My 2023 reading list, the fourth iteration of this experiment, was a smashing success.
I finished 20 of the 24, chose to DNF two others, and have purchased one of the remaining two to read as soon as it works its way to the top of my book stack. This made it (by far) the list I came closest to completing perfectly, and I think it was because I was ruthless in weeding out books I felt I was supposed to read, and instead made sure every book was one I couldn’t wait to read.
I’ve gone over and over my 2024 list – adding and subtracting titles for weeks – in order to assemble an equally-enticing plan for the year ahead. I think I’d done it, and would love to have you join me in reading anything below that strikes your fancy!
(If you’re new, this is the very lowest-key of book clubs: I consider it a delightful exercise in thoughtfully planning my reading a year at a time (12 fiction, 12 non-fiction), and though I’m often at the whim of my library holds, it’s helpful to always know where to turn when I’m ready for a new book!)
Without further ado…
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The Armor of Light | This newest installment of the beloved Kingsbridge series came up in my library holds at the end of the year, so it was an easy first pick for this list! If you love sweeping epics and memorable characters that you can luxuriate in (Armor of Light is 700+ pages), this series is for you.
The Great Dechurching | John and I are leading a book study on this at church starting this month. It’s a thoughtful look at why we’ve seen the biggest historical shift in church attendance ever over the last 40 years – and what can be done to bring people back with love and care.
To Say Nothing of the Dog | I’ll be reading this along with the Everyday Reading book club. “Ned is a professional time traveler but he’s so overworked that his boss finally sends him to the Victorian era to hide out and get some much needed rest. Naturally, very little resting goes on and instead time travel goes wild.”
How to Know a Person | I admire and am grateful for David Brooks and have read several of his books. This is his newest one, “a practical, heartfelt guide to the art of truly knowing another person in order to foster deeper connections at home, at work, and throughout our lives.”
Go As a River | When Stephanie tells me a book is her favorite from the year, it goes on my list.
The Reason for God | I knew I wanted to put one of Tim Keller’s books on my list in light of his passing last year. This is arguably his most well-known, and one I haven’t yet read.
Flying Solo | I enjoyed Linda Holmes’ first novel – a charming and spunky love story set in my beloved Maine – when I read it a few years, and her second sounds similar.
The Anxious Generation | We have pre-ordered three copies of this book – partly as a miscommunication between John and me, but mostly because we know it will be prescient and important and we’ll want to loan it out to anyone who will read it. If you appreciate all the work Jon Haidt does in the realms of adolescent mental health, political polarization, freedom of speech and inquiry, play-based childhoods and more, you’ll want to put this one on your list, too.
The Mystery Guest | This is a follow-up to The Maid, one of my favorite books from 2023!
Die With Zero | This book, another one of Janssen’s picks, sounds tailor-made for me: “Die with Zero presents a … guide on how to get the most out of your money—and out of your life. It’s intended for those who place lifelong memorable experiences far ahead of simply making and accumulating money for one’s so-called ‘golden years.'”
Killers of a Certain Age | My friend Pressley recommended this to me based on my love for The Maid!
Everything Sad Is Untrue | And this middle grade/YA book was one of my friend Bethany’s favorites from last year. It’s good to have reader friends :)
Tom Lake | Ann Patchett’s newest novel is set in Northern Michigan, which makes it the perfect pick for July, when we’ll be visiting family and our beloved cottage there. My friend group has given this one mixed reviews, but I loved The Dutch House and so am willing to give it a go!
All Thirteen | A YA non-fiction account of the rescue of the Thai boys’ soccer team from a few years ago, this another pick from the Everyday Reading book club. I may read it aloud to June and Shep!
Tress of the Emerald Sea | Brandon Sanderson is a fascinating and prolific figure in publishing, but I’ve never read any of his work. This book, which was written and published as part of the #1 Kickstarter campaign of all time, is described as a “rollicking, riveting tale―a standalone adventure perfect for fans of The Princess Bride.” Yes, please.
The Boys in the Boat | This true story of nine Americans and their “epic quest for gold” at the 1936 Berlin Olympics will coincide perfectly with the 2024 Paris Olympics! And then I can watch the movie, which I hear is excellent.
Rebecca | We did a “favorite things” exchange for Christmas at work, and I received a copy of this novel. The giver said it was her all-time favorite classic, and on a team of writers, that’s high praise!
When Breath Becomes Air | This book, which came out in 2016, has been on my radar since before it was published. Still, it never made it onto my bedside table, because I didn’t think I’d be able to get through it (The Year of Magical Thinking nearly did me in). It’s time. I’m sure I will cry buckets of tears but will also come out on the other side in awe anew of life and love.
Her Fearful Symmetry | Erin Napier says this oldish novel (2009) is one of her very favorites. It’s by the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I loved, and set near a cemetery – the potential for slightly-spooky vibes seemed perfect for Halloween month.
Empire of Pain | I debated whether to put Demon Copperhead on this list, which is a hefty and polarizing read in my circle of friends, but ultimately chose this adjacent non-fiction account of the Sackler family, who made and marketed the painkiller that was the catalyst for the opioid crisis. (I’m sorry, Kelly!)
Delicious! | I’ve read and loved all of food critic and magazine editor Ruth Reichl’s memoirs, and have heard this novel by her is equally as good!
Raising Passionate Jesus Followers | This book is written by John Mark Comer’s parents. While there are a lot of books about raising children in the Christian faith, this is a unique opportunity to hear from the parents of someone who has impacted my faith.
Little Women | Readers were shocked when I admitted to never reading this classic; one of you chimed in that the week between Christmas and New Year’s is the perfect time to read it. I’m going for it! (Never seen any of the movies, either!)
The Power of Moments | A final pick with the Everyday Reading book club, though this one has been recommended by several other sources, too. It explores why “certain brief experiences can jolt us and elevate us and change us—and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments in our life and work.”
Honorable mentions I’m hoping to squeeze in, as well: The Measure; Don’t Think, Dear; Belgravia; The Paris Agent; Confronting Christianity; There Are No Grown-Ups; Nora Goes Off Script, and Happier Hour.
I’d love to hear: Have you read any of these books? Would you like to read any alongside me in 2024? Let’s chat!