Best Reads for 2012

One of my goals this year was to read more. I read 44+ books in 2011 (With the best 10 listed in THIS POST). Including the homeschooling books, cookbooks (yes, I read those cover to cover), and e-books, I at least doubled that number in 2012.

And I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.

PLEASE NOTE: Most of these books have been published for years. I’m just that far behind in my reading. I’m hoping some of you have missed these along the way and I can enhance your library request list for 2013.
Also note: I am not an affiliate of Amazon. I just prefer visuals and they provide such an easy way of doing that. Feel free to click on these images to find out more about the book, but do not feel obligated to purchase from them, etc…

Favorite Memoir/Biography

It’s a toss up between these two:

Both are so different and yet completely relevant. Inspiring. Eye opening.
And this one I borrowed from my hubby’s bookshelf and oh my. It’s long, but worth it.

Favorite Novel

I’m not a huge novel reader, but I devoured this one in a weekend! So good.

Surprised Me The Most

I have to be honest. I didn’t expect 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker to hit me as hard as it did. You see, extravagant is not an adjective to describe me. It’s been a year since I’ve purchased any new clothing for myself. And I wouldn’t consider my home cluttered. Until I read this, looked inside myself and realized I have much to shed…

Was so Good I Had to Read it Twice

This book hit me so hard I had to read it twice. You might have noticed, I quote from it often. And to think, I discovered this on my own (well, my hubby’s) bookshelf!

Friends, it will make you look in the mirror and question your own spirituality. Even if you don’t agree with everything he says — you’ll see grace in a whole new way. And it’s a really quick read!

Need to Add to My Personal Library

I’m not sure why it took me so long to read these. They’ve been out awhile. But I’m so glad I fixed that this year. The Ragamuffin Gospel and A Circle of Quiet I had checked out from the library (more than once). The Pursuit of God I own on my kindle. Even still, I think I’ll be adding these to my own personal library this year so I can mark them all up!

Favorite Cookbook

I read this cookbook a couple years ago and have re-read it multiple times. I finally added it to my cookbook collection and enjoy referring to it while I’m trying to toss in extra veggies into my dishes.

A number of these muffins and cereal bars, I make a couple times a month. If you haven’t looked at this cookbook before, I do recommend doing so.

I was going to have an honorary mention category, but I couldn’t narrow it down…

Earlier this year, I started listing the books I was reading on my blog (not including the homeschool or cookbooks). It was buried in my Personal Bucket List and hard to find, however. Going forward, I plan on giving what I’m reading it’s own page, making it easy to locate. Please feel free to visit the page at any time (You may find it HERE). I would love if you would also whisper out suggestions of some to add throughout the year!

How about you, friend? What have you read recently that is still resonating with you? What book would you like to see me add to my list for 2013? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Blogging Resolve

The New Year is approaching fast and I am determined to make it count.

I have been reading “The Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer. What a perfect time for me to read this as it is encouraging me to find resolve and live more intentionally in 2012.

It’s the reason I want to share with you what I have resolved
for this blog heading into the new year.

Here’s a glimpse of what I’m planning for each category and would LOVE it if you had suggestions or further insight into these:

My least viewed category and my most favorite. Music is a tremendous part of my life and I wouldn’t feel right not sharing some of that with you. I plan on sharing music each Monday that coincides with my blogging topics for the week. Possibly some hymn background lessons thrown in as well. If you can think of topics you would like covered here, please let me know.

I still struggle with the basic question of who wants to hear me ramble on about the thrills and trials of my parenting?

I do intend to finish the Praying with Purpose series as I am still striving in that area. I also have a number of posts written about things like picking battles I will scatter in throughout the course of the year.

Based on the stage my parenting is in, I hope to share my journey this year as we finalize our plans for educating our children.

This category is the very reason I started blogging and I fully intend to make it shine in 2012. I plan to write at least one post a week on the topic and have a variety of series conceived regarding finding joy in the pain, the mundane, and the everyday. I am determined to share more of my personal 1000 Gifts list. I’m just not sure how to go about that yet. Suggestions are welcomed.

This is my most fluid category since I post real-time quandaries I am experiencing during my daily walk with the Lord. I pray He continues giving me something to share each week.

There is one topic I have been putting off but will share with you soon: My thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman.

Would you believe this is the most clicked on category on Simplystriving? And I only have one post here currently (my most viewed post)! I enjoy talking budgets, decorating on a budget, eating naturally/more organic on a budget, and discussing time management strategies. And I always thought I would share my take on these. Yet, they don’t feel right on here. I’m still praying about this and might use this as my guest-posting category (if I’m ever blessed with the opportunity to guest post on a blog where this content does fit). Your thoughts are encouraged here. Are you missing these posts?

I want to get to know you. And I don’t know a better way than to share more of me with you. For 2012, I might share more about the books I’m reading or things I’m trying to take off of my bucket list. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to know more about, please let me know.

That’s Simplystriving in a nutshell!

Because I love lists, I plan on posting a page/tab at the top of my blog where you will be able to view topics I’m intending on writing about in each category. When they’re written and posted, I will link to them there–all on one page. Hope to have that up in the next couple weeks.

How about you? What would you like to read more about on simplystriving in the coming year? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


My Best Reads for 2011

I’m really striving to remember. To reflect on how far I’ve come. To be reminded of all that God has shown me this year.

And as the year-end is on the horizon, I’d like to share some of that with you.

One randomly scattered post at a time.

I must admit I lost count somehow, but I can recall reading 44 books/cookbooks (yes, I read cookbooks cover to cover) in 2011. Here are the books for 2011 that had the most impact on me.

1. Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

I may have finished this book by the time this posts. It’s my current read and I’m nearly done.
I must admit I went into this book skeptical. I honestly didn’t think my soul had much mystery.
I was wrong.
I don’t consider myself a girly-girl, but that doesn’t stop me from having all three of every woman’s main desires mentioned in this book. So thankful I read the words with my heart open wide.

2. The Bible

Who would I be if I didn’t list this one. I read the New Testament through this year in The Message Translation (which I had never done before) and was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed it.
I read the Old Testament through in the NRSV version — straight from THIS BIBLE I was gifted with years ago by my (then future) in-laws. Next year, I plan on reading out of the Living translation simply because I haven’t before. And I’m going to read the Psalms and Proverbs from The Message. My friend Lisa inspired me to do so.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Don’t think I need to say much about this one except that I lost some sleep while reading this as I had trouble putting it down!

4. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I enjoy reading this book every few years. It’s one of my all-time favorites. If you have not read it, please put it on your 2012 list. Please.

5. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

It doesn’t matter if you believe the story actually happened. What matters to me is if you believe it could. If you believe in the place Jesus went to prepare for us. And I loved how this book allowed me to reflect on my eternity.

6. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

This is the only parenting book I’ve read more than once. This year was my 3rd time reading it and I learned just as much as the previous two times. I love his perspective on parenting and the Biblical foundation he lays down as he provides a practical approach to the most important role I’ll ever have.

7. I Will Carry You by Angie Smith

I read this book in 2010 right after I delivered my 2nd son stillborn. It was just what I needed. So much so that I read it again in 2011. Even if you haven’t experienced the loss of a child, this book is worth a read. Because we all grieve. And we can all experience the joy on the other side.

8. Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D.

Yet another book I went into skeptical. And I’ll even admit I’m not living out the diet laid out in the book. But it changed the way I eat for a variety of reasons and the knowledge I gained about grains, carbs and even my disease of Hashimoto’s made this book worth my time. I even think it would be worth yours.

9. The Healthy Family Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen

I have a habit of checking out cookbooks from the library. Some I check out multiple times. This was one of them. And this has even made my list of cookbooks worth purchasing (along with a number of America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks — I love them).

10. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

It was the reason I started this blog in the first place. It was the only book I read for the first time in 2011 that will be added to my forever favorites. For it has changed my perspective on joy. If you haven’t read it I implore you to change that.

How about you? What are some of your favorite books? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


(NOTE: This post is filled with links to Please know that I’m not an affiliate. Amazon doesn’t know me from Eve. Feel free to click on any of the images or links to see more about the book I’m referring to, but do not feel obligated to purchase from the site you’re directed to. If you’re like me, you’ll check with your library first!)

Am linking this up with: