  This book has some political parts that at a couple points made me want to stop reading (Insert your millennial jokes here.).  So don’t let it derail you.  There is great information in this book that I’ve found myself often quoting in my head.

People are hard to hate from close up.  Move in.

And in the vein of the lack of connectedness, if you feel like you are lacking when it comes to friends, let’s talk.  Comment below to start a conversation, because people need people.



Thanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story, primarily in the sudden loss of my precious Dad on my 22nd birthday.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.



I’ve found myself a little behind on my Advent reading, how about you?  I shared a couple years ago how observing Advent was new for me until about five years ago (To read more click here.)  But gracious, I have fallen head over heals into every way of observing this season of remembering the waiting, hoping, needing, and even sometimes doubting the arrival of Jesus.  A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.

But hoping has changed for me in the past two years.  When you embrace a hope of clinging onto and believing with everything that you can, when you put your whole heart on the line with no other option of believing anything else and that hope is deferred.  All hope feels lost.  And empty.  And silly.  And a waste of time.

Yet Advent, is a season of hoping, believing, and knowing that Jesus will come gently and quietly into a lost and grieving world.  Amidst groans and cries for relief, his very presence whispers, “I hear you.  I see you.  I know.  I’m coming.”


Yet in my own groans and cries, hope seemed too vulnerable to put on again.  I could never again face the hurt I felt of hoping and believing with my whole heart to see healing, to see a miracle, to spend more Christmases with my Dad, and my hope was unfulfilled.  It only brought to mind so many other things I had prayed, waited, and hoped for that also were unmet.  Unfulfilled hopes I still carry.

But I’ve learned to see hope differently.

Hope is far more a waiting for something in a hot, sticky mess than it is a peaceful, orderly affair. – Sarah Bessey, Out of Sorts

Hope is not just knowing.  Hope is trusting enough to place your every bet on what may make absolutely no sense to believe.

And knowing if not, He is still good.

Hoping, vulnerably placing every single ounce of our weak and scared souls onto God fulfilling his promises is one of the absolute bravest things we can do.  And for me, one of the hardest things I’ve ever recovered from.

(Warning: I will probably get some facts wrong.  Friends who are knowledgable about space/science/etc. please correct me.)

On October 15, 1997 the Cassini satellite was launched on a twenty year journey.  Cassini ventured further into Saturn than any other previous explorations, observing its moons that may be suitable for life and its rings.


Upon reaching its 20th year, NASA planned for Cassini not to return back to earth, as it had consistently sent all images and information back to NASA’s headquarters.  Rather, Cassini concluded its pioneering through its “Grand Finale” by going further and further toward the surface of Saturn until Cassini could no longer endure the conditions.

On April 26, 2017, Cassini began its Grand Finale, sending images of Saturn as it reached closer and closer to its surface until after 20 years of discovery, Cassini’s mission was completed.

This video explained it’s Grand Finale in a way I loved.  The narrator describes Cassini plunging 22 times around Saturn’s rings then making its final decent to the surface of Saturn, “fighting to keep its antennae pointed at Earth as it transmits its farewell.”  On September 15, 2017 Cassini sent its last images of Saturn to NASA, concluding its 20 year mission.

If I’m honest, I think learning how to hope again, has felt significantly more like fighting with all I have toward something that feels so unsafe I may be destroyed, than it has felt simple, safe, or peaceful in any way.

Lacking the energy and sometimes faith to hope, in many situations I haven’t.  And I’ve regretted walking away from loved ones who are hoping and holding onto believing in a miracle with all they have.  And I’ve called that silly deep in my bones because I didn’t have the faith to claim and believe in my own miracles.  I only had space to hold my unmet hopes.

But in the sweetest of ways, this Advent season has felt really different.  Really hopeful.

Of sharing in the waiting of centuries.  The waiting and hoping that looked much more like groaning, doubting, and grieving.  And amidst that waiting, believing and knowing that “Unto us, a child [will be] born.”

Hope is vulnerable.  It’s pressing deeper and deeper into our Father’s ability while simultaneously pulling us further and further from our own control, even our guarding our hearts.

But the beauty of our Father that Advent keeps bringing me back to is that He is a God who “fulfills His promises.” (Hebrews 10:23)

And as I read through the prophecies that point to the life of Jesus, God the Son, I am overwhelmed once again with how dependable and sure our hope is.  How God will always prove Himself true.

And I’m writing HOPE all over my Advent book as I read:

“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.  In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
– Colossians 1:13-14, CSB

“What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, GOD DID.”
– Romans 8:3, CSB

“Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death- that is, the devil- and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”
-Hebrews 2:14-15, CSB

I’m learning to hope that my faithful Father will do what He says, even though He’s proven it time and time again, while the enemy loves to whisper the times my help felt unseen.  I’m working to allow myself to vulnerably lay all my heart deeply hopes for at His feet, and to know this is what He calls me to.  I’m learning to believe that I will receive, like a child who lays their head on their pillow, knowing Santa will bring them just what they asked for.


Because our faith never calls us to be logical or to trust as much as we’ve seen trust fulfilled, but to have faith like a child.  A faith that cultivates hope.

fdb3Thanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story, primarily in the sudden loss of my precious Dad on my 22nd birthday.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.


Review of Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey


We sort through our mess on the threshold of change.

To know me well is to know my deep adoration of Sarah Bessey, not for her books alone, though Jesus Feminist was extremely influential in my life and story.  I enjoyed her work and commentary so much that I followed her on social media like any good millennial.  When I stumbled upon Sarah and her husband dressed as Sookie and Jackson from Gilmore Girls, the deal was sealed for me.  Sarah Bessey is one of my favorite Christian speakers and writers.  Beyond her love of one of America’s greatest TV shows Sarah is full of wisdom, interjecting Truth both to the global and local church.  She is a precious mama and her Canadian grammar idiosyncrasies grab my attention and wrap her closer around my heart in each read.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.44.12 PM

To know me well is also to know how timely Out of Sorts publishing was in my life and story.  I had not yet purchased the book when news spread Sarah Bessey was coming to speak at the college where I work.  Upon the loss of my Dad and the grief that followed I had not picked up a piece of Christian literature in a while, including my Bible.  I was angry and lost but I knew I loved Sarah Bessey, I mean she dressed like Sookie, so I went and could not put to words how thankful I was.  She shared about braving the wilderness of doubts and questions, pressing into our wrestling and never feeling like we need to protect God.  It felt like a scene in a movie when the lights go off in a room and one single light was on me.  At a time when I felt completely missed, I felt completely seen and understood by her words.  I waited in line to speak with her afterword and shared about her voice in my life and story and how sweetly the Truth God laid on her heart had met me that night.


But you didn’t come here to hear me fan girl about Sarah, you came to hear about Out of Sorts.

Real life is the undignified life and it is the classroom for holiness.

Sarah Bessey begins this book by describing the process of cleaning out her grandmother’s attic upon her passing.  She then opens up to describe the “sorting” of our faith and theology that grief brings.  Grief of losing a loved one, grief of hurt from a friend, grief of a divorce, or grief of losing a job.

She shares of her own journey of walking away from the Church for years as she questioned her faith while her husband was still working in ministry.

She unpacks the preconceived notions about faith and ministry she and her husband carried for years, without ever bringing them into the light of analyzing their true weight or faithfulness to Scripture’s call.

Out of Sorts is honest about the difficult tension of holding allegiance to the evangelical church amidst watching many actions and decisions taken and made in the name of Jesus and disagreeing with them deep in our bones.  How do we reconcile the Church we claim and the Church we are ashamed of?

She speaks of taking off the cape and crown of being a modern, evangelical hero and learning to be the faithful friend that brings over dinner when a friend just had a baby.  In a world that applauds those who take big steps of faith in obedience to move and sacrifice, she affirms those who stay, who brave it out in movements that are slow to change.

I believe we don’t give enough credit to those who stay put in slow to change movements.


I recently listened to a podcast by Annie Downs, in which, she encouraged us to pay attention to the trends of Christian books as they represent the heart of believers.  Recently, especially within women’s circles there were trends of bravery and courage and more recently friendship and finding your “tribe”.  I have found this idea of real sorting, of reaching back to the broken places to be a recent trend in Looking for LovelySearching for SundayOut of Sorts, and more classically The Inner Voice of Love.

We are in a unique age in the Church.  A changing age.  A time of sorting, reorganizing, and reorienting.  Sarah Bessey sets an incredible stage through her own story of how we on and individual level and collective level can truly sort our faith, returning to the often hidden Truths of Scripture’s true call.



dalton-31Thanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story, primarily in the sudden loss of my precious Dad on my 22nd birthday.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.