What to Read in 2017

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Here's the thing: We all need to read more.

I know that, as a college student, it's super hard to find time to read for fun, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. What we read, from the news to social media and especially books change the way we see the world around us. I'm not alone in believing that reading is important, so let's do our best to read more in 2017, okay? 

I've realized that the best books I've read have been recommended to me by other people. So, the Choctawk staff is here to share with you the books we think you should read in 2017. We hope these books inspire you, challenge you, and teach you something you didn't know before. 


Blue Like Jazz- Donald Miller
This has been one of my favorite books for a long time. I read it for the first time when I was in 9th grade and it changed the way I follow Jesus. The book tells Donald Miller's story, sharing how He came to know Jesus in the midst of our chaotic world. I'm a huge fan of his writing and will promise that you can learn something from any of his books.  

I always thought the Bible
was more of a salad thing,
you know, but it isn’t. It’s a chocolate thing.
— Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

A Praying Life- Paul Miller
I read A Praying Life for the first time while I was in Guatemala. As you could assume, it's a book on prayer. And not to be dramatic, but it'll change your life. I had a lot of questions about prayer, like, well "Why do we pray if God already knows everything?" In A Praying Life, Miller tackles that question along with a handful of others. He gives advice on how to make prayer an active part of your everyday. Reading A Praying Life will change the way you pray; you won't regret reading it.


In Other Words- Jhumpa Lahiri

In this short novel, the already bilingual Lahiri takes on the task of writing in Italian. This deep love for an unknown language caused Lahiri to move to Rome with her family and give up a lucrative career of writing in English. I picked up this book because Jhumpa Lahiri happens to be one of my favorite authors, but In Other Words holds insight and wisdom for anyone who is interested in learning a new language or how language shapes our understanding of personal identity and the world. 

New Collected Poems- Wendell Barry

Whether you love, hate, or have never really read poetry, Wendell Barry's body of work offers a deep, yet simple, profound perspective on humankind's relationship to nature, to life, to death, and to God. I highly recommend Barry for any Christian wishing to further contemplate the complexities and beauty of their faith and God's creation. 

I have taken in light
that quickened eye and leaf.
May my brain be bright with praise
of what I eat, in the brief blaze
of motion and of thought
May I be worthy of my meat.
— Wendell Barry, "Prayer After Eating"



The Circle Maker- Mark Batterson
I read this for the first time my senior year in high school, and it changed the way I pray. Batterson encourages Christians to not be afraid of praying big prayers, but to be bold and honest when talking to the Father. This isn't a step-by-step guide on how to pray; it's advice rooted in Scripture, plus stories of Batterson's own answered and unanswered prayers. If prayer is a struggle for you like it is for me, this is a must-read.

Love Does- Bob Goff
This book always makes me smile. Bob Goff has a special kind of joy, and you feel that in every page. He blends stories of his incredible real-life adventures with simple, honest truths about who God is. Ultimately, Love Does is an invitation to live life to the fullest. This book will make you excited about life and ready for your next adventure.

But the kind of love
that God created and demonstrated
is a costly one because
it involves sacrifice and presence.
It’s a love that operates more
like a sign language than being
spoken outright.
— Bob Goff, Love Does


The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

I read this book to ring in the New Year a few years ago, and I have no regrets. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, wrote down his thoughts on achieving childhood dreams following his Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Paucsh provides an optimistic perspective on life with humor and intelligence that I have yet to find in another book. 

Make Good Art - Neil Gaiman

This is another speech turned book (I'm assuming you're sensing a theme in my suggestions). Gaiman delivered the contents of this book in a commencement speech at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. I found the book--Gaiman's words and the design--incredibly uplifting and inspiring. "Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistake... Leave the world more interesting for your being here."

Go and make interesting
mistakes, make amazing mistakes,
make glorious and fantastic mistakes.
Break rules. Leave the world more
interesting for your being here.
— Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art


A Monster Calls- Patrick Ness (inspired by Siobhan Dowd)
From the depth of the plot to the illustrations by Jim Kay, this book is not to be dismissed as "just a kids' book." It tells a gripping tale of a boy caught between childhood and manhood coming to terms with his mother's illness. Ness perfectly captures themes of grief and loss (I recommend reading it with a box of tissues if you're prone in the least to tears). It is a masterpiece to read and a story that will sit with you for a long time. Also, the movie just came out at the beginning of this month and it's well worth a watch.

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness- Andrew Murray
This book has wrecked me every time I've read it and has been one of favorites since my first read. Despite its brevity (my personal copy is less than 50 pages), Murray writes poignant truth & highlights the importance of Christ-like humility in the life of a believer. This book changed my perception of the idea of "humility" & encouraged me in my pursuit of it; it's sure to do the same in you! 

Pride must die in you,
or nothing of heaven
can live in you.
— Andrew Murray, Humility

Good luck with the list, friends. For more recommendations, check out the "25 Books to Read Before 25" blog that I wrote last spring. Happy reading, and happy not-so-new year. 

Ashton & the Choctawk Team

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