Here’s the DEAL. I love to read. Literally LOVE it. When I was a kid I used to get in trouble for staying up past my bedtime reading “The Boxcar Children”. I loved to read and it was one of my favorite things.
Then, Middle & High School happened…I never finished ONE of the required reading books. (Sorry, Mom & Dad). Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Mere Christianity, Lord of the Flies, A Wrinkle in Time, etc. I didn’t finish ANY of them. I started them all – some I even got halfway thru. I don’t know what it was, but apparently I was allergic to reading the end of books? Not sure. I still don’t know how they end.
Then – I graduated. The summer after graduation, I fell in love with reading. No, literally. FELL IN LOVE. I spent all of my paychecks at Half Priced Books. The first book I loved was East of Eden by John Steinbeck. If you’ve read it, you know it is basically the same size as a Dictionary. Then came other books that I couldn’t put down. And soon? Soon I was in love with books all over again.
Each year I have a goal to read 30 books. That’s 2-3 books/month. Some months I read 5. Some months I read 0. (Wedding season, ya’ll). I still stay awake too late some nights with a book that I can’t put down. I finally bought a book light that I LOVE and it has literally changed my LIFE. There is nothing that makes stress disappear in my life faster than a good book & a hot bath. I’ve learned over the past few years that reading, for me – is the best form of self-care.
Many people have asked me over the past year HOW I find time to read so much? Well – to be honest, when my stress increases, I know that I need to do things to relieve it. So I intentionally carve out afternoons with nothing to do but read & fall asleep taking a nap. Evenings where I jump in the bath with a book & light my favorite candle. And most recently – I started setting my alarm an hour earlier and starting my day with reading. It’s something that brings me a lot of joy and even more peace. It truly is something that I need to do in my life.
This past year, I branched out and started reading a lot more fiction. I truly enjoyed it and I find that I can read a fiction book much faster than non-fiction or memoir. And YES, I do read EVERY SINGLE WORD. No speed reading here.
I wrapped up 2018 by finishing my 45th book. And also – on my 29th birthday, I finished reading my 29th book of the year. Which actually made me feel so incredibly happy! I also took 6 weeks off from photographing sessions so I was able to read more during that time also!
My best tip is to keep a bookshelf of books you want to read in your house. I know that budgets might not allow for a giant stack of unread books, but during wedding season, I tend to buy books that I want to read and put them on a shelf in my office. Having books around you is the easiest way to pick one up! I am also a fan of keeping a book with me in my car or in my purse. That way when I get somewhere 10 or 15 minutes early I can read a chapter or two instead of getting lost just staring at my phone!
Now, for the books I LOVED in 2018!
(If you are interested in any of the books, just click on the photo & it will take you directly to Amazon through my affiliate link!)
1.) Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
This book was EVERYTHING. She is honest, vulnerable, hilarious, REAL, and someone who tells you the things you need to hear. This book is packed. Stories from her own life. Stories about work. Motherhood. Marriage. Faith. Friendship. All of it. She’s worth following on Instagram, also. Because her kids are adorable, her style is amazing, and she’s full of zest for life.
2.) The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I never knew how much I loved Fiction until I read this book. And also. Kristin Hannah is THE QUEEN. I have since (in 2019) started reading some of her other books and love them all. Her writing is amazing. This is set in 1970’s – 1980’s in the middle of the wilderness in Alaska. It is an incredible story. Warning, there is some talk about abuse in the book, which I know can be hard to read about. I really thought the book was beautifully written and it was easy for me to stay interested.
3.) Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist
I read it for the first time when Kyle and I were newly married and I can honestly say that it was one of the things that helped craft a vision for our home & even our marriage. I have been forever grateful for Shauna Niequist’s writing. I’ve read all of her books and usually the pages end up dog-eared, underlined, highlighted, and tear stained. She is my absolute favorite writer. And her recipe recommendations are always delicious.
4.) Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher
Hannah Brencher has been one of my favorite writers ever since I read her book “If You Find This Letter” where she tells the story of moving to NYC and leaving love letters to strangers around the city. Her vulnerability about her battle with depression was something I was grateful to read. And it made me understand more deeply how to support & encourage people in my life who also are also dealing with depression. I loved the parts where she talks about friendship, faith, & community – and the honesty about how finding real community takes time & does not come without being intentional. She talks a lot about her relationship with God, in a way that encouraged me in my faith. Her writing always feels like I am talking to her over a cup of coffee & I couldn’t put this book down. If you are looking for something that will make you think & make you feel – this is a great read.
5.) The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
This was like a perfect romantic comedy in book form. I loved Amy’s writing style and easily connected with these characters. It is set in Wisconsin, where Kyle is from – and made me feel so in love with the Mid-West way of life and their love for Cheese Curds! If you love food & a good love story – it’s a great read! Would be perfect on vacation! The main character is a chef and the recipe for the Coconut Cake is in the book! Cannot wait to try and make it soon!
6.) How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price
Hello! Are you a human? Do you have a smart phone? READ THIS BOOK. It was eye-opening. The first half of the book is called the “Wake Up” and the second half is called “The Break Up”. It challenged me to evaluate my relationship with my phone and also to make some changes in my life. I even ordered an alarm clock off of Amazon and am not keeping my phone on my nightstand anymore. Highly recommend!
7.) Remember God by Annie F. Downs
I finished this book on my 29th Birthday. It was my 29th book of the year. I loved her honesty and vulnerability about her current season of life and how she is working through being in a different place in life than she thought she would be currently. Her writing was vulnerable and beautifully written.
8.) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This book is being made into a movie & I fell in love with the main character, Eleanor. She is quirky and lovable. I found it to be an easy read while also addressing some more serious issues that the main character was dealing with.
9.) Giftology : the Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention by John Ruhlin
If you are a business owner – YOU NEED TO BUY THIS. One of my favorite books of the year because I have seen immediate results from implementing his advice about using gifts in your business. Highly recommend.
10.) Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
Bob Goff is someone who I just WISH I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with. Especially in a time in the world where people are so divided on issues, this is a beautiful reminder how to love and how to be human. You will enjoy his stories & his playfulness. You will also want him to be your grandfather.
11.) Homebody by Joanna Gaines
The PERFECT book to cozy up and read while dreaming about redoing a room! It’s also just full of beautiful images and the content of each chapter is super relevant and I love that she teaches how to make your space work for YOU. It also would make a beautiful coffee table book!
12.) Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
LOVED this book! After reading, I wanted to be best friends with Reese & pack my house up to move to the South! She has great stories, great recipes, and the book is packed with gorgeous images! Would be a perfect coffee table book – or a gift for a girlfriend! I gave a copy to one of my friends & she loves it just as much as I do!
13.) The Little Book of Hygge : Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
HYGGE IS MY NEW FAVORITE THING. EVER. I loved this book and it made me want to light all the candles and cook all the warm food and sit under blankets and have life move a little slower.
14.) Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
Practical tips on how to be more productive. I have since started doing many of the things that the author recommends and I do feel like I am being more productive. If you are constantly feeling like you have a million things to-do, this book will help you figure out what order to do them in – in order to be the MOST productive. It sounds crazy, but by doing the biggest/hardest task first you will be more productive during the day. I’ve tried doing this and it is SO TRUE.
15.) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
This book had elements of mystery and suspense and I was hooked from the first chapter. You will love the main character and getting to know her. Highly recommend!
16.) Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith
Great tips on decluttering and creating a beautiful home that also works for your life. Practical application on styling things, gallery walls, and also for the different elements that each room needs to be a cozy space! Really loved the practical application. I am not quite on-board with ALL that she says. I don’t think things need to be just as minimal as she does – but I do agree that less stuff is less stress!!!
If you have a book recommendation for 2019, I’d LOVE to hear it! And also – on Intstagram, we have started a 2019 KLP Book Club! Each month I will choose a book for us to go through together. You can find the book of the month by finding us on Instagram, under @KelseyLynnePhoto of the Hashtag #KLPBookClub !