I didn’t read as many books this year as I normally do but I still managed to read a good amount. I don’t know if it’s just me, but despite reading a lot of books, most of them were just okay.
One of my friends sent me a screenshot of the top five books from 2021 and the 2021 list of books is soooo good! In fact, I reread a book from that last a couple months ago.
Don’t worry, this year’s list is really good too! Check it out below, in no particular order.
Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot
by: Mo Isom
The first book on the list is Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot by Mo Isom. This book is a must read for everyone. If you’re single you need to read this book. If you’re married, you need to read it. If you’re a parent of a child older than 4 years old, you need to read it.
This book is so necessary. It’s so interesting to me how God invented sex, yet we exclude him from the conversation about it AND the church is relatively silent about it except when saying not to have it before marriage. So really, the first introduction a lot of people have of God and sex is to not have it, unless you’re marriage, which leads to people having negative thoughts about sex and sometimes even feeling guilty about having sex after they are married.
This book does an excellent job of:
- Highlighting God’s original design for sex and that sex is a topic that is close to God’s heart
- Really outlining how the world has implemented a monopoly of sorts on sex, especially through porn
- Providing tips for couples who are abstaining from sex until marriage. This is another area where the church has a lot of room to grow. We hear “don’t have sex until marriage” all the time, but rarely are we provided guidance for how to maintain sexual purity while dating and how to keep the relationship spicy while maintaining sexual purity.
- The book does a great job exposing how we don’t believe we are who God says we are so we wrap our self worth up into what we can provide sexually
- Explaining the purpose of sex in a marriage, and
One thing I wasn’t aware of until I read this book was...
…just how early we are introduced to sex and how much porn is being watched. “In 2016 alone, people watched 4.6 billion hours of pornography at just one website (the biggest porn site in the world). That’s 524,000 years of porn or…around 17,000 complete lifetimes.”
“In pornographic films, 88 percent of scene depict acts of physical aggression or violence, including rape, torture, and humiliation.” An owner of a porn production company once said that they like to use amateurs in their productions because they come across better on screen. They still feel strong pain. In other words, the author pointed out, “this man was explaining that they like to use women in their videos who are new to the aggressive acts inflicted on them because it physically hurts their bodies more, and viewers really prefer to see authentic, genuine pain. In order for viewers to get turned on, they like seeing a woman authentically suffer.”
I interviewed the author on a prior episode of the podcast titled The Purpose of Sex, so check it and make sure you get this book.
What Happened to You?:
Conversations on Trauma, Resilience,
by: Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry
The next book I read that I absolutely loved this year was, What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry. The idea behind this book is that when someone displays less than ideal behavior, instead of asking, “what’s wrong with you,” we should ask, “what happened to you.”
This book is very different from any book I’ve ever read before. What makes it different is the writing style. It’s essentially a back and forth between Orpah sharing things she experienced as a child and how those traumas presented themselves in her actions as an adult, then going to Dr. Perry discussing the clinical terms for those things and the science behind it.
Before I dive into what I loved about the book, let me talk about Dr. Perry, Oprah’s co-author for a little bit. Dr. Perry is a psychiatrist
Oprah shared things about herself and her upbringing that I had never heard her share before. I mean wild stuff. She faced so much adversity and abuse as a child. I’m still trying to figure out how she’s this kind, compassionate, and generous individual. That’s a testament to the healing power of Christ.
The level of her transparency...
…was unbelievable. There were so many moments while reading this book that I wanted to just hold the child version of her and love on her, as well as the adult version of her because she still needs and deserves that kind of love. What I loved most about this book though were the powerful scientific explanations from Dr. Perry. He
This book really showed me just how much parenting shapes us as adults. I’ve been studying parenting a lot lately because I want to arm myself with information and data, and one thing I learned was that when you have no plan for how you want to parent, you end up parenting your children how you were parented even if you hated how you were parented.
by: Emily Henry
It can be hard to find a good fiction book. Book Lovers by Emily Henry was good to me. I actually listened to this one. It’s narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Julia Whelan, who also just so happens to be an author. Her books are good as well.
Some people may think this book is cheesy because it’s a romantic comedy but here’s why I loved it:
- Enemies to lovers. The first reason I loved it is because it’s an enemies to lovers story. I love a good enemies to lovers story. I mean, there really is a thin line between love and hate sometimes. The main character is a type A, cutthroat literary agent. She’s looking for a dope book editor for her
- Dialogue. The second reason I love it is because the dialogue in this book is top tier. Top tier. The banter between all of the characters will have you up all night reading this book. I think this is the third book I’ve read by Emily Henry and she comes through with good banter every single time, and to me, this is her best body of work. It’s also her most recent. It was released in Summer 2022.
I’m a lover of words. I pay a lot of attention to the words that people use in real life. That might be part of the reason why I enjoy reading books. I don’t know.
But, if you are looking for a lighthearted, cute book to read, then check this one out.
Empire of Pain
by: Patrick Radden Keefe
The next book that made the list is Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe. This book is investigative journalism at its finest.
Empire of Pain does a deep dive into the Sackler Family, which is the family behind the powerful opioid OxyContin which is no longer on the market. Funny thing is, years ago I would hear people say OxyContin and for the life of me I could not figure out why they were mispronouncing oxycodone lol. Don’t judge me. I rarely take medicine and when I do it typically isn’t any form of narcotic or opioid.
This isn’t really the type of book I would have naturally gravitated to, but someone who reads just as much as I do who also has a similar taste in books recommended this book. So I checked it out. The book is thick. It’s 560 pages but it’s so worth it.
An interesting thing about this family is...
…how much they thrived off of philanthropy and making large donations, to the tune of millions of dollars, to organizations and institutions around the world. It came at a price though, because they would demand naming rights over some aspect of the institution they were donating to. I remember reading about one of the brothers wanting to donate to one of the Ivy League universities despite having never been a student there. So that should give you an idea about the motives behind the philanthropy.
I loved this book. It’s won multiple awards and was selected for The Washington Post’s “10 Best Books of 2021.” If you are into history or even if you’re just curious about the shady business of pain management in the US, then I highly recommend this book. It’s very well written and informative.
The Seven Levels of Intimacy
by: Matthew Kelly
The last book to make my list of top books for the year is The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved by Matthew Kelly. A friend of mine was reading this book and she posted it to her stories one day, with an excerpt from it. I was intrigued by what I saw so I looked it up and purchased it.
Intimacy is such an interesting topic to me because although people crave it, they run from it. We have this deep need to be known and understood, yet we have a hard time letting people in.
I knew this book was going to make my list this year before I even made it to chapter 2. That’s just how good this book is. The author hadn’t even started talking about the different levels of intimacy by that point, but what he did mention had me hooked.
The book is separated into three parts. In the first part of the book, the author comes straight out the gate with the heat. I knew he would just based on the titles of the chapters, which are:
- Chapter 1: Sex is not Intimacy
- Chapter 2: Common interests are not enough
- Chapter 3: You know the storm is coming
- Chapter 4: What is driving your relationships
- Chapter 5: The opposite of love is not hate
The second part of the deep dives into the seven levels of intimacy with each level having its own chapter. The last part of the book lists ten reasons people don’t have great relationships, provides tips for designing a great relationship, and explains what we should do instead of just hoping for great relationships.
Just to give you a taste of what this book has to offer I’m going to share a short passage with you from the third level of intimacy, which is opinions. This is the level where things get tricky because we hold onto our opinions so tightly. We also like to impose our opinions on other people and when it comes to those closest to us, we tend to think that if we don’t share the same opinions about everything, then that must mean we shouldn’t continue to have a relationship with them.
So in this particular chapter, the author encourages acceptance and allowing people to be themselves instead of pushing them into who we think they should be. One of the best ways he describes to foster acceptance is to be open to new ideas. Here’s an excerpt from the section about being open to new ideas. The author says:
The book does an excellent job of teaching readers in practical ways how to share ourselves more deeply with the people we love. It has definitely changed how I approach my relationships. So if you want to grow in your relationships, I highly recommend this book.
If you enjoyed this episode, then you may also enjoy the episode of the show about my top books of 2021 or this episode detailing how to purposefully plan for the new year.
- Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot by Mo Isom
What Happened to You? by Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
The Seven Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelly
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